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Billy Meredith: Soccer Giants VII.
Author: Isaque Argolo | Creation Date: 2023-04-16 17:28:23
Data providers: Isaque Argolo.
MAN I STUDIED AS THE MODEL RIGHT-WINGER
— Billy Meredith | 18/11/1934 —
Most of the younger school of football followers look upon legislators as doddering old men who know nothing about the game. I have been surprised on occasions to hear young fellows, with a touch of sarcasm, exclaim: "I wonder what the deuce he (a football official) knows about the game. No wonder England cannot win matches. They pick the wrong teams"
Yet curiously enough most of our football officials have been outstanding players in the past. Take Billy Bassett, chairman of West Bromwich Albion — the club for which he played — and also a member of the Football Council. He was, in my opinion, the best outside right I ever saw.
It is as well that the public should know these facts, and I am only too pleased to pay tribute to Mr. Bassett's prowess as a player, while I say of his abilities as a football legislator that England has none better.
But it is from the playing point of view that I want to write of Mr. Bassett. He appeared sixteen times for England, and with Steve Bloomer formed the best right wing I have ever seen.
I vividly recall the day at Cardiff in 1896 when Bassett and Bloomer formed the right wing against Wales — I was playing in that game — and between them they got six or seven goals. I cannot just remember the exact number.
IT WAS SUPER FOOTBALL.
It was the first time an England-Wales international match had been played at the Cardiff Arms Park, and it is all the more praiseworthy to record that they secured their goals against such a great Welsh defence as Charlie Parry (Everton) and Dai Jones (Bolton).
That Bassett-Bloomer exhibition will always remain in my memory as a display of super-footballer!
Billy Bassett secured all the honours that football could offer. He won two Cup medals — assisting West Bromwich to success against Preston and Aston Villa — and secured several inter-League honours, apart from international caps.
He could centre a ball from the wing and drop it wherever he wanted! I make no secret of the fact that I tried to model my style on that of Billy Bassett. To me he was the 100-per-cent. right wing forward — brilliant, clean and clever in all he did.
Billy Bassett could take the ball almost to the corner flag and, without stopping his speed, swep the ball into the goalmouth. His judgment was uncanny, and the way he had of back-heeling the ball to his half back when at full gallop was wonderful. This trick I also tried to perfect, and it was Billy Bassett who inspired me to do it more than any other player.
It was a great move, and if you had an understanding with your half back, such as I had with Dick Duckworth, it was one of the game's best moves.
Football would be better, I am sure, if the players adopted some of the ruses that were prominent in my time. The subtlety is missing to-day, although I admit that the game has changed, and changed conditions naturally demand other manoeuvres.
Like most of the masters, Billy Bassett never stooped to a low trick. If a player beat Bassett for possession he would earn a "well played" remark.
Bassett was unselfish to a degree. He was just one man of a fine team in his day, and it mattered not a bit who got the goals as long as they came and each man was pulling his weight.
COULD NOT PLAY POORLY!
In fact Billy Bassett could not have played a poor game had he wanted. He was so full of enthusiasm, and was such a classic player that one always expected something outstanding from him — and it usually came!
Bassett's style was such that any player of his time should have taken him as their model. I did, and to the younger generation of footballers to-day I urge them to watch the masters, pick out their strong points and endeavour to emulate those tactics.
That is the only way to become proficient in football. You can never learn too much and you cannot have too much ball practice.
In football, as in most other things, practice makes perfect, and Billy Bassett, had he made a mistake in a game, would have spent an hour or more in correcting his error when he next went to train.
Billy Bassett has done more for West Bromwich Albion than any other individual. The young Throstles take notice of him, because they know he knows. And how singular it is that the Albion have always relied upon Englishmen in their team. It was an all-England eleven that won the F.A. Cup against Birmingham in 1931.
To-day I consider Sam Crooks, of Derby County, as the best right winger. He may not be in favour with the selectors just now, but I am convinced he is the best in the country.
Matthews, of Stoke, is a delightful player, and may become even better than he now is, but I believe Crooks to be just a bit better at the moment, and ought to have been chosen for recent internationals.
Another player who recently went out of the limelight, but appears once again to have recovered his form is Geldard, of Everton. Joe Hulme, the Arsenal flyer, I have always admired.
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