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I WISH THERE WERE MORE GOOD PLAYERS
Jimmy Hogan | 01/03/1955 —

When I returned from the Continent and took over at Villa Park as Team-Manager-Coach in 1936, I tried to make myself a real players manager. Having been through the mill of experience as a professional player, I was determined to make the players happy and contented, and to give them more privileges than I had enjoyed as a player when the maximum salary was four pound per week.
I remember telling the lads that we were all in the game together. If they did well, I did well, and vice versa. We were a grand playing side, a happy band of fellows, and we reached our objective — promotion to the First Division. I insisted on every man doing his duty, then I would attend to that player's rights. But duty must come first.
A certain famous old player was expressing his opinion the other day that many of our modern players are more concerned with what they get out of the game than what they put into it; that there is more talk about money matters in certain dressing rooms these days than there is on football.
I think this only applies in odd cases, but the approach to the game of many players is entirely wrong.
There appears to be a self-centred outlook in which nobody else counts.
There are many exceptions, I agree — good, genuine club servants who always do their utmost according to their ability. Indeed, the game as plenty of good triers. I wish it had more good players. There are on the other hand, some who do not take the trouble to improve. I wish they had sufficient pride in their craft to strive to attain a higher level.
There is far too much of the if-I-don't-look-after-myself-nobody-else-will attitude among players today. This matter, based on the short span of a players's life, is quite common in some clubs. It is a purely selfish attitude, for which the clubs cannot escape some responsibility, for they have neglected to introduce means of ensuring long and loyal service from good players.
I think that if a player qualifies for a second benefit, the amount could be increased say to £1,000 or more, with a similar increase for a third benefit.
In the bad old days when I was a professional player, never a week went by without a collection in the dressing room for some player who had gone out of the game penniless.
Benefit and Provident schemes have considerably reduced the possibility of that sort of things, but I feel that something more should be done for the true and loyal servant. GREATEST.
Although my work on the Continent was generally that of official coach to the different Football Associations, perhaps my happiest thoughts will always be centred round the famous M.T.K club in Budapest.
it was certainly the best individual club I ever coached on the Continent, and whilst with it I found two players who will rank among the greatest of Hungarian footballers.
It happened one day when I was taking a walk through the Angol (English) Park. On my walk I saw a group of youngsters kicking a ball about, and two of them, particularly, attracted my attention. DOUBLE OFFER.
I stopped and spoke to them. They were Gyury (George) Orth and Josef Braun, school-boys who proudly admitted that one of their subjects at school was the English language. I quickly responded with: "Please join the junior section of my club, M.T.K, and I will not only teach you how to play scientific football, but also help you with your English lessons."
I never saw players develop so quickly as Orth and Braun. I had them after school hours every day on the playing pitch, doing various exercises and playing in sides, and then in my room for a cup of English tea and a chat about football.
Literally, I taught them how to play football at my very knees, and they were wonderful pupils. NEARS CRISIS.
Both these lads played for Hungary against Austria at the age of 17, and the great Hugo Meisl was astounded at their form. He said they played like two first-class English professionals. Both went on the be capped at least 40 times for their country.
When George Orth was badly injured in Vienna — an injury which put him out of the game as a player — the incident almost produced an international crisis. On his return to Budapest from a Viennese hospital there were manu thousands of Hungarians at the station shouting "Down with Austria! War with Austria!"
I say without shadow of doubt that as a footballer Orth was similar value to Hungary as Caruso was as a vocalist to Italy. He has been in South America for some years now, teaching what is commonly called the "Hogan style of football." VERSATILE.
He was the most versatile of players. Bolton Wanderers came to play in Budapest after their 1926 Cup win over Manchester City. Orth was centre-forward for M.T.K. that days until full-back Mandl, the present Hungarian trainer, was injured early in the game. But with only ten players M.T.K. were able to force a 1-1 draw, thanks largely to Orth who went to full-back and played Smith and Vizard out of the game.
Certainly he was the greatest and brainiest player I ever saw. He could have walked into any English or Scottish eleven of all times. Several British clubs tried to sign him, but he would not leave Budapest.
