Tag Archives: England Football

Every England manager ranked: 15th-1st

As England play their 1,000th match against Montenegro at Wembley on November 14th, Elephant Sport takes a look at the men who have taken charge of the Three Lions down the years.

15. Sam Allardyce (2016)

‘Big Sam’ is the hardest to judge of them all, seeing as he only had one game in charge – an utterly forgettable game against Slovakia that was won by Adam Lallana in the 95th-minute.

His reign was brought to an abrupt and infamous end after a newspaper sting purported to show him offering advice on how to “get around” rules on third-party player ownership.

Despite being the only permanent England manager with a 100% win record, the embarrassment that Allardyce brought on the FA and the briefness of his reign puts him stone dead last in this list.

14. Steve McClaren (2006-2007)

He was nicknamed the ‘wally with the brolly’ after he sheltered under an umbrella in the pouring rain during England’s 3-2 defeat to Croatia at Wembley – a result that ended their hopes of reaching the 2008 European Championships.

Generally viewed as one of the Three Lions’ least inspiring managers, and considering the quality of the squad McClaren had at his disposal, the failure to qualify for Euro 2008 has to go down as one of the biggest under-achievements in England’s history.

13. Kevin Keegan (1999-2000)

Keegan was an icon whilst representing England in his playing days, but he failed to achieve the same distinguished status as manager – to put it politely.

The former Newcastle United boss’ side exited Euro 2000 after Phil Neville gave a last-minute penalty away in a 3-2 defeat to Romania, and dramatically quit his role as boss after a 1-0 defeat against Germany in the last-ever match at the old Wembley.

It’s fair to say it wasn’t an enjoyable time for England fans – nor, by his admission, was it an enjoyable time for Keegan, later saying he “found it hard to fill in the time”.

12. Graham Taylor (1990-1993)

Taylor remains a well-respected figure in football for his success with Watford and Aston Villa in the 80’s and 90’s but, much like Keegan, he proved that international management isn’t for everyone, with an ignominious stint in charge of England.

The ex-Villa boss was famously depicted as a turnip on the front of a tabloid newspaper following England’s 3-2 defeat to Sweden in Euro 1992 and, after the dismal failure to qualify for the World Cup in the USA, resigned from his post in 1993.

11. Don Revie (1974-1977)

Revie was the mastermind of the great Leeds United team of the 70’s, but failed to live up to expectations as England manager.

He was appointed to much fanfare in 1974, but the Leeds legend failed to get England to Euro 1976 and left for a highly-lucrative move to coach the United Arab Emirates a year later. It was always going to be tough to succeed the great Sir Alf Ramsay, but someone of Revie’s calibre should have performed a lot better.

10. Fabio Capello (2008-2012)

Capello was one of the biggest names in football management when he got the England job in 2008. Considering his huge reputation as a manager across Europe, coupled with the talented crop of players at his disposal, it was difficult to see how this could possibly go wrong – but it did.

Despite a very strong qualifying campaign for World Cup 2010, the tournament itself was a disaster. A dreary 0-0 draw with Algeria was sandwiched in between a Rob Green howler against USA and a thrashing against old rivals Germany.

The Italian dramatically resigned from his post after John Terry was stripped of the captaincy against his wishes. Not many England fans were sad to see the back of him.

9. Sven Goran-Eriksson (2001-2006)

The Swede became the first foreign manager of the England national team in 2001 when he replaced Kevin Keegan. Eriksson was seen as something of a master tactician and, following success in Serie A with Sampdoria and Lazio, it seemed like a forward-thinking choice.

However – despite having the so-called ‘golden generation’ at his disposal – Sven could only guide England to the quarter-final stage of the 2002 World Cup, Euro 2004 and the 2006 World Cup. He really should have done a lot better with the squad that he had, and the way that quality was squandered means he won’t be remembered fondly as England boss.

8. Roy Hodgson (2012-2016)

The former Liverpool and Inter Milan manager swooped in and pinched the England job from right under Harry Redknapp’s nose in 2012 after Capello dramatically walked out just a few months before the start of the European Championships.

Hodgson steered England to the quarter-finals of that tournament, where they were ultimately knocked out on penalties by Italy. That wasn’t a bad achievement under the circumstances, but that’s as good as it got for him.

His side crashed out at the group-stage of the 2014 World Cup and were then embarrassingly dumped out of Euro 2016 by Iceland, which led him to resign in his post-match press conference.

