Category: History

Parking The Coach: Bela Guttmann

  If Bela Guttmann had never existed football would probably have needed to make him up: an individualist who nevertheless created one of the most iconic teams in European football history; a self-confessed mercenary who inspired and cajoled excellence wherever he pitched his wagon. He managed more than twenty club sides, in nine countries and on two continents, and was one of the architects of the rise to prominence of Brazilian football. He discovered, nurtured and unleashed the greatest African footballer of all time into the European game. As a player he insisted his jerseys be made from silk,...

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Graham Taylor: A Life Well-Lived 

They say that you can judge a man by the company that he keeps. In a similar spirit, when somebody dies, you can judge their character as a human being by the warmth and generosity of the tributes that they receive. If we accept this as a given, we have learnt a lot about Graham Taylor today, following the news of his death at the age of seventy-two. These tributes have been widespread, heartfelt, and sincere, and have come from all four corners of English football’s vast and diverse community, from former players and pundits, from the supporters of...

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Hillsborough: Full Exposure Required

News of “another” Hillsborough documentary may have installed “Hillsborough fatigue” in observers of the on-going fight for justice for the 1989 stadium disaster victims, the 96 who died and families, survivors and witnesses whose reputations were thrashed to divert blame from police. I had an inner monologue on whether “Hillsborough fatigue” was insensitive terminology and wearily wondered “what now?” before Peter Marshall’s 48-minute film “Hillsborough, Smears, Survivors and the search for truth,” the December 12th episode of ITV’s current affairs series “Exposure.” The excellent film had the answer, “new evidence about what happened next” in “a tragedy still untold,”...

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Dalian Atkinson

Perhaps more than any other individual moment of that first season of the Premier League, it was this ten seconds of brilliance that drew the line in the sand between Old Football and New Football. Winning the ball from deep inside his own half, he ran a full sixty yards with the ball at his feet, largely untroubled by Wimbledon attempts to win it back, before lifting the ball over the goalkeeper and into the corner of the goal. In the bottom left-hand corner of the screen, we can see the travelling supporters tumbling down the vast open terrace...

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Euro 96: When Football Didn’t “Come Home”

In an episode called “In Defense of Ignorance” that was broadcast a little under two months ago, the podcast This American Life’s Stephanie Foo met Jill Price, a woman diagnosed with Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory. One of only sixty people in the world to have been identified with this condition, Price has a highly developed memory. Though not perfect, she can recall details of her life with extraordinary clarity, but this comes with significant pitfalls: “Every day is like a bag of garbage. And then you go to sleep, and you wake up the next day. And it’s a...

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