It was more than a loss. It was a national sporting disaster.
England's 2-0 loss to the United States in the U.S. Cup soccer tournament was the ultimate humiliation for the country that invented the game. Or as the Daily Mirror put it: "We Can't Get Any Lower."Only last week the brash British tabloids trashed England's team following its 2-0 loss to up-and-coming Norway in a World Cup qualifier.
But Wednesday night's loss to the United States - an "abject failure against a third-rate soccer nation," according to the Daily Express - brought forth new waves of wrath on the sports pages.
"Yanks 2, Planks 0," headlined the Sun.
"Flops Reach All-Time Low," Today said.
"English football died of shame last night - and the coffin could be draped with the Stars and Stripes," said the Express, lamenting that England's stars were easy prey for "a collection of college boys and second-rate professionals."
Even the quality papers held nothing back.
"The reputation of English football plumbed to new depths," said the Times. "England is without cohesion and the basic belief in themselves or their skills. If it was possible to worsen a losing performance against an unrated opponent, England did it."
The Americans, of course, could care less about British reaction.
"We never have to talk about 1950 again," said U.S. Soccer Federation head Hank Steinbrecher. He was referring to the United States' 1-0 win over England in the 1950 World Cup, considered the greatest upset in soccer. "The yoke is off our back. Our guys can play football. This was no fluke."
For millions watching the match in England, the only relief came when the signal from across the Atlantic was temporarily lost in the second half due to weather conditions.
The papers blamed everything on one man.
"Wanted Dead or Alive: Graham Taylor - the outlaw of English football," said the Mirror, with the England manager's glum face featured on an Old West-style flier.
"Now Taylor surely has to go," said the Sun, joining the ever-growing chorus of opinion. "The Football Association must ax him now," the Daily Mail said.
"If Graham Taylor is not now considering his resignation, then the time may have come for the decision to be forced upon him," the Times said.
Despite the loss, England's hopes of reaching the World Cup finals were bolstered Wednesday night, thanks to a 0-0 draw between Norway and the Netherlands in Europe's Group Two.
But to earn a return trip to the United States for the finals next year, England must find its form before its final three qualifiers against Poland, San Marino and the Netherlands this fall.