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

1971-72 – the title chase to end all title chases

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 very successful, so naturally, Allison would look back on this six -year spell as special. But this was an age where the big prizes were not monopolised, no matter how hard … Continue reading 1971-72 – the title chase to end all title chases

Why we all should treasure football’s urban roots

FOOTBALL is a sport that flourished during the industrial revolution, especially the professional game, so naturally, stadiums sprung up in red-bricked back streets, on the fringes of mill towns and close to mines, factories and railways. The vision of the working class community trudging to the game, flat caps screwed onto heads, turned-up collar and woollen scarf protecting the supporters from the elements, is one … Continue reading Why we all should treasure football’s urban roots

Embracing football’s new Industrial Age

FOOTBALL, as a business, grew out of the industrial revolution in Britain and certain parts of Europe. Hence, the early winners in the game were mostly from industrial cities and Europe’s infant conurbations. In England, the early growth was in the north and the midlands, two areas that really fuelled the development of the nation’s commercial prowess. As industrial Britain declined in the 70s and … Continue reading Embracing football’s new Industrial Age

We are the Champions: 1987-88 – Liverpool

LIVERPOOL  returned to the top of the first division two years after their double-winning performance of 1985-86. It was a reshaped Liverpool team that was crowned champions, playing a brand of football that led many pundits to declare them as one of British football’s best-ever sides. Liverpool spent heavily in building this team, signing England internationals John Barnes (£ 900,000 from Watford) and Peter Beardsley … Continue reading We are the Champions: 1987-88 – Liverpool

1848 and all that …

ASSOCIATION FOOTBALL did not start with SKY Sports, Italia ‘90 or the Premier League. Moreover, it was not the sole property of the working class, although industrialised football did take root in the north of England rather than the south. The first rules of the game were formulated in 1848 in, of all places, Cambridge. It’s a fact that’s often overlooked, so what better way … Continue reading 1848 and all that …

Europe’s finest in 1972

TO SOME people, the year 1972 was one of the finest in post-war football. The Football League title race was one of the most engaging of all time, with Derby County coming out on top, beating off the challenge of Manchester City, Leeds United and Liverpool. In Europe, Ajax Amsterdam were in their pomp, winning a second successive European Cup and the European Football Championship … Continue reading Europe’s finest in 1972

Piet Keizer – until Cruyff, he was the man

IT IS always sad to hear of the passing of a football great and Piet Keizer’s death is a reminder that the heroes of a golden era are gradually leaving the playing field of life. Keizer didn’t really figure in World Cup 1974, having played in just one of the Netherlands’ seven games in West Germany, a goalless draw with Sweden in Dortmund. In fact, … Continue reading Piet Keizer – until Cruyff, he was the man

Out of the fog, came Total Football

ON DECEMBER 7 2016, it was exactly 50 years since the first signs of Total Football, that short-lived but glorious chapter in the evolution of the game, were spotted in Amsterdam. That was the night that Ajax beat England’s champions, Liverpool, by 5-1 in the Olympic Stadium in the second round of the European Cup. It was the first glimpse that the British media probably had … Continue reading Out of the fog, came Total Football

Leo and Cris…two of the all-time greats…. or is it too early to assess?

Anyone who watched the recent “Clasico”, the Spanish one, not the countless derby games that have been similarly labeled in recent months (Manchester, London, Liverpool, Glasgow  – whoops, no longer), would have been treated to some marvellous football. It must be great to watch this high level stuff week-in, week-out, although if you have access to SKY, you do of course, as both Barca and … Continue reading Leo and Cris…two of the all-time greats…. or is it too early to assess?

Celebrating Victoriana

How marvellous it is that the roots of English football are finally being truly appreciated. A new book, “Goal-Post”, an anthology of Victorian football writing, has opened the door on a whole new genre of study in the game. It’s a subject I have long been fascinated by. Back in the early 1980s, I spent many hours researching the early game at the British Newspaper … Continue reading Celebrating Victoriana