Despite many English football fans claiming to be disgruntled with their national side, they are the best supported side in Europe. Although England didn’t always fill Wembley Stadium during qualification for the World Cup, they normally got pretty close and come out top of the attendances ladder for Brazil 2014 qualification.
Looking at the attendances by group shows that France & Spain’s group came out on top. This is almost certainly due to the lack of a micro-state minnow such as Andorra or San Marino in their group.
- Russia are the side who had the largest disparity between their highest (54,212) and their lowest (14,300) attendances.
- Belgium fans are the most consistent. Their lowest crowd (39,987) was 87% of their highest crowd (45,844)
- The least consistent fans were the Cypriots whose smallest gate was (937) and the largest gate was (2,493).
- Serbia also managed to draw some erratic crowds with 30,000 fans for one game yet only 6,500 for another.
- Highest crowd was at Wembley (86,645) for England’s demolishion of San Marino.
- Lowest crowd during qualification (excluding the two games which were played behind closed doors) was a paltry 341 in Nicosia where Cyprus played out a 0-0 draw with Albania.
The quantity of football writing available to the football fan appears to rise exponentially as time passes. Whether it’s humble blogs like this one, publications such as The Blizzard or the increasing number of football books appearing on the shelves of Waterstones, as football fans we’re well provided for. It’s got to the point where it’s pretty much impossible to have kept up with all the latest reading available and unfortunately the quantity of football writing means we often neglect some of the classics that were written many moons ago.
One of these classics is Willy Meisl’s Soccer Revolution. (Another review of this book can be found at the marvellous Football Attic, but I couldn’t resist writing another one) Despite being written in 1955, the topics is covers are remarkably prescient, and the problems it lists within the English/British game are sadly familiar. Willy Meisl was a multi-talented sort of chap. Not only was he a very good journalist in his own right, involved in the production of multiple books, he also played football as a goalkeeper at a good level and even represented Austria at water polo. Meisl, an Austrian-Jew, found himself in the United Kingdom after being forced to flee his country after Nazism took hold in Germany. In an interesting segment of Soccer Revolution Meisl compares the approach Britain used towards Germany between the two World Wars and the way they view football tactics.
Round the thirties and towards the World War II we in Britain were living through a ‘safety-first’ period. Little wonder it proved the most fangerous in politics and economics in the nation’s and world’s history; it helped us bring about Hitler and almost brought down the Empire plus the world!
The dictators incited their peoples with the slogan: ‘Live dangerously!’ As it turned out they overdid it, but it was touch-and-go and it would have given them world domination.
Throughout the book Meisl laments at the lack of creativity, thought and exuberance shown by the average British footballer in comparison to their continental counterparts. When talking about a FIFA XI that had played England in the early 50′s Meisl commented:
they were technically better equipped than most of our stars, passed with incomparably greater precision, positioned themselves much more cleverly – in short played better football in spite of being to all intents and purposes strangers to one another.
Most of us who follow football closely will have read similar glowing praise of foreign sides (whether that be Spain, Barcelona or <insert your Hipster XI here>). Whereas the British sides are often castigated for their focus on speed and power in preference to technical ability. Meisl also criticises the British attitude towards “getting stuck in” and “tackling hard”. This is an attitude that remains today. Watch a Premier League match and listen to the crowd when a centre-half wins the ball with a steaming tackle or a firm header. If his opponent is knocked to the ground the crowd is heard to roar in appreciation. The crowd’s reaction in La Liga or Bundesliga is very different. Despite these uncomfortable truths the game in the UK is changing. Slowly.
In the pre-European club competition age it wasn’t uncommon for British club sides to travel into Europe to play continental opposition. Meisl recounts some fabulous stories including Southampton defeating a Vienesse side 6-0 and Saints’ keeper Robinson making such an impression with his flying saves that the word “Robinsonade” was adopted by Austrians and central-Europeans for that type of save. After the game the ever-willing Robinson gave an exhibition to the Austrian spectators where he was pelted simultaneously by six balls, saving each and every one of them.
Another fantastic tale details Swansea Town’s trip to play in Denmark in 1923. Worried that the Swans might not be as big a draw as other names in British football (Herbert Chapman’s great Huddersfield Town side had played there the same year and Arsenal had recently visited), a committee member went into the Swansea changing-rooms before the match and offered each player ten cigarettes for every goal their team scored.
The visitors were very obliging, winning 8-2, so the committee-man had to provide 880 cigarettes!
What’s clear from Meisl’s account of 1920s and 1930s football is that foreign tours to Europe were an integral feature to many British football club’s seasons. Everton and Tottenham even played an exhibition match against one another in Vienna, a pre-cursor to the looming Game 39 perhaps?
I found this paragraph interesting. It was written in 1955.
