Feel free to treat the below as meme and share your own if you want.
First World Cup Memory
It was 1978 and the World Chart being hung on the cork tiling (hey it was 1978 that was the trend) in the kitchen amongst me and my brother's paintings. It was of course the World Cup of Ally's Army taking on the Argentine. The first memory of an actual game was the Scotland v Netherlands game. Having lost 3-1 to Peru in the opener and then drawing with Iran 1-1 in game two, they had to face the 1974 finalists in the final group game. They may have been without Cruyff but they were still the team to beat in the group, but Scotland had to, and by a 3 goal margin.
But the Dutch scored first. Then King Kenny equalised, Archie Gemill put one away from the penalty spot, then he scored his iconic goal that gave the Scots everywhere hope, a class goal and only needing one more to go through. Of course it never happened as Johnny Rep got another for the Dutch in the end, but Ally's Army almost did shake them up.
Best World Cup Memory
As a Northern Irish lad it had to be one night in Valencia in 1982. Like my first memory it was the last game of the group stages. Little Northern Ireland had drawn 0-0 with Yugoslavia then 1-1 with Honduras. We were up against the hosts in a stadium they had never lost in, needing to win to progress as Yugoslavia had one the night before*.
Two minutes into the second half Gerry Armstrong ran unto a through ball and beat Luis Arconada in the Spanish goal. We were ecstatic. But in the 62nd minute Mal Donaghy was sent off. We had to survive for almost half an hour. It was seat of the pants stuff. But then the referee blew his final whistle, the players were jumping for joy. We'd beaten the hosts and won the group. In only our second world cup we'd again got out of the group stages.
Best World Cup Crowd Experience
When I was working in Hammersmith for USA 94 across the road was an Irish run pub. Just before the World Cup there had been a reward scheme to earn 15 minute early leaving. I'd stored my up in readiness for the matches. When Ireland were playing in the early games I was straight across the road to book space for the others.
The public bar was full of anyone, the side bar had the Irish at the bar and others at the table, the lounge bar at the back was full of Irish. The landlord came round at various times with a tray to bash to get the singing going. We ordered our Guinness to settle as the one before was almost done, me not moving from the side bar bar. Ireland emulated their achievements of 4 years before and got through to the last 16, though no further. But I spent 3 of their games in that pub watching them play amidst a mix of ex-patriot Irish from both sides of the border.
First International Experience
As I prepare for this World Cup yet again I'm surrounded by different nationalities all getting excited about their home team doing well. The French, Dutch, Germans, Brazilians, Portuguese, Italians, Spanish etc. Plus I've just seen pictures of our team in Joburg all geared up joining in the excitement.
However, my first experience of an international flavour goes back to 1982 and being in Northern Ireland on holiday on the north coast between Portrush and Portstewart. We were there for the final which featured the Italians, who of course owned the ice cream parlours on the proms. So when they won it was ice cream cones on the house, they were so happy.
* This was before all final games were played simultaneously.