From The Vault: Does football ever change?

Huddersfield Town story posted by Andy Dixon on 08/10/2002
Recently I have managed to get my hands on a number of vintage Huddersfield Town programmes from the 1965-66 season before England won the World Cup. After reading these historical and collectable forms of terrier memorabilia a burning question was running through my mind. Namely - has football changed since 1966?From The Vault: Does football ever change?

This question comes as a direct result of reading a few of the very interesting articles in the "Soccer Review" section of the matchday publication. Issues such as football hooliganism, television's effects on football and football's relationship with the common supporters were all explicitly discussed. I urge anyone interested in the heritage of football to read on and enjoy these topical extracts.

The following articles are all found in the Huddersfield Town vs. Leyton Orient (29th January 1966) edition:


Meet a soccer hooligan. He is 19-years-old clerk Jim Daly of 4 Surrey Walk, Ellerby Lane, Leeds 9.

Last season he was fined ?2 for causing a disturbance on a Yorkshire football ground. "My name appeared in the Press", he told us, "like so many others do".

What was Daly's crime?

"I ran on to the pitch at an away match" he told us, "some 30 minutes before the kick-of. In my hand I had three white balloons.

"All I wanted to do was to plant them on the centre circle to call attention to my favourites, Leeds United. But I was stopped from getting there, taken outside the ground, and charged.

"I must stress that I did not resist eviction, I did not use any bad language and I did nothing more than run on to the pitch".

Mr. Daly wants to know: was this fair? we wonder. Is Jim really a hooligan? We say not; not on this evidence.

Obviously too many exuberant spirits are being labelled with the hooligan tag. As Daly stresses: "When trouble is exaggerated out of all proportion it gives not only supporter, their clubs ... but football too ... a bad name".

We believe that too, vehemently. We believe that there is only a tiny hard core of louts who hunt for trouble in packs, and who seem too clever to be caught.

Somehow they must be caught. And the vast majority of fans, even the over-enthusiastic fans, placed into true perspective.

Ignore sections of the Press who claim soccer is sick. If this is true then society is even sicker. And this we emphatically refuse to believe.


Coventry's Ron Farmer is proud of his association with the sea. He was brought up in Guernsey in the Channel Islands and spent a great deal of time in it ... fishing and swimming.

So when City recently spent a short break at Blackpool during the cold spell, who but Ron was expected to wade into the water when the ball accidently went in.

Ron did just that ... and promptly changed to a pale blue colour. "I have never been in such cold sea", he muttered. He had to be taken back to the hotel to thaw out.


One of the most under-rated centre forwards in the country, Tony Leighton has been one of the reasons why Huddersfield Town are promotion challengers this season rather than a struggling Second Division club.

The former Barnsley player is not of big build, but compensates his lack of inches by fine ball control and distribution. A former Yorkshire and Leicestershire cricketer.


Former England team manager Walter Winterbottom, now Director of the Sports Council, forecasts a continued downward trend in League Soccer gates.

In an interview in the current F.A. News he says "... mass spectator observation of sport through television, together with the changing habits of people, has brought about an alarming fall in spectators attending ordinary matches.

"This trend will continue, except for special occasions and for a limited number of outstanding teams."

Now, I'm no Gipsy Petruelengo, so I would hesitate to say that Mr. W. was wrong. Or right.

All I know is that television is, indeed, a major enemy to Football League coffers. Two Saturdays ago, kept indoors by flu, I turned myself over to switching the knobs between the two TV channels to find the sport which suited me best.

Inside three hours I saw snatches of rugger, boxing, horse racing, motor cycle scrambling, swimming, cricket and motor racing.

I was kept informed of the progress of the top soccer of the day and, without stirring, received a full results service from the racing and soccer fronts.


I found myself asking: would I like this every week? Certainly, while the flu bug had me I could think of no better way to be entertained except by reading a good book. I felt like a traitor to the cause.

What then, are the masses to say to it? Everywhere you go you'll hear people admitting quite unashamedly that they stay at home now to watch sport on telly rather than go to the local match.

I have long argued that, as long as B.B.C. and I.T.V. put a Saturday afternoon stranglehold round their turnstiles League clubs should refuse to have anything to do with television.

So what do we get? BBC Two has a Match of the Day League Soccer programme on Saturday nights, while all the ITV regions have regular Sunday afternoon League soccer featuring a match involving local teams.

