Football By Decade: 1960s

Following the immense changes to football in the 1950s, the subsequent decade was sure to reap the benefits of alterations to style, tactics and appreciation. The 1960s is when the game went truly global, of course towards the latter half of the previous ten years  the European Cup had been introduced by UEFA, only to be completely dominated by Real Madrid, winning the tournament 5 times in a row. However, as we will see the 1960s brought a wider change in world culture and a social revolution effecting even football, a sport which often sees itself as exempt from global issues.

Firstly we are to look at British football. English sport at least had been dramatically and even brutally forced to rethink its entire ethos after the 1950s which had highlighted a long-term outdated nature to tactics and methods of play. We at the Football History Boys have not been short on explaining this - the 6-3 drubbing by Hungary in 1953 and embarrassing early World Cup exits in 1950 and 1958 for the English National Team exemplified the need for change. Fortunately for British football it was change which eventually arrived, the late 50s saw the emergence of the Busby Babes, albeit tragically cut short following the devastating Munich Air Disaster, and impressive World Cup showings from both Northern Ireland and Wales in 1958.

But this is not a piece aimed at the 1950s, it is the "swinging sixties" which will receive the attention form TFHB. The 1960-61 season was a historic one in the Football League, for all the right reasons as it marked the first league and cup, domestic "double" in the twentieth-century - won by Tottenham Hotspur. The previous side to have achieved such a feat was Preston North-End, a club which ironically relegated that very season perhaps still reeling from the loss of star-player Tom Finney. Ray Crawford fired Ipswich to a first league victory the following season, a year which also saw Liverpool reclaim their place in the Football League's top division under the stewardship of Bill Shankly and the firepower of one "Sir" Roger Hunt.

Everton were followed by Liverpool and then Manchester United to 6th League Titles each in total over the next three seasons, before The Reds claimed a seventh in 1966 despite only playing with a squad of fourteen players, a year after their maiden FA Cup victory at Wembley. United followed suit with World Cup Winners Bobby Charlton and Nobby Stiles in their ranks in order to gain domestic triumph a year later. However in 1968 came a pre-cursor to the 2011-12 season as Manchester City narrowly won the league by just two points from their local rivals. 1968 would still be a successful season for Sir Matt Busby's men as we'll find out later! Don Revie's Leeds would win the final league of the decade, before becoming the subject of much debate five years later (isn't that right Mr. Clough?).

What about the Welsh teams? Once again the results were mixed. Cardiff City started the decade in the top flight, registering a respectable 15th place ahead of Arsenal and Chelsea. Swansea Town started in Division Two, but won their fourth Welsh Cup meaning a place in Europe's third competition (The UEFA Cup Winners' Cup) lay in store. Cardiff, alongside Chelsea were relegated the following season where they joined their South-Wales rivals, who had narrowly avoided the drop themselves. City finished above the Swans the next three successive years, until the latter were relegated in 1965 and again in 1966 to the depths of English Football - the glory of defeating Liverpool at Anfield in 1964 a distant memory. Cardiff remained in the second-tier for the remainder of the decade, finishing as high as fifth in 1969.

But here's a first for The Football History Boys - What about Scottish Football? It's one of the old pub-quiz questions, who were the first British team to win the European Cup? Manchester United? No. Liverpool? No. The answer was in fact Celtic in 1967. Not only did they emerge as continental champions but also domestic giants winning a quintuple of the Scottish League, Cup, League Cup and Glasgow Cup. Stevie Chalmers scored the winning goal in the European Cup Final, defeating Italian Goliath Internazionale in Lisbon, and forcing Giancinto Facchetti to rethink his plans to lift a third title.

Facchetti: Class.
Inter Milan were indeed the dominant force across the continent and Italy in the sixties, amassing seven major honours. The aforementioned Facchetti led the side from full-back, described by FIFA as a pioneer and manager Helenio Herrera as Il Mago (The Magician) for his rampaging runs from left-back, a cornerstone of Herrera's successful Catenaccio tactics - which placed great emphasis on defensive tactics, often grinding out narrow victories over rivals. The squad comprised of many players regarded as "legends" in the modern-day and without many will appear in the #TFHBTop250 in the coming weeks. Luis Suarez (not the Liverpool maverick), Amando Picchi and Jair were just three of the stars which led the team to two European Cups in 1964 and '65, the latter controversially contested by Bill Shankly's side after a dubious semi-final defeat. Perhaps to some Nerazzurri fans' disappointment they were only the second Milanese team to win Europe's premier tournament - with José Altafini scoring the goals to seal victory for Milan in 1963.

