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Showing posts from 2021

Scotland's Christmas Day football - 1971

Although a couple of league games were played on Christmas Day 1976 north of the border the last full football fixture list on December 25th in Scotland was in season 1971/72. @AlexHTheMAX turns the clock back 50 years when it was a Subbuteo set from Santa then off to the game like any normal Saturday. When you think of the winter holiday season Scotland is, of course, synonymous with Hogmanay and celebrations that bring in the New Year, but even those with a keen intetest in the festive season might be surprised when they read it was well after WW2 before Christmas Day became a public holiday in Scotland (1958). Both Boxing Day and New Year’s Day achieved public holiday status over a decade later in 1974. As the decade of the 1970s began to establish itself Christmas Day 1971 was a case of business as usual in the then two division Scottish League set up of 18 and 19 clubs respectively. There were no play-offs and no Scottish pyramid back then and we were still four years from the es

The Christmas Truce Revisited | @RichEvansWriter

Less 'Moneyball' and more ‘Military-ball’ – how might the sides have lined up on that famous Christmas Day in 1914? @RichEvansWriter takes another look at the Christmas Truce, that story has it, saw a football match take place during a ceasefire in the trenches. The honour roll of professional footballers who perished in the First World War makes for a long, sobering reading. Names have been meticulously cross-referenced against regimental diaries and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, but it is worth remembering that, for inclusion, players had to have played professionally prior to the end of the 1914/15 season. Set against the unspeakable horrors of mechanised slaughter, the fact that the casualties were footballers at all becomes somewhat incidental. After all, just over three hundred dead in the context of almost a million in total from British shores seems rather miniscule. Footballing questions abound. For example, what might some of the lost have gone on to achiev

Footballers at War: The Might-Have-Beens

Richard Evans has been researching footballers whose prime playing years coincided with the Second World War, considering the 'might-have beens' of the sport... Len Shackleton - A player whose carrer was hit by WW2 On Saturday 2nd September 1939, a complete fixture card was in place for the third game of the football season, with Blackpool topping the First Division at the final whistle. The following day though, the Emergency Powers Act was implemented; gatherings of large crowds were prohibited. As a result, it was 1946 before teams next began to officially compete again. Nevertheless, football was not put entirely into hibernation during these dark years. It endured, but, where the fascist powers in Germany and Italy kept their leagues running, exempting some registered players from active duty, Britain shipped many of its footballers into combat overseas.  Indeed, those who remained in Blighty long enough to play at all were only able to do so in the Wartime League, whose m

When Hibs Hammered Napoli (1967)

Seeing as  @AlexHTheMAX  has been chilling in Italy recently so it's only fitting he brings us the story of one of the finest Scotland v Italy encounters from a Scottish point of view. 1967 was maybe the greatest post-WW2 year for Scottish football. Celtic became the first British team to win the European Cup beating Inter Milan 2-1 in Lisbon. Rangers also made a Euro final, but lost 1-0 to Bayern in the Cup Winners Cup final, whilst Kilmarnock made the semi-finals in the third Euro club competition of the era, the Fairs Cup, just failing to make it three Scottish sides in three respective European finals in '67. Scotland became the first team to beat 1966 World Cup winners England in April 1967, while Scottish players featured heavily in the English top flight at all of the major clubs. As '67 drew to a close there was still time for another unforgettable night for Scottish football. On November 29th 1967 =, Hibernian overcame Napoli (with future World Cup winner Dino Zoff

When Wrexham AFC Stunned Europe | @AFCFinners

The story of North Wales' historic side, Wrexham AFC, has captured the footballing world in recent months. Hollywood stars Ryan Reynolds and  Rob McElhenney took control of the football club officially in February 2021  and proffessed their ambitions of taking Wrexham to heights they had not seen for decades. Finlay Stanley ( @AFCFinners ) has written for us about one previous time that Wrexham stunned football... We all love a good cup upset. Seeing a team from the lower leagues defeat one of the best teams in the country is one of the sport’s favourite pastimes. But one of the greatest cup upsets in Welsh football history came from Wrexham AFC. And this wasn’t in the FA Cup, nor the league cup. Fourth-tier Wrexham produced an incredible upset on the European stage. In the 1980s, they qualified for the European Cup Winners’ Cup, and would face FC Porto in the competition. It was the ultimate David VS Goliath encounter, that has gone down in history.  In 1984, Wrexham AFC had to ap

