72 Classic: Lessons from Europe for English football

AT the start of 1971-72, England’s football fraternity was still clinging to the idea that the nation was a major power in the game. The 1970 World Cup defeat at the hands of West Germany was mostly seen as an aberration and partly attributable to the rustiness of poor old Peter Bonetti, the outstanding Chelsea goalkeeper. There was little suggestion that perhaps the English method … Continue reading 72 Classic: Lessons from Europe for English football

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

Is World Cup success so important for critical acclaim?

THE football world is reaching the end of a cycle, one that has been dominated by two individuals, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. Both players, worshipped in their own countries and admired worldwide, went tumbling out of probably their last World Cup. This has saved us the tiresome narrative of Russia 2018 being the last-chance saloon for both players, who will now never add the … Continue reading Is World Cup success so important for critical acclaim?

Soccer City: Amsterdam – in need of a second club?

YOU take the 24 tram out of the city centre and head for the Olimpisch Stadion, an impressive structure that is partially out of sight due to building work. Circumnavigate the stadium that was the result of an architectural movement called the Amsterdamse School, and you’ll come across a statue. You have to be convinced that this fairly anaemic representation is in fact Johan Cruyff … Continue reading Soccer City: Amsterdam – in need of a second club?

Best and Hudson, Keegan and Cruyff: Playboys v Smart boys

ANYONE who has attended a “sportsman’s evening” featuring footballers from the 1970s will be familiar with the script: laddish dialogue, tales of drink, women and gambling, blue jokes and so on and so forth. Sometimes, it’s not worth meeting your heroes, men you might have only seen on Match of the Day or in the tabloid press. After a while, stories of how “I once … Continue reading Best and Hudson, Keegan and Cruyff: Playboys v Smart boys

GOTP featured in The New European – From Total Football to Total Nightmare

FOR all the pessimism surrounding English football and the gaping void that exists between its current state and its golden era of global domination in 1966, there are some positives. The national team has at least qualified for the next World Cup; England is home to a much-admired and widely-followed domestic competition; and its best club sides can usually expect, at least in a good … Continue reading GOTP featured in The New European – From Total Football to Total Nightmare

Paradise lost…but we’ll never forget Cruyff, Eusebio and their pals

CLUBS like Ajax and Benfica once created some of the most exciting teams we have ever seen. Today, their names still carry enormous weight, but they have been pushed into the shadows by clubs gorging on TV broadcasting fees and the rewards of globalisation. Only 22 clubs have won the European Cup/Champions League, but of those clubs, only four or five could currently claim to … Continue reading Paradise lost…but we’ll never forget Cruyff, Eusebio and their pals

The Lazy Listicle: 10 Johan Cruyff clips you must see

THE MORE time goes on, the more you wish you’d seen Johan Cruyff in his pomp on a regular basis. The early 1970s was a marvellous time for those that like their football “total” and the Dutch team of the era and Ajax provided us with a brand of football that has rarely been bettered. They had one thing in common – Johan Cruyff, arguably … Continue reading The Lazy Listicle: 10 Johan Cruyff clips you must see