Light up the sky – the peculiar appeal of floodlights

THERE was an old pub-quiz poser that asked how many sets of football floodlights you passed when you drove up the M1 (or was it A1?) motorway. I cannot remember the answer now, but that question highlighted the sign-posting aspect of the good old floodlight – steel pylons with an assortment of lamps perched upon […]

Out of mill towns and factories, our heroes came forth

THE RECENT death of Nobby Stiles underlined that notable players from football’s golden age are passing away at a rapid rate. It rekindled a romantic moment in the history of the game, when a diminutive, toothless and short-sighted character won the World Cup. Such occasions are increasingly rare today. Little Nobby’s involvement in English football’s […]

Docherty’s Manchester United and a hint of total football

THE 1974-75 season wasn’t a classic for English football. The country had been suffering a long hangover after the national team’s exit from the World Cup. We were excluded from the 1974 finals in West Germany, pinning our hopes on Scotland and Jack Taylor the referee. While the global audience marvelled at the exploits of […]

Farewell, Doc – the great managerial character actor

IN an age of anodyne post-match interviews and black-suited corporate football managers, there would probably be no place for the likes of Tommy Docherty. His bluntness, humour and market-trading improvisation would be totally at odds with the modern game. The “Doc”, as he was fondly known, has died, aged 92, and with him goes one […]

Win rates, goals and placings: Liverpool up, Arsenal down

ARSENAL are having a tortuous 2020-21, a season that could end with inexperienced coach Mikel Arteta being sacked after little over a year in charge at the Emirates. Arsenal’s decline started long before Arteta was given the job, the club’s fall from Champions League regulars to Thursday night European football has been gradual, but their […]

Football and a new purpose: More than players, more than clubs

MARCUS RASHFORD is one of the faces of 2020, a young footballer who urged the UK government to help children with school meals at a time when low-income families were being severely challenged. Rashford has become just as relevant to 2020 as Greta Thunberg was in 2018 when she led climate change protests. His elevation […]