Remembering Aylesbury United v England - 30 years on

Aylesbury V England 10.06.88 - Cliff Campbell (AUFC) signing autographs before the game
Aylesbury V England 10.06.88 - Cliff Campbell (AUFC) signing autographs before the game

Not many footballers can say their final game came against England, but Cliff Campbell can lay claim to that.

With Aylesbury United in the mix to win the 1988 Southern League title, Campbell, then 31, was going to hang up his boots at the end of the season.

Come February time though, a bombshell - England were coming to Buckingham Road.

A favour struck between one of the club’s directors and Bobby Robson, who was playing a behind-closed-doors game at the recently renovated Ducks ground came good.

And on June 4, they arrived to take on United, who had since won the championship.

“We didn’t know what to expect really,” said Cliff, who shared his name with fellow strike partner Cliff Hercules.

“It was a week before the European Championships, so we weren’t anticipating a strong team.

But when we saw who was playing...”

Gary Lineker, Bryan Robson, John Barnes, Peter Beardsley, Glenn Hoddle, Chris Waddle - it was a who’s who of England stars.

“The only player to go to the tournament who didn’t get a game was Tony Adams,” Cliff continued.

“We walked out onto the field alongside these guys, thinking ‘wow, this is the England team!’

“There were fans everywhere.

“Hanging in the trees, climbing the slopes behind the ground just to get a view.

“It was fantastic for the town.

“We were told to line up for pictures, and to mingle in with the England players, so I made a B-line for Gary Lineker!

“At the time, we were a hard working team, we weren’t afraid to stick our foot in.

“But against these England players, we knew we couldn’t go steaming in!

“We didn’t want to be the reason they missed the tournament - we were all fans!

“But to be honest, even if we wanted to get physical, we couldn’t get near them.

“Peter Beardsley was untouchable.

“If I had eight touches in the game, I’d be amazed.

“We just couldn’t get near them!”

If the scoreline was anything to go by, it was the perfect preparation for England.

A Peter Beardsley hat-trick was the highlight of a 7-0 win for the Three Lions, but the tournament itself was a poor one for England as they lost all three games and came home.

Cliff retired at the end of the season, as promised, before taking up a coaching role at Barton Rovers.

He added: “It was a real one-off, we’ll never see the likes of that again.

“It was testament to Bobby Robson as a man that he came good on that promise.”

Read more memories of the historic fixture in Wednesday’s Bucks Herald.