Soccer is there free gratis and for nowt. So why go out in the cold? Seems a bit shortsighted to me. You, too?


One of my pet theories about referees is that too many of them know the Laws backwards ... but have too little knowledge of their application on the field.

So I was struck by complaints from a very newly-qualified ref in the "Essex Referee". He cited some of the trick questions he was asked when he first took the Class III examination ... And failed.

This is the sort of rubbish a man can be asked: "The referee signals for the kick off, but before the kick is taken a player of the side kicking off strikes an opponent. Naturally, you would send him off, but would you allow a replacement?"

Comments the sad newcomer: "I have asked ten senior referees, with over 200 years of refereeing between them, about this and not one has ever heard of it happening, let alone have it happen to them. Not being able to answer this question could fail a keen would-be referee".

We must all agree; this is ludicrous.

Refs love this sort of mumbo-jumbo. Their Quiz competitions are full of them. And that's where they all should stay.


You keep telling us that your aim is to educate the football masses into a greater appreciation of the game, its Laws and the Clubs themselves.

For sure, I think you are doing a very fair job--a job which the League should have tackled years ago, instead of leaving it to newspaper reporters who were interested mainly in creating stories.

So why don't you help by using space very profitably to give questions and answers on football law. Or even controversial points briefly explained by a top-class referee.

Heaven knows the thousands of ignoramuses who infest our grounds are badly in need of any morsel of football knowledge you might be able to place before them.

It would be of so much more value than the pointless football quizzes so many club programmes use to fill out their space. Hardly anybody is really interested in this sort of historical stuff, which certainly doesn't do anything to educate the masses to a better appreciation of the game.


The unfunniest situation in which I ever found myself was on a night during my abstemious youth when I fell into an open grave. And, as the cemetery was in a part of the country where people go early to bed, there was little I could do about getting out.

But, as my writing of this testifies, I survived any premature burial ... an escape which will not please those who have often wished that I was doing my football reporting on some Elysian field.

However, survive I did--even if the gravedigger who discovered me in the first light of dawn almost became an on-the-spot candidate for his own handiwork.

And what, you may well ask, has falling into a grave got to do with football?

The answer is simple. When I tumbled into someone else's last resting place I was taking a short cut after interviewing a Highland laddie who could have become a great player.

I recalled all this while recovering from one of the bouts of nausea which always overcomes me when I think of the sportsmen and footballer of the year awards which are handed out like so much confetti.

My Highland discovery was as deserving of the accolade as any of the highly-priced prima donnas of today. After a full day's work on his father's croft, he would give himself a hard day's night practising by himself on a piece of scrubland where broom and heather sprouted like tank traps.

Now I have heard that Stewart Strachan, an acquaintance of mine, has been presented with a cup for an outstanding performance in the Windward Islands.

Young Stewart might easily have made the professional grade. Instead, he chose to go out into the world and help people less fortunate than himself.

Alas, you will not find Stewart's name around when our own Football Writers' Association starts canvassing for votes for the Footballer of the Year. Nor did you hear David Coleman mention his name while plugging the T.V. award.

The point I make is that you should not have to be a star to be considered for the honour. The player of the year could be YOU. Or it could be the fellow standing beside you on the terracing.

It is, of course, impossible to find the most worthy of all. But that does not excuse the Press and B.B.C. Going all out to brainwash voters into naming a star. I am prepared to lay a fair share of odds that the Footballer of the Year next May will be a Cup Final player or someone living in or around London.

It is all wrong. Why, for example, was Harold Bell of Tranmere Rovers ignored? He played hundreds of games for his club, and I doubt if he ever asked for an extra penny.

Or what about faithful goalkeeper Johnny Schofield, who has collected a silver plate in his head doing daring work for Birmingham City? Or ice-cool centre-half Bobby McKinlay of Nottingham Forest?

It takes more than bright lights and tall headlines to make a Player or a Sportsman of the year. As I said, he could be in your street or playing for the village team along the road.

Come to that, he could be an unspoiled youth kicking a ball around the sheep on some isolated hillside. But I'm damned if I'm going to spend another night in a grave to prove it.

As with many things it is all down to individual interpretation. Nonetheless, these extracts show that the Football Association and football supporters were debating topics such as football hooligans long, long ago. It is also interesting to note how accurate the predictions of television killing football and lowering football crowds (as with ITV Digital). If you enjoy this article please post a comment on the website message boards and hopefully a regular 'From the Vault' article may evolve.


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