Braun was a brilliant outside right; fast and tricky, a wonderful header, and he could shoot or cross the ball with either foot. At the end of his playing career he went to Jugo-Slavia where he did great work as a coach. Everybody who is au fait with the history of Soccer football know something about the great days of Preston North End, whose name is indelibly inscribed on the role of fame for a variety of reasons. In the first place they were the pioneers of professionalism, they had at one time a well-nigh invincible team, which played what old-stagers tell us was the most scientific game ever seen, and their feat of winning both the League and Championship and the F.A. Cup in one season — the former without a single defeat and the latter without losing a goal — has never been equalled or ever approached. There have been endless arguments as to whether the team that accomplished that wonderful achievement would have been as all-conquering in modern football as it was in the late 'eighties. It is obviously difficult to be definite on such a point. ENTERPRISE! But the fact must not be overlooked that Preston, as a result of the shrewdness, sound judgment, and enterprise of Major William Sudell, who was elected a member of the club in August 1867, was the first club to see possibilities in introducing the best footballers of the day into any position which, in the opinion of the management, required judicious strengthening. Major Sudell determiend to run a team of out-and-out professionals, men who should make football their calling and devote themselves to it assiduously rather than spasmodically. The result was the building up of a team which in point of individual and collective kill, of perfect physical condition brough about by systematic training and of complete subordination of self, was for the period supreme. ONLY CUP WIN. There were only twelve clubs in the League at the time they were champions, and none of their rivals had cultivated either method, condition or combination to the same extent as did the Old Invincibles. The team which made Preston the temporary home of the F.A. Cup for the first and only time included Dr. R. H. Mills-Roberts; Howarth, Holmes; Drummond, Russell, Graham; Gordon, J. Ross, Goodall, Thompson, and F. Dewhurst; and there is a widespread opinion that that was the finest team that has ever worn North End's colours. I shall not attempt to dispute it, though since that day there have been certain players who callenge comparison — in some cases fabourably, I think — with the great eleven of 1888/89. Take as an illustration, James Trainer, who has often been described as the Prince of goalkeepers. He would have been in the invincible eleven had he been eligible to play in the Cup-ties. A WELSH STAR. This Welshman from Wresham first played for Great Lever, a Bolton club, and then for the Wanderers, and was in the latter's goal when North End took the liberty of putting twelve goals past him. Their defence, nevertheless, realised that here was a goalkeeper par excellence, and there was some heart-burning in the Bolton camp when Trainer went over to the enemy. There have been other great goalkeepers on the Deepdale staff, including Peter McBride, a Scotsman, who graduated with the Ayr club, and W. C. Rose. Nicholas J. Ross, and Edinburgh slater, who left the Hearts because he desired to follow his trade, was unquestionably the greatest back who ever served North End. He missed his Cup medal because he had tempoerarily transferred his services to Everton. He was a lissom fellow, who put his whole heart and soul into the game. He was very fast, tackle with such vim and accuracy that it was tremendously difficult to get past him, kicked with tremendous power, and was a most uncompromising foe. NAME STILL LIVES. He saved manu a maych when matters were going against his die by going to centre and showing his forwards how goals could be got. He has been dead 36 years yet his name still lives. The two backs who were on duty when Wolverhampton Wanderers were beaten 3-0 at Kennington Oval in the Cup final were locals who were grand defenders, even though they lacked the "devil" of Ross. Both played for England against all three countries. Few more judicious backs have been associated with the game than Holmes, whose first club was Blackburn Olympic, and who became a referee, then trainer, and an active member of the Player's Union. In the palmy days of the Preston club they had a matchless trio of half-backs in Robertson, Russell, and Graham; they could play any kind of game. Strong and skiful in every sense, they were perfect tacklers and made their forwards play. Sandy Robertson, who came from Edinburgh St. Bernards, was as hard as nails, and to his lasting regret lost his place in the Cup team through an injury. David Russell, of Stewarton, Ayrshire, a mafnificently-built man, was a great breaker-up of combination, and John Graham, of Annbank, in the same county, did some wonderful work. INDUSTRIOUS! OLD-TIME SOCCER HAD MORE RHYTHM, POLISH — C. B. Fry | 31/10/1938 — What would happen were one of the best modern Football League teams to abandon the "one-back" defence and "three-ponged" attack in favour of the old-time plan of five forwards roughly in line, with three half-backs behind them? Round a table of old internationals at which I sat at the F.A. dinner, this question evoked much argument and some difference of opinion. No clear vote could be taken, because Gracie Fields, the acrobats, the speeches and Patsy Hendren's irreverence repeatedly interrupted politics. But the old-timers were pretty unanimous that the older formation would win; with emphasis, however, on the condition — if really well played. A FASTER GAME NOW. There is not the least doubt that the modern game is in general faster and more open. The prevalent long passing is more effective than any but excellent short passing of the old type. The "spear-head" centre-forward introduces faster running and greater thrust. There is less chance of stolid blocking of the goal-mouth, and more free space for shooting; though comparison as to shooting-space is obscured by the vast legal protection now given to the goalkeeper. The result is that a match between two fair average teams is more exciting, due to quicker movement downfield and more frequent danger near goal. But, on the other hand, one misses the accuracy, polish and rhythm of the best old-time teams such as Preston, Aston Villa, Sunderland, and the Corinthians. The sudden, swift emergence of a centre-forward, of a Drake, a Lawton, or an