72 Classic: London’s lost cup

LONDON’s top clubs had a mixed start to the 1971-72 season. Not everyone was surprised, however, for despite the capital city scooping all the domestic prizes and a European trophy, the football establishment still looked to the north of England as the hub of the game in the early 1970s. “I wonder sometimes if the London lads are as dedicated,” commented Huddersfield Town manager Ian … Continue reading 72 Classic: London’s lost cup

The hallowed double – those that went missing

WHEN Arsenal won the double in 1970-71, it was the first time since Tottenham’s much heralded success of 1960-61. Everyone thought it was an astonishing achievement, yet it was only a decade after their North London rivals had swept up the major prizes. Prior to Bill Nicholson’s side won the double, you had to go back to 1896-97 (Aston Villa) and 1888-89 (Preston North End). … Continue reading The hallowed double – those that went missing

When programmes really meant something

SITTING ON a coach going to an away game can often be tedious for those who struggle to sit still for a few hours. Having done precisely that for the best part of 30 years, the ordeal of travelling on motorways, and visiting the purveyors of poor quality food that are service stations no longer appeals to me. However, the trip to Barwell in Leicestershire … Continue reading When programmes really meant something

1971: Geoffrey and Gordon

ONE OF the privileges of being born in the late 1950s was that your formative years, from a footballing perspective, were the late 1960s and early 1970s. This was a great time for English football as the nation basked in the glow of World Cup 1966. As the passage of time moves on, and history plays tricks with the memory, sometimes you have to remind … Continue reading 1971: Geoffrey and Gordon

72 Classic: A tale of two Uniteds

GEORGE BEST was still considered to be the best player in the country, of any country, in fact, in 1971. Manchester United were still the biggest draw in town. But Best was a troubled soul, increasingly getting into hot water and commanding the wrong kind of headlines, and United were still trying to negotiate the post-Busby era. The empire was crumbling and United were no … Continue reading 72 Classic: A tale of two Uniteds

72 Classic: Kevin Keegan and the art of the shrewd purchase

NOBODY had really heard of Joseph Kevin Keegan before August 1971. He had previously tried his luck with Coventry City and Doncaster Rovers before signing for Scunthorpe United and had barely appeared on the radar screen of the big clubs. Apart from Liverpool, who had something of a track record in unearthing lower division gems. Bill Shankly liked nothing more than getting value for money … Continue reading 72 Classic: Kevin Keegan and the art of the shrewd purchase

72 Classic: Lifting Leeds

AFTER winning the 1969 Football League Championship, Leeds United pursued every trophy possible in the only way they knew how – with intensity, with total focus and with little regard for how the rest of football saw them. They were supremely “professional”, using every trick in the book to gain an advantage over their rivals. Some considered them a “dirty” team, sly in their approach … Continue reading 72 Classic: Lifting Leeds

72 Classic: Clough, Allison, Keegan and co. – why it was special

MALCOLM Allison, one of the pivotal figures of the 1970s, once said that the period between 1967 and 1972 was one of British football’s golden ages. Anyone who lived through that half decade of action will doubtless recall some outstanding players and personalities, memorable teams and the outlandish fashion and hairstyles of the age. This was, after all, a period that desperately clung to the … Continue reading 72 Classic: Clough, Allison, Keegan and co. – why it was special

Derby days: Chelsea, Tottenham and the 1970s slump in London football

THREE suedeheads sat on the London tube train at Tower Hill station chanting: “We’re the Tottenham, we’re the Tottenham, we’re the Tottenham, from the Lane.” There I was, with a Chelsea scarf tucked into my coat, on my way to Stamford Bridge to see Chelsea play Manchester City on October 10, 1970. I had just seen Keith Weller quickly jump onto the next carriage, also … Continue reading Derby days: Chelsea, Tottenham and the 1970s slump in London football

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

Ken Shellito, the England regular that never was

KEN SHELLITO never had the best of luck. As a player, he was cut down in his prime, turning out for his last competitive game in December 1965 at the age of 25. As a manager, he had the misfortune to take over from his former team-mate, Eddie McCreadie, who had become a folk hero as he took Chelsea to promotion in 1977. Ken Shellito … Continue reading Ken Shellito, the England regular that never was

Often overlooked – the Jewish influence on world football

THESE are troubled and uncertain times for Britain’s Jewish population. With accusations of anti-semitism aimed at the country’s biggest political party, the mere mention of which sends a shiver down the spine of anyone with knowledge of the Holocaust, there is an underlying fear that history could be repeating itself. From that dreadful period, the tale of a hugely influential football figure has emerged, written … Continue reading Often overlooked – the Jewish influence on world football

Europe’s Champions: 1955-56 – Real Madrid

REAL MADRID made their international reputation in the first five years of the European Cup, in fact the club were firm advocates for its introduction. Since 1955-56, Real have rightly been indelibly linked with the premier football club competition. The idea of a pan-European tournament had first been mooted in the 1920s, but the lack of infrastructure to support such a venture was a hurdle. … Continue reading Europe’s Champions: 1955-56 – Real Madrid