The unpalatable truth is that English soccer has gradually deteriorated, finally fallen off its pedestal and now keeps on rolling downwards. No longer does it impress by its quality, but only by its breadth. With her 40,000 clubs England still is the most diligent soccer player.
The sorriest feature in this drama is that the English, with very few exceptions, cannot get themselves to recognize what has happened. IOn their self-satisfaction and conceit they still fancy themselves the first in the football world and their defeats sheer accidents. The fact is that English soccer has an enormous amoiunt to learn from the rest of the world, about training, courses, tactics, organisation and strategy.
Despite the above being written in 1955 I think that the attitude expressed was still prevalent in England a few years ago. The now ubiquitous Champions League and foreign league football on our television screens has led to even the occasional follower of football to realise that these foreign lads can play a bit. It’s also worth mentioning that eleven years after this was written England did win the World Cup.
Meisl writes of the fantastic Hungarian side of the 1950s in reverent tones. His description of their style of craft over the English speed and power is very much the sort of language used when you read about the current Spain side. There are some fabulous examples of the English press getting ahead of themselves as England prepare for the game in Budapest (after the 3-6 reverse at Wembley).
- SPEED WILL CONQUER PUSKAS & CO
- ‘JET’ JEZZARD* OUR SECRET WEAPON
- ENGLAND’S CHANCE OF REVENGE – HUNGARY WORRIED
We lost 7-1
(Refers to Bedford Jezzard, a Fulham centre-forward)
Meisl continues with a scathing attack on the sport’s press. He details the reaction to Wolverhampton Wanderers’ victory over Honved which saw them dubbed “the best club side in Europe, if not the world”. Meisl counters this argument brilliantly, pointing out that only a couple of weeks earlier Honved had lost against Partizan in Belgrade (and Partizan were only 7th in the Yugoslav league at the time). He also notes the news reports saying that Wolves had won on a quagmire of a pitch:
May I just remark in passing that quagmires are usually not considered the best-suited pitches on which world championships ought to be decided.
It’s a fascinating read for anyone with even a passing interest in the history of football especially beyond these shores. Austrian and Danish football is covered quite well as is the experience of following a World Cup as a journalist (in 1950 nearly all the journalists went home once England were knocked out). His approach to the game and outspoken attitude mean he’d be a sure-fire hit were twitter around in the early 1950s. He’d certainly give Raymond Verheijen a run for his money!
In the days before boring football blogs, football fans would get their information from newspapers and magazines. Football annuals would then fill the void as Christmas presents for information hungry youths. One short-lived annual from the early 1980s went under the name of Scoop, and luckily for you the 1980 edition recently came into my possession.
KENNY DALGLISH IN A WHEELBARROW
Not only does this annual feature a picture of Kenny Dalglish sitting in a wheelbarrow being pushed by Scotland team-mate Graham Souness, it also features a very odd picture-story concerning Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Corrigan. Similar to the picture stories you might see in a well known tabloid newspaper (think Dear Diedre), we see Corrigan pre-game at home with his family before bantering with his team-mates. He then plays out a 2-0 First Division defeat to Derby County at The Baseball Ground. Joe Corrigan’s afternoon isn’t nearly as exciting as the other comic strips in the annual.
Other features include a rather laudable attempt to help youngsters improve their game. There’s an opportunity to read how Franz Beckenbauer operates the offside trap and how Mick Mills can trick a winger, but my personal favourite is the piece on INSTRUCTIONAL SHOUTING from England centre-half Dave Watson. “Practice shouting in training and during matches and it will help improve your team’s performance”.
SCOOP 2000 SPORTS COMPUTER
One of the stranger pieces in the annual is the “Intercontinental Supercup” in which the games between four continents are decided with what the annual describes as the “SCOOP 2000 SPORTS COMPUTER” – We pick the teams – the computer plays the games! (You can be rest assured that no computer got in 100 miles of the Scoop offices) What dates this article beautifully is that the competition is played on Astroturf in north America. Whilst astroturf is just beginning to become mainstream in the UK the threat from NASL and north American soccer is tangible throughout the pages of this publication. There was certainly a great fear in the early 80s that the United States was about to become a true force in world football via it’s well funded soccer league, NASL.
The four ‘continents’ competing are: Great Britain, South America, North America and Europe. The sides are selected based on players currently plying their trade in those areas, so the GB side features Argentinian Ossie Ardiles, whilst the North Americans feature George Best, Franz Beckenbauer and Rodney Marsh. Former Liverpool striker Kevin Keegan is awarded a place on the bench for the Europeans (he was at Hamburg at the time).
Perhaps unsurprisingly it was the Brits who won the tournament, defeating Europe 2-1 in the final. The industry of Brian Flynn in the midfield and the goalkeeping of Pat Jennings obviously impressed the SPORTS COMPUTER. All a bit of fun and reads very much like the ramblings of a Football Manager addict.
