Thursday, March 01, 2012

Where are the maverick English footballers of the 1970s?

I didn't watch much of England's game last night, but what struck me was the team. It didn't look that inspiring, yet it was hard to think of a fit player who should have been in it but was not selected.

Forty years ago every club in the old First Division had a player who ought to be in the England team - at least in the opinion of its fans.

And often they were mavericks, both in their lifestyle and style of play. I am thinking of people like Rodney Marsh, Stan Bowles, Frank Worthington, Charlie George, Duncan McKenzie and Alan Hudson. They were all immensely talented players who did not enjoy much of an international career.

I sense that this breed was already dying out by the 1980s. You can say that Glen Hoddle should have had the England team built around him, but in the end he got far more caps than any of those players from the 1970s.

And after that there were Nigel Clough and Matt Le Tissier, but precious few other examples. The last player I can remember thinking of in this category is Joe Cole, but he ended up as a regular choice for England.

Nostalgia is always a tempting trap, and I certainly don't follow the game as closely as I did when I was a boy, but I think I am on to something. Where are the players who ought to play for England and don't today?

1 comment:

Charlieman said...

From an old Mark E Smith of The Fall interview at

"The way the England team is now is ridiculous. A team of superstars is like a supergroup. It's like picking the best guitarist in Britain, the best drummer and the best singer, and expecting them to produce something that isn't prog-rock mush. It doesn't work: this England team will never work at the highest level."

And he was right. I am not sure what Mark thinks about his beloved Manchester City under current ownership. My guess is that he'd like some contrary players in MCFC and England today.