Manchester United 1968 – triumph before the fire went out

WE’VE ALL seen the footage of George Best rounding the keeper, of Bobby Charlton weeping, of Matt Busby embracing the players, remembering the fallen of Munich, and of Eusebio congratulating Alex Stepney on a superb save. It’s an episode in the history of the game that is as vivid as the unfamiliar blue shirts that Manchester United wore on May 29, 1968. Manchester United’s European … Continue reading Manchester United 1968 – triumph before the fire went out

Liverpool’s last title – 1990

LIVERPOOL won their 11th title in 18 seasons and went very close to securing a second “double” when they surprisingly lost to Crystal Palace in the FA Cup semi-final at Villa Park. After such a long run of success, which included 27 major trophies since 1972-73, this title triumph proved to be the end of an era for the club, a period that was curtailed to … Continue reading Liverpool’s last title – 1990

Great Partnerships: Osgood and Hutchinson – short-lived but sensational

CHELSEA fans will never forget Peter Osgood and Ian Hutchinson, they were, after all, two of the key figures in the club’s unforgettable 1969-70 FA Cup triumph. These two players helped define an era, a swaggering Chelsea team that was fashionable, exciting, hard as nails at times and confident to the point of arrogance. But it is not always appreciated that their time together – … Continue reading Great Partnerships: Osgood and Hutchinson – short-lived but sensational

Great Reputations: Grande Inter – a harsh legacy?

  THERE WAS an air of menace about them: Black and blue stripes; dark, matinee idol looks; oiled hair; and a dictatorial manager who had a slightly sinister appearance. And they were “foreign”. English football managers, among other folk in Britain, were deeply suspicious of Italian football teams. They were, after all, ultra-defensive, sly, tricky and “dirty” – that was the narrative if you believed … Continue reading Great Reputations: Grande Inter – a harsh legacy?

Great Reputations: Hellas Verona 1985 – a romantic tale to rival Shakespeare

MODERN football has made it nigh on impossible for provincial teams to win major prizes. As the game’s chief beneficiaries are mostly metropolitan clubs from large cities, the possibility of an unexpected championship triumph becomes beyond rare. In Italy, Juventus from Turin and the Milanese clubs have invariably dominated Serie A, but very rarely, a smaller club has come to the fore. But if you … Continue reading Great Reputations: Hellas Verona 1985 – a romantic tale to rival Shakespeare

We are the Champions: 1989-90 – Liverpool

LIVERPOOL won their 11th title in 18 seasons and went very close to securing a second “double” when they surprisingly lost to Crystal Palace in the FA Cup semi-final at Villa Park. After such a long run of success, which included 27 major trophies since 1972-73, this title triumph proved to be the end of an era for the club, a period that was curtailed to … Continue reading We are the Champions: 1989-90 – Liverpool

Great Reputations: Portugal 1966 – the alternative champions

ASIDE from the image of Bobby Moore holding the Jules Rimet trophy aloft, one of the abiding memories of the 1966 World Cup is of Eusébio in full flight, the leading scorer and the most exciting player of the tournament. If you asked most people who would have been worthy champions if England had not won, the answer would undoubtedly be Portugal, who came through … Continue reading Great Reputations: Portugal 1966 – the alternative champions

Great Reputations: When Sampdoria shocked the system

THINK of Italian football and you come up with Juventus, Milan and Internazionale, in that order. Then add to that Roma and Napoli, perhaps Lazio. Today, you need to scratch deeper to bring names like Sampdoria to the fore. Sampdoria, from Genoa…pesto, minestrone, Pandoce Alto and, of course, football. But it is Genoa 1893, the oldest football club in Italy and, with nine Serie A … Continue reading Great Reputations: When Sampdoria shocked the system

Great Reputations: Watford – A tale of a Taylor and a pop star

WHEN ELTON JOHN became chairman of Watford in 1976, he announced that he wanted to take the club into the top flight. People laughed for Watford were then in the old fourth division and seemingly going nowhere. In 1975-76, the club was playing in front of fewer than 5,000 per game at Vicarage Road. At the same time, Lincoln City had just won the fourth … Continue reading Great Reputations: Watford – A tale of a Taylor and a pop star

Great Reputations: Wolves 1957-60 – the mighty men from Molineux

CHAMPIONS of the World! That was how Wolverhampton Wanderers were known for a while when they beat some of Europe’s best club sides in the mid-1950s. Of course, these were mostly in the pre-European Cup era, when foreign teams were as familiar to British audiences as Martians. But in the early floodlit days, there was something magical about Wolves’ encounters with Russian and Hungarian sides … Continue reading Great Reputations: Wolves 1957-60 – the mighty men from Molineux

Great Reputations: Tottenham 1970-73 – Bill Nick’s final flourish

IT IS hardly surprising, but when Tottenham Hotspur’s great teams and players are discussed, the conversation rarely moves beyond 1951 and 1961. The latter’s achievement, the then-hallowed double, would be something of a millstone round the neck of the club and its long-serving manager, Bill Nicholson, but 10 years on, Spurs did manage to rekindle some of the lustre of old and put together a … Continue reading Great Reputations: Tottenham 1970-73 – Bill Nick’s final flourish

Great Reputations: QPR’s total footballers of 1975-76

IN THE aftermath of the 1974 World Cup, English football was fascinated by Dutch and German football. England’s failure to qualify for that competition and the decline of league football into a physical, defensive product that had started to drive people away, meant that a lot of soul-searching had taken place. The conclusion was that English domestic football needed a lift. In 1975-76, there were … Continue reading Great Reputations: QPR’s total footballers of 1975-76