Scotland - A Play-Off History

Scotland face another dramatic play-off soon when it's decided who they will play in their final qualifiers for World Cup Qatar 2022 (semi-final then play-off 'final' match).  @AlexHTheMAX looks at the Scots rollercoaster rides in qualification play off ties through nearly 60 years dating back to a game against eventual World Cup finalists and including a trip 'Down Under'. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- World Cup 1962   Scotland's first "play off" decided who qualified from a three team group for the 1962 World Cup in Chile. Scotland were going for a World Cup qualification hat-trick after appearing at the 1954 and 1958 finals. Czeckoslovakia and the Scots finished on equal points in Group 8 European qualifying, but despite the Czechs having a better 'goals for' column, due to a thumping 7-1 win over Rep of Ireland, this wasn't counted back in the early 1960s. so it was onto t

The Shambolic History of Southern United

We love having guest blogs here at The Football History Boys, and so when Roger  Deason got in touch about what he described as 'the shambolic history' of early 20th century London club Southern United, we jumped at the chance to tell their story! Enjoy, as we take a dive into a football club that was very much, 'what could've been': Surrey was a stronghold of amateur football. The first professional team in the county was the long forgotten Southern United, founded in 1904, meaning they pre-date Crystal Palace and Chelsea as professional London teams. Two of those teams are now well known. Southern United’s shambolic history is little known.  Brown's Ground - The home of Southern United Southern United were largely the brainchild of Baron William von Reiffenstein, a Scottish born stockbroker with a penchant for sailing close to the wind. He played football, officiated, acting as linesman in the 1899 Surrey Junior Cup Final and was a leading figure at West Norwo

The Magic of the (Scottish) Cup - Still alive in 2021!

There are Strollers, a Fairydean and a former club of 007 in the Scottish Cup Third Round in November. If you want to experience football with a feel of Brigadoon then definitely head north of the border for your cup ties says @AlexHTheMAX . If you have access to the BBC Scotland TV channel, you can see two of the teams currently in the Scottish pyramid clash on the evening of Monday 29th November. Brechin City (relegated to the Highland League from Scottish League 2 last season, and featured recently on our site ) play Darvel FC of the recently established West of Scotland football league (tier 5) in their televised match in the Scottish Cup 3rd Round (Premiership sides come in in Round 4). It's a big night for the former Scottish Junior side from Ayrshire, who are now pushing for league status, whilst former league side Brechin City are searching for a good cup run to match their bid for promotion back to League 2 at the first attempt. This writer felt a more deserving tie for th

Walter Smith - The Early Years

On 26th October 2021 it was announced Walter Smith, a Scottish football great, had passed away. Walter may now be no longer with us, but let's not forget his early years in Scottish football. @AlexHTheMAX explores his Scottish domestic (and American) football connections before he made it as a top manager. Cover star of (the now defunct) Football Scot in 1971 Most football fans will be well aware of the role the late Walter Smith played in management at Rangers, Everton and Scotland as well as an assistant boss at Ibrox under Souness, Dundee Utd (with Jim McLean) and at Man United with Sir Alex. However, Walter also made his mark in the Scottish game, albeit modestly, as a player. Walter Smith was born in Lanark but spent his formative years in Carmyle, Glasgow. He was signed for Dundee United by pipe-smoking manager Jerry Kerr from Scottish Junior side Ashfield Juniors of Glasgow in 1966. Walter was part of the 16-man squad that travelled to the USA after United were invited to p

An open goal for fascism: The 1973 Chile vs USSR game that never was...

When the net bulged at Estadio Nacional on November 21st 1973, signifying Chile’s qualification for the 1974 World Cup, you could forgive the Chileans for their forlorn, awkward body language. To lift a phrase from clich├ęd football parlance, their opponents quite simply ‘hadn’t turned up’. In this case, in the most literal form.  The USSR team had refused to travel to Chile, citing the coup that took place in Santiago a month prior. Ousting the first democratically elected socialist leader in Latin American history; and replacing him with a brutal military dictatorship.  Following an era of intense economic hardship for Chile, Salvador Allende was elected on the promise of improving living standards and nationalising Chilean industries. Allende’s supporters saw him as a force for equality in a progressive Chile. In particular the textiles industry, with its large percentage of female workers, saw some of the first female directors in the country.  Requiring a symbol of Chilean pride an