He maneuvered some tricky circumstances well and always managed to guide England through strong qualifying campaigns, but the way his sides crumbled at the finals of major tournaments leaves Hodgson mid-table in this list.

7. Ron Greenwood (1977-1982)

Greenwood isn’t somebody that is particularly well-remembered and wasn’t that highly thought-of at the time either; mainly due to him not being Brian Clough, who many thought should have been given the job back in 1977.

However, he was important in the revival of England; finally steering the nation back into a major tournament in 1980 after a decade-long absence. Greenwood’s tenure also included the landmark selection of England’s first-ever black player when Viv Anderson was included in the squad in 1978.

His England team went unbeaten at the 1982 World Cup in Spain, but missed out on a semi-final spot after failing to beat the hosts in the second group stage. Despite that, Greenwood remains a bit of a forgotten man in England’s history and, therefore, only manages seventh place on this list.

6. Glenn Hoddle (1996-1999)

Hoddle’s ideas, on paper, looked exciting. As befitted one of the most exciting talents of his generation, his aim were to play an attacking, stylish brand of football and drag the national team into a modern era of the game.

His stint in charge was eventful. He brought a young Michael Owen into the squad for the World Cup in 1998 and, well, the rest is history, as they say. That was also the match where David Beckham was infamously sent off for petuntately kicking out at Diego Simeone.

He left the role in controversial circumstances after doing an interview where he seemed to suggest that people with disabilities were being punished for sins in a former life. Unsurprisingly, the FA didn’t react well to these statements and fired him soon after.

There’s a feeling that Hoddle left before he really got started and could have been more successful. Due to some of the failings of many of the managers who’ve followed him, he’s ranked fairly highly in this list.

5. Walter Winterbottom (1946-1962)

Seeing as Winterbottom left his post nearly 60 years ago, it’s hardly surprising that many England fans will never have heard of him.

He was England’s first-ever manager and is the longest-serving coach in the history of the nation, staying in charge for 16 years. He took England to four World Cup tournaments and also helped revolutionise the managerial role, putting more emphasis on coaching players on the training ground.

Some argue that he never really recovered from the embarrassing 6-3 home defeat to Hungary in 1953 and his sides never went far enough at major tournaments, but his pioneering influence as coach paved the way for future managers and leaves him with a strong legacy in the game.

4. Gareth Southgate (2016-present)

After finding themselves in a post-Allardyce wilderness, Southgate sewed England back together and made watching them enjoyable again in that unforgettable summer of sun, singing and beer-throwing in 2018.

He certainly wasn’t everyone’s first choice when he took the reins in 2016; seen as just another FA ‘yes man’. But he soon stamped his authority on the side by phasing out an ageing Wayne Rooney, bringing through young players and switching to a three-at-the-back system for the World Cup.

The former U21 boss saw his changes work wonders as England reached the semi-finals for the first time since 1990; falling at the penultimate hurdle against Croatia. It’s still early days in Southgate’s tenure, but the summer of ‘18 won’t be forgotten in a hurry and that puts the current coach up in fourth-place.

3. Terry Venables (1994-1996)

Much like Southgate, Venables put the enjoyment back into watching England after the failure of missing out on a place at the World Cup in 1994. England really captured the imagination of a nation on home soil at Euro ’96 and, again, much like Southgate, helped produce another unforgettable summer in the nation’s sporting history. The 4-1 hammering of the Netherlands remains one of England’s all-time great performances.

He didn’t stick around for as long as perhaps he should have, but the memories he helped created coupled with the way he got the best out of his players – Paul Gascoigne in particular – means he sneaks into the top-three.

2. Bobby Robson (1982-1990)

Robson is remembered as the suave, charming, twinkly-eyed coach who nearly guided England to their second World Cup triumph in 1990. He undoubtedly goes down as a legend, but he wasn’t always liked in the same way that he is now.

The former Ipswich and Barcelona boss had a mixed record at tournaments and was subject to mass derision in the press before that memorable World Cup campaign of 1990 after a fairly disastrous Euro 1988, where England lost all three of the matches they played.

However, Robson turned things around in Italy two years later; cementing himself as a legend within the game.

1. Alf Ramsey (1963-1974)

It won’t come as much surprise to anyone that Sir Alf Ramsey tops this list, considering he remains the only England manager to life the World Cup aloft.