The annual ends on an excited note as the sporting themes of the 1980s are predicted. Amongst the predictions are the assertion that the Olympic Games will eventually have to be cancelled as it becomes too expensive to host in one city. Other (more footballing) predictions include:
- The advent ‘at last’ of a United Kingdom football team.
- The formation of a European super-league.
- Small clubs falling to the wayside as superclubs take over.
- The emergence of the United States of America as a true footballing force.
Overall this annual is a little more erratic than others of its day. It features other sports like speedway and cricket but also offers one page on the best comedians of the day (The Two Ronnies and Leonard Rossiter). Despite the oddities it’s still an interesting piece of footballing ephemera.
In the late 80s Panini set up a football yearbook to rival the traditional Rothmans Football juggernaut. The 88/89 Panini yearbook is a charming edition that pulls you in during the editorial where it’s scathing of the Tory government, labelling it’s minister of sport as “unimpressive” and is very honest about the state of the game in England. But perhaps the most fascinating section of the book is the diary that details what happened during the previous season.
It’s unsurprising, but the football landscape in the late eighties was very different to what it is now. The game is riven with erratic transfer tribunals (do we even have those any more), low crowds and the dark spectre of football hooliganism. Despite this we did get to enjoy the Centenary celebrations with the highlight being the ludicrous Mercantile Credit Trophy weekend – you’ll find out about that later..
I’ve transcribed some of the more interesting news points below. What’s probably more intriguing than things that actually did happen are those rumours that never came to fruition. Brian Clough taking over from Mike England as Wales manager? Or how about Johan Cruyff accepting a role from Robert Maxwell as Derby County technical director? Cruyff opted for the Barcelona manager’s job instead, and the rest (as they say), is history.
1 – FIFA confirm that the 46 African nations who advocated the amalgamation of the four British countries have withdrawn their proposal.
7 – The FA refuse to sanction pre-season trips of Spurs to Holland, and Leeds to West Germany.
9 – Spurs have their £10,000 fine for fielding a weakened side against Everton in Cup final week halved on appeal.
14 – Liverpool have to postpone their first home games because of a collapsed sewer under the Kop.
15 – Oxford announce a further £500,000 sponsorship deal with Wang.
7 – An informal meeting in London between UEFA president Jacques Georges and Sports Minister Colin Moynihan, England’s case for returning to European club competition is discussed and a review promised for next March.
8 – The Football League launch their centenary season with a 3-0 win at Wembley over a star studded Rest of the World side managed by Terry Venables and including Maradona, Michel Platini, and Gary Lineker.
9 – An American football game at Wembley draws 72,000 spectators, over 10,000 more than watched the previous day’s Football League Centenary match.
13 – The Football League announce a new sponsorship deal – £4.5 million over three years by Barclays Bank.
21 – Wolves are fined £5,000 because of their fans behaviour at Scarborough last Saturday, and a joint League and FA inquiry prohibits Wolves fans from obtaining tickets for six matches starting from September 1.
25 – Luton Town relax their ban on away fans for the Littlewoods Cup in time for the 2nd-round draw.
26 – Spanish champions Real Madrid thrash injury-depleted Everton 6-1 in a friendly in Madrid.
27 – Barcelona name Gary Lineker and Bernd Schuster as their two foreign players, omitting Mark Hughes and Steve Archibald from their squad.
30 – In Scotland, Celtic beat Rangers who have player-manager Graeme Souness sent off and take over from Aberdeen at the top on goal difference.
2 – QPR beat Everton 1-0 at Loftus Road and go top of Division 1.
3 – Chelsea announce a three-year £1.25m sponsorship deal with American-based computer giant Commodore, the biggest club sponsorship in British club football.
5 – The most extraordinary result of the day comes in Division 3 where Gillingham swamp Chesterfield, who had previously not conceded a goal, by 10-0!
8 – A Football League side, captained by Ossie Ardiles, scrapes a 2-2 draw with the Irish League in Belfast thanks to a late equaliser from Mirandhina.
9 – England go down 3-1 in West Germany. Neil Webb (Forest), on for Glenn Hoddle after an hour, becomes England’s 1,000th international.
12 – QPR beat Chelsea 3-1 with a Gary Bannister hat-trick and go 5 points clear at the top of Division 1.
16 – Welsh Cup holders Merthyr beat Atalanta of Italy 2-1 in the Cup-Winners Cup 1st round, 1st leg.
20 – In the first televised league match of the season a Steve Nicol hat-trick helps Liverpool to cruise past Newcastle 4-1 at St James’s Park.
8 – Luton, drawn at home to Coventry in the Littlewoods Cup, decide to play the tie at Craven Cottage rather than relax their member’s only rule.
