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Walter Smith - The Early Years

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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...

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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 clichéd 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

1982 World Cup: The Disgrace of Gijon

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Much has been made about the various tournament formats, and format changes, which have become a fixture of the football news cycle over recent weeks. In typical South American fashion, especially when involving Argentina, the new Copa América format (just the two groups of 5 teams, where just 2 teams will be eliminated) is to continue, despite the invited nations of Qatar and Australia withdrawing from the tournament. The UEFA Conference League brings more chaos to the coefficient system and qualifying rounds among teams from UEFA’s mid-ranking leagues. There remains scepticism of the new Euros format of 24 teams, with defensive football pre-eminent at Euro 2016 with 3rd placed sides potentially going through. Most of all, the recent propositions to change the Champions League format to include even more pointless group stage games seems a shoo-in, in another vulgar attempt from Europe’s elite to turn the Champions League into an exclusive club, if it isn’t already there. However, one

Welsh Football's Greatest Moments | British Home Champions, 1907

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In the early decades of international football the Welsh, English, Scottish and Irish would regularly slug it out with each other in annual fixtures. The history books show that the British Home Nations Championships were founded in 1883/84, a chance to officially record one of these teams as  'international champions'. With world football still developing in the latter part of the Victorian period, these games were really one of the most prestigious events a player could win. Finally, in 1907, with superstar 'wing wizard' Billy Meredith returning from a controversial ban, and at the 24th time of asking, Wales would win a maiden title. The Welsh were always playing something of 'catch up' as association football began to grow within the British Isles. The English FA was founded in 1863 as they sought to codify football and bring a uniformity to the local differences that existed across the country. This seismic moment was followed by the first ever international

Football Family History: Keeping up with the Joneses

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I've always found it fascinating when someone I know tells me about a famous ancestor. What makes it more impressive is when the historical family member turns out to be someone in football. My Dad loves family history and has spent many hours compiling an extensive family tree stretching back centuries. Despite finding hundreds of relations, we had believed that none were involved in the beautiful game. Perhaps a great deal of the difficulty in finding any meaningful ancestors is due in part to our surname - Jones. With the most common second name in Wales, being sure that an 'ancestry hint' is definitive is difficult to prove. That was until last week when my father let me know about James Alfred Jones.  Admittedly, there is some climbing the tree and navigating some narrow branches before reaching James, but he is a relation, nonetheless. To be precise, he is my great x4 Grandfather Hugh Jones' great nephew. You wouldn't find 'Who Do You Think You Are?'

‘A kick-a-bout with fascists’: The British press, public and Government opinion on the England vs Germany football match played in London in 1935

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‘A kick-a-bout with fascists’: The British press, public and Government opinion on the England vs Germany football match played in London in 1935  Introduction On 4th December 1935, England’s football team played against their German opponents at White Hart Lane. The stadium was packed to the rafters with 60,000 supporters, including 10,000 German fans, cheering on their team. The German side was shown to be inferior on the pitch, with the English side dominating many aspects of the game. Despite a valiant performance from the German goal keeper, H. Jacob, the match ended 3-0 in favour of England after their relentless attacking display resulted in two goals being scored by their centre forward, Camsell, and another goal by Cliff Bastin.[1] The match was regarded as an uneventful affair in some papers with both sides showing great spirit and respect for each other.[2] This fixture, however, was not just a normal international friendly. The implications surrounding this match demonstra