Astley, the strong dash and heavy shot, did not occur. Your John Goodall or G. O. Smith was mainly a pivot and a distributor; it was only the wingers, and occasionally an inside forward, who sprinted and rushed. On the other hand, on saw what one never sees now, a rhythmic, wave-like flow of the whole line of forwards down half the length of the field, ending in a clean goal. Preston North End once started with a kick-off by Jonh Goodall, and scored without any one of the opposite side having touched the ball. And the downfield sweep in coherent line of the tall Corinthian forwards, led by slippery Lindley or sleek G. O. Smith, was magnificent. SUPER CENTRE NEEDED. The weakness of the old forward tactics was that they needed a super centre-forward to actuate them into full effect. Short of that, and with the lesser class of player, there was a tendency to pass and pass, and to manoeuvre round a grass blade (if any) like a skater round an orange on the ice; lots of retention and little progress. And no goals. John Goodall it was, I think, who argued that the best Corinthian defences, from the brothers Walters down to W. J. Oakley, L. V. Lodge and myself (me for courtesy, thank you, John), played on the same plan as the moderns except that the "one-back" was not a half, but one of the backs. and thus the centre-half was not detached out of range of his forwards. That is true enough. But many first-class backs used to play as a lonely pair, quite a long way behind their half-backs when their own forwards were attacking. These questions of relative merit between old and new can never be settle. But they are informative. HOW GOODALL TRAINED BLOOMER — Old player | 17/12/1953 — At last professional footballers are learning to practise control of the ball which is their profession. Jugglers, musicians and other artists practise for hours; why not the footballer? It may interest your readers to be remineded how Steve Bloomer was trained by John Goodall. As a boy I sometimes visited the old ground at the Racecourse. I saw John Goodall put a stick in the ground and place an old hat on it. Steve would stand about 20 yards away, and John would send him quick passes from varying directions, while Steve would hit the ball first time, either as a ground pass or a rapid shot at the stick. All his passes were kept on the ground, and his foot carried through with the toe pointed downwards like a ballet. dancer's. Steve was a maters of the half-volley. Even when the ball was travelling with small bounces he chose the point of contact with the ground. How rarely to-day do we see a forward who dares to take a shot at goal from this, although he gains tremendous pace by doing so. As to tactics, for how long are we to continue the absurd method of trying to initiate an attack by sending a high ball for the centre-forward, whose only chance is to head it back to an inside man 20 yards behind him? The attack is help up while this ground is recovered, and the opposing defence gets into position. It is now obvious that the positions should be reversed as shown by the Hungarians, and I think the answer will be by the attacking centre-half. Above all, when will most of our forwards perceive the open space in front of a colleague, and put their pass there, instead of direct to the latter's feet? THE IDEAL TEAM — Unknown | 01/03/1935 —
A kind of question which I do not care a great deal for — which eleven do I think is the finest, composed of players of all nationalities. It gets one nowhere, and serves little purpose (states a northern sports expert)
But for what it is worth, my ideal team would be: Traine; Crompton, N. Ross; G. Howarth, McCall, Needham; Simpson, Bloomer, Woodward, James, and Spiksley.
A second which would run it very close, however, would be: Sutcliffe; Arnott, Crabtree; Gibson, Raisbeck, Forrest; Bassett, Walker, G. O. Smith, Chadwick (or Morris), and Townley.
Probably other elevens will suggest themselves to other minds which have had experience of more than one generation of footballers, and necessarily many outstanding players are not included because they have more challengers for their positions.
The striking thing about this species of examination is that James is the only man of the present age whose claim to vertuosity is really acclaimed.
But that, after all, may be, probably is, due to the point I have been stressing of late — that the approved football of the moment does not make specialists and "stars."
That is why the race of gianst, in an international valuation, appears to have petered out, and why so few of the players of to-day leave the deep impression on the mind that their predecessors did.
The game is so different, both in style and exture, indeed it is hardly recognisable as the same game, and I am quite prepared to admit that some of the big men of old might not to-day measure up to their standard, at least, in the same way. WHAT FOOTBALL OWES TO THE CORINTHIANS — R. H. Bruce Lockhart | 02/01/1932 This year the Corinthian Football Club celebrates the fiftieth anniversary of its existence. The sponsor of the club was the redoubtable N. L. Jackson, then assistant honorary secretary of the Football Association. Its origin was due to two causes. Mr. Jackson, dismayed by the superior combination of the Scottish teams in their international matches against England, was determined to provide an opportunity for the best English amateur players to play together. There were, too, many old public school boys, who found Saturday football too scant an outlet for their energy. Here then was the chance to found a mid-week playing club which could draw its strength from the best players in other clubs. Among those present at the inaugural meeting was Mr. E. C. Bambridge, the present secretary, known to his friends as "Charlie Bam," and one of the greatest outside-lefts of all time. The name first suggested was the Wednesday Club, but wiser counsels prevailed, and the more robust title of Corinthians was selected. TOURING THE NORTH. The early beginnings of Corinthans were modest. The first match played was against St. Thomas's Hospital on November 2, 1882, at Lambeth, and resulted in a Corinthian victory. At the end of this first season, however, the team toured the North of England and everywhere was welcomed with tremendous enthusiasm. Drawing most of their support from the Universities and public schools (for many years there was an unwritten law confining election to members of these institutions), the Corinthians soon developed a style of their own, of which the chief features were