12 – Luton transfer their home Littlewoods Cup tie with Coventry to Leicester because of the prohibitive cost of policing the game at Craven Cottage.
23 – Spurs manager David Pleat resigns after ‘kerb-crawling allegations in the Sun.
29 – Wimbledon’s Vinny Jones is fined £250 by the FA for remarks in a newspaper article.
2 – Glasgow Rangers captain Terry Butcher becomes the fourth player charged by the police over incidents in the Celtic match.
2 – Alex Ferguson fines Graeme Hogg for newspaper comments and loans him to West Brom for a month.
5 – UEFA fix Mo Johnstone’s transfer fee from Celtic to Nantes at £376,300 and order Celtic to pay him about £5,000 back pa.
16 – Sacked Spurs manager David Pleat is offered a job with Olympiakos, in Greece.
16 – QPR manager Jim Smith apologises for calling Spurs’ Ossie Ardiles a ‘con man’.
18 – Strong rumours abound that Fosters are to sponsor the FA Cup for £12m over three years.
19 – European Champions France, ignominiously failing to qualify this year, decline an invitation to compete in the Rous Cup, leaving the tournament with problems after Scotland had vetoed Uruguay and the Government had disapproved of Argentina.
20 – Derby chairman Robert Maxwell, also Oxford’s owner, has a takeover bid for Watford accepted, and will pay £3.5 million for Elton John’s shares and outstanding loans; League secretary Graham Kelly says the League will not block the move.
26 – The League refuse to back Robert Maxwell’s Watford takeover and ask him to withdraw. Maxwell accuses the League’s ‘mismanagement’ committee of being ‘frightened men’, declaring: ‘What we have is a professional game dominated by incompetent, selfish, bungling amateurs’!
30 – Mercantile Credit, sponsors of the League’s centenary celebrations, are disappointed with events so far and call for a review of the position.
9 – Forest win the indoor “Soccer-Six” tournament.
12 – Ian Rush is fined £2,500 after his comments in the Sun.
13 – Colombia agree to play England and Scotland in the Rous Cup.
14 – Struggling Morton sign three Danish players till the end of the season.
17 – Sheffield United chairman Reg Brealey sacks himself and suggests a few more chairmen do the same.
19 – Manchester United win away, but debutant Steve Bruce gives away a penalty and breaks his nose.
22 – The League agree to compromise over their pre-season knock-out tournament involving the top 8 Division 1 sides, part of their centenary celebrations, switching it to midweek in September and October.
29 – The FA express alarm at the sale of T-shirts with the slogan ‘England invasion of Germany 1988′,
8 – With many English clubs playing their fourth game in 8 days, about £7million has been taken at the turnstiles.
14 – The FA confirm that the Cup will not be sponsored, the traditionalists within the organisation having prevailed.
14 – Liverpool announce a new sponsorship deal worth £1m over three years, Candy replacing Crown Paints.
19 – AC Milan insure Ruud Gullit for £5m.
20 – Oxford United beat Manchester United 2-0 to reach the semi finals of the Littlewoods Cup.
24 – Arsenal sign Stoke full-back Lee Dixon for £400,000, 10 times what a League tribunal required Stoke to pay Bury for him at the start of hte season.
28 – Villa sign Crewe striker David Platt for £200,000 with £40,000 going to Platt’s first club Manchester United.
28 – QPR beat West Ham 3-1 at Loftus Road, where Wet German police, there to study crowd control, see an overcrowded section spill onto the field and hte game held up for an hour, but are impressed with the crowd behaviour and the police methods used.
3 – Former Spurs manager Keith Burkinshaw is sacked by Sporting Lisbon.
3 – The Welsh FA announce the termination of Mike England’s contract, which had 6 months still to run.
4 – FA of Wales secretary Alun Evans denies reports that Brian Clough is to be offered the job as part-time manager.
8 – Brian Clough expresses his eagerness to become part-time manager of Wales, against the wishes of Forest chairman Maurice Roworth, and is due to discuss terms with the Welsh FA subcommittee tomorrow.
8 – Betis of Seville sack manager John Mortimore.
9 – Brian Clough is set to take the Welsh job on the 24th, although he still has not got the nod from Forest.
11 – Forest refuse Brian Clough permission to manage Wales.
12 – Brian Clough says he will not resign from Forest over the Welsh job disappointment.
12 – Portsmouth, with a tax and VAT bill of over £700,000 have their assets frozen by the bank.
14 – In Division IV, Wolves come back to form with a 4-2 win at Exeter thanks to a Steve Bull hat-trick.
15 – Glenn Hoddle confirms his assertion that the technical standard of French football is higher than that in England by helping Monaco beat his former club Spurs 4-0 in a friendly at White Hart Lane.
