Today it’s the turn of Jim Davies, a friend of MyFootballWriter and one of our gang of regular commenters, who takes us on a little journey back to 1959.
Take it way Jim…
When I first starting watching Norwich in the mid 1950s, they played in yellow shirts and black shorts and socks, and the kit stayed pretty much that from season to season.
We did have an away strip, but I don’t remember what it was, and I never saw us play in it. I think it was Chelsea who first broke away from the standard black or white shorts, and went for shorts in the same colour as the shirt.
The goalkeepers all seemed to wear a green jersey, and I do mean jersey. It was usually a woolen type material, with a roll-neck, and the outfield players shirts were cotton.
In those days, there were no substitutes, and the club pretty much had the first team and the reserves, and it was only in the event of an injury would you ever see one of the reserves making an appearance.
The reserves played in their own league and if one of the first-team got injured in a game so that they couldn’t continue, they played on with ten men.
If it was the goalkeeper who had to go off, one of the outfield players went in goal. (I seem to remember Glenn Hoddle going in goal for Spurs at Old Trafford when the keeper got hurt late in the game, but I think that was in the era of one substitute, and Spurs had already used theirs. Hoddle did well, and I don’t think he let one in).
Anyway, back to my reason for writing this piece. At this time of year, my thoughts always gravitate to 10th January 1959. I think even the younger readers will know the significance of that date.
It was the first time that we gained any sort of national recognition. Teams in Division 3 South, as we were then, were not expected to beat the mighty Manchester United, but with the aid of a pitch recently cleared of snow, and
Archie McCauley’s cunning cocktail of sherry and egg, which the team enjoyed (?), we did on that famous day.
We caught the nation’s imagination as we fought our way to the semifinal replay, but couldn’t quite make it over the line to Wembley.
I’ve had a grudge against Luton ever since.
The thought that came to me in the small hours of this morning was the changes since then. As I mentioned earlier, we had a first-team, and that was about it.
The numbers on the players back went from 2 to 11 (yes, there was no number on the keeper in those days). The positions were labelled, and indeed played, somewhat differently.
The two full-backs (numbers 2 and 3) played as full-backs, and hardly ever crossed the halfway line. The half-backs (4 to 6) played across the middle of the park, with the centre-half (5) staying pretty much in the middle, though occasionally dropping back in between the full-backs.
The forward line (7 – 11) consisted of two wingers, a centre -forward, and two inside-forwards, and that was pretty much how they played.
Around this time Walter Winterbottom, who was the England manager, was starting to play his W M formation, in which the centre-half did drop back to become a centre-back, and the other two half=backs closed in a bit more to link with the two inside-forwards, who dropped a bit deeper.
Now we have squad numbers running up into high double digits (haven’t seen one over 99 yet!), players names on the backs of their shirt, third and even fourth kits, and advertising on the shirts, not to mention multiple substitutes.
Players want to lay claim to a particular number in many cases, for reasons sometimes known only to them.
Life was simpler back then!
I can still list from memory the 1959 team, but I struggle now to remember teams from a couple of seasons ago.
Must be getting old.
Chris S says
Nice one, Jim. Great to be reminded of how things once were. I go back as far as the days of one substitute, plain one- or two-colour shirt designs with no player names or sponsors on them, heavy boots, and heavy balls. A different game in them days. I even remember when a player’s size and body shape dictated what position they could play! Nowadays all players look and play the same. They’re all tiny, slim, tremendously fit, great with their feet, and can physically play in any position on the pitch. Amazing! Whatever will be next…
Jim Davies says
Thanks Chris. Yes, keepers tended to be solid, so they could withstand the treatment they got from equally solid centre forwards (witness Bert Trautman getting his neck broken – and still playing on!, and Peter McParland on Ray Wood in the cup final): centre halves were tall, as were mostly the other half backs, while wingers tended to be slim and full backs similar. I was average height and build, so tended to the inside forward role, though I did end my limited playing career at the age of 46 playing centre half.
martin penney says
Nice one Jim
I’m just about old enough to remember keepers without numbers on their backs and certainly the days when there were no sponsors logos on shirts.
Now said logos are on shorts as well of course, as in War Paint for Men in our case.
And I can recall when 2-3-5 was the nominal formation for most teams although I think Sir Alf was one of a few instrumental in changing that.
I’d guess you, I and many other MFW readers and writers have gone from the days of *get out and get on with it* through to the modern world of topics, duels, philosophy and so many stats that my head spins unless some kind guy like Chris S or Dave B analyses them here on MFW.
There’s nowt wrong with a bit of nostalgia – a good read.
Jim Davies says
Hi Martin. Sir Alf introduced the 4-4-2 formation after Winterbottoms W M, and the “wingless wonders” duly delivered in 1966!
I thought you might remember the Hoddle story, given his and your connections to Harlow, and your second team being the Spuds!
martin penney says
I do remember the Hoddle incident although I wasn’t there to witness it.
I also remember Mark Bowen going in for us at Cov – all 5′ 9″ of him [my height] and Sutchy too, but I can’t remember the oppo on that occasion. Villa?