the forward pass, always executed on the run, and the close proximity of the backs and the half-backs to the forwards. It was not, however, until the season of 1884-1885 that the Corinthians launched their general attack against the best professional sides. The contact produced startling results. From that moment until 1905 Corinth never looked back and on many a field proved that she was fully a match for the best professional talent in the country. THEIR GREATEST DEEDS. The modern footballer, who has seen only the indifferent performances of the post-war Corinthians, is inclined to be sceptical about the prowess of their former heroes. The professionals, he will say, did not take these matches seriously. There is only one answer to these detractors. Let them ask the old professionals who played against these amateurs. Their answer will be unanimous and entirely laudatory. There is another indirect proof. During the first twenty-five years of the clubs's existence it supplied, in the face of the best professional competition, 43 players (33 per cent of all the caps) to the all-England eleven against Scotland! Who shall say what was the greatest team that the Corinthians ever fielded? Almost every year has its own advocates. The team of 1885 defeated Blackburn Rovers (winners of the English Cup) twice, Preston North End twice, and Sheffield. Successes against Cup winners were frequent in subsenquent years. On two occassions — in 1894 and again in 1895 — the Corinthian side was selected en bloc, in preference to the professionals, to do battle for England in an International. My own choice — and I am not forgetting the period of the Walters, of Cobbold, of Tinsley Lindley, of C. B. Fry and of G. O. Smith — falls on the Corinthian side which in 1904 defeated Bury by ten goals to three in the match for the Sheriff of London Shield. Never have I seen such irresistible forward play as that served up by G. C. Vassall, S. H. Day, G. S. Harris, S. S. Harris, and B. O. Corbett. FOURFOLD TEST. Nevertheless, perhaps the most outstanding performance of Corinth was achieved by the "stalwarts" of 1892, who challenged the Barbarians to a quadruble test of prowess at "Rugger," "Soccer," athletics and cricket. Strangely enough, the Corinthians lost the cricket match. But in spite of the presence of C. J. B. Moneypenny — then a world champion — in the ranks of the "Ba-Ba's," they won the sports. The Soccer match, won by 6-1, was a foregone conclusion. Then came the great surprise. The Barbarian "Rugger" side, which comprised seven Internationals and six Blues, was defeated by 16 points to 13. I can see "Rugger" men of the post-war generation smile contemptuously, but there was no fluke about the victory. The Corinthians of those days were giants. Their "Rugger" side included P. M. Walters at full-back, C. B. Fry at wing three-quarter, A. M. Walters and Tinsley Lindley at half-back, with the perennial Wreford-Brown at forward. In spite of these triumphs, Corinth's great service to football is in the pioneer work it has done abroad. Its Imperial and foreign teams laid the foundations of football's popularity. In those days professional teams went aborad for a joy-ride, and their tours brought little credit either to football or to Englishmen. The foreign tours of the Corinthians were models of clean football and good sportsmanship. They left behind them a memory and an example which have remained to this day. PAST AND PRESENT. Those who hold that football interferes with success in life may be interested to know the later history of these early Corinthians. If they have provided no Prime Ministers, they have at any rate put brains into football. As a matter of fact, their failures in life have been few, and they have provided England and the Empire with many useful citizens. Their successful preparatory-school headmasters include G. O. Smith, C. P. Wilson (who played for England both at "Rugger" and "Soccer"), W. J. Oakley, S. H. Day and G. C. Vassall. Famous Corinthians in other walks of life include Sir E. Farquhar Buzzard (who played half-back in the Oxford XI. of 1890 along with Fry, Oakley and G. O. Smith), and who attended the King during his severe illness in 1930. Some, like "Tip" Foster, greatest of all-rounders, and the inimitable "Shoot" Harris, died young. The war took its toll of others. C. B. Fry, great scholar and great athlete, has had a severe nervous breakdown. Unfortunately, their mantle has not descended upon the post-war Corinthians. The increased speed of the modern game and the decline of public school "Soccer" have been a sore handicap, and to-day Corinth, "faint yet pursuing," finds it hard to maintain her place in first-class football. But even if she is but a shadow of her former greatness, her name will endure so long as football is played. She has established traditions which the best footballers in all countries will always strive to follow. SOME GREAT FOOTBALL CAPTAINS — "Penalty Spot" | 14/12/1924 — There is a slight disposition — or, at any rate, there was at one period — to underestimate the value of the captain in modern football. There was, however, prior to that a time when the art of captaincy was greatly appreciated. I recollect what a force captaincy was in the old Villa side that won the Cup and the League in 1897, and indeed during the whole or the eventful period when they secured either the Cup or the League with such wonderful frequency. For there was a period often called the golden age of the Club, in which they obtained honours at a greater rate than any other club has been able to achieve them. That was the period during which John Devey acted as captain of the side. And who shall overestimate the value of his brainy leadership? As one who watched many of their historic games, I say without fear of contradiction, that this astude leadership was of inestimable worth, and that fact was freely recognised. John Devey captained Aston Villa for eight years, and they were emphatically the best eight years the club has had. The whole of the players admitted the stimulating effect which Devey's leadership had upon them. I remember the famous Mr. J. H. McLaughlin, the head of the Celtic club, and for many years the most prominent football magnate in Scotland, telling me that he had never met any player who has so potent an influence on a team as John Devey has on Aston Villa; and he used also to say that England has made a big mistake in not more than once including John in their side to meet the Scots in international strife. The value of his leadership, he