16 – Everton’s lowest ever first-team gate at Goodison, 5204, see them lose 2-1 to Luton in the Simod Cup.
24 – Swindon fine Chris Kamara £1000 and suspend him for a month after an incident on Saturday when Shrewsbury striker Jim Melrose had his jaw broken.
24 – British Transport Police call on Cardiff to take action after their fans wrecked four trains on Saturday night.
1 – Tottenham’s lowest crowd of the season, 15986, see Spurs play out a dull goalless draw with Derby County.
2 – USA, Brazil and Morocco have bid to host the 1994 World Cup.
6 – Spurs chairman Irving Scholar refuses the Welsh FA permission to approach manager Terry Venables regarding the part-time job as Wales supremo.
15 – Chris Kamara is to be charged with causing grievous bodily harm, the first League player to face police proceedings over an on-field incident.
4 – Manchester United make a sensational comeback at Anfield, holding Liverpool 3-3 after being 3-1 down. United manager Alex Ferguson alleges that the ‘intimidating atmosphere’ at Anfield gets to referees and Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish becomes involved in the argument.
8 – Derby chairman Robert Maxwell invites Johan Cruyff to become technical director. Terry Yorath is appointed caretaker manager of Wales for three matches.
11 – Paul Gascgoine named PFA Young Player of the Year.
15 – Johan Cruyff announces that he will become Barcelona coach for a year, declining the offer from Derby.
16 – There is no Saturday Football League programme owing to the Centenary festival at Wembley sponsored by Mercantine Credit. The first day of the festival attracts some 40,000 spectators to see a knock-out competition between 16 clubs (eight from Division I, four from Div II, and two each from Divs III & IV), who qualified on the results of 15 League matches between November and February. From 20-minute each way matches, the semi-finalists to emerge are Manchester United, Sheffield Wednesday, Forest and, from a sector that contained Cup finalists Liverpool and Wimbledon, Fourth Division Tranmere Rovers. Tranmere are the heroes of the first day, beating Wimbledon 1-0 and Liverpool’s conquerers Newcastle 2-0. Seven of the other 10 matches are decided on penalties. Injuries to Liverpool’s John Barnes and Luton’s Mal Donaghy are unfortunate legacies of the tournament.
17 – Forest win the League festival at Wembley. Forest manager Brian Clough is conspicuous by his absence, as are the spectators, numbering only 17,000 on the second day.
18 – Swindon’s Chris Kamara, fined in the courts last week, is banned by FA for the rest of the season.
21 – Milan sign Lothar Matthaus from Bayern Munich for £2.4million.
23 – Liverpool and Celtic clinch the League Championships of England and Scotland.
24 – Luton beat holders Arsenal 3-2 at Wembley to win the Littlewoods Cup, their first ever major trophy.
27 – In Belfast Northern Ireland and France draw 0-0, with Luton’s young Littlewoods Cup star Kingsley Black making his debut as a 60th-minute substitute ad thus settling the unedifying tug-of-war going on all week between Billy Bingham and Bobby Robson for his services.
2 – Millwall gain promotion to Division I for the first time in their history with a 1-0 win at Hull. They go up as champions, as do Sunderland from Division III and Wolves from Division IV.
3 – UEFA set a limit of 4 foreign players per squad of 16 in UEFA competitions, a ruling that could seriously affect British clubs, as ‘foreign’ denotes players not qualified to represent the club’s country.
12 – The Football League agree a provisional deal with the new British Satellite Broadcasting (BSB) that would guarantee a minimum £9m per season and net football some £200m in 10 years; the BSB, with a 15-year franchise from the IBA and due to start operations in August 1989, would form a joint company with the League and the FA; but with the BBC and ITV possibly refusing to negotiate with a joint company, there may be no domestic football on TV next season.
14 – A 38th minute goal by Lawrie Sanchez and a second-half penalty save by man-of-the-match Dave Beasant give Wimbledon a sensational 1-0 victory over Liverpool at Wembley.
14 – Sports minister Colin Moynihan criticizes the West Germans’ refusal to have all-ticket matches in the European Championships.
16 – Newcastle’s Paul Gascgoine is fined £200 for kicking over a bucket of water after being sent off at Derby.
20 – The FA are to charge Cup-winners Wimbledon with bringing the game into disrepute after an incident during Alan Cork’s testimonial just two days after the final in which eight players dropped their shorts at half-time.
24 – Colombia hold England 1-1 at Wembley in an entertaining match watched by under 26,000. England win the Rous Cup.
3 – The League decree that from 1990-91 both sleeves of players’ shirts will carry the League logo.
4 – England win a full-scale work-out against Beazer Homes League champions Aylesbury 7-0 with Beardsley scoring 4.
