The Olympiastdion in Munich on 7th July 1974. On a seasonably warm Bavarian afternoon, the coronation of Holland’s ‘Oranje’ was expected. Rinus Michel’s team had scorched the the pitches of West Germany with the vivid bright flame of their football. The ‘Cruyff turn’ had been born when Sweden’s Olssen, bamboozled by the Dutchman’s manoeuvre not only had to buy a ticket to get back into the stadium, he also needed a taxi to get back there, so far had he been sent the wrong way. A Brazil squad, shorn of Pele for the first time in a generation had eschewed their ‘jogo bonita’ for a style some called pragmatic, others called brutal. In a beauty and the beast contest however, the Dutch had eliminated the reigning champions. Whilst the Dutch masters created flowing football with the panache of an artist, the Brazilians were cutlass-wielding barbarians in comparison. Wherever they were when they saw the performance, the souls of the ‘Pearl,’ Gerson and Tostao would surely have been uneasy. Continue reading →
Arthur Hopcroft described the late Bob Lord, chairman of Burnley Football club, using this phrase in his book ‘The Football Man’. Sad to say however that in researching this article, I’ve failed to find any reference to Bob Lord removing his shoe and banging it on a table, as Soviet premier Nikita Kruschev once did at the UN, but if I had, it would hardly have been a surprise.
Those of a certain vintage will remember the days when many football clubs were the fiefdoms of the local mercantile made good; when, a collection of butchers, bakers and perhaps even the odd candlestick maker sat in the chairs now occupied by accountants answerable to the interests of American groups, Russian oligarchs or middle-eastern magnates. These autocrats were the movers and shakers in football. Picture Ken Bates during his time at Chelsea, multiply it by a factor of ten or so, and you just get around the fringes of understanding the way it was when such dinosaurs ruled the football world – and the T Rex of such times was surely Burnley’s Bob Lord. Continue reading →