Category Archives: England

Football Tough Guys: Billy Whitehurst

When you think of football tough guys, you immediately think of the old guys. Men like Ron “Chopper” Harris, Neil “Razor” Ruddock or Vinnie Jones were feared on the pitch. These weren’t baby faced assassins, these were tough brawlers who would take you down on the pitch and wouldn’t even think twice about waiting for you in the car park after a match. They defined the term “hard cunt”. However, there was one player who was the hardest of them all. The player we’re speaking on today was defined by that term and then some. Jones and Ruddock both have stated in their careers that this man was the hardest they have ever played against. Alan Hansen has said that he was frightened of this man. That man is Billy Whitehurst.

“ I went off at half time and the doctor’s ripped all the stitches up and stapled me up, literally put staples in and to be fair they were a lot better than stitches. So he’s stapled me out and I’ve gone out for the second half. I had a hole in my cheek so you could see the whole way through my mouth. ”

Billy Whitehurst was playing professional football while also laying bricks at the same time. At that moment, he had been playing for Mexborough Town before Hull City scooped him up for the bargain price of £2000 in 1980. In his career he would go on to play for more than 10 clubs, but Hull City embraced this giant (he played from ’80-’85 and again in ’88-’90), and he would go on to score 52 goals in 223 appearances for the Tigers. Feared by teammates, opposing players, and managers alike, Whitehurst was indeed a true tough guy of the game. Whitehurst bounced around from Newcastle, Reading, Sunderland, Oxford, Sheffield United, Stoke City, Doncaster, and Crewe Alexandra before going abroad and playing. Whether he was pranking his teammates, crushing opponents with goals or elbows, or playing with actual proper staples in his head and a hole in his cheek, Whitehurst claimed he always gave “120%”. He would eventually retire after a knee injury, settle in as a pub owner (among other jobs), and go back to civilian life. I’m sure when his retirement was announced, the people he played against him and feared him all breathed a collective sigh of relief in knowing they weren’t going to be smashed to bits on the pitch. A true football tough guy of the modern football era.

To Hull City and Back

Hull City vs. Port Vale 1983, Top of Division Table 4 Clash

Hull City vs. Liverpool 1989 FA Cup Pt. 1

Hull City vs. Liverpool 1989 FA Cup Pt. 2


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The Shot That Saved Chelsea

It was the 80’s. Hooliganism was running wild all over England. The Blues of Chelsea were having a horrible season. After a hopeful start in the Second Division, their winless streak would leave Chelsea sitting close to the bottom of the table. It seemed they were destined for relegation to the Third Division, which would spell out disaster to CFC, who were having some financial difficulties making ends meet at Stamford Bridge. The possibility of losing their home at Stamford Bridge, or having to share a football ground with another club was looming over their head. New owner Ken Bates had bought the club for one pound, but inherited the mound of debt and property problems (among other things) that came along with the Blues. Eventual hero Clive Walker was also having a less than stellar season, as he didn’t score until December. He picked a great time to score though, against league leaders QPR. This goal should have been uplifting for CFC, their supporters and their attitude, but it wasn’t. No matter how appropriate the goal was, it couldn’t fix the broken spirit of the squad. Manager John Neal (who would go on to turn CFC around the following year and help get them promoted to the first division) had brought in winger Paul Canoville, who was talented to help, but still didn’t help the morale of the players. The worst season in Chelsea history got much worse, and no matter who the manager brought in, it seemed like it made no difference. Chelsea were candidates for relegation.

With two matches left, the reality of relegation came into light. Chelsea would go to Burnden Park to face Bolton in the penultimate game of the season. The Wanderers were another club struggling to stay up in the Second Division, so this was by far, the most important match not only of the season, but in the history of CFC. As I stated previously, a tumble down to the Third Division would have proven the final nail in the coffin for Chelsea, who couldn’t get bodies into seats this season in the Second Division, let alone be able to draw supporters if they went down. Another snoozer of a match for the most part, and this nil nil draw would definitely ensure Chelsea’s demise. With 15 mintes to go, Clive Walker stepped up big time. Walker’s long range volley flew past Bolton keeper Jim McDonagh, and Chelsea got the victory 1-nil. They held on in their last match of the season and were saved from relegation to the lowly Third Division. Walker’s goal is, with no question, the single most important goal in Chelsea history, and the shot that saved Chelsea Football Club.