said, would have been invaluable. The what a wonderful leader was Nick Ross, of North End! He was a great and sweeping player, but he was also able to communicate much of his exceptional animal magnetism to his side. When things were not going well, as occasionally happened — not often, perhaps, but sometimes — Nick would go forward and infuse immense vigour into the attack. A great personality in the game, was Nick Ross. Then there was Charlie Campbell, who played on 10 successive occasions for Scotland against England, and made Queen's Park the great club it was during the long term that he acted as skipper. Charlie Campbell was a wonderful header, and there was tremendous enthusiasm in all his actions. Ernest Needham was another fine skupper, and the ever-green "Nudger," as he was always styled, was as big force by reason of his genius as a leader as he was by reason of his novel skill. Another fina leader in the old days was John Brodie, the strong and bustling captain of the old Wolverhampton Wanderes. "Now lads," he would say, and sweep the goalkeeper out of his path, and out of the path of his fellow-forwards in the mightily convenient fashion permissible in those days. Jem Bayliss, the Albion's old-time skipper, was also a great leader, and in later years Jesse Pennington and Syd Bowser won high fame by the astuteness of their captaincy. GREATEST OF ALL TIME. The greatest captain I have ever seen — by far the greatest, and I have seen practically all the big ones the gane has known — was Archie Hunter, the man who brought the Villa club from a local side to the finest body of footballers in the country. He had a magnetic personality, the like of which I cannot recall. He was the most inspiring player I have seen, and there is not a single man associated with Aston Villa in Archie's day who would fail to endorse that opinion. Frank Forman, of Notts Forest, was another stimulating leader, and in the earlier days of that club, Sam Widdowson was a distinguished leader. Tinsley Lindley was another great source of inspiration for the Forest, his captaincy extending over a number of years. Two entertaining and ultra successful skippers I can recall among the players that many of my readers will know more intimately were Caesar Augustus Llewellun Jenkins (yes, those were Caesar's initials) and Alec Leake, who for so many years between them controlled the destinies of the old Small Heath club in their Conventry Road days. Caesar as a redoubtable fellow, immensely strong, and I remember that in one out-match someone spread the rumour that Caesar was a parson, and I believe his name figured on the card as Rev. C. A. L. Jenkins. When in the first minute he charged the opposing captain, knocking him about 15 yards, the onlookers indignation knew no bounds, and cries of "He's a — nice parson, he is!" were heard all over the ground. Alec Leake was a merry wight, a man with an inexhaustible fund of anecdote, and the life and sould of every company in which he found himself. BEST OF THE MODERN SCHOOL. Joe McCall is one of our best modern captains. He is wonderfully successful oftentimes in getting his side buck up, as the saying goes, just when they were either showing signs of slacking, or the game seemed to be slipping out of their graps. There has scarcely been a better leader in purely modern times. And here it may be said without in the slightest degree impreaching modern football, that the number of really great captains has shown a disposition to decrease. Quite why tgat is one does not know, except that right throughout life there has been a disposition for men of outstanding character to become fewer in number. That is probably partly due to the general levelling-up process that has been in progress, and partly due to the general standardisation that seems to be going on right through the nation. Frank Barson has always been a fine stimulating player; one who has immence influence upon those associated with him. I doubt if there is any one in football to-day who can pull a side together better than he can. THREE FINE AMATEURS. C. Wreford-Brown was also an excellent captain; he led the English eleven at Celtic Park in 1898, when England beat a strong Scottish side by 3 goals to 1. He was a tactful fellow, too. Some one with good intentions, no doubt, but with doubtful judgment, offered a bicycle to the man who should score the first goal for England. That would have meant trouble, possibly, as all the forwards might have held the ball, intent on being the actual scorer of the goal. Wreford-Brown realised that, and immediately put his foot down, but put it down very good humouredly. He explaied what a bad thing it was for the game, and then induced the man to agree that the bicycle should be sold, and the money pooled among the nine professional members of the team — the famous G.O. Smith (who assuredly has the best chance of scoring) was the other amateur. Fred Spiksley gave 5 for the machine, and the cash was then divided equally. I believed Fred Wheldon scored the first goal, but that is neither here nor there. But Wreford-Brown without doubt was responsible for a splendid act of captaincy; indeed, he was immensely popular with the professionals, and so was his old fellow Carthusian G.O. Smith. W. E. Clegg, a former Lord Mayor of Sheffield, was a glorious captain in the very old days, and so was E. H. Greenhalgh, of Notts County. Bob Crompton in later times was quite effecive; Arthur Grimsdell was a distinctly good skipper for the Spurs, and so was Harry Makepeace during his long career with Everton. Billy Wedlock, of Bristol City, was one of the few really great captains the game has known; it was a serious matter for his club when his masterly tactics were no longer available. He had the true gift of leadership, and it is a gift which falls to few. Vivian Woodward was nothing like so stimulating a leader as G. O. Smith, despite his great natural ability. Andrew Aitken was a splendid captain for both Newcastle and Middlesbrough, and J. R. Auld, in the far away days of Sunderland, when they were "The team of all the Talents," was one of the finest leaders I have seen. He was a great skipper. But few skippers of to-day seem to force themselves on one's notice. IS DEAN AS GREAT AS G.O. SMITH? James Catton | 12/12/1931 —
Just as people who never saw W. G. Grace will timidly inquire if he was really as wonderful a cricketer as greybeards conted, so they startle veterans with such a query as:
— Do you think that G.O. Smith was as effective a centre-forward as this fellow Dean, of Everton?
