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Showing posts from 2016

The Birth of European Cup - L'Equipe, Los Blancos and the Glorious 1950s

The European Cup or as we now know it, The Champions League, is perhaps one of the most glorious things a professional sportsperson can win. Europe’s premier cup competition is worth millions and millions of pounds in advertising, television revenue and prize money to those who qualify. However like everything in football, this wasn't always the case and the competition started from humble beginnings.  With plenty of influences from across the continent, it would be a newspaper who kicked it all off. So let’s take a look at the birth everyone’s favourite club tournament.   The simple answer for when the European Cup began is: The 1955/56 season. The story itself isn’t quite so simple though. League football by the early 1900s was very well established in the United Kingdom and now many other European nations had codified their game with top-flight divisions. The temptation for sides from different countries to play each other was always there with friendly matches a regular o

Euro '96: Football's Coming Home

Hosting a major tournament on home soil is always a wonderful occasion that helps to unite a country, and with England recognised as one of the strongest teams on the international stage, there was overwhelming euphoria and support for the Three Lions. It was exactly thirty years since Bobby Moore lifted the Jules Rimet trophy aloft at Wembley in a truly iconic image that remains the pinnacle of sporting achievement in English football, but not only did Terry Venables have the squad to end a thirty year-long wait for success in a major international tournament, the whole country was right behind them. Euro 1996 provided a feel-good factor that has been sorely lacking ever since, and even though England ultimately failed in their quest to go all the way, it will always be remembered as a magical tournament that resembles the last time that fans could truly be proud of their team. Alan Shearer describes the England side in 1996 as the best he played in during his eight-year internati

The 1950s: Football's Finest Decade?

During our first year writing for The Football History Boys we decided to create a number of different 'series' in which we would discuss various aspects of the beautiful game. These included: 'The Crest Dissected'; 'Footballers At War'; and 'Football by Decade'. The latter of which provides the inspiration for today's piece. One decade in particular appealed to me more than any other - the 1950s. Of course, when discussing the pivotal moments of the twentieth-century, they are often attributed to the 'Roaring Twenties' or the 'Swinging Sixties'. However, in terms of football - the 50s provided perhaps the most important period of ten years throughout the history of the sport. What do you think about when someone says to you - "the 1950s"? Elvis Presley...Rock and Roll...Cold War...Civil Rights...Television. Following the Second World War (1939-45), the global situation was at times on a knife-edge with US-Soviet relatio

Suffrage and Sport: A Peculiar Relationship

Well's been a funny old year. Perhaps the most controversial moment being Britain's insane idea to leave the European Union. Through social media and numerous television reports, politics has been thrust into the limelight for us all to debate and discuss. But it is not just in the UK, the US political scene has also developed into an increasingly desperate situation with Donald Trump securing the Republican nomination for the presidency. However, despite all the doom and gloom, something has stood strong amongst such uncertainty and been a source of unification - Sport. From Leicester's unlikely title triumph, Wales and Iceland's Euro heroics and Team GB's incredible Olympics in Rio, we have learned that sport can influence the socio-political scene like nothing else.  We wrote a piece last year on the rise of female sport in Victorian/Edwardian Britain and questioned whether increased participation was the vital factor in their later right to v

Euro 1960: The Golden Age of Soviet Football

The recent history of Russian football has been steady, if somewhat unremarkable. Russian clubs did experience some success in Europe in the late 2000s. Furthermore, the national team has consistently qualified for major tournaments, even becoming the dark horses of Euro 2008. However, as Russia prepares to play in Euro 2016 this summer, the fact remains that they look a long way from actually challenging for honours. In this regard, they live in the shadow of their Soviet predecessors.  The ‘Red Army’, as they were known, experienced their pinnacle in 1960, when they won the inaugural European Championships. In doing so, they carved their names into Russian footballing history. Generations have tried and failed to emulate them since.  The Brilliant Quartet The core of the team that propelled the Soviet Union to European glory emerged in the 1950s. They seemed to mirror the new brash, confident nature of the nation. The USSR had emerged victorious from WWII and cemented its place

Review: Art of Football - Ronaldinho T-shirt

“There are good players, great players and then there are the Artists.  These players saw things most wouldn’t. They did things most couldn’t. The pitch was their canvas and they painted their way into football immortality.”  That’s part of the quote that arrived on a card with my t-shirt from Art of Footba ll . This quote can no doubt be attributed to many of the players in the collection but perhaps none more so than Ronaldinho Ga├║cho. The Brazilian, with 97 caps for his country, reinvented the way people see the game and has a trophy cabinet many who have played the game could never emulate. Born 21st March 1980, Ronaldinho began his career with Gremio in Brazil before moving on to Paris Saint Germain in 2001. In July 2003, Barcelona beat a number of European clubs to the exciting youngster’s signature, paying €30m. It was of course at Barca where Ronaldinho dominated Europe, winning the FIFA World Player of the Year (now FIFA Ballon d’Or) in 2004 & 2005. During his f

Together Standing Tall: An Early History of Irish Sport

Last weekend saw the start of the Six Nations and an opening tie between Wales and Ireland. As ever the atmosphere around my home city of Cardiff was incredible - no doubt the same across the Irish Sea in Dublin. In fact Dublin has had a lot to be cheerful for over the past year following the Republic's football team qualifying for Euro 2016 alongside England, Wales and its neighbour across the border to the North. Watching the rugby however was what prompted the start of this piece - as both Northern and Republic came together to compete side-by-side on Saturday. Irish sport indeed sees its roots deep in a mixture of social and political constraints - but why? Here at TFHB, we tend to focus the great deal of our writing on British sport and its intriguing history. Of course 'the Republic of Ireland is not part of Britain' I hear you say....but until 1921 it was and it is in these earliest years that the next 90 years of Irish sport were to be set out - sometimes for the