Sunday 4 December 2016

When you add it all up, football is a whole lot more than simply a game of two halves

Published 07/05/2014 | 02:30

Liverpool's Luis Suarez. PA
Liverpool's Luis Suarez. PA

If you are a Liverpool fan, don't read this! When I was young and playing football, I remember the routine at the kick-off from under-eights upwards. If it was our kick-off, the two wingers (usually small lads) tapped the ball to each other and rolled it back to the centre-half, usually the biggest lad on the field, who then hoofed it up as far as possible towards the opponent's penalty box.

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This we did every game without fail. We got possession and promptly gave it away – ceding possession but gaining momentarily territory. Football back then was a game of territory and was meant to be played, as much as possible, in the opponent's half. This was a rudimentary example of the "put 'em under pressure" style of football and, as far as we were concerned, it made lots of sense.

The other three most common expressions to be heard in the playing cauldron that was Hyde Road, Dalkey, was "get rid of it", "when in doubt kick it out" and "up the line". "Get rid of it" was the mantra for every manager to every footballer. The game of football, which should be a game of possession where being on the ball is rewarded, was replaced by a game of rejection where being without the football was rewarded.

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