The problem with being George Best

  WE ALL wanted to be George Best. In the playground, on the football pitch, in the disco(!), in the boutique. He seemed to have everything that a virile male, circa 1967-72, needed to be a success in life: looks, women and outstanding ability. But he was a flawed character, and there can be no other assessment as we now look back on his short … Continue reading The problem with being George Best

Despite the current era, Sexton’s Chelsea stand the test of time

IF Chelsea had not got off to a miserable start in 1969-70, they may well have gone much closer to winning the Football League instead of their first FA Cup. Not that the Cup was a consolation, because in 1970, it really meant something and for the Blues, it was their first ever FA Cup triumph. Until 2004-05, the team that overcame Leeds United over … Continue reading Despite the current era, Sexton’s Chelsea stand the test of time

Tottenham Hotspur 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 Tottenham Hotspur 1970-73 – Bill Nick’s final flourish

Peter Osgood: The King may be dead, but he’s never been forgotten

ONE DAY in January 1993, my telephone rang at work. “Hello, mate, it’s Peter Osgood here.” I hesitated, gasped and was a little nervous with my reply. “I used to have a poster of you on my bedroom wall,” I uttered. “I hope you still haven’t got it up,” he quipped. Here was my boyhood hero,  Peter Leslie Osgood, born Windsor, February 20 1947, 6ft … Continue reading Peter Osgood: The King may be dead, but he’s never been forgotten

Mühren and Thijssen, taking totalvoetbal to Suffolk

IN the mid-1970s, there was a certain fascination for all things Dutch among the football fraternity. Some managers, such as Dave Sexton, Ron Greenwood and Bobby Robson, were students of the European game and attempted to bring elements of the continent to England. It didn’t always work, for English players were not schooled in the same way as their European counterparts, but these managers at … Continue reading Mühren and Thijssen, taking totalvoetbal to Suffolk

Saunders’ champions – Aston Villa 1981

SEVENTY-PLUS years had passed since Aston Villa had last won the Football League Championship, their six title triumphs ended in 1910. In the intervening decades, Villa had known despair at times, spending  two years in Division Three at the start of the 1970s. In 1975, under the ultra-disciplinarian, Ron Saunders, Villa returned to the top flight, also winning the Football League Cup in 1974-75. Villa … Continue reading Saunders’ champions – Aston Villa 1981

Gods in sky blue – the 1930 Uruguayans

URUGUAY has long struggled to live up to its football heritage, but then any country of just  three and a half million people battles against huge odds to win major competitions, especially with far noisier and more acclaimed neighbours on their doorstep. Yet two Olympic titles and two World Cups, along with 15 Copa America titles, make Uruguay football’s most successful country in terms of … Continue reading Gods in sky blue – the 1930 Uruguayans

Cagliari 1970, thundering to the Scudetto

AS in England, there’s always been something of a north-south divide in Italy. The industrialised northern cities of Turin and Milan are a marked contrast to the rural south and islands like Sicily and Sardinia. The big money in Italian football came from business families such as the Agnellis and the Morattis, giving Juventus, AC Milan and Inter a big advantage over lesser clubs. Hence, … Continue reading Cagliari 1970, thundering to the Scudetto

Billy Bremner and Johnny Giles – men of their time

IF YOU’VE watched the film, The Damned United, you don’t necessarily come away with a positive view of Leeds United under Don Revie or the two legends in Leeds’ midfield in the mid-1960s to early 1970s, Billy Bremner and Johnny Giles. Along with Jack Charlton and Norman Hunter, no other players epitomised the stance adopted by Revie and his team in that period. Not for … Continue reading Billy Bremner and Johnny Giles – men of their time

Everton and the “golden vision”

TODAY, players’ nicknames lack imagination. There are no “Black pearls”, “Nijinskys”, “Maradonas of the Carpathians” or “Ghosts” (for the uninitiated, these players were: Eusebio, Colin Bell, Georgi Hagi and John White). In the 1960s, Alex Young of Everton was dubbed “The Golden Vision” – a near-celestial nickname. It was Tottenham Hotspur’s double-winning captain, Danny Blanchflower, that coined the phrase in tribute to Young. Ironically, it … Continue reading Everton and the “golden vision”

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