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Author: Isaque Argolo | Creation Date: 2022-11-24 15:42:19
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A few years ago, when I was still studying English football, I used to write, on my Facebook timeline, studies and texts like this one — reflections, opinions, XIs, etc. I wish I still had them, because even though they were not as accurate studies as today, they were still excellent texts and I could post some as a main topic on the website.
I remembered that because I remembered a very specific text I wrote at the time, a text about the true level of Alex James. When I started studying Arsenal, I had a completely different idea of what old British football was in general. However, from reading so much opinion from the main authorities in Central Europe, I had to focus specifically on British football, Arsenal and, most importantly, Alex James. I went after videos, opinions and among other things to measure the player's level. Consequently, as football history is so poorly told, I was baffled that a player of that caliber was not mentioned among the all-time greats. Furthermore, seeing Arsenal place him as the 46th greatest idol in their history is basically spitting on history itself with such a lack of respect.
I ended up seeing the true level of Wee Alex and I was curious about other players who could have reached the highest level in football history, as well as clubs that could be mentioned as the best of all time. And almost everything points to the Victorian Era, when true masters kicked a football.
It's not nostalgia of those who saw these players, because the same ones who saw them, could mention that the players of the 1860s, 1870s and 1880s were superior to the players that reached the apex in 1890s and 1900s. Furthermore, many could mention that players from later decades could be superior, but this is not the case. Decades into the future, players like Ernest Needham, Jimmy Crabtree, Steve Bloomer, G.O. Smith, Bob Crompton and others are cited not just in the British Isles but across the continent as the greatest players of all time.
Charlie Buchan, who was an absurd player, compared to Konrád II., Schaffer, Scarone and among others, is not even mentioned as an opponent worthy of Bobby Walker and, especially, Steve Bloomer. Nor is David Jack mentioned at the level of Walker and Bloomer. Even if we consider Buchan as centre-forward, he doesn't come close to Vivian Woordward, John Goodal, G.O Smith and others. Players like Blenkinsop and Goodall were mentioned as the best full-backs in the world, but they were always left well below Bob Crompton and Jimmy Crabtree. Of course, if it were possible to merge Blenkinsop and Goodall, they wouldn't match Crompton, let alone Crabtree.
Indeed, there is something — and particularly in the 1890s — that intrigues me. In my view, just as I discovered a completely different perception of Alex James, I, today, have a completely different perception of the Victorian Era. That's where the masters, the monsters, the pinnacle of British football are. The fact that England have already lined up an inside trio with Bloomer, G.O. Smith and J. Goodall; the fact that England have already lined up Needham and Crabtree in the same half-back line is just outstanding. These are players who, however decades passed, were still considered the best of all time until they fell into oblivion.
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