Archive. Football. Statistic & History
Document |
A document created by for the whole football community
Linesman, 1925: Famous half-backs of the past

Author: Isaque Argolo | Creation Date: 2023-02-09 01:56:57

Data providers: Isaque Argolo.
— "Linesman" | 26/12/1925 —

A fortnight ago an interesting article appeared in the "Sporting Mail" on the subject of great half-backs, and the writer drew attention to the fact that many he mentioned — as, for instance, Groves, Reynolds and Crabtree — were masters of constructive play. Such was undoubtedly the case, and to that fact much of the effectiveness of the forwards was due.
James Cowan, too received high praise, as he undoubtedly deserved, for the stands out as one of the finest centre half-backs who ever played. His great strength and exceptional speed — it will be recalled that he won the Powderhall Handicap — were tremendous assets to him, but he was possessed of strategy in a high degree, and, as I know personally, he made a study of the game.
When, for instance, he had to meet John Goodall, the famous North End and Derby County forward for the first time, Cowan was considering all the week what tactics were best to adopt and at length formed his plan of campaign, which proved entirely successful.
As a centre half-back Cowan certainly ranked as a worthy successor to Davie Russell, the great centre half-back of Preston North End, who, it will be recalled, went to Nottingham Forest and, by hix example and advice, raised that club to a prominent position in the game. A MODERN MASTER.
For a long time I thought that Russell and Cowan were the two greatest centre halves I had ever seen, but I should be inclined to join Barson to them. The last-named, when playing for Aston Villa, was an enormous asset to the side, for not only was he a sound tackler and a fine constructive player, but he was a very live force in the game — in fact, he literally dominated some of them. It was not only what he did himself, but what he made others do. He shepherded the other players and got the best out of all his companions. ERNEST NEEDHAM.
Ernest Needham was another wonderful half-back who was practically alive to every move on the part of his opponents. He was a master of the triangular game, and one instance of this is fixed in my memory. It was, I think, in 1898, at Celtic Park, a match won by England by three goals to one. Needham was playing behind the late Fred Wheldon, of Aston Villa, and Spiksley, of Sheffield Wednesday, and it was delightful to see the perfect understanding that existed between the three players. They might have all come from the same club. It was the wonderful work on this wing, in conjunction with the genius of G. O. Smith, in the centre, that contributed largely to England's victory.