I have long been a fan of football nostalgia, hitting 60 this year and having collected programmes and memorabilia since I was a young boy.
So I have had a lifelong addiction to the game ‘as it was’ and it’s fair to say that the football my dad introduced me to in the 1960s bears no relation to the modern day version – but is it fair to compare?
The You Tube channel The Heavyroller has some fantastic archive footage of games from the early 1950s to the mid 1960s and the clips are a snapshot of not only how football has evolved but also how society in general has changed.
I particularly liked the footage of non-league Hastings United taking on Norwich City in the FA Cup proper in season 1953/4, the crowd shots show how ‘cup fever’ really gripped a town back in the day and it’s sad to think that nowadays the professional clubs send teams made up of squad members and youth teamers to such fixtures, denying spectators a chance they may not otherwise have to ‘see the stars play live’ and semi-pro or journeyman players an opportunity to take on the biggest names in the game.
I’m not Jose Mourinho’s biggest fan but I do admire him for sending a decent Spurs side to Marine last month thus giving the Merseysiders’ players just the opportunity I mentioned before.
My father and older relatives grew up with legends like Stanley Matthews, Tom Finney, Jimmy Dickinson, etc and there are plenty of clips around of them on the internet but it’s the slightly less household names of the day that hold the fascination for me and The Heavyroller provides them in abundance.
There are also a few quirky historical oddities in there too – an FA Cup tie between Arsenal and Blackpool in 53/4 has the Gunners in red and white stripes while ‘Pool changed from their famous tangerine into white shirts and black shorts. Anyone know why?
I was particularly interested in some of the pre-Munich Manchester United footage too, notably that of Johnny Berry.
Berry sustained terrible injuries in the disaster and never played again. He was also suffering from severe amnesia and couldn’t remember the crash. Apparently he kept asking why his great pal Tommy Taylor, one of the team that had died, hadn’t been to see him in hospital. Looking at the clips Berry looked to be a terrific winger and the tragedy claimed what could well have been a famous name in the future.
Some of the clips have no soundtrack and a few are so grainy as to be unwatchable but most are decent quality and well worth a look.
You can visit the channel here – enjoy!