61 fouls – the story of triumph over an ideology

IN NOVEMBER 1934, England met World Champions Italy in London in a game that has forever been known as “The Battle of Highbury”. This tag was no accident, however, for whatever was going to happen on that gloomy afternoon in North London, a football match was always going to become a theatre of war. On the road to war Europe in the 1930s was an … Continue reading 61 fouls – the story of triumph over an ideology

England’s 1,000 – it hasn’t always been grand

BBC RADIO FIVE has selected its all-time England XI and the results are, perhaps predictably, a little influenced by “presentism”. This is what makes the fun exercise of picking “best ever” teams somewhat flawed – the past is often so deeply buried that the merits of ancient players often get forgotten. You’ve also got to consider that different eras create contrasting styles of football and … Continue reading England’s 1,000 – it hasn’t always been grand

1915: When football seemed unimportant

IT HAS been known down the years as “The Khaki Final”, owing to the vast number of soldiers in military uniform watching the game. While the event is well known, the outcome of the match has been largely overlooked in history. Many people will struggle to name the two finalists: Sheffield United and Chelsea. But this game, coming at the end of the 1914-15 season, … Continue reading 1915: When football seemed unimportant

Mexico ‘70: Peter Bonetti and England’s capitulation

CHELSEA’S Peter Bonetti was a fine goalkeeper: agile, occasionally flashy, brave and consistent. But for World Cup winner Gordon Banks, he would have won more than his seven England caps – and this was in an age when decent English-born custodians came off the production line like Ford Cortinas. Unfortunately for Bonetti, he will be remembered by fans from most clubs for one career-defining and … Continue reading Mexico ‘70: Peter Bonetti and England’s capitulation

1989 – what it really meant

EVERY football club has its moment in time that is always a point of reference: Manchester United have Munich 1958, Wembley 1968, Barcelona 1989; Liverpool have Shankly, Rome 1977, Wembley 1965; Chelsea have Old Trafford 1970; Tottenham will always remember 1961. For Arsenal, it could easily be the 1930s, but for their fans weaned on “1-0 to the Arsenal” and Tony Adams’s raised arm, 1989 … Continue reading 1989 – what it really meant

72 Classic: Lessons from Europe for English football

AT the start of 1971-72, England’s football fraternity was still clinging to the idea that the nation was a major power in the game. The 1970 World Cup defeat at the hands of West Germany was mostly seen as an aberration and partly attributable to the rustiness of poor old Peter Bonetti, the outstanding Chelsea goalkeeper. There was little suggestion that perhaps the English method … Continue reading 72 Classic: Lessons from Europe for English football

12 games that shaped a football club: Chelsea

CERTAIN games can mould the history of a club. Chelsea have had many high points in recent years, but it is not just success that influences the culture of a club. These 12 games have all played their role in shaping the Blues. Of course, the list will prompt debate, but these have been selected for their overall importance to the club’s development, from the … Continue reading 12 games that shaped a football club: Chelsea

League title winners – passing the baton on

HOW OFTEN have you heard someone explain away a poor title defence with a comment like, “They needed to turn things over….they needed to rebuild”? It is true that nothing lasts forever in football and sometimes, a title winning team burns itself out in lifting the big prize. A manager gets the best out of a group of players and then they’re done. The fact … Continue reading League title winners – passing the baton on

The best bridesmaids: 10 teams that should have been champions

THE STATISTICS suggest that Liverpool 2018-19 are the best-ever nearly men in English football history. Certainly, 97 points is a phenomenal record, but the figures only tell part of the story. Liverpool’s performances, the charisma of Jürgen Klopp and the attacking power of the team will forever be remembered, and not just by Reds’ fans. Putting rivalries aside and taking an objective look at the … Continue reading The best bridesmaids: 10 teams that should have been champions

Europe’s Champions: 1957-58 Real Madrid

REAL MADRID completed a hat-trick of European Cup wins in 1958, but they had to work hard for the top prize in a gruelling final with AC Milan in Brussels. In doing so, Real also completed the double of domestic league title and European Cup for the second successive season. Nevertheless, football historians have always wondered if Real would still have been crowned champions of … Continue reading Europe’s Champions: 1957-58 Real Madrid

Homage to Brian Glover – my life as a coach

BRITAIN is a nation of football experts. Watch any game at, say, Anfield, Griffin Park or Stamford Bridge and there will be 35,000 football managers in the crowd. It has always been the same, but in recent times, the talent pool has got bigger due to computer games such as FIFA and Football Manager, all of which convince the addict that they can manage a … Continue reading Homage to Brian Glover – my life as a coach

The best bridesmaids: 10 teams that should have been champions

THE STATISTICS suggest that Liverpool 2018-19 are the best-ever nearly men in English football history. Certainly, 97 points is a phenomenal record, but the figures only tell part of the story. Liverpool’s performances, the charisma of Jürgen Klopp and the attacking power of the team will forever be remembered, and not just by Reds’ fans. Putting rivalries aside and taking an objective look at the … Continue reading The best bridesmaids: 10 teams that should have been champions