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Gallacher, 1929: How I play football
Author: Isaque Argolo | Creation Date: 2023-03-05 17:17:38
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HOW I PLAY FOOTBALL
— Hughie Gallacher | 23/02/1929 —
A match that could hardly fail to attract a vast gate would be one between the winners of the English F.A. Cup and the winners of the Scottish Cup.
Here you would have the two "knock out" teams of the year meeting each other — a fixture worth travelling a long way to see.
The lot of the prophet is too hard for my liking, so I will not venture a forecast of who would win. But I will say that not many goals would be scored in a dozen such matches. You would see dour football from start to finish, and some fine attacking, but no team wins either Cup unless its defence is as sound as a defence can humanly be.
One of the most interesting points of the match would be the contrast of methods.
A Scottish player who joins English football finds that he is taking part in a type of football that is comparatively new to him. The game is the same, but the players have different ideas.
No two teams in either country are exactly alike in their methods, and none concentrate on one method to the exclusion of others, but generally the slogan in England is "Let the ball do the work." In Scotland the idea is, "The player in possession has the game at his feet."
Generally, the English game is the faster of the two because it travels at the speed at which the ball can be made to travel. The Scottish game travels more at the speed at which the player himself can travel. There is little difference between the amount of skill required to play either game well, and even less to choose between two typical matches as a spectacle.
The Scottish game, perhaps, is easier to follow. The spectator can note every move — and even anticipate the moves.
In English football the element of surprise plays a larger part, and the player who makes a tactical error has to do a lot of fast sprinting if he is to catch up with his mistake.
Naturally, where the ball comes down the field unexpectedly, the inside forwards will have to be very good if they are to get into a position for a shot at goal. If they fail, the impression may be gained that a scoring opportunity has been lost, whereas it would be more true to say that the ball has travelled a bit too fast for the forwards, as well as too fast for the opponents.
Letting the ball do the work must not be understood to mean that there is any absence of ball control.
Actually, to play this type of game successfully, each man must have considerable ability at directing the flight of a swiftly moving ball.
A TYPICAL MOVE.
Take an example from actual play.
A ball intended for the opposing centre-forward has dropped a bit short, and has been intercepted by the centre-half.
More often than not that player will not attempt to bring it to his feet and run with it. He will knock it down at once with his head to a position in front of, say, the outside left. The outside left will take the ball in his stride and run with it until the defenders come over to tackle. The chances are then that he will not attempt to run through them with the ball at his feet. Instead, he will tap it over to his inside man.
The inside man is even less likely than the wing man to attempt to run through the defence.
He has the chance of a number of moves, but a favourite one — assuming that the defence have been attracted to the left wing — is to swing it over without a moment's delay to the right wing.
The outside right will move as fast as he can with the ball in the direction of the goal line. In fact, it often happens that the winger, having a flying start, gets to the goal line of thereabouts in advance of his other forwards. Unless he can converge in and have a shot at goal himself — a move not likely to be permitted by the back or half-back who tackles him — he will have to hesitate for an instant before the inside forwards are well placed enough to permit of the ball being centred to them.
Usually the centre-forward will be in position before the ball is run down, but he will be too well marked unless the inside forwards are there to play a part.
However, the ball will eventually be centred. The chances are that it will not be sent flashing across the ground, but will be lofted somewhat into the air, so that it can be knocked into the goal with a touch of the forehead or side of the head.
All this takes a very brief space of time.
THE SCOTTISH WAY.
Probably the only players who retain possession of the ball for any length of time are the wing forward. They may run it towards the goal, while the other players will usually prefer to flight it in the most appropriate direction.
You might, of course, easily get a movement of this kind in Scottish football, but the method is much more typical of the English game.
If a Scottish centre-half intercepted the ball he would probably bring it down to his feet, get control over it, and move with it in possession until he has drawn one or more defenders. Then he would push the ball through to another player, who would repeat the process. If the centre-forward got possession of the ball anywhere near the goal, the chances are that he would put up a brilliant exhibition of dodging defenders until he was well placed for a shot. His shot would probably be taken more deliberately than that of his English confrere, and for that reason might have a better chance of succeeding.
The difference between the two types of football is not a matter of one way being superior to the other.
Either game, played by a team capable of winning the trophy of the year, is a spectacle to see.
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