The second longest-serving boss guided a side that contained the likes of Gordon Banks, Bobby Moore and Bobby Charlton to the nation’s only trophy in 1966 with a famous 4-2 win over West Germany at Wembley Stadium.

Despite his tenure tailing off and failing to lead the side to Euro 1972 and the 1974 World Cup, it’s difficult to look beyond Ramsey as the greatest England manager of all time. It’s been over 60 years now and there’s still not been a man to repeat his feat. It’ll be interesting to see how much longer that wait goes on…

Image credits: Dmitry Sadovnikov, Rob Anefo & Anton Zaitsevvia via Wikipedia Commons.

England’s 100 Club – Three Lions most loyal servants

A total of 1,244 players have earned at least one cap for the England men’s international football team. However, only nine have reached 100 or more. Elephant Sport takes a look back of the careers of those history makers.

Peter Shilton – 125 caps

England’s record appearance maker, the goalkeeper made his debut in a 3-1 victory over East Germany in November 1970. He spent two years as understudy to arguably England’s greatest ever shot-stopper, Gordon Banks, before the World Cup winner lost his sight in one eye following a car crash in 1972.

England failed to qualify for either the 1974 or 1978 World Cups, so it was not until 1982 in Spain when Shilton made his debut in the Finals, playing every game as the Three Lions remained unbeaten but were knocked out in the second round.

He started every match in both Mexico 86 and Italia 90, helping England reach the quarter-finals in Mexico, where they lost to Argentina, before finishing fourth in Italy following a semi-final loss on penalties to Germany.

Of Shilton’s 125 caps, 17 of those came during his three World Cup appearances, while three came in European Championships. He was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame in 2002.

Wayne Rooney – 120 caps

England’s most-capped outfield player, the former Manchester United and Everton forward is also his country’s leading goalscorer with 53, ahead of Sir Bobby Charlton in scored on 49.

His international debut came as a second-half substitute in a 3-1 loss to Australia, and he later became the youngest England goalscorer at 17 years and 317 days in a 2-1 win over Macedonia.

It was Euro 2004 when Rooney truly burst onto the international stage. He scored four goals and was named in Uefa’s team of the tournament. Were it not for an injury suffered during England’s quarter-final loss to hosts Portugal, many pundits believed he could have led his country to glory.

He struggled, however, at both the 2006 and 2010 World Cups, failing to score in either and was sent-off during England’s quarter-final defeat to Portugal in ’06. His World Cup record overall is disappointing, with just one goal – against Uruguay in 2014 – from his 11 appearances.

He has a much better record in European Championships, netting six in his 10 appearances in the tournament. He was appointed England captain by manager Roy Hodgson in 2014.

Rooney’s record-breaking goal came from the penalty spot at Wembley in a qualifier against Switzerland in September 2015, and he retired from international football in August 2017, before returning for a farewell match against the USA in November 2018.

David Beckham – 115 caps

Perhaps England’s most famous player worldwide, Beckham made his debut in a 3-0 victory over Moldova in September 1996. He was picked for the 1998 World Cup in France and scored his first England goal in their final group match against Colombia, which the Three Lions won 2-0.

However, he was infamously sent-off in their last-16 clash with Argentina, after kicking out at Diego Simeone. England went on to lose the match on penalties.

Beckham featured in all three of England’s Euro 2000 games as they crashed out in the group stage, but scored perhaps the most famous of his 17 goals for his country a year later. With England needing a point to qualify for the 2002 World Cup, they trailed 2-1 to Greece before Beckham scored a sensational free-kick in stoppage time to secure their ticket to the finals.

He scored the winner in a group-stage victory over Argentina at the tournament, before they were knocked out by eventual champions Brazil in the quarter-finals. He had been appointed captain by then-caretaker boss Peter Taylor towards the end of 2000.

Beckham played a star role in England’s Euro 2004 campaign, before scoring once in his final international tournament as England exited the 2006 World Cup at the quarter-final stage. He played his final England match in October 2009 against Belarus, before injury ruled him out of the upcoming World Cup. Of Beckham’s 115 caps, 20 came at major tournaments.

Steven Gerrard – 114 caps

A key figure in England’s “Golden Generation”, his debut came in May 2000, a 2-0 victory over Ukraine, and he was included in their Euro 2000 squad, making a solitary substitute appearance.

The first of his 21 international goals came in England’s famous 2001 qualifying victory over Germany, a 5-1 thrashing in Munich. After missing out on the 2002 World Cup squad, Gerrard started every game at Euro 2004, scoring once.