Alex B says
Memory lane Walter Winterbottom the fore runner 🏃♂️ to the Ramsey Wingless Wonders.
Goalkeepers Jerseys they reminded me of the Poloneck tops the Drifter and Trawlermen wore when at sea and did the soak up the water got heavier on a rainy day.
The start of multiple kits must go back to the late 60’s or early 70’s with the National team replicate strips and clubs followed on it must have been the first money 💰 spinning and team advertising on a large scale ⚖ for clubs and international teams prior to that it would have just been a scarf.
The Cup 🥤 run 🏃♂️ as you say got city attention from the national press and winning the 2 legged League Cup V Rochdale 4-0 1961/62 didn’t go unnoticed
I must say R.I.P Colin Bell
Onwards and upwards
Stay Safe and Stay Healthy 🙏
Jim Davies says
Hi Alex. The fishermens jerseys (ganseys, if you come from this area) were of a more waterproof type of wool, so they didn’t soak it up the way that a keeper’s jersey would, but yes, that was the style.
And yes, R.I.P. Colin Bell. He truly was a great player, and a joy to watch.
Alex B says
From Gt Yarmouth and dad was a fisherman
Jim Davies says
So was mine, at Cromer. Small world!
Shroppie Canary says
That certainly brings back memories from standing as a young lad with my dad in the Barclay in the mid 60s – two in particular & I hope my mind isn’t playing tricks.
The first was of Terry Allcock, the number 9 at that time, being “relegated” to, I believe, number 6, as he played out his final seasons with the club at left half.
The second was of “dirty tricks” by I think Crystal Palace, who turned up with a game plan consisting of their players playing in different positions to those which were accorded to them by the numbers on their shirts!
Life was simpler in the 50s, & then the changes started to appear during the Swinging Sixties.
John T says
Thanks for the memories, Jim. I too can name the Cup run team but struggle with teams from recent years. As you say, it is a sign of getting old.
I think City’s away strip in the 1950’s was red and white but I don’t remember ever seeing them play in it. They certainly didn’t wear it in any of the away cup ties in the 1959 run.
West Midlands Canary says
Reading recently the news of Kevin Keelan’s 80th birthday celebrations brought back memories of his first appearance for City in the traditional pre-season practice game between the 1st Team and the Reserves which attracted a crowd of around 3000. Keelan was unbeatable on that day and left the 1st team forwards shaking their heads in disbelief. Sandy Kennon was in goal for the first team. They eventually shared goalkeeping duties for a while and then Keelan went on his record making career appearances.
Amazing stuff to read about fascinating history of english football, Thank You! In Finland national broadcast company Yle broadcast first english league game in january 1970. Since that its been part of several finns life, to you saturday game at 3pm is same as to us 5pm because of time difference. Here just published book about that, I have not yet read or listened it, but I will very soon. To me, best possible sport ever is english football league games especially in 70s. Its big part of my childhood and early youth and thanks to youtube its possible to live and enjoy that time again! During that time it was not easy to get much information about games, there was older hardcore gurus who had radio where they listened BBC football programs. In 1992 was founded english league football fans organisation in Finland, highest amount of paid members have been about 2000. 70s football cards with chewing cums, Shoot and Match are common also to me. Several cities had areal junior teams which played city league and names of teams were usually from english football. That meant that you also played against your own teammates, so idea was mainly to get new players by that and put local football team junior players to battle really against each other. Same way as we played school football matches where you represented your classroom alphabetic letter and also school against school matches. In broadcasting history there has happened many kinds of memorable situations, like game commentator have not known teams which are playing, so some are basically “wrong” team fans. Worst case was likely when 2 Crystal Palace shirted teams were playing against each other. Legendary and very loved commentator was known his long smoking breaks during the games when silence was finally broken by his coughing.
Jim Davies says
1×2, thank you for that fascinating insight into football in Finland. I loved the bit at the end about two teams in Palace shirts! And as for the commentator with his smoke breaks, wonderful!
Many thanks Jim, your insight of 1950s football is very very rare nowadays. All those very different formations and player shirt materials….Horse liniment is something I remember I have been offered from a player who had played in 50s. Reason to all that mess in Finland broadcasting is of course postponed games. FA Cup was especially difficult and that Crystal Palace was my opinion FA Cup game. Finland ex-foreign minister is huge lifetime Millwall fan, unconfirmed story is that he is one of those who is “wrong” team fan because of those broadcasting problems. In his case Millwall was playing but it was opponent team which commentators believed to be Millwall. During the tv game commentator gave livescoring from other games and you can already guess that it has happened that livescore 0-2 had suddenly changed next time to 2-1 or you couldnt hear because of coughing or he just forgot and suddenly moved on back to tv game having said only home team score. All that have made it later even more fascinating.
martin penney says
When we played in the 70s we had *white horse oil* & *wintergreen* just as you mention. Neither smelled very good 🙂
Hoddle actually played in goal at Carrow Road, December 27 1980, replacing the injured Milija Aleksic.
He scored for Spurs that day, but was clearly not very good in goal as Kevin Bond beat hm from the penalty spot!!