Friday, February 20, 2015

Chelsea 2 Leeds 1

Took the funerals of two enthusiastic football fans this week. On Monday Kev was sent off in his Chelsea kit. On Wednesday Malcolm, a fervent Leeds United supporter, took his leave.

Juxtaposing these two events this morning my mind went back to the 1970 FA Cup Final replay. I watched it with my Dad on a black and white TV. I had started watching the Cup Final on tele in 1964 and have watched almost all of them since. My memory of those first few is still pretty clear though.

In the Leeds Chelsea match Bobby Charlton was a studio guest and at half-time was discussing Leeds' goal scored by Mick Jones. Now Mick was what you might call an old-fashioned centre forward. Good in the air, led the line well and headed for goal in as straight a line as possible. My memory of his dribbling skill is that he simply went into a series of fifty-fifty tackles and won them until one-on-one with the goalkeeper. I may be doing him a disservice since I can remember one great run and cross in a later cup final. But I think he broke his arm in the same match.

Still, in 1970, he had hustled and bustled past several defenders and scored. Charlton said, 'He should have been fouled'.

Watching the footage of that match back it is clear that you would not have picked up a booking if you had slipped a flick-knife out of your sock and and severed an opponent's hamstring. It is also obvious that this would have only been a minor inconvenience to said defender who would have been back on the pitch stretching after a couple of wipes with an icy sponge had distracted him while the trainer tied a knot in it. The winning goal involved David Webb of Chelsea shouldering the ball and several other players into the net after a near-post flick on.

But at Charlton's comment my Dad let out a harrumph. He could harrumph for England, my Dad. He was also, by and large, a rugby man who thought football was inferior (but bless, he never told me that to my face and accompanied me to many matches).

A bit of the world changed then. If Bobby Charlton said an opponent should have been fouled... Gentleman Bobby, a footballer everybody, even rugby men, respected, had advocated cheating. Dad met my future father-in-law Ken in 1973 and he returned my Dad to rugby. Together they won the 1970s world harrumphing championships when Leicester beat Moseley at Twickenham with a late push-over try.

Forty-five years on the deliberate foul is part of the everyday game, cheating players take advantage of this and it is clearly all Bobby Charlton's fault.

RIP Malcolm and Kev. Thanks for the memory.

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