Football film analysis part 1
Apart from my life-long association with film making, my other passion has been football.
The reason for this is simple, my father Patrick Gallacher, a Scot, came to London to play for Tottenham Hotspur in 1904. That is where he met my mother and that is where he and she spent most of their lives.
I was born less than 200 yards from the Paxton Road goalmouth at White Hart Lane.
My five brothers all played football at varying levels.
At School, I played in the shadow of the Spurs East Stand alongside David Sexton, later to become the Chelsea and Manchester United manager. We went on to play together in the Tottenham Youth League and we both played in the Tottenham Youth Representative team. My father was our coach and he had a number of things to say which might help some players even today.
No-one in any of our teams were able to say “I didn’t think he was going to pass to me”. My Dad had said “The ball is coming to you next”.
When I was in the Army, I was in the same Garrison team as Tommy Harmer of Spurs.
Later on, I played full-back for Enfield F.C. reserves alongside Peter Baker who became the right-back for Spurs during their Double season on 1960/61.
It was while at Enfield F.C., that we went through a unique experience. What was odd about Enfield F.C. Reserves is that we were not the reserves of the first team. No-one, during my time there, ever played for the first team, they were another club.
We were coached by a remarkable man named Jim Clarkson. He was an original football thinker and we were put through an unusual programme each week. We would play a match on a Saturday. On Sunday, we would all turn up at the ground in Enfield to play a practice match.
Jim would sit in the stand watching with a microphone and would tell us what we were doing wrong over the Tannoy system. He had us playing crazy games like “one touch”. This is a game where you could only touch the ball one when it had to be left for the opposition to take their kick. This was meant to improve our ability to accurately dispose of a ball on the volley. I do not remember a goal being scored during this game.
While playing a normal practice game, Jim would blow a whistle, at which point we all had to stop where we were and close our eyes. Then Jim would ask us, one at a time, to point out the position of other players. This was to make us aware of where our own team was deployed at any given moment during the game.
After the practice match, we would assemble in the hall for further discussion, especially concerning the previous day’s match.
On Wednesdays, we would go back to the ground for practice. This time, it was individual practice. Under floodlights, we perfected our shooting. Jim insisted that everyone should kick with both feet. He provided a chained medicine ball which was to be struck with the “weak” foot to strengthen it.
He had two poles, about twelve feet high, banged into the ground. Between them was a length of string at the top. In the middle, there was a string hanging down about five feet with a football tied to it. The ball was there to be headed. We got in line and one after the other had to go for the ball. Assuming that ones predecessor had headed the ball, it would be swinging wildly in all directions. One was obliged to judge where it would be when one arrived. Of course, we missed more than we headed, but it made an enormous difference to our ability to head a ball during a match.
After practice on the Wednesday evening, we, once again adjourned to the hall where we would be lectured on tactics by Jim Clarkson. On occasion, he would be joined by two of the greatest thinkers in the game. Vic Buckingham and Arthur Rowe.
At the time, Buckingham was the manager of Bradford Park Avenue, but, among others, he went on to manage Ajax in Holland and Spain’s Barcelona. In England, he had managed the combined Oxbridge team, Pegasus, to win the F.A. Amateur Cup at Wembley. He managed West Bromwich Albion and came within a whisker of doing the Double with them, when they won the F.A. Cup and came second in the league..
He is credited with the notion of “Total Football”.He introduced the 17-year-old Johan Cruyff to the side.
It was said that Buckingham’s ideas were ahead of his time – including total football and youth development schemes .
Arthur Rowe, after a playing career with Tottenham Hotspur, had been the Spurs Manager and had introduced “Push and Run” to the team that went on to win the Second and First Division Championships in consecutive years in 1950 and 1951.
Unlike many managers and coaches in England, Arthur Rowe believed that “possession, and passing”, were the vital ingredients in the game. He also believed that a player should be able to play in any position. He would have been convinced of this when, later, the Hungarian national team came to Wembley and beat England 5-3. This was the first time that England had been beaten at home by a foreign team.
At the time, I do not suppose that any of us players appreciated the privilege of being lectured by what, in my opinion, comprised three of the greatest coaches in the history of British and, maybe, World football.
After all that, I was able to look at the game of football from a different point of view. I was always keen to analyse the game. One day, I would combine my film making with my desire to photographically analyse a game of football. In part 2 I’ll describe how I put the technique into practice.
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