King George V Park in Newfoundland, Canada is an unassuming, if rather fitting, place for a game of historical significance. As one of the oldest football venues in North America, opened in 1925, it has seen its fair share of intriguing clashes. Surely the most significant saw the rustic venue host a winner-takes-all clash on 14 September 1985 between Canada and Honduras, the winner of which would represent CONCACAF at the 1986 FIFA World Cup™ in Mexico.
With Honduras high in confidence after their own historic World Cup debut in Spain three years earlier, the majority of the 13,000 inside the ground were Canucks supporters on tenterhooks. Their nerves were eased thanks to George Pakos’s 15th minute opener. After Porfirio Betancourt’s equaliser just after the interval deflated the home support somewhat, Igor Vrablic rose highest from a corner to see the hosts into the lead on the hour mark and set up a tense finale. Les Rouges held on and booked their ticket to Mexico.
They went on to face much-fancied France in their inaugural World Cup match, eventually exiting the competition at the group stage. However, the magic of that evening in Newfoundland will live long in the memory of those fortunate few who witnessed Canadian sporting history.