7 – League secretary Graham Kelly is the surprise choice to succeed Ted Croker as chief executive of the FA.
8 – Wimbledon are fined £5,000 and nine players £750 each for the ‘mooning’ incident at Alan Cork’s testimonial.
15 – Holland dump England out of the European Championships with a fine 3-1 win.
16 – The FA withdraws its request to UEFA for the return of English clubs to European competition, And one of the points emerging from the Downing Street soccer summit is the possible withdrawal of the England team from international competition. The bookies give manager Bobby Robson only an even chance of still being in charge as media hysteria for his resignation grows.
27 – The FA ban a proposed international tournament at Wembley in mid-August between Arsenal, Spurs, AC Milan and Bayern Munich.
29 – The Football League name Holland, Spain, Belgium and parts of Greece out-of-bounds for League clubs this summer in an attempt to pre-empt trouble.
As you probably weren’t aware Spirit of Mirko took a bit of a break this summer. Watched some cricket, spent time outside and generally ignored the world of football.
1. A fantastic analysis of the Sodje dynasty over at From the Inside Right.
2. A lovely poem about Swansea City’s new signing Wilfried Bony.
3. A match report of an Austria Salzburg game. Worth reading if you can read German, equally interesting if you translate using your web browser.
4. An illustration a day leading up to the Brazil 2014 World Cup next summer.
5. African football continues to beguile and fascinate. What’s a Cyril Makanaky?
6. This website is probably the most amazing thing on the internet. I don’t say that lightly. If you like music, you’ll love/hate it.
7. A lovely pictoral review of the 2012/2013 football season from one of the best Doncaster Rovers fanzines.
8. Reminder: Summer isn’t yet over, enjoy it while it lasts.
9. A new football radio station I was involved in setting up. Get involved!
10. Support your local non-league club. What better day to start than this year’s Non League Day.
There’ll undoubtedly be a few articles up on the website before long. See you soon.
You might assume that the practice of two English clubs facing one another abroad was a recent invention, something adopted as part of the Premier League’s plan for global domination, however that assumption is far from correct. We haven’t quite reached the point where a Premier League match is hosted abroad, but that can’t be too far away, however friendly matches involving two English clubs are commonplace in the pre-season calendar (America and the far East being the two favoured destinations).
I was pleased to see on twitter early this evening James Dart posting a link to a match programme from 1989 featuring Middlesbrough and Coventry City. The two clubs were both on tour in Bermuda at the time and played one another in a friendly. A poorly filmed YouTube video shows Peter Davenport scoring a goal for Middlesbrough. (Hat tip to Christopher Ledger for that).
Whilst 1989 may seem like the dim and distant past, there are instances of English teams playing one another on foreign soil from early in the 20th Century. A great example of this comes from Willy Meisl’s book “Soccer Revolution”:
“Then on 7 May 1905 Hugo* staged an exhibition game between Everton and Tottenham. The two teams fought as if it were a Cup-tie. Never before had the 10,000 spectators – the crowd record was doubled by this sensational encounter – seen such tackling. Tottenham were favourites, but Everton won 2-0.”
* – Hugo Meisl, the author Willy’s brother who managed the Austrian ‘Wunderteam’ during the 1930s
The following list shows the number of times each club in the Championship won home and away against one of their rivals during the 2012/2013 Championship season. Every single one of the 24 clubs managed to achieve this feat against at least one of their opponents during the season.
- Cardiff City: Millwall, Blackburn Rovers, Leeds United, Blackpool, Birmingham City, Wolves and Sheffield Wednesday.
- Hull City: Millwall, Derby County, Huddersfield Town, Ipswich Town, Leeds United and Birmingham City.
- Watford: Huddersfield Town, Leicester City, Birmingham City, Sheffield Wednesday and Nottingham Forest.
- Birmingham City: Bristol City, Peterborough United, Leeds United and Middlesbrough.
- Crystal Palace: Peterborough United, Derby County, Wolves and Charlton Athletic.
- Leicester City: Bristol City, Huddersfield Town, Burnley and Middlesbrough.
- Nottingham Forest: Peterborough United, Wolves, Sheffield Wednesday and Charlton Athletic.
- Burnley: Bristol City, Derby County and Wolves.
- Charlton Athletic: Bristol City, Blackpool and Leicester City.
- Huddersfield Town: Bristol City, Burnley and Wolves.
- Sheffield Wednesday: Millwall, Barnsley and Charlton Athletic.
- Barnsley: Millwall and Middlesbrough.
- Blackburn Rovers: Bristol City and Barnsley.
- Bolton Wanderers: Bristol City and Blackburn Rovers.
- Brighton & Hove Albion: Huddersfield Town and Burnley.
- Bristol City: Peterborough United and Middlesbrough.
- Derby County: Bristol City and Leeds United.
