‘Those Feet’ written by David Winner and published by Bloomsbury Press in 2005 and this paperback edition in 2006.
This book was written by David Winner who in 2001 wrote Brilliant Orange: The Neurotic Genius of Dutch Football ,a book about the Dutch mastery of football at the time with their ‘Total Football’. The book was acclaimed as a must read to understand how dutch history, life, people and society in general had all come together to create a style that swept all before it.
Those Feet looks at the English game from its Victorian outset, values and how they set a pattern for footballers, fans, clubs and officials that still influence English football in total.
The swash buckling centre forward epitomised in Roy of the Rovers, the never give up military attitude, the we know better than anyone else and our slow take up of new designs and tactics seem to show why we have only been successful at one World Cup. Since the book was published the game has changed with the spread of non UK players and the introduction of the worlds greatest managers with methods, tactics and strategies at the cutting edge of the sport. This has helped the national team to develop a more youthful outlook that gives great hope for the future. We are also now, due to the success of our Olympians, ready to accept and pioneer new techniques, equipment, clothing and diet to get those small incremental gains that make you world leaders.
The most outstandingly interesting paragraphs in the book are about how Sir Stanley Mathews adopted the new style football boots that were lighter and more flexible and gave him an edge. He saw the development of the new boot in South America and Europe and persuaded the Coop to make and sell the boot. This gives me even more respect for this footballing genius but his new boot was treated as a gimmick rather than the revolution it was.
The detail of the book is really good and gives as it intends an understanding of how the English game developed its own style and in a way held it back form being more competitive on an international stage. Many would say that was great in that it created a fast, competitive, end to end style that we have all enjoyed and loved. At what cost, the forever under achievers of a game that we helped to invent and fashion into today’s global super sport.
A good Read