The Liverpool legend was England’s top scorer at the 2006 World Cup, scoring twice in five matches, but did miss his penalty in England’s shootout loss to Portugal. After failing to qualify for Euro 2008, his next tournament appearance came in the 2010 World Cup. Gerrard scored in England’s opening group-stage draw with the USA as they went on to crash out to Germany in the last 16.

Gerrard was named captain by Roy Hodgson ahead of Euro 2012, where the midfielder excelled, being named in the team of the tournament despite England losing on penalties to Italy in the last eight.

His England career ended in bitter disappointment, as the Three Lions were eliminated from the 2014 World Cup at the group stage, with Gerrard’s final cap coming in a dead rubber against Costa Rica. He played 21 times overall in major tournaments for England, scoring four goals.

Bobby Moore – 108 caps

Bobby Moore statue outside Wembley

An icon of English sport, Moore captained England to their only World Cup victory in 1966. His debut came in a 7-1 win over Israel in September 1961, and the central defender started every game at the back for his country in the 1962 World Cup, where they were beaten by Brazil in the quarters.

It was 1966 where Moore made his name, playing every minute as he led his country to World Cup glory on home soil. After beginning the tournament with a goalless draw against Uruguay, England beat Mexico and France before victory over Argentina in the quarter-finals.

A 2-1 semi-final win against Portugal was followed by England’s most famous match; a 4-2 extra-time win over Germany to seal World Cup glory. Moore was even able to provide an assist alongside his defensive work to help his country become world champions.

Moore’s final World Cup was in 1970, where they again faced extra-time against the Germans, this time losing 3-2 at the quarter-final stage. Moore managed two goals during his international career and was in 1994 named in Fifa’s all-time World Cup XI.

Ashley Cole – 107 caps

Regarded by many as England’s greatest ever left-back, Cole’s 107 caps include 22 appearances across five major tournaments. His international debut came in a 3-1 victory against Albania in March 2001, and he went on to start all five games at the 2002 World Cup.

He also started all four of England’s Euro 2004 matches, scoring his penalty in their shootout defeat by Portugal. He played every minute in the 2006 World Cup, this time not taking a penalty as England again lost to Portugal in a shootout. He was again ever-present in both the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012, but this time missed his spot-kick in England’s 2012 loss to Italy.

Cole earned his 100th cap against Brazil at Wembley in February 2013, helping his country to a 2-1 win. The former Arsenal and Chelsea defender’s last cap came in a friendly defeat to Germany in November later that year, as he was controversially left out of the 2014 World Cup squad by boss Roy Hodgson, prompting him to announce his international retirement. Cole was named England’s Player of the Year in 2010.

Bobby Charlton – 106 caps

The second World Cup winner to earn over 100 caps, the Manchester United legend was handed his debut by boss Walter Winterbottom in 1958, scoring in a 4-0 win against Scotland. He was selected in the squad for the World Cup that year but didn’t play, with his debut in the competition coming four years later; he played every game as England were knocked out by Brazil in the quarters, scoring once.

Charlton played every minute of England’s victorious 1966 campaign, scoring three goals in the process, and registering an assist in the final. He went on to feature in Euro 1968, scoring in England’s third place play-off win against the USSR, before his final World Cup came in 1970, where he featured in every match as England lost to Germany in the quarter-finals.

This match proved to be his last for his country, as he retired at the age of 32. Charlton won many awards during his career, including the Golden Ball at the 1966 World Cup and the Ballon d’Or in that same year. He was named alongside Moore in FIFA’s all-time World Cup team in 1994 and knighted in that same year.

Frank Lampard – 106 caps

Another of England’s famous “Golden Generation”, Lampard was handed his Three Lions debut by Kevin Keegan in October 1999, a 2-1 win against Belgium. He did not play again for England until a friendly against Spain in February 2001, playing 45 minutes of a 3-0 victory.

After failing to be picked for the 2002 World Cup, his first major tournament came at Euro 2004, where he impressed, scoring three goals. He also converted his penalty in England’s shootout defeat by Portugal and was named in the team of the tournament.

The Chelsea legend played every minute of England’s 2006 World Cup campaign, seeing his penalty saved as the Three Lions crashed out once again to Portugal on spot-kicks.

