Cafe Calcio On Twohundredpercent: Football Impressionism And The Psychology Of Wimbledon
Cafe Calcio is back on London’s Resonance FM this evening at nine o’clock, and you can join Chris Dixon, David Stubbs and Chris Roberts live this evening by clicking here. Alternatively, should you wish to catch the repeat of it, this will be on tomorrow (Saturday) morning at eleven o’clock. Should you be unable to make either of these dates, you can catch up with the podcast version of their show (as well as their archive of other shows) by clicking here. This week, Chris Roberts has been tackling football and impression, and the psychology of “The Crazy Gang”.
Football Art Masterclass: Impressionism
Impressionism was a French 19th century art movement which marked a momentous break from tradition in European painting. The Impressionists incorporated new scientific research into physics to achieve a more exact representation of colour and tone. The sudden change in the look of these paintings was brought about by a shift in methodology as well, such techniques as applying paint in small touches of pure colour rather than broader strokes or painting out of doors to catch a particular fleeting impression of colour and light.
The upshot emphasised the artist’s perception of the subject matter as much as the subject itself. The idea is that the artist captures the image of an object as someone would see it if they just caught a glimpse of it. Pissaro and Sisley painted the French countryside and river scenes. Degas enjoyed painting ballet dancers and horse races. Morisot painted women doing everyday things. Monet was interested in subtle changes in the atmosphere.
Don Revie on the other hand preferred short violent bursts of white on a green canvas. It does seem an unlikely juxtaposition but small touches, single colours, fleeting impression of light and the notion of getting the gist of the whole item from a single snapshot like the boot of Peter Lorimer, Johnny Giles’ knee or the petulant lower lip and flame haired shrub of Bremner. There is also the preoccupation with the meaning of colour and also, with a nod to Monet, an obsession with atmosphere.
Appearances really counted for Revie and if his 1960s team reflected the impressionist movement there is a decent case that by the 1970s he had gone decidedly post-impressionist. Post-impressionism rejected the limitations, they continued using thick application of paint, distinctive brush strokes, and real-life subject matter, but they were more inclined to emphasize geometric forms such as Allan Clarke’s head. They also distorted form for expressive effect, throwing away several chances to win things to meet the Don’s superstitions and to use unnatural or arbitrary colour, so urine yellow came in for white. Still, there is no doubt they made quite an impression.
Shine On You Crazy Diamonds – Wimbledon’s Grasp Of Psychology
I’ll have to admit that I was never a great fan of Wimbledon while they were alive. There were just too many games on freezing cold New Years Days, too many matches lost against them and frankly speaking I didn’t / don’t like too many of the players involved. When I say alive I appreciate that Wimbledon AFC are very much alive and I’m very fond of them and I suppose some might say the MK Dons are alive as well but I prefer to see them as a species of the living dead, a sort of franchise from the other side reeking of tombs and shortcuts. As they say in the old ghost stories; there are things up there running about on the pitch that oughtn’t by rights to be running about.
I am, however, digressing. I suppose part of me should be grateful for Wimbledon’s fear driven capitulation at Goodison in the mid 1990s watched, not only by a full house at Goodison (including most of my siblings) but by a similar number in Stanley Park who viewed the game up trees through the ruins of the half built Park End. In essence there was no escape for the Wombles, they were a long way from home, their coach had been flambéed in the hotel car park the night before and they were about to send Everton down in the Old Lady herself. At 2-0 up the realisation of all this seemed to sink in with the Goodison crowd (once cheerfully –and aptly- described as 36,000 grumpy men and women who’ve had a bit to drink) breathing down their necks. The hard men wilted and 2-0 up became 3-2 down meaning that Vinnie Jones’ lived to strut around with a shooter in movies by Mr Ritchie and John Fashanu* could strut around pretending he never had a more talented gay brother who killed himself over the very prejudice John exemplified*.
Now that’s out of my system I should say that with hindsight I’ve started to appreciate many of things that made the Crazy Gang of Sam Hamman so effective. I’m not here thinking of the burning of new player’s clothes so they had to leave training sessions naked (John Hartson) though these antics definitely helped to create the famous team unity. There are other tales of laddish aggression such as Vinnie Jones threatening to bite Kenny Daglish’s ear off and spit down the hole as the teams emerged for one match. The bemused Daglish glanced around and all he could see were grinning Wombles chanting “in the hole, in the hole, in the hole”. Two other stories, amongst many, stand out for me as superb examples of the Crazy Gang’s intuitive grasp of psychology.
The first is their tactic of wedging changing room doors open at away games and playing music at jaw dropping volumes to announce their presence and unsettle the routine of the home team. The next was Vinnie Jones writing “like we’re scared” underneath the famous “This is Anfield” sign. It is the perfect riposte to Bill Shankly’s clever bit of pre match tunnel intimidation. Shankly put it there because he knew that it would inspire great players but frighten lesser ones. He correctly surmised that there are many more of the latter about, what he could not predict was that his bluff would be called by a failed Welsh international and would be film star.
*Ok I know he didn’t actually play that day and was sold to Villa that summer and I know he apologised later for calling his brother an outcast but still.
Saturday May 9, 1994
Everton 3-2 Wimbledon
Everton: N.Southall, I.Snodin, G.Ablett, J.Ebbrell (S.Barlow 80), D.Watson, D.Unsworth, G.Stuart, B.Horne, P.Rideout, T.Cottee, A.Limpar. Wimbledon: H.Segers, W.Barton, G.Elkins, V.Jones, J.Scales, D.Blackwell, P.Fear (G.Blissett 82), R.Earle, M.Gayle, D.Holdsworth, A.Clarke.