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Showing posts from June, 2019

Sports' History and the School Curriculum - An Important Relationship

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Both The Football History Boys, Ben and I, are in education. Ben teaches in a primary school whilst I teach History in secondary school. We both love education and sharing our passion for sport with the young people we teach. However, the curriculum in England and Wales (where we have both taught) of course restricts the interests of teachers at times. If I could teach purely to my interests, my History lessons would be full of sports' history, but it goes without saying that is neither practical, nor good for all my students! So let TFHB delve into History education and the situation as it stands...

As a bit of context for their piece, it was sparked as I listened to a Jeremy Vine BBC Radio Two debate this year. He invited callers to discuss the school curriculum after he informed listeners that in 2018 schools were 'publicly recommended' by the media, celebrities or campaigners to 'teach' over 350 topics or subjects that were not currently taught; these included …

Wales' Greatest Players: John Charles

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John Charles – Il Gigante Buono
It’s January 2004 and a teary eyed, grey haired 74-year-old man from Swansea carries his hulking frame around an Italian football pitch for the final time, as over 50,000 fans chant his name and pay an emotional tribute to him. It’s been 42 years since John Charles last donned the famous black and white of Juventus – but they haven’t forgotten. They never will. Days later he falls ill, and within a month he’ll be gone. The outpouring of grief at his loss prompts reflection and eulogies from those who knew him and some who were lucky enough to play with him, with the consensus being that he was a truly world-class player, but an even better human being.



Born just after Christmas 1931 in Cwmbwrla, Swansea, John was followed 4 years later by his younger brother Mel, who would later go on to represent Wales alongside him. He played youth football at Swansea and joined the club’s ground staff after he left school at 14, but he failed to make a single appearan…

Wales' Greatest Players: Ian Rush

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When Wales reached the semi-finals of the European Championships in 2016, a wave of euphoria and patriotism spread across the country. A tiny nation had over-achieved and had defeated one of the world's great sides - Belgium. However, during the semi-final against a strong Portuguese defence, supporters were left saying the same thing, "If only we had a proper number 9...". The strange thing is, throughout its 143 year history, the Welsh national team has had some incredible centre-forwards. John Toshack, Mark Hughes, John Hartson and Craig Bellamy immediately come to mind. There is one however, which may just beat the rest...



Step forward Ian Rush. Starting his career at Chester City, it wasn't long before the striker was recognised by the top sides in England. Perhaps Rush's most notable feat for the Cheshire club was scoring against Newcastle in the 1980 FA Cup. By the end of the season, the Welshman had become the world's most expensive teenager, signing …

The 1978 World Cup: The Most Controversial Competition in History?

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In a recent poll on our Twitter feed, we asked our followers, "Which World Cup shall we write about next?" - the response was unanimous - the 1978 World Cup in Argentina. Admittedly, before starting this blog, this tournament was probably the one we knew least about - perhaps due to the general negativity which surrounds it. The second World Cup in succession without English involvement, Scotland would be the sole British representative. Taking place in Argentina, the South American nation had seen a ruthless military coup just two years before. As the opening game approached, the 1978 World Cup was to be about far more than just football.



Taking place during the Cold War, the tournament's preparations were overshadowed by the removal of President Isabel Peron by the right-wing Argentine military. Supported by the US, the 'junta' would ruthlessly imprison and even kill thousands of left-wing activists which were seen as a threat to the new government. Global reac…

Wales' Greatest Players: Gary Speed

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On 8th September 1969, in Flintshire, North Wales, Gary Speed was born. Speed, would win 85 caps for his country before going on to manage the nation of his birth in one of the most exciting times in Wales' history. Sadly, in November 2011, a day that will live forever in the memories of Welsh and British football fans, Gary Speed passed away at the age of 42. Countryman Ryan Giggs called him "one of the nicest men in football", whilst David Beckham remarked that: "He was an amazing and talented player, one who had a glittering career, and he had just started a great career in management". We believe Gary Speed was one of Wales' greatest ever players...

Gary Speed was born and brought up in Flintshire, pulling on a football shirt for Hawarden High School during his time there. The talented sportsman was an Everton fan as a youngster, following the club from across the border but it would be at Leeds United in 1988 that his football career would begin. Legend…

Wales' Greatest Players: Neville Southall

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‘Will you go to the team banquet this evening? Will you join in the celebrations?’ asked BBC’s Ray Stubbs to Neville Southall, after Everton’s 1995 FA cup final win over Manchester United.
‘No. I’ll go home.’ was his reply.

The Wales number 1 was in superb form, preventing a united equaliser after Paul Rideout’s 30th minute header. Two near post saves from Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs were eclipsed by his denial of Gary Pallister’s effort. The centre-back’s glancing header was bound for the bottom corner, when Southall leapt downwards towards his far post and caught it.




This was one of his most memorable performances in an Everton jersey, but he was quick to brush off any post-match praise, telling Stubbs that it was a team effort and that football is, after all, ‘…a squad game’. The exchange perfectly summarised Neville Southall as a footballer – modest yet assured, shy yet effortlessly cool.

It is the anarchic yet steadfast devotion to football and his teammates that makes Southall sta…

Wales' Greatest Players: Ivor Allchurch

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Known as the “Golden Boy” of Welsh Football, Sir Bobby Charlton called him a great player, with footballing presence and charisma, Bobby Moore called him “one of the best inside-forwards I have ever played against” while Sir Matt Busby said he “never needed a number on his back for identification. His polish, his class could not be missed. He vies with the greatest of all time, yet he has a modesty that becomes him.

Born in the year of the Great Wall Street Crash, Ivor Allchurch began and ended his career with hometown club Swansea Town before playing for Newcastle United and arch rivals Cardiff City. Allchurch would score in double digits for all but four of his seasons, he picked up four Welsh Cups before being awarded an MBE in 1966 for recognition of his services to Welsh Football. 

However, it was at the international stage where he would leave behind a legacy. The Welshman was called up to play for Wales at the age of 21 having played only 30 times for the Swans and remained a re…