After England’s failure to qualify for Euro 2008, his next major tournament came in South Africa, where he started every match. He was involved in arguably one of the most controversial moments in the history of the tournament, when with England trailing 2-1 to Germany in their last 16 clash, his shot from distance hit the bar and bounced over the line, but was not spotted by the linesman. With no goal-line technology, it wasn’t given, and Lampard’s side went on to lose 4-1.

A thigh injury ruled him out of Euro 2012, and he returned to major tournament action in 2014, which proved to be a very unsatisfactory end to what had been a fantastic international career.

He was forced to watch from the sidelines as Roy Hodgson’s men lost their first two group games, returning to captain his country in their final match, a 0-0 draw with Costa Rica. He announced his retirement following the game. Overall, Lampard scored 29 goals in his 106 games, 14 of those coming in major tournaments.

Billy Wright – 105 caps

Billy Wright statue outside Molineux

Wright featured in an era when England played fewer games, so to reach 100-plus caps is quite an achievement.

The centre-back spent his entire career at Wolves, making 490 appearances for the club, and went on to manage Arsenal for four years.

His international debut came against Belgium in January 1946, England’s third game since the war and one of several ‘Victory Internationals’.

He was the first footballer to earn 100 caps for his country, and he never received a yellow or red card throughout his long Three Lions career.

Wright also scored three goals, and captained England a record 90 times, including at the 1950, 1954 and 1958 World Cup finals. His retired in 1958 following a 5-0 victory over the USSR. In 1957, he was the Ballon d’Or runner-up and was inducted into the England Football Hall of Fame in 2002.

Featured image by Rogelio A. Galaviz C. via flickr.com

Wayne Rooney photo by Rogelio A. Galaviz C. via flickr.com

Steven Gerrard photo by http://football.ua/galleries/ for Wikimedia Commons

Bobby Moore photo by OttoKristensen is licensed under CC BY 2.0 

Frank Lampard photo by BikeMike for Wikimedia Commons

Billy Wright photo by Jaggery and licensed under Creative Commons license cc-by-sa/2.0

Neville’s appointment shows the FA in yet more bad light

Phil Neville was appointed as England women’s manager this week – but just days into his new role, he’s been embroiled in a sexism scandal.

Despite the 41-year-old having no previous managerial experience, he was made Lionesses head coach up to the European Championship in 2021.

Many people’s misgivings about him getting the job were further fuelled when old tweets of a sexist nature posted by Neville came to light.

The former Manchester United and Everton defender has apologised for any offence these caused and deleted his Twitter account.

But the FA’s stance – deciding that the tweets in question did not meet its “threshold” to be worthy of punishment – sends out the wrong signals for all sorts of reasons.

One of these it that the governing body’s attitude will surely torpedo the likelihood of a gay male professional footballer deciding to come out any time soon.

Sexist tweets

Neville found himself in the dock in a trial by social media over tweets posted a while back.

One said: “When I said morning men I thought the women would have been busy preparing breakfast/getting the kids ready/making the beds – sorry morning women!”

Another made light of domestic abuse, saying: “Relax – I’m back chilled – just battered the wife!!! Feel much better now!”

Neville’s supporters will argue that he meant both to be light-hearted, no matter how ill-judged they now appear.

According to The Guardian, FA bosses already knew about the tweets – and yet still chose to appoint the former United and Valencia coach.

But what does that say about the FA’s stance on dealing with abuse within the sport?

Sampson was sacked after the Aluko scandal

Misconduct

One thing is crystal clear – after the Mark Sampson/Eni Aluko scandal, in which the former England women’s boss was alleged to have racially abused the Chelsea striker – the FA needed its next appointment to be sound.

Having been warned about Sampson’s misconduct in a previous job, he was hired and had a successful stint in charge.

But when Aluko’s allegations were made public, the FA was heavily criticised for appointing him in the first place and seeking to cover up the row by making a payment to the player in return for a non-disclosure agreement.

Now that the FA has said it will not charge Neville with any offence, it’s clear that its policy for dealing with abuse is flimsy, if not downright weak.

Neville has argued that the episode “doesn’t reflect” his character, but plenty of people feel it makes him unsuitable to lead England, on top of his lack of managerial experience and knowledge of the women’s game.

Of course people can change, and these tweets were five years ago. However, allowing someone who has been so derogatory into a top job, on the back of what happened previously, isn’t wise of the FA.

