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Football Decades Ago Was Innocent And Much Less Theatrical

The FA Cup finals of the distant past have been put on YouTube and my son Neil watched the 1955 final when Newcastle hammered Manchester City and Don Revie (The Don Revie Plan) 3-1.

That was when the great Jackie Milburn scored with a header (of all things) in the very first minute.

In those days the goalkeeper could bounce the ball as he came out and players could pass the ball directly back to the goalkeeper.

There were also no substitutes (introduced in 1967) so if you lost a player through injury – hard luck.

Jimmy Scoular hold the FA Cup – 1955

In that FA Cup final City right full-back Jimmy Meadows was stretchered off with a bad leg injury after 22 minutes, something we never seem to mention.

There were also no TV replays so you couldn’t see the same play over and over again after the event to show the player was in fact offside or whatever.

That technology – like PCs, cell phones, streaming video and even paging in mainframe computer systems simply didn’t exist

Neil also realized that when players were tackled and went to ground they did something extremely strange,  which is hardly ever seen in today’s theatrical game.

They got up and carried on like nothing had happened.


Maybe at the City Ground last week the game would have been better served if players had done that, but in today’s football world we have players who could win Oscars if they were in the acting profession.

Rafa Benitez has talked about the FA taking retroactive action when they see theatrics like we saw from Forest captain Henri Lansbury.

He couldn’t seem to keep on his feet when he was in the penalty area and a Newcastle player was anywhere near him.

In the olden days what Henri was doing we would have referred to as plain cheating, but such is the politically correct world we now live in that we would never dream of saying that – so we wont.


This is what Rafa has said in the local press today:

“Sometimes the FA take action also on the players that are over-reacting.”

“It was very clear the No 10 Lansbury was waiting for Dummett.”  “So maybe again the FA can analyse this and see the behaviour of the No 10.”

“All the teams have one or two players who lose their temper a little bit earlier than the other.” “Also I think he’s learning, he has more experience, which is the key.”

One of the things we want to see against Birmingham City today is that our players have matured and put on a professional display with all-out effort and some (very) good football.

If we can do that we should be able to win the game today.

And then you can watch the FA Cup final of 1955 – a time when we actually won trophies.

If all that happens it could be a very good day.

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9 comments so far

  • G

    Dec 10, 2016 at 9:23 AM

    Comment #1

    I remember reading years ago from a brit playing in Italy (may have been Rush or Gazza, cant actually remember) that in Italy they devoted about 30 percent of their training simulating fouls. To me it seems every footballing nation on earth seems to play this way now. I for one would like to see it stamped out.

  • Spotlight Kid

    Dec 10, 2016 at 9:28 AM

    Comment #2

    Innocent and less theatrical???? Clearly, Ed, you didn’t bother attending many games in the 60s and 70s where these two virtues were conspicuous only by their absence. The NUFC v Leeds fixture alone was responsible for so many off the ball incidents and fake rolling around in the penalty area (Allan ‘Sniffer’ Clarke being the master of this). Likewise the time the late great Big John Mac left Jackie Charlton clutching his face on the deck after Big Jack had upended Jinky minutes earlier was pure theatre. Big John shrugged his shoulders at the ref and looked “what me, ref?” innocent of course, while those with a good view of the incident were reduced to howls of laughter.

  • Mister Tuff

    Dec 10, 2016 at 9:30 AM

    Comment #3

    OFD – your post earlier re the bunker in Oz. Very interesting having the reviews in one place. Had always thought the review team would be at each ground.
    Your concerns about not having it for the PL/Championship have been addressed – posted about this last week.
    Football hierarchy have agreed to it in principal and Serie A are currently trialing it.
    Once the trials have been completed in Italy it will be rolled out.
    So we’ve probably got 18 months -2years before the refs get it here.

  • G

    Dec 10, 2016 at 9:31 AM

    Comment #4

    @2 I dont think Leeds played a clean game at all during the 60s and 70s. Cloghie summed them up pretty well in ‘the damned united’.

  • G

    Dec 10, 2016 at 9:33 AM

    Comment #5

    Cloughie even, as in Brian, damned touchscreen isnt ideal for fat old fingers.

  • one fine day

    Dec 10, 2016 at 9:44 AM

    Comment #6

    Cheers tuff
    They don’t always get it right in the bunker
    A few shockers last season( even after deliberation ) but never anything as unjust as what we witnessed last Friday
    Never will be intimated here myself here but have a feeling many are .
    Always enjoy your posts with genuine wit / humour and a left field approach .
    Still a few who post here I think are worth a read .
    Hopefully those absent will return …speaking of which where’s Geordie two these days ?

  • Jib

    Dec 10, 2016 at 10:02 AM

    Comment #7

    Spotlight Kid
    Don’t be so keen to commit people to the beyond.
    John McNamee is 75 amd living in Cumbria.

  • Spotlight Kid

    Dec 10, 2016 at 10:13 AM

    Comment #8

    JiB, a friend told me that Big John had recently died. BJM was a big hero of mine when I was attending matches in the 60s/70s. I know he fell on tough times, but I’m pleased to hear that he is still in there and scrapping. A true great, no question. Many thanks for the news, there’s a tear in my eye.

  • alka

    Dec 10, 2016 at 10:21 AM

    Comment #9

    Spotlight @ 2.
    I was at that match and had a perfect view of big John chinning Jack and as you said it was pure theatre and I don’t remember having laughed so much at a game since then.


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