Category: History

Celtic’s European Cup: Understanding Lisbon

Just watch the game. You’ll understand. Even though Celtic completed an unbeaten Scottish Premiership season last Sunday, the focus was far less on the 34 wins and four draws this season than on one win 50 years ago. Likewise, the previous Thursday, when Celtic ran lanes through a disinterested Partick Thistle, in front of a stand-full of fans with banners and flags replicating those carried and waved in Lisbon’s Estadio Nacional on May 25th 1967. But if you watch the game, you’ll understand. If you aren’t a Celtic fan, “Lisbon Lions” fatigue possibly set in ages ago. Some old...

Read More

Tottenham Hotspur: Goodbye To The Lane

There was a neat personal symmetry to Tottenham Hotspur’s farewell afternoon to what is already the “old” White Hart Lane. My first-ever trip there was my first-ever football match. 10th November 1973. Then, as now, it was Spurs v Manchester United. Then, as now, Spurs went two-up. Then, as now, United pulled one back. Then, as now, it finished 2-1. So, while Sky Sports were doubtless desperate to for referee Jonathan Moss to award a penalty when Dele Alli was tripped as he entered the penalty area with stoppage-time about up last Sunday, I was pleased that the next...

Read More

Parking The Coach: Helenio Herrera

Everything that Italian football is, was encapsulated in Helenio Herrera. Stylish, cerebral, passionate, pragmatic, cynical, exasperating, inconsistent, unscrupulous, brilliant, corrupt… a smooth and intoxicating mixture of ascetic analysis, self-aggrandisement and suspiciously-too-black hair. In many ways, Herrera gave birth to football in the 21st Century. He is certainly its manager. The first of the mass of contradictions that lay ahead is that Italian football’s avatar was not Italian at all, but a naturalised Frenchman from Argentina. Helenio Herrera was born in Buenos Aires on 10th April 1910. His father, a Spanish immigrant, worked as a carpenter – “like Jesus”, as...

Read More

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,...

Read More

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...

Read More