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 […]

It’s 1960, and there’s a European Super League

THE SUBJECT of a European Super League has been mooted on a number of occasions down the decades. After world war two, football became something of an emollient, a universal language that could unite nations and put aside old differences. To some extent, the creation of pan-European bodies, industrially, culturally or socially, was a way […]

Park football: Whatever happened to Ockendon United?

THE MUDDY, laced ball, resembling Barnes Wallis’ bouncing bomb, rolled into the net, careering over worm-casts and divots. A gaggle of schoolboys, wearing their Gola or Co-op boots, tried to kick the ball back in play from behind the goal. The goalkeeper, white spindly legs, Peter Bonetti –style hair and an ill-fitting, gaping-at-the-neck green jersey, […]

1968, the year it came together for English clubs

ENGLISH football was not quick to warm to the prospect of pan-European football and, it had no representation when the Coupe des Clubs Champions Européens kicked off in 1955, an early post-austerity attempt at sporting integration and collaboration. The author, James Walvin, in his seminal work, The People’s Game, remarked that “few areas of European […]

Derby, Leeds, Liverpool and City – anyone could have won the 1972 title race

MALCOLM ALLISON, that big, brash, iconic figure from the early 1970s, once said the period between 1967 and 1972 was a golden age for English football. Of course, during that time, Manchester City were quite successful, so naturally, Allison would look back on this six -year spell as special. But this was an age where […]