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21/07/1929: Brum interviews Howard Spencer
Author: Isaque Argolo | Creation Date: 2022-04-23 12:44:10
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The greatest half-back line
Interview by Brum | 21/07/1930
Howard Spencer had a notable record. He was a member of the Villa team for 11 years, from 1893 to 1907, and, with the exception of one season, when a displaced cartilage put him out of action for a time, he was rarely absent from the senior side. He has three F.A. Cup winner's medals, and four League Championship medals — an almost unprecedented record. He played for England on half-a-dozen occasions, and for the Football League nine times.
It is generally agreed that Howard Spencer should have played more than twice against Scotland. He represented the Rose against the Thistle in 1897 and 1905, and yet during the intervening years he was one of the finest backs in the country.
I may say that one person of overwhelming influence used to spread the prejudicial report that Spencer lacked dash, and did not use his strenght sufficiently.
Well, he usually stopped men; all the old forwards will tell you that. He did not use his strenght unfairly, but hewas not a weakling. However, he is merely one great player of manu who have been undervalued bu the International Selection Committee.
THE MODERN GAME
Spencer's opinions on the latest developments of the game are, naturally, interesting. He said: "I doubt if the new offside law has benefited the game materially. It has certainly made it faster and brighter, and from the public's point of view that not doubt is a gain. They were weary of continual stoppages under the old law."
Spencer: In my day, the game was all right; so long as the offside law was not exploited, the game was as interesting as it well could be."
» I well remember having a glommering as to what might be possible under the old law. I was playing against Edgar Chadwick and Jack Cox of Everton, and a wily pair they were. Jack Cox was a great sprinter, and Chadwick one of the craftiest of inside forwards. I remember allowing Cox to get a little too far in front, so that he would be offside if Chadwick passed him.
» Well, several times Chadwick did pass, and the whistle went for offside. I remember that the crowd thought I was doing something unfair, but the referee afterwards told me that he blamed Chadwick for passing, not me for tempting him to do so. But I never deliberately attempted to throw men off-side right up the field; the incident mentioned was quite exceptional and two exceptional men were confronting me.
» I only mention it to show how easily McCracken may have tumbled into his now historic policy. But I never liked the idea of deliberately trying to divert a law from its generally conceived meaning, and that, I think, was done in later years.
» I am not sure that the players enjoy the new law as much as the onlookers. They have to work pretty hard.
» We have had a valuable player in the Villa in William Walker; Walker has been worthy of comparison with any forward who ever toed a ball. His footwork in some of our games a few years ago was mystifying.
» I have never seen anything finer. We are all proud of William Walker, I can assure you.
» The spectators like to see a few goals scored, and the new law gratifies their instinct without in any way reducing the game to a lower level. I have found some recent games remarkably alluring and interesting.
» You ask me as to the great players I have seen? I never remember a half-back line quite equal to John Reynolds, James Cowan, and James Crabtree.
» There are many other men I remember almost with affection, notably Bob Crompton, Doig, G. O. Smith, Steve Bloomer, Ernest Needham, Jimmy Miller of Sunderland, Edgar Chadwick, and John Devey.
» John Devey was a wonderful force in the Villa team. I am proud to have played the game with such men, and I will make no invidious comparisons between them and the players of the present generation.
» The game, I can assure you, has never been without its great exponents. It is never satisfactory to compare the giants of one generation with those of another, and personally, I have found great exponents of the game in every generation I have known.
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