Support and protection

The FA’s approach is, at best, confused. In 2016, for example, it handed then-Burnley striker Andre Gray a four-match ban over homophobic tweets he posted in 2012.

But even taking that into account, would a gay player look at the FA and trust it to offer support and protection if they decided to come out?

Whoever becomes the first elite footballer to confirm publicly that they are gay will need a strong FA to deal with the abuse they would surely – and sadly – receive.

That’s why we probably won’t see it happen in the near future. Who wants to be the guinea pig for how the FA would handle the situation?

Kick in the teeth

The FA have undermined women’s football

Neville’s appointment is also a kick in the teeth for women’s football. Surely there had to be someone out there far more qualified that him?

He’s using the job – and the women’s game – as a stepping stone to further his career, and that is wrong.

He never applied initially and was last choice behind Chelsea’s Emma Hayes, Manchester City’s Nick Cushing, ex-Arsenal coach Laura Harvey and Canada’s John Herdman, who all reportedly pulled out of the running.

Of course, it’s not the most left-field appointment they could have made. He does, after all, have vast experience in football and has a winning mentality.

But he would be nowhere near a job in men’s football, let alone the national job. It’s belittling to the female game that he has been chosen.

He never should have been picked, based on his lack experience and his sexist remarks. Once again, the FA has made a real mess of things.

Review: Whites vs Blacks: How Football Changed A Nation

The widespread outpouring of emotion sparked by the recent death of Cyrille Regis underlined the fact that he was not just simply a footballer but an inspiration to so many.

Part of West Bromwich Albion’s swashbuckling ‘Three Degrees’, Regis – along with Brendon Batson and future Real Madrid star Laurie Cunningham – would terrorise defences throughout the late 1970s and into the 80s

Arguably the first real black stars of the English game, they even had racists on the terraces – and there were plenty of them at the time – talking about how good they were.

The sad demise of Regis at the age of 59 gave the BBC another opportunity to screen a documentary made by TV sports presenter Adrian Chiles, a lifelong West Brom fan, in 2016.

It chronicled the testimonial match for Baggies stalwart Len Cantello in May 1979, in which the ‘Three Degrees’, along with other black players from as far down the footballing pyramid as Hereford United, took on a team of white players mostly comprised of the WBA starting XI.

In the cold light of 2018, the very thought of such a contest might make many a person wince.

However former Wolves, QPR and Leicester City defender Bob Hazell, who played on the black side that day, said in the film that it was “fantastic, great memories and a great day everybody wanted to be a part of”.

A galvanising moment

What was noticeable about the differing views on the game was that the black players remembered it with far more clarity than those the white players.

John Wile, Albion club captain at the time who played for the white team, reminisced: “I remember all these kids and faces that we’d never seen before, because there wasn’t that many black players playing at that level.

“The game itself I don’t really remember. I think that year I played something like 76 games. So it was just something else that happened at the end of the season.”

This could well be because the team with Regis and Co. won 3-2 on the day; or more likely, because this simply was an historic moment for black footballers in this country.

“This game, if anything, represented a burgeoning progress which the ‘Three Degrees’ would go on to encapsulate”

Only a few years before this match in May 1979, it would have been impossible to configure a side solely comprised of black players from the English footballing leagues.

This game, if anything, represented a burgeoning progress which the ‘Three Degrees’ would go on to encapsulate.

The film portrayed the feeling that the game brought those black players on the pitch that day together, and in a sense, the entirety of the black contingent within the leagues.

It was an important moment to those players even if it was not for their white counterparts. As former Wolves defender George Berry commented in the film: “We wanted to win.”

Institution of hate

However, the game itself was not the sole focus of the documentary, which in a case such as this would have been far too reductive in nature for the subject matter.

Horrific stories of racist abuse were recalled in the documentary, one of the most striking being that told by Berry about playing against West Brom.

“All I can hear from this West Brom fan is, you black b*****d, effing get back up the tree, you effing gollywog – and I’m marking Cyrille Regis!”

‘Death threats, racism, sexism, homophobia – social media risks becoming its own form of National Front-led terrace before our very eyes’

“I just said to this bloke doing the shouting ‘Who are you talking to? Me or Cyrille?’ Cyrille just shook his head.”

The partners, families and friends of black players were forced to stay away from matches even as the far-right National Front infiltrated the terraces. The higher-ups at the FA even refusing to permit Hazell to dreadlock his hair for fear of a backlash.

