Rangers 1963-64 – a final flourish for the 60s

THE mid-1960s through to the 1970s was Celtic’s time in Scotland, Jock Stein’s side winning almost everything on offer. Before the tide turned in Glasgow, Rangers completed a memorable treble in 1963-64. Ibrox Park regulars would have found it hard to believe if anyone had told them, in 1964, that the Gers would not be crowned Scottish champions again for 11 long years. The Rangers … Continue reading Rangers 1963-64 – a final flourish for the 60s

Arsenal 1968-70 – Relative calm before the storm

WHEN Arsenal won the “double” in 1970-71, they received very little praise for their considerable efforts. Were it not for Charlie George’s messianic fall to the ground in the FA Cup final, Arsenal would be remembered for merely grinding-out results and out-slugging Leeds United’s relentless machine. But the seeds of Arsenal’s triumph were sown in three seasons leading up to 1970-71. From 1953, when Arsenal … Continue reading Arsenal 1968-70 – Relative calm before the storm

Saint-Etienne in the 1970s – painting the town Vert

BEFORE PSG got rich and threatened to join the uber-clubs of Europe, French football had only spasmodically made an impact on the big stages. True, Stade de Reims reached a couple of European Cup finals in the nascent years of the European Cup, and Marseille won the competition in the 1990s, but the team that captured the hearts of European football watchers was Saint-Etienne of … Continue reading Saint-Etienne in the 1970s – painting the town Vert

Leeds United 1969-72 – champions in all but name

LEEDS UNITED won the Football League championship twice under their patriarchal manager, Don Revie, in 1969 and 1974. But in between those title victories, Leeds could easily have been crowned champions three times between 1970 and 1972. They were arguably the best team during that period, perpetual runners-up and victims of their own consistency. If fixture congestion had not got the better of them or … Continue reading Leeds United 1969-72 – champions in all but name

Burnley 1959-60 – a good year for claret

BURNLEY, with a population of around 80,000, is the smallest town ever to give birth to a Football League Championship winning team. It has the classic image of a Lowryesque mill town of chimneys, and at one stage, looms outnumbered people. And in the football club’s heyday, a large percentage of local folk would shuffle along to Turf Moor to watch the Clarets. Today, the … Continue reading Burnley 1959-60 – a good year for claret

Liverpool’s Toshack and Keegan – big man, little man

FOOTBALL is a universal currency. The first world war demonstrated just that when troops climbed out of the trenches to kick the ball around on Christmas Day. Germans and Englishmen have always debated the great game, usually centred on 1966 and the infamous “over the line, or not” argument. In 1978, on holiday in Spain, a group of teenagers bumped into a bunch of Germans, … Continue reading Liverpool’s Toshack and Keegan – big man, little man

Arsenal ’89 – the drama that changed everything

AFTER such an exhilarating 1987-88 season, Liverpool were hot favourites to retain the title they won in style, especially as they had re-signed striker Ian Rush from Juventus. Arsenal, who had finished sixth, were seen as a team that could chase the eventual champions, but not seriously challenge for top spot. Their success in 1988-89 was a tribute to the talent of their young players, … Continue reading Arsenal ’89 – the drama that changed everything

Manchester City’s three best teams

MANY people believe that the current Manchester City team is probably their best ever. It is certainly their most expensive and most successful although the club’s modern-day achievements are often dismissed due to the inflated investment made in the club. However, nobody can deny the quality of football being played by Pep Guardiola’s side or the depth of talent that has been assembled. City have … Continue reading Manchester City’s three best teams

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 Wolves 1957-60 – the mighty men from Molineux

The 1982 Brazilians – football’s last cavaliers

SINCE JUNE 21 1970, football fans have been longing for Brazil to gift the world the spirit of samba, the ball-juggling artistry that encapsulated jogo bonita, the romantic, natural brilliance that delivers entertainment and excitement. Brazil’s 1970 World Cup winners did not represent the start of something, that team was actually the culmination of a process that began amid the despair or Rio 1950. By … Continue reading The 1982 Brazilians – football’s last cavaliers

Arsenal, the Art Deco club

IN THE 1980s, a television series called The Thirties highlighted a turbulent and exciting decade. An entire chapter was devoted, quite simply, to “The Arsenal”. The 1930s was the age of the Gunners, a time that the club has strived to replicate ever since. Arsenal were as 1930s as Crittall Windows, British dance bands, mock-Tudor housing and Bakelite. They were thoroughly modern in every way, … Continue reading Arsenal, the Art Deco club

In search of Willie, the Giant Custodian

ANYONE who knows anything about the early history of Association Football will have heard of the name Willie Foulke. At 24-stone, Foulke, who played in goal for Sheffield United, Chelsea and Bradford City, and made a fleeting appearance for England, holds the record for the heaviest professional footballer in Britain, if not the world. I came across some ancient, although surprisingly clear, footage of Willie … Continue reading In search of Willie, the Giant Custodian