W.G. and G.O. are almost mythological heroes to the youth of this generation. Comparisons with the long ago are difficult. Association football has changed in several essentials. In all periods the position of centre-forward has afforded scope for individual brilliance. In every age, and whatever his style of play, it has been and is vital that the centre should be a sure shot for goal.
Yet G.O. Smith never scored with such frequency as Dean. A study of the great matches in which the Old Carthusian and captain of Oxford University played, offers convincing evidence that he was not merely a finisher of movements. PERFECT BALANCE.
His gentle manner and modest speech did not suggest the generaç conception of a footballer. When he came off the field not a hair of his head was out of place. He possessed perfect body balance in all movements. Smith once summed up his style to me in this way:
— In my day the centre was supposed to be the leader of the forwards and the pivot on which the others turned. His task was to initiate attacks, to make openings for the inside forwards. He had to lure the defence to one side and then pass to the other and keep the backs engaged.
How different it is to-day! The other forwards work out their schemes, then give the ball to the centre-forward, who is expected to score. We now look upon the centre as a "spear-head," as a thruster and not a developer. To most people he takes all the glory as the scorer. He is not a general, but a private soldier whose duty it is to make a definite break in the bastion. SO EASY.
In Smith's day newspapers did not print lists of the leading scorers. Who scored was of no consequence so long as somebody did. And if we ask an ancient like John Goodall, of Watford, who was the greatest of centres, the old professional will say:
— 'Jo' Smith, because he was so easy to play with.
Do we not overlook this accomplishment now? Do we see the centre-forwards who make it easy for their colleagues to place the ball in the net? G.O. was the universal provider.
Yet he once got 14 goals in a week! No goals in his career gave Smith such satisfaction as that he scored in the Dewar Cup match of 1899-1900, when the Corinthians defeated Aston Villa by 2-1. G.O. writes:
— I was lucky enough to get the winning goal and we were all very proud of having beaten our redoubtable opponents.
While John Goodall says that Smith was easy to play with, the old Oxonian retorts:
— In all my international matches the way was made fairly easy for me.
In these phrases and remarks do we not trace the perfection of understanding and combination so often lacking in these days? A GREAT CENTRE.
No one can deny that Dean is a great centre. Scotland has had her heroes in R.S. McColl, A.N. Wilson, Dr. John Smith, the giant of Mauchline, William Sellar, and many others, but even Scotia has never had such a scintillating scorer as Dean. The Evertonian, like G.O. Smith, is always in the best position for his purpose — to get goals. Stein may make perfect centres, and Johnson and White, the forwards on either side of Dean, may provide the final pass, but of what use would such efforts be if Dean were not there? He should be called Dean, The Ever Ready, with either feet or head.
Never has there been a centre-forward so adept with his head. With a nod he flicks a ball here and there: he diverts it where he wills. McGrory, of Glasgow Celtic, is a clever "header," but no one has ever equalled Dean in the downward subtle turn that he can give the ball with his brow or the side of his head.
Men like Jack Sharp, who have played first-class football, and watched it latterly, are positive that there has never been a man with such a head: not even the renowned Scot, "Sandy" McMahon, of the Glasgow Celtic, or the other "Sandy" — Turnbull, of Manchester.
There are many kinds of centres. George Allan, of Liverpool, was of the big bustling type, who dashed headlong for goal. Did not William Foulke, the Daniel Lambert of all goalkeepers, once embrace Allan and stand him on his head? RESERVES OF STRENGTH.
Of Allan's style was Albert Shepherd, of Bolton, Newcastle, and Bradford City. Not quite so powerful as Allan, he had such reserve of strength that he could plough his way through mud at a speed that would have exhausted most men; but Shepherd had always a shot left in his stride.
Perhaps some can remember how Shepherd, at Stamford Bridge 25 years ago, scored four goals against the pick of the Scottish League with Charles Thomson, of the Heart of Midlothian, at centre-half-back.
Speed and power are incalculable assets to the modern centre. Lambert, of Arsenal, is of this kind, while Waring, of Aston Villa, with explosive élan and always fresh, fearless and tireless, possesses a shot that recalls the swiftness of a swallow in its swerving flight.