This was an age where racism around football was almost entirely unpoliced. According to one former NF member and Birmingham City fan, as huge quantities of bananas were bought pre-match ready to be hurled onto the pitch.

The presence of the NF on the terraces, at a time when football seemed to be a dying sport played in crumbling stadia, exacerbated those weekly displays of hatred and bile.

The documentary captured perfectly how the NF aimed to manipulate impressionable young people into doing their bidding.

One rather rotund National Front leader proudly proclaimed: “There is a lot you can do with a football hooligan,” adding that “football fandom is a form of patriotism”.

Happily ever after?

Today, 30 percent of British footballers are black. So given this, why are there so many barriers that still exist within the game?

And, putting the obvious lack of black and minority managers aside for a moment, has that racially-motivated hatred on the terraces gone for good?

Some would argue that improved facilities, leading to higher ticket prices, leading in turn to the gentrification of football, simply priced racism out of the game.

“In the now immortal words of Regis, ‘you’ve got to overcome’ “

Jason Roberts, nephew of Cyrille Regis and former Premier League striker, suggested as much during the documentary. The question posed in the film was: have the racists simply moved online?

Death threats, racism, sexism, homophobia – social media risks becoming its own form of National Front-led terrace before our very eyes.

People with Union Jack flag headers and a ‘Brexit means Brexit’ profile pictures scour the internet looking to aim internalised hatreds directly at people who look, feel and are different to them. Let’s not pretend many of them aren’t football fans – nationalism and fandom again side by side.

However, in the now immortal words of Regis – “you’ve got to overcome.” Thus the opinions of the faceless few on the internet should not denigrating the progress that has been made and which was sparked by the likes of Regis, Batson and Cunningham.

Achievement

Regis and Batson would prove vital cogs in what was the most successful period in West Brom’s history.

Ironically this was overseen by manager Ron Atkinson – a man who whilst working for ITV in 2004 was accidentally heard describing Chelsea defender Marcel Desailly a “f*****g lazy thick n****r” – a sad reminder of how little some mentalities have changed over the years.

Cunningham would go one better than his fellow ‘Three Degrees’ and become the first British player to ever player for Real Madrid. Given race relations in Spain following the Franco years, this was no small achievement in itself.

Cunningham went onto bedazzle defenders at several other clubs before losing his life in car crash in Madrid aged 32. Dion Dublin and Ian Wright paid emotional tributes to their heroes, as if they were kids again, when reminiscing to Chiles.

Thankfully, we now live in a time in which racial hatred has no place in football, or anywhere else, although issues such as that glaring lack of non-white managers persist.

So much progress has been made, however and for that we have in part to thank the ‘Three Degrees’. They helped pave the way towards a far more beautiful game.

Whites vs Blacks: How Football Changed A Nation is currently on BBC iPlayer.

Lloyd signing will boost quality of women’s game, says Oatley

Manchester City’s signing of USA star Carli Lloyd can only boost the standard of women’s football in England, says Jacqui Oatley.

Lloyd, 34, has joined the reigning Women’s Super League 1 champions on a short-term deal from Houston Dash.

The two-time World Player of the Year, double Olympic gold medallist and World Cup winner has expressed her ambition to lift the Women’s Champions League trophy.

TV sports presenter and Women In Football board member Oatley told Elephant Sport: “These top international signings are only going to improve the quality of our game.”

Business

Oatley said Lloyd’s recruitment shows that Manchester City, backed by owner Sheikh Mansour’s huge wealth, are ambitious to succeed in women’s football.

“I just hope clubs continue to develop their own players and give their young British players a chance”

“I do admire the Manchester City roots, and everything I hear about them is that they are doing it for the right reasons, they take it seriously,” said the ITV Sport anchor.

“For branding and marketing reasons why not [sign Lloyd]? Football is a business, but City do see women as very much part of that.”

She also believes Lloyd’s drive and dedication will raise the bar for her new team-mates.

Professionalism

“[Lloyd] mixing with the England players in particular in that team is only going to help them with their professionalism.

“When they talk to her, when they have meals with her, when they train with her, see what she does. She’s the captain of the best team in the world, and players like that are a great signing.”

Oatley presented the BBC’s coverage of the 2015 Women’s World Cup in which England beat rivals Germany 1-0 in extra time to win bronze – their most successful tournament to date.

Although she welcomes Lloyd’s signing, she added: “I just hope clubs continue to develop their own players and give their young British players a chance.”