"Elegant both on and off the pitch, Facchetti was also a one-club man, rising through the ranks at Inter Milan from player to president and performing every role with the same degree of modesty and dignity. In short, Giacinto Facchetti was class personified."

Real Madrid were the major world force in the 1950s and began the sixties where they left off - winning the 1960 European Cup 7-3 over West-Germans Eintracht Frankfurt in our "Match of the Decade". Madrid in fact continued dominance on the Iberian Peninsula winning eight league titles including five successively (1961-65) with Ferenc Puskas winning two Pichichi trophies and propelling the Yé-yé to subsequent domestic triumph. Madrid would go on to win a sixth European Cup in 1966 defeating Partizan Belgrade 2-1 following runners-up performances in 1962 and '64. In 1961 the side had in fact been knocked out-of the tournament by 1960 domestic champions Barcelona much to the Madridista's distaste. Amancio was the new star of Madrid football and the Yé-yé name was adopted in response to the longer hair supported by some players - reminiscent of the most famous of all 1960s people - The Beatles - and their song "She Loves You" (Yeah, Yeah ,Yeah).

On me 'ead, Ringo!

Finally in our European sweep, a brief dissection of West-German football - which began to show signs of an improvement, helped in the main by the introduction of a general league, the Bundesliga in 1963. Before this however German sides were showing signs of rapid improvement, Eintracht reaching the European Final in 1960 and Hamburg losing out in the semi-finals two years later. The first six Bundesliga titles were won by a different team each season - Koln, Werder Bremen, 1860 Munich, Braunschweig Nuremberg and Bayern Munich - the latter boasting the likes of Gerd Muller, Franz Beckenbauer and Sepp Maier in their ranks. The international team would go on to lose the 1966 World Cup Final, but Bayern would become European football's superpower in the near future.

Of course the European Cup was now a major tournament in world football, rapidly it had become the competition to win, with only champions from UEFA's leagues allowed to compete in a series of knockout rounds. Madrid, Benfica, Milan, Inter, Celtic and Manchester United were the six sides to share the title of "European Champions" over the decade. The late Eusebio had been instrumental in Benfica's four final appearances (winning two) before the course of Bela Guttmann was put in place by the departing manager (read about it here)! Manchester United defeated the Portuguese champions in 1968 with a superstar team boasting the likes of Dennis Law, George Best and Bobby Charlton. It was perhaps Best which (pardon the pun) best symbolized the 1960s - living a playboy lifestyle of sex, drugs and rock and roll, sporting a Beatles style haircut earning him the continental nickname, 'O Quinto Beatle' (The Fifth Beatle).  
The late Eusebio: Genius
Finally in our round-up, which has been larger than usual, mainly due to the general growth of the game by the 1960s and the beginnings of televised football, both for the World Cup and the introduction of "Match of the Day" which rapidly became a cult phenomenon, we are to look at International football. The 1966 match between England and West Germany was watched by 32.3 million people in Britain alone. We will of course write blogs on both the 1962 and 1966 World Cups so we wont go into detail on those - and if you don't know who won it '66...come on!!?? However, the 1960s are famous for the introduction of another tournament, The European Championships. In 1960 the tournament was held in France with only four teams competing, Lev Yashin's Soviet Union emerging victorious, before hosts Spain in '64 and Facchetti's Italy won in '68 won respective titles. 1968 was England's first appearance in the finals, only to lose to Yugoslavia before defeating the USSR to record a third-place finish. 

Decent partnership!
And so to our "Game of the Decade" is the match which saw Real Madrid win their fifth successive European Cup and earn the "badge of honour". Of course the match is Real Madrid 7-3 Eintracht Frankfurt, played at Glasgow's Hampden Park in front of an amazing 127,621 people in 1960. The match saw an amazing spell between the 71st and 75th minutes in which four goals were scored! Madrid through the brilliance of Puskas (4 goals) and Di Stefano (3 goals) lifted the title to cement the Spanish club's place in history as one the sports greatest ever sides.

So there we are! Another ten years down and with the likes of Best, Charlton, Eusebio, Facchetti and Beckenbauer surely the sixties should be known as the decade in which legends were born!

Written by Ben Jones (follow me on twitter @benny_j and @TFHBTop250)

1950s are here


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