Author Topic: Have things really changed for the better?  (Read 1139 times)

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rod

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Have things really changed for the better?
« on: March 09, 2023, 02:08:21 PM »
Not for the first time i am showing my age: coming from an era where football was considered to be a fairly simple game, with the primary objective being to score more goals than your opponents...An over simplification perhaps but i question whether the beautiful game has actually progressed. Is the entertainment now on offer, better than in yesteryear?

Almost all of my time on the terraces has been spent watching non league football....primarily the Linnets, since the late 1950's. There always then seemed to be a regular supply of ex full time professionals and  youngsters who naturally gravitated towards their local club: with the latter then in some cases moving onwards and upwards. This gave the club a natural community identity that fans could easily relate to. By way of example, watching such as Keith Rudd, Mick Rains, David Clarke, Jack Defty and his brother Charlie develop, added considerable value to my interest in attending games.

In those days - much of which has been slowly eroded over time - non league clubs relied heavily on volunteers and just a few paid, non playing employees: like a football secretary, kit man, trainer (the man with a bucket of cold water and a magic sponge!) and the manager, who sometimes but not always, had an assistant.

Players were mainly part time and had other jobs....With their football income being the financial icing, rather than the cake. Added to which they almost, without exception, played primarily because they loved the game, with time wasting and feigning injury then very much the exception rather than the rule. How different to now!

Added to which, vested interests have added layers of complication and complexity..... Many non league players are now full time and most employ agents: there are sports scientists, physio's, analysts, specialist coaches - even nutritionists...all even at non league level. Has this improved the entertainment value on offer and value for money? Questionable, in my opinion.

Players are now expected to absorb and to enact sometimes quite complicated tactical plans before games: then they often have up to three people giving them additional instructions from the touchline as the game progresses. How much of this confuses their thinking and scrambles minds? I wonder. It probably also sometimes discourages individual thought, initiative and the taking of personal responsibility - perhaps encouraging a belief that if the pre planned tactics are not working, it is the manager's rather than the player's fault?

Although manager's have always set out what was required of the team and each player ahead of the game. In days long gone, it was primarily left to the captain and senior players to manage the game as it progressed.

Teams tended to play a set system of 5 2 3 1, with two wingers who stayed wide but occasionally looked to cut in and shoot, two inside forwards with one playing slightly ahead of the other and a centre forward. Two wing halves, one of whom would drop back alongside a slightly deeper centre half and the full backs. Then the keeper who was most certainly not a sweeper keeper!

Most teams only marginally flexed this system according to how the game was going: with the decision to do so being largely made on the pitch by the players, according to how the game was progressing.

The full backs were there primarily to defend, the wingers largely tasked with beating their full back, getting to the byline and crossing to where the centre forward would be lurking in the penalty area, supported by one of the inside forwards. One of the wing halves would also be up there looking to pick up any defensive clearances from the opposition.....Admittedly much of this era was a time before substitutes were introduced and they have i believe brought about much of the change and over emphasis now placed on 'tactics'.

I can well recall a long time manager of the Linnets, Len Richley, sitting in the stand because he got a better view there with just the trainer on the touchline, whose job was not to dictate tactics but just to administer TLC to injured players! This all essentially made the players primarily responsible for what happened on the pitch.

To coin a phrase: we are where we are but if all of these changes are considered to be progressive, i fail to see it.

One of my football heroes was Brian Clough: he who exemplified the benefits of keeping it simple and was a motivator par excellence. Amongst his many memorable utterances were: -

"Players lose games not tactics. There's so much crap talked about tactics by people who barely know how to win at dominoes".

"Come and see my coaching certificates - they're called the European cup and League championships"

I admit to taking a nostalgic wander down memory lane and perhaps on occasion i am wearing 'rose tinted glasses??'.




Wingwizzard

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Re: Have things really changed for the better?
« Reply #1 on: March 09, 2023, 02:21:39 PM »
Well Said  Rod  couldn't agree with you more.   

Blue_and_Gold

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Re: Have things really changed for the better?
« Reply #2 on: March 09, 2023, 03:07:37 PM »
As always Rod, well written and all valid points.

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wack

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Re: Have things really changed for the better?
« Reply #3 on: March 09, 2023, 05:15:14 PM »
yes yes Rod.

A47 Linnet

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Re: Have things really changed for the better?
« Reply #4 on: March 10, 2023, 12:04:39 PM »
Well done Rod yet a nother great post, thank goodness we did see the
club then, many would say rose coloured glasses I guess . but very good.

TonyM

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Re: Have things really changed for the better?
« Reply #5 on: March 10, 2023, 01:53:41 PM »
Interesting post Rod and like most things in life 'progress' isn't all good but equally there are many things that have improved.  My Mum went to lots games at the Walks in the 60s (and all of the 61-62 cup run) but rarely goes nowadays, she came to the Chester game the last time we were in NLN, having not been to a live game at the Walks for maybe decades (went to a few at Carrow Road) and was shocked at the speed of the game, something that regulars would have seen increase incrementally over the years.  Likewise, the pitches have improved beyond belief - just look at some of the 1970s Division 1 fixtures on ITV 4.  In terms of tactics, I think Cloughie's comments were partially tongue in cheek as there was no doubt that his and Taylor's influence on that team was more than just picking 11 blokes.

rod

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Re: Have things really changed for the better?
« Reply #6 on: March 10, 2023, 02:41:44 PM »
Interesting post Rod and like most things in life 'progress' isn't all good but equally there are many things that have improved.  My Mum went to lots games at the Walks in the 60s (and all of the 61-62 cup run) but rarely goes nowadays, she came to the Chester game the last time we were in NLN, having not been to a live game at the Walks for maybe decades (went to a few at Carrow Road) and was shocked at the speed of the game, something that regulars would have seen increase incrementally over the years.  Likewise, the pitches have improved beyond belief - just look at some of the 1970s Division 1 fixtures on ITV 4.  In terms of tactics, I think Cloughie's comments were partially tongue in cheek as there was no doubt that his and Taylor's influence on that team was more than just picking 11 blokes.

Tony i agree that the modern game is faster, pitches much better and that Peter Taylor was very important to Clough and fundamental to their success   - not.least through his ability to identify players who would add value to the squad: with character and personality alongside development potential all being important. One other area where 'the game' has regressed in my opinion is in the attitude and actions of some supporters. It is now commonplace for rival fans having to be caged and kept apart by numerous stewards....In the good old days i used to cycle from West Winch, leaving my bike outside the ground - without locks or the need to secure it. I used to sit (!) in the north stand. Gates for league games then were regularly in excess of 2,000....Happy days!

 

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