Scotland has had more really great centres than any country. Right from the faraway, when Geordige Ker of the Queen's cast a spell over his adversaries, down to this hour, Caledonia has had a clever and cute centre-forward. Their reigns may have been brief, but they were popular idols.
Pedernera Bican Matthews
Mazzola Moreno
?
Loustau Pedernera Matthews
Mazzola Moreno
The line of half-backs did not have several values on the sides, but there was an exceptional dispute for the position of centre-half. Some half-back lines promised great performances during the tournament; others were completely modified for the World Cup; others performed better than expected. The tournament lacked side half-backs like Gyula Lázár, who was injured in the first game against Egypt, and Walter Nausch, who was cut due to injury. These two were regarded as the continent's premier left half-backs. For example, Nausch was replaced by Hans Urbanek, who was far from performing well in the tournament. AUSTRIAN AND CZECH DOWNGRADE
It's impressive how Austria lost a huge amount of quality during the preparation for the World Cup. Austria has already set up the following half-back lines: Braun-Smistik-Nausch, Nausch-Smistik-Gall, Wagner-Smistik-Nausch and among other exceptional ones, which had Leopold Hofmann as right half-back or centre-half. However, for this edition of the World Cup, Austria had a half-back line far below the quality of the previous ones — and that was largely due to the injury of Walter Nausch in the match against Bulgaria.
On the other hand, it is also impressive the fact that in 1920s Czechoslovakia had the duo František Kolenatý & Karel Pešek-Káďa alongside Antonín Perner, Jaroslav Červený, Emil Seifert, Josef Pleticha, Ferdinand Hajný and among other exceptional half-backs. However, the half-back line Košťálek-Čambal-Krčil did not let the supporters down, mainly because of the excepcional World Cup which Štefan Čambal had.
Mentioning only the best: Franz Wagner. The right half-back of S.K. Rapid was exceptional, marking extremely high-level opponents very well — Raimundo Orsi, for instance — and supplying the forward line very well with precise passes. Wagner was considered the best passer of the Austrian national team. Wagner's best performance was against Italy, when he was widely regarded as the best player in that battle. Hugo Meisl was quite proud of his half-back's performances.
ENGLAND
1# JOHN GOODALL
2# DR. TINSLEY LINDLEY
ARGENTINA
1# GABINO SOSA
2# JULIO LIBONATTI
BRAZIL
1# ARTHUR FRIEDENREICH
2# PETRONILHO DE BRITO
URUGUAY
1# PEDRO PETRONE
2# JOSÉ PIENDIBENE
OVERALL
1# PEDRO PETRONE
2# ARTHUR FRIEDENREICH
ENGLAND
G.O. SMITH
JOHN GOODALL
BRITISH ISLES
1# TED DRAKE
2# JIMMY MCGRORY
CENTRAL EUROPE
1# MATTHIAS SINDELAR
2# DR. GYÖRGY SÁROSI
3# GIUSEPPE MEAZZA
SOUTH AMERICA
1# ARSENIO ERICO
2# LEÔNIDAS DA SILVA
WESTERN EUROPE
1# RAYMOND BRAINE
2# ISIDRO LÁNGARA
OVERALL
1# MATTHIAS SINDELAR
2# DR. GYÖRGY SÁROSI
//Rankings: Central Europe 1920s | Players THE HALF-BACKS
Throughout the 1920s, some half-back lines stood out from the rest, mainly being represented by Czechoslovakia players, more precisely the lines on which A.C. Sparta formed, which they had in Kolenatý, Káďa and Perner as the most prominent. However, the other two — with Jaroslav Červený, Ferdinand Hajný or Antonín Carvan — also achieved worldwide success. Another famous half-back trio of Czechoslovakia was S.K. Slavia's Vodička, Pleticha and Čipera. The choice wasn't too difficult, at least not with regard to the right half-back and centre-half. However, the dispute becomes good when the topic reaches the left side of the half-back line. There wasn't a player who excelled the others with extreme clarity, but some who reached an exceptional level to the point of choosing to become valid if you turn to any opinion. EASY CHOICE: KOLENATÝ
In the aspect more focused on the right side, above all, I directly highlight the Czech class, as they had one of the highest values ​​for the position throughout the decade. Straight to the point, the best: František Kolenatý, of A.C. Sparta. This right half-back was an exceptionally dominant player in his position. Fast, athletic, artistic and with an advanced tactical sense. He was a skinny player, not strong, but he had a lot of stamina and determination in every action. Without any doubt, Kolenatý is the first option to this position. Czechoslovakia produced others of high level, as is the case of Antonín Vodička, the half-back of S.K. Slavia, however, did not have that much opportunity in the 1920s, as his countryman was much superior. In terms of football qualities, Vodička had nothing in special, but he was efficient to a point that he could nullify his opponent. Although he was also a fine passer, Vodička's main task was that the opposition did not have enough time to play, thus being constantly tackled. František Kolenatý.