- Ipswich Town: Birmingham City and Bolton Wanderers.
- Millwall: Leicester City and Middlesbrough.
- Peterborough United: Barnsley and Cardiff City.
- Wolves: Bristol City and Birmingham City.
- Blackpool: Millwall.
- Leeds United: Bristol City.
- Middlesbrough: Blackburn Rovers.
- No side did the double over promoted Hull City or play-off finalists Crystal Palace and Watford.
- Cardiff did the double over seven other sides but relegated Peterborough were the only side to do the double over the Dragons.
- Ten sides did the double against Bristol City which may explain why the club finished bottom.
- The three sides who did the double against only one other club finished in 13th (Leeds United), 15th (Blackpool) and 16th (Middlesbrough)
If a club wins both the home fixture and the away fixture during a league season then they are said to have “done the double” over that side. In the Premier League during the 2012/2013 season 16 of the 20 sides did the double over a rival.
The following lists show the teams that each club in the Premier League managed to do the double against.
- Manchester United: Southampton, Sunderland, Stoke City, QPR, Newcastle United, Aston Villa, Fulham, Wigan Athletic, Reading and Liverpool.
- Chelsea: Sunderland, Stoke City, Aston Villa, Norwich City, Everton, Wigan Athletic and Arsenal.
- Arsenal: QPR, Newcastle United, West Brom, West Ham, Wigan Athletic and Reading.
- Manchester City: Newcastle United, Aston Villa, West Brom, Fulham, Wigan Athletic and Reading.
- Tottenham Hotspur: Southampton, Sunderland, Aston Villa, Swansea City, West Ham and Reading.
- Liverpool: QPR, Norwich City, Fulham and Wigan Athletic.
- West Brom: Southampton, Sunderland, QPR and Liverpool.
- Swansea City: QPR, Newcastle United and Wigan Athletic.
- Aston Villa: Sunderland and Reading.
- Southampton: Aston Villa and Reading.
- Everton: West Ham.
- Fulham: West Brom.
- Sunderland: Wigan Athletic,
- Stoke City: QPR.
- Newcastle United: QPR.
- Wigan Athletic: Reading
- Norwich City: None.
- QPR: None.
- Reading: None.
- West Ham: None.
Of the three relegated sides Wigan Athletic were the only team who managed to win home and away against another club (Wigan did the double over fellow relegated side Reading).
Four sides in the Premier League did not lose home and away to another club. Those sides were Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City and Manchester United. Nine clubs did the double over eventual FA Cup winners Wigan Athletic.
Brentford and Wigan Athletic will make trips to Wembley over the next few weeks for differing reasons. Brentford will be playing in the League One play-off final against Yeovil Town, whilst Wigan Athletic will feature in the first FA Cup Final of their history against Manchester City.
Despite these heady days for both clubs it’s not the first time Brentford and Wigan have played at Wembley. They faced one another in the Freight Rover Trophy in 1985. The Freight Rover Trophy was the first ever incarnation of the Associate Members Cup, a trophy for football clubs in the bottom two divisions of the Football League. It would later be known as the Sherpa Vans Trophy, Leyland DAF Cup, Autoglass Trophy, Autowindscreens Shield, LDV Vans Cup and these days goes by the moniker Johnstone’s Paint Trophy. For whatever reason (and I’m yet to think of a good one) I have in my possession a match day programme of the 1985 final between Brentford and Wigan Athletic and therefore thought it might be worth penning a quick summary.
The two sides had made it to Wembley by winning their regional finals, Brentford beating Newport County 6-0 in the south and Wigan Athletic beating Mansfield on penalties in the north. It’s perhaps interesting to note that both Mansfield and Newport were promoted from the Conference to league football this summer.
One interesting aspect of this competition is that it was the first to be screened on British cable television. It was produced by a company called Screen Sport and from the following youtube clip you can see that they were attempting to be innovative. Slow motion replays of odd incidents are a mainstay of most international tournaments now so Screen Sport appear to have been ahead of the game. Though unsurprisingly Martin Tyler’s post-match interviews of topless Brentford players in the changing rooms has never really caught on. The video is certainly an insight into football as viewed through the lens of a mid 80s armchair fan.
The following video from the semi-final between Brentford and Newport County is worth a quick viewing if only for the post-match interview with four-goal hero Gary Roberts who uses the cliché “I’m obviously happy for the club” before following it with the perhaps too honest “but especially happy for myself”. Keith Cassells also offers his honest (and shirtless) view of Brentford’s trip to Wembley, as a delighted footballer about to experience the pinnacle of his career – a match at Wembley Stadium.
Eagle-eyed viewers will have noticed Colin Addison (later to manage Atlético Madrid) managing Newport County and Tony Pulis (later to manage Stoke City) amongst the County defence.
