Goal-Post Vol.2

Victorian Football

Paul Brown (editor), 2013, Superelastic Publishing

Quite a while ago we had the first volume of the Victorian football anthology Goal-Post in this blog. Today we take a look at the second volume. Last time a lot of articles were reports from “first games”, the first international game, the first under floodlight a.s.o. This time not so many game reports are found in the book. Instead we look more behind the scenes with articles about how a club secretary works, how the rules changed the game from a dribbling game to a passing game, a look at the hard work of the referees (not so much different from today) and how the rules of the games were formed. Even the first women’s soccer game happened in 1881 but it was as much a curiosity as the “elephantine football” which is described in another article. It would take another 100 years before women’s soccer was taken serious.
Again this book is a great source for old school soccer atmosphere and in many ways one can see, how the games has not changed over the years. The changes from dribbling to passing game seem to have happened in our time again, when the ball possession-play took over and the players who could decide a game alone due to their dribbling skills was over. Interestingly the best possession-play team of our time, Guardiola’s Barcelona, had a player like that with Messi. However, he was always just the cherry on the top, they variable in the game, when the perfect passing did not lead to gaps in the defense of the other team. He was the one who could open the defense because in one-on-one situations he we would win most of the time.( Interestingly Guardiola used more of this kind of dribblers at Bayern München. When the team was at its best they usually had two of them on their wings, like Ribery, Robben and Douglas Costa) and the game was much more focused on supporting them). Other topics which are still in the news today are the criticism of professionalism and whether the games is good or bad for young boys. It is interesting to see that professionalism was so quickly adopted in England when it took on the continent until the 20s or 30s that the fight against professionalism was finally over, as one can read in the biography of Matthias Sindelar in Austria.

For everyone who wants to see the first moving pictures of soccer to get at least a glimpse of what it looked like in the nineteenth century I can only recommend the DVD “British Pathé Presents The F.A. Cup Finals 1920-1969”, which describes the earliest cup finals verbally but then starts to show pictures of the first game footage available from the 1920s. I know it is 30-50 years later than the Victorian time but it is the closest one can get with real footage and the system they played was still the same.

Biography: 0/3
History: 3/3
Background: 2/3
Tactics & Game philosophy: 0/3

Next book: Temples of the Earthbound Gods


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