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Vivian Woodward - Alfred Gibson & William Pickford
Author: Isaque Argolo | Creation Date: 2021-02-02 10:51:10
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Is there any essentially different between the style of a professional forward and an amateur forward? One is inclined to believe there is. The professional is as a rule more mechanical and less individual in his methods. He has learned his football in a school where experiments are frowned upon. The paid player, as a class, has learned that certain methods are regarded with favour, and that these methods frequently meet with success. He therefore cultivates this manner until he arrives at a state of mechanical perfection. In theory, at least, he is master of the conventional style. It is obviously the business of his opponents to upset his theories, and the forward who has no native ingenuity - no resource of his own - is a pitiable subject. An amateur forward of the highest class has usually all the knowledge of the orthodox game and also the ability to play it; but if he be a football genius he also possesses a style of his own, with brains enough to improvise on the moment a new mode of attack or original method of defence.
G.O. Smith used what I have called the professional methods very largely, and no one put them to better use. But these methods by no means exhausted the repertoire of the greatest forward of modern times. His mechanical passing was perfection in its accuracy. No professional could have bettered it, but Smith had always something else up his sleeve. If he and his men were checkmated by the opposition, he had always an alternative plan.
W.N. Cobbold did not adopt the modern mechanical methods, partly because in his day they had not been sufficiently developed and partly because he was himself a man of infinite resource. He was a powerful dribbler with a pair of shoulders like an ox and a deadly intensity near goal that few defences knew how to cope with. How Cobbold would have fared with a modern defence one cannot say with any certainty, but the chances are that against three of our strongest half-backs he would have had to considerably modify his methods.
Vivian Woodward, England's most modern centre-forward, is a happy blend of G.O. Smith and W.N. Cobbold. Without possessing all the genius of the one or the other he knows the modern passing game well enough to utilise the best services of his professional comrades, while he is sufficiently individual in style to make the final single-handed dash on goal with a big chance of success. He is not quite heavy enough to "shoulder off" his opponents in the style of Cobbold, but what he lacks in respect of weight he can make up for in sheer skill. The ease and fluency with which he escapes the attentions of opposing forwards is hardly less marked than his strong single-handed run which frequently carries the ball half the length of the field. Woodward is essentially a brainy player. He has no set style. An opponent watching Woodward can never argue that because he has once done a certain thing that he will repeat it when the same set of circumstances occur.
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