Both teams featured names that have become familiar to many in football league circles since their retirement. Brentford included Keith Millen, Terry Hurlock, Steve Wignall, Terry Bullivant and Chris Kamara in their squad whilst Wigan had the pre-Wright/Bright rhyming strike duo of Paul Jewell and Mike Newell. Current TV pundits Frank McClintock (Brentford) and Bryan Hamilton (Wigan) managed the sides.
Reading the programme makes you realise that football has always been more than willing to sell its soul, it’s just that only recently that there’s been a buyer with real cash behind it. The schedule of the day has at 2:25pm a “Presentation of Sherpa Minibuses to the club chairmen” and two pages are dedicated to the sponsor of the cup and some of their quotes are golden, this one especially tickled me:
“In reaching the pinnacle of a great Wembley occasion today’s finalists have shown commitment, spirit and determination – qualities that, over the last few years, have given Freight Rover a leading place in today’s commercial vehicles market”
Other sponsors mentioned in the programme include Mitre (who provided their famous Mitre Delta football for the match) and also National Dairy Council, Panini, Shoot Magazine and United Biscuits who all apparently provided items for the family stand (sounds like one hell of a party bag to me).
Wigan Athletic won the final 3-1 and Elton John presented the trophy to the winners.
The following list shows the players who started the first and last league games for their League clubs in the 2012/2013 season.
- Stevenage (8) – James Dunne, Luke Freeman, Marcus Haber, Darius Charles, Chris Day, Mark Roberts, David Gray and Bondz N’Gala.
- Carlisle United (7) – Liam Noble, Brad Potts, Lee Miller, James Trevor Berrett, Danny Livesey, Matthew James Robson and Paul Thirlwell.
- Crawley Town (7) – Nicky Adams, Josh Simpson, Billy Clarke, Matthew Sadler, Paul Jones, Dannie Bulman and Mark Connolly.
- Hartlepool United (7) – Andy Monkhouse, Jonathan Franks, Simon Walton, Sam Collins, Scott Flinders, Neil Jeffrey Austin and Peter Hartley.
- Leyton Orient (7) – Dean Cox, Lloyd James, Kevin Lisbie, Jimmy Dean Smith, Gary Sawyer, Jamie Jones and Nathan Clarke.
- Tranmere Rovers (7) – Jean-Louis Akpro, Andy Robinson, Liam Palmer, Danny Holmes, Zoumana Bakayogo, Ash Taylor and Ben Gibson.
- Brentford (6) – Harlee Dean, Clayton Donaldson, Shaleum Logan, Simon Moore, Toumani Diagouraga and Jonathan Douglas.
- Doncaster Rovers (6) – Chris Brown, David Cotterill, Robert Jones, Paul Quinn, Jamie Paul McCombe and Tommy Spurr.
- Notts County (6) – Alan Judge, Jeff Hughes, Yoann Arquin, Gary Liddle, Bartosz Bialkowski and Dean Leacock.
- Preston North End (6) – Nicky Wroe, Keith Keane, Jack King, John Mousinho, Paul Huntington and David Buchanan.
- Yeovil Town (6) – James Hayter, Edward Upson, Marek Stech, Luke Ayling, Sam Foley and Dominic Blizzard.
- AFC Bournemouth (5) – Charlie Daniels, Marc Pugh, Shaun MacDonald, Tommy Elphick and Simon Francis.
- MK Dons* (5) – Antony Kay, Dean Peter Bowditch, Daniel Powell, Luke Chadwick and Darren Potter.
- Scunthorpe United (5) – Jimmy Ryan, Mark Duffy, Sam Slocombe, David Mirfin and Tom Newey.
- Walsall (5) – Adam Craig Chambers, Jamie Paterson, William Grigg, Nicky Featherstone and Dean Holden.
- Crewe Alexandra (4) – Byron Moore, Max Clayton, Ajay Leitch-Smith and Harry Davis.
- Sheffield United (4) – Harry Maguire, Kevin McDonald, Michael Doyle and Neill Collins.
- Swindon Town (4) – Raffaele De Vita, Alan McCormack, Wesley Foderingham and Joe Devera.
- Colchester United (3) – Magnus Okuonghae, Marcus Bean and Brian Wilson.
- Coventry City (3) – Adam Barton, John Fleck and Richard Wood.
- Oldham Athletic (3) – Lee Croft, Christian Alexis Montaño Castillo and Jean-Yves Mvoto.
- Bury (2) – Mark Hughes and David Worrall.
- Shrewsbury Town (2) – Luke Summerfield and Chris Weale.
- Portsmouth (0)
Not one player who started Portsmouth’s first game of the season also started the last game of the league season. This perhaps demonstrates what a turbulent season the club has had. The club didn’t even have the same manager for their first and last games of the season.