Perhaps the only one who could rival the skinny, lightning-fast Czech would be Vilmos Kertész — Kertész II. —, from MTK, a versatile player and more focused on offensive plays. Kertesz II. was a player with complete attributes and always praised as one of the most important figures of MTK Aranycsapat. He, however, as much as his football only improved with age, he did not play for the entire decade. Kolenatý, in addition, reached a class still superior to Kertész II. In addition to Kertész II., another Hungarian emerged to stand out in the right half-back position, and that was Ferenc Borsányi, from the Újpest ascendant. Unlike the player who was Kertész II., Borsányi was not a robust physique player and not as imaginative as the jokester Kértész, but he was a player who had an even bigger fight.
Compared to the Czech and Hungarian representatives, the Austrian class remained quite low. However, good names emerged, such as Johann Richter, from S.K. Rapid, Josef Schneider, from F.K Austria — Wiener Amateur — and Karl Kurz, from Wiener Amateur — especially the latter. Karl Kurz was part of a transitional era of level for the Wiener Amateur. In the first half of the 1920s, he was the most obvious option for Hugo Meisl. He was a representative of a school more oriented to technique than a more athletic style. ANOTHER EASY CHOICE: KÁĎA
There are some centre-halves who are important figures in their teams; others are among the best in the world; others are the best in the world; others mark the history of football — and this is Karel Pešek-Káďa. The blonde, classy, and elegantly styled short pass and tactical perception is far above any centre-half that appeared not just in Central Europe but across the world in the 1920s. Káďa, the captain of A.C. Sparta, was in a class of his own.
After Brandstetter, some naysayers believed that a centre-half would hardly emerge that could equalize class of the S.K. Rapid's axis. They, however, were mistaken. Two players emerged to give Hugo Meisl more options: Leopold Hofmann & Josef Smistik. Both were very different players, but of the highest class, even having reached their respective peaks later. Still, for example, Hofmann was already one of the top centre-halves in the world by 1927 and Smistik boosted his level well into the late 1920s. They are, in fact, important names to be mentioned.
On the left side of the half-back, compared to the other two positions, there is a big difference between quality, as the left side is much lower — at the class level. Once again, the Czechs stand out in this position with three highly versatile players, but who showed immense quality as left half-backs: Seifert, Perner, Červený & Hajný. The first, Emil Seifert, from S.K Slavia, was a more defensive player, a technical player and focused on a tactical sense. Perner was the best of the three A.C. Sparta — Perner, Červený, Hajný — however, due to his lack of regularity in the 20s, Červený ends up standing out among Czechoslovakia's left half-backs.
However, while the Czechs had a lot of variety, they did not have the quality of a Leopold Nitsch from S.K. Rapid, which was the main half-back wing of the Austrian territory. Leo Nitsch was a shy but effective, reliable and intelligent player. Nitsch was not a tall player, no, far from it. He, however, had a robust physique, therefore capable of winning tackles against so-called tougher opponents. Over the years, Nitsch gained more and more weight, but his excellent positioning ability and excellent head and foot technique made him still a difficult obstacle to overcome. He is the team's left half-back.
Nitsch Káďa Kolenatý
A complete half-back, in fact, with A.C. Sparta being superior to all other Central European halves. The ranking of the three halves ends like this:
1# Karel Pešek-Káďa
2# František Kolenatý
3# Leopold Nitsch
GYÖRGY ORTH? //Player levels
Extraclass: Alex James, Alfredo Di Stéfano, Antonio Sastre, Diego Maradona, Ernest Needham, Héctor Scarone, Jimmy Crabtree, Lionel Messi, José Manuel Moreno, Pelé. 1st class: Adolfo Pedernera, Cristiano Ronaldo, Ferenc Puskás, Franz Beckenbauer, György Orth, Johan Cruijff. 2nd class: Alfréd Schaffer, Arsenio Erico, Bob Crompton, Bobby Walker, Charlie Buchan, Dr. Gyorgy Sárosi, Eusébio, Garrincha, G.O. Smith, Hughie Gallacher, José Leandro Andrade, Káďa, Lothar Matthäus, Manuel Seoane, Michel Platini, Ronaldo, Stanley Matthews, Steve Bloomer, W.N. Cobbold, Zico, Zizinho. 3rd class: Friedrich Gschweidl, Andrés Iniesta, Kálmán Konrád, Sándor Kocsis, Xavi.
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GOALKEEPERS Extraclass: Lev Yashin, Ricardo Zamora. 1st class: Dino Zoff, František Plánička, Gianluigi Buffon, Gordon Banks, Jimmy Trainer, Manuel Neuer, Peter Schmeichel, Sam Hardy, Sepp Maier.
//Hungarian development
Puskás Hidegkuti Kocsis
Czibor Budai II.
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Czibor Puskás Kocsis Budai II.
Hidegkuti
* * *
Puskás Kocsis
Czibor Budai II.
Hidegkuti
Bozsik
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