Something interesting that I learned today
I’m about to go all ‘sports history’ on you so you may want to switch off for a while.
I was tucking into a little bit more work today when I came across an essay on cold – war football (Association, not American). Famously, during the 1950s the England team were twice beaten by a Hungarian team fresh from Olympic victory in Helsinki in 1952. The first game was played at Wembley in 1953 and finished 6-3 to the ‘Magic Magyars’. The return fixture in Budapest one year later proved even more humiliating for the English, as they suffered the worst defeat ever by an England team, losing 7-1. Naturally the Communist government in Hungary hailed the results as victories for ‘Socialist football’ and went to great lengths to ensure that the results stood as to demonstrate the success of the regime.
But the reaction in England (and also Scotland) really provides food for thought. Elements of the press began to call for the structure of British football to be examined. The FA-run England team had just been demolished by the State-run Hungarians, who had possibly become the model for success. The politics of British football were brought into question from all corners, as was the style and modernity of English football.
Despite appearances, this is not just a random history lesson. I just find it very interesting that almost 60 years later, English football seems to have changed very little. Following Saturday’s thrashing at the hands of Germany, the familiar arguments about the structure and governance of English Football have arisen. The context is slightly different, but the themes are the same. I wonder if we’ll be saying the same thing in another 60 years time?