Socccer: A Panorama

Published: 1969

Author: Brian Glanville

He was born on 24 September 1931. He is a leading English football writer and novelist. Glanville was educated at Charterhouse School, where he played football to a high standard. He has had a lengthy career, beginning with ghost-writing Cliff Bastin Remembers, the autobiography of his hero, at 19. As a journalist he spent nearly 30 years as a football correspondent for The Sunday Times, to which he is still a contributor, and has contributed to World Soccer magazine for over 15 years in print and online; he currently contributes a weekly column to the website covering a range of issues. In the 1960s and 1970s, Glanville was a member of the jury which awards the yearly Ballon d’Or France Football (or European Footballer of the Year award). In addition has written for The People and more recently contributed several obituaries of prominent players to The Guardian.


The Florentines have advanced spurious claims that it [football/soccer] developed from their calcio in costume, or calcio in livrea; a rather violent game, played in Renaissance costume, less tunics.

A record by Fitz-Stephen states that London schoolboys, in 1175, began to play football after dinner on Shrove Tuesday, and continued to do so for many Shrove Tuesdays to come. In 1314, Edward II issued a celebrated proclamation, banning the game.

Dribbling was developed, particularly at Charterhouse School, where it was the custom to hold something known as the “run about”…It was thus that Charterhouse, in the 1880s, produced in W. N. Cobbold “The Prince of Dribblers”, a tall, powerful player with immaculate ball control.

1863 was a momentous year in the history of soccer. It was the formation of the still flourishing Football Association; the breach between the devotees of soccer and those who would promote Rugby.

Then, although the Sheffield rules provided for umpires To “enforce” the laws, the Football Association had assumed that the captains of opposing sides would in their manly, open way settle all points of dispute.

Thus, in the 1860s…there were eight forwards and a mere three defenders.

In soccer the working classes of a highly industrialised country had found their escape and their diversion. For the player it was a refuge from oppressive conditions, low wages and monotony. For the fan it was an oportunity to live dangerously by proxy…

…when Hogan, coaching the Dordrecht club, instructed his centre-half to “shadow” the opposing centre-forward, and on no account to leave his side. At half-time, he entered the Dordrecht dressing-room to find…no centre-half. At last he discovered him in the buffet, having a drink with the centre-forward. “But you told me not to leave him!” he protested.

In another match [in 1911] the Argentinian team found itself a man short, and brought a prisoner out of gaol to make up the number. He played so well that he was pardoned by the Governor.

In Budapest, an English team is said to have been winning so easily  that its goalkeeper sat on the crossbar, smoking a pipe.

When he [Coach Herrera] came to Internazionale, Milan [in 1960’s]…he began by trying to play open, attacking football, found it would not work in a league where everyone was frightened to lose, and developed a ferocious catenaccio defence which, combined with piercing counter attack, made Inter virtually invincible for several years.

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