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Catton, 1932: Quickness in football

Author: Isaque Argolo | Creation Date: 2023-04-12 21:41:03

Data providers: Isaque Argolo.
James Catton | 22/10/1932 —

There should be a big clock on every football ground, open to the public view. The richer the club the more money available for the timepiece, which could be constructed to chime the quarter-hour until the last ten minutes came, when a syren should be sounded.
The importance of a Big Ben on every ground where big matches are played and big issues are decided is not for the convenience of the public, is not to enable some hot-head to check the referee's watch, and is not to speed up the hurlyburly in the last ten minutes. The value of the clock is to emphasise to the player the value of the split second to every footballer from the first whistle to the final tool when the supreme controller signals that all the time has gone.
The footballer does not seem to understand that he lives by deeds done in split seconds and that he should count Time by heart throbs. The click with all the modern gadgets would remind him that a Final Tie for the Cup has been won within a few seconds of the kick-off, before people could get into their seats, and that many a goal has been lost by the fraction of a second.
It is necessary to remind even the players of famous clubs that they should never make two or three moves where one will do what they want. The real player is always beating the clock and his opponents by his quickness of thought and action. TO WHERE IT STARTED.
The other day at Stamford Bridge I saw a forward pass to his inside partner who returned the ball to the outside raider. What did the latter? He passed to the wing half-back a dozen yards in the rear. There was no reason why he could not have passed the ball to the wing half-back in the first instance: waste of time.
I have known a club manager, Jack Robson, who went from Brighton to Manchester United, make his players practise ball manoeuvres again and again until the work was done at the required speed. Directly a player gets slower his value decreases. Time is everything.
No man I ever saw illustrated this idea better than Bloomer, the inside right of Derby and England. There was no juggling, with the light fantastic footwork of a James, who is the most prodigal player in the matter of time thrown away that I have ever seen. James the juggler, yes; James the footballer, sometimes, when he is economical of fleeting moments.
When Jack Harrow, of Chelsea, first played against Bloomer, he had the surprise of his life. That was over twenty years ago. The ball was falling near to Bloomer and Harrow was advancing when he saw the Derby celebrity volley it to the outside left. Harrow thought that was a fluke. THOSE FLICKS.
Next he saw Bloomer flick the ball with the outside of his boot to the right wing, then with his left foot feed the centre-forward, and again a pass by volleying a ball so quick and sure was his control. These were all one touch moves — not several. Bloomer was the supreme first time artist without the frivolity of a James.
Bloomer never cared whether the spectators laughed or cursed. His plan was to place the ball where he wanted in the quickest time. And then recall what a snapper-up of unconsidered trifles, called "loose balls" this Bloomer was.
The greatest centre of almost any era was "Jo" Smith, the Corinthian. He was the universal provider of goals for his mates. He was a ball master who, as John Goodall said, was "so easy to play with." Now "Jo" Smith relates that as he passed a ball to Bloomer he just mentioned his name. "Before, or almost before, his surname had passed my lips, Bloomer had the ball in the net." The Derby man foresaw what Smith would do and in the precise split second of time had made one of those swift, low oblique drives between the goalkeeper's right hand and the post that he could not reach in time.
Football is always a question of time, and never was this better seen than when backs like McCracken, of Newcastle, and Herbert Morley, of Notts County, were anticipating the pass by the nicest calculation and throwing the wing man off-side. THE PRECISE MOMENT.
Bloomer knew the precise moment by instinct. How often has Bloomer prowled about until opportunity came. In a flash he had scored. The newspapers of the next day either said that "Bloomer got his usual goal" or that "Bloomer did nothing beyond score the only goal of the match." That was all he wanted to do — just win the match.
Many times have Scotland's fanatics heaped maledictions on his plain, pallid face that gave no indication of the viciousness behind his automatic flashing shots as he hissed between his teeth, "Stop that, you son of a gun in goal," or others words burning with vim.
Bloomer has never had an equal. No one of this day has his touch and timeliness. James is an entertainer and most amusing if anyone goes to a match for amusement. Bloomer was a match-winner without the slightest side of the game. Bloomer was not the kind of man who scored an odd goal now and then. 380 GOALS.
In his day newspapers did not publish lists of goal-scorers once a week, but he got 352 goals in League matches, 28 more for England in her matches, beside those obtained in Cup-ties and all sorts of games.
Fit enough to be tried at centre-forward when 40. Then he told me he was "fighting fit." And, remember, he was always "shadowed," but his quickness with the ball defeated his foes.
Was he not once addressed as "On, incomparable Bloomer"? Was he not styled "The Prince of Players"? Yes, he was a footballer, and not a footer.
I expect that some sceptic who never saw him will say:
"Was he really so good as all this? Was the defence as strong in his day as it is now?"
There is no exaggeration in these reflections. Bloomer's greatness was due to one factor — that he did the right act at the right moment more often than any other man on the field.