Before the days of Sky Sports, Prawn Sandwiches, Action Replays and everybody’s own interpretations of the Offside Rule, Football was the working mans game. Before it hit the metaphorical stratosphere in the 1960s thanks in large to 66, George Best and MOTD. Here we discuss the beautiful game before it was beautiful. Tommy K gives you his 1 to 11 of players from before the 1960s that became household names.
GK: Bert Trautmann
Its incredible how someone who started out as a fighter for the Germans during WWII would become such an acclaimed figure just 10 years later, but that was what happened to Man City legend Bert Trautmann. He is mostly remembered for playing part of the 1956 FA Cup Final with a Broken Back and helped City to the famous trophy.
RB: Jimmy Armfield
A World Cup winner and a class act. Armfield is a one club man and formed a formidable right sided partnership with Stanley Matthews. He was voted Young Player of the Year in 1959 and finished only second to the great Bobby Charlton to Player of the Year during 1966!
CB: Billy Wright
The captain of the original ‘Golden Generation’ of England stars. Billy Wright also holds the record for the most caps for an England captain and was also held the armband for the great Wolverhampton Wanderers side of the 1950s. Many consider him to be England’s greatest ever centre half alongside Bobby Moore.
CB: John Charles
As excellent in defence as he was in Attack. John Charles was not only one of the most popular British players of all time but also one of the greatest British imports due to his legendary spell at Juventus. Gentle John was a Leeds legend and still spoken in high regard today by many of Football’s greatest elder-statesmen.
Arsenal legend Eddie Hapgood isn’t as well known as many other names on the list but don’t tell that to the Arsenal fans! He was the captain of the Gunners during their succesful period in the 1930s as well as England captain for 30 games most infamously during games against World Champions Italy and Nazi-Germany.
RM: Stanley Matthews
The first player to win European Footballer of the Year was a Stokie! Sir Stanley was undoubtadely English Football’s first World Superstar and played the Beautiful Game till he was in his 50s! His longjevity and brilliant performances for Stoke and Blackpool earned him this iconic status as well as having a final named after him!
CM: Duncan Edwards
Cynics may point out I’ve included Duncan not only as a Man Utd fan but for what he could’ve achieved in Football if it hadn’t been for the tradegy of Munich, but Edwards had achieved so much already. He was the main man in arguably English football’s most feared side and was established as an England International at the age of 21. One of the Football’s greatest losses!
CM: Danny Blanchflower
Northern Ireland’s second greatest player makes it alongside Duncan Edwards. The Tottenham legend was famous for dictating the play and was reknowned for his incredible passing accuracy. He also became the first player to win 2 FWA Footballer of the Year awards for his contributions in 1958 and 1961.
LW: Tom Finney
With Matthews on the right and Finney on the left England had arguably the finest wingers in the World for a period of time. The ‘Preston Plumber’ as he was known is still perhaps the finest left sided attacker the 3 Lions ever had, 59 years after his last apperance.
CF: Nat Lofthouse
A one club man, Nat lofthouse is perhaps the greatest ever player to play for the then mighty Bolton Wanderers, amassing an incredible 255 goals in 452 league games for the club. He also held an astonishing record for England, scoring 30 goals in 33. That is top class!
CF: Dixie Dean
However when it comes to goalscoring records noone comes close to the ‘great’ Dixie Dean. The Birkenhead born Striker was a goalscoring legend for the likes of Tranmere and more famously Everton. His career total at club level came to 390 goals in 447 games. It’s a record that looks unlikely to be broken, over to you Harry Kane!