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Groundtastic: A Guide To Football Grounds

Bo’ness United photo courtesy of 100 Grounds Club

I find that along with the classic matches football has to offer, I am intrigued by the culture that goes along with the club’s history, the city that supported the club, and of course the grounds that the club played their matches on. I touched upon Edgar Road, where Hereford United pulled off the 3rd Round replay upset of Newcastle United in an article last week and now I’ve come upon a magazine/ website that celebrates the rich history of the football ground. Groundtastic, The Football Grounds Magazine takes you there. Founded in 1995 by Vince Taylor, Jon Weaver and Paul Claydon, the quarterly magazine hit the shelves in March of that year. It since has blossomed into the premier football ground magazine.

“ Quite obviously a labour of love…the research is incredible and the photographs that accompany each article are superb ”- Yeovil Towne Program

From it’s humble beginnings as a photo copied magazine for the first six issues and moving on to a proper printed magazine, Groundtastic has grown from football’s answer to a punk ‘zine right into a glossy coffee table magazine in your parlor. With a circulation in the upwards of 1,500 (and growing), this labor of love fills the niche to football ground enthusiasts all over the world. We here at (aet) send out a huge Salute! to the lads over at Groundtastic. Not only are they taking a risk by putting out a glossy, virtually advert free, 80+ magazine about of all things, football grounds (which we think is the nuts), they do it with great pride and respect to the history of this game. Now if my local news stand would just carry it.

More information on Groundtastic.


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Southampton FC: 1976 FA Cup Winners

Today we salute the 1976 FA Cup winners Southampton FC, who would rise to the occasion and in another example of a David vs. Goliath match, without the bible of course. In front of a crowd of 100K, United would put a massive amount of pressure on the Saints’ keeper Ian Turner. An early crossed shot by midfielder Steve Coppell saw Turner bobble the ball, a sure goal, only to be saved when two Red Devils hesitated to put the ball home. Gordon Hill went on the attack at what looked like a smashing lob, until Turner snatched the ball away and denied Hill and United what looked to be the go ahead goal. This gave the Saints a small kick in the pants they needed, as they regrouped and were able to finish out the first half with out going down a goal or more to United

“ Why do the goals all seem to come when you’ve nipped off to the loo? ”- Jasper Carrott, singer, in his song Cup Final, on the ’76 SFC FA Cup goal

It was Southampton who would come out in the second half but couldn’t find the back of the net as Mick Channon and David Peach came close. However, it was Man U who squandered the best chance of the match so far, when Sammy McIlroy’s header hit the woodwork. A close call for the Saints led to each club attacking several times, but managing not to put the ball in the back of the old onion bag. It wasn’t until the game was thought to be heading to extra time, when Bobby Stokes took off past the defense and scored. MU thought he was offside, but it was later shown through the replay that Stokes had timed his run perfectly, and on that run was able to place the ball extremely well into an unreachable corner of the net past United keeper Alex Stepney. It was this day that the Saints went marching into Wembley, beat the giants known as Manchester United, and rode that double tide back to Southampton with a trophy in the front of their bus, and medals around their neck. This of course, and a nod from the Queen herself. A huge shock in the world of football and a first piece of silverware for Southampton.

We hate Nottingham Forest
We hate Liverpool too
We hate Manchester Utd
But Southampton we love you

Southampton FC v. Manchester United 1976 FA Cup Final

Southampton Return Home After Winning the FA Cup


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Port Vale FC 1977: Good Typography

Being a font, logo, and graphic design geek, imagine my surprise finding this program from the mighty Port Vale FC from October 22, 1977 when they took on Peterborough United in a League Division Three match at Vale Park. It’s got some great typography, using a main font that looks to be close to Bobo Dylan or Sharktooth, plus the bold look of Futura. It is also chock filled with great illustrations, classic font use, and a color scheme of green, yellow, black and white that works quite well.

As of that date, The Valiants were 3rd from the bottom of the table while The Posh were sat in 8th on goal differential. The match would end in a nil nil draw, as a huge crowd of 3,502 watched Grahame McGifford and the lads put up a fight around Stoke-On-Trent. Here’s the rest of the program, with images courtesy of One Vale Fan. Up the Valiants!


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Football Tough Guys: Roy Keane

Like him or hate him, Roy Keane was one of the toughest and hardest working players on the pitch in his 18 year football career. From his scrappy beginnings at the semi-pro Cobh Ramblers to stints with Nottingham Forest, 12 years with Manchester United, finishing up his career at Celtic, plus the turbulent years on the Ireland National team, Keane has both been a team leader and quite an outspoken player on and off the pitch. Respected, hated, and loved in football, Roy Keane is one of the true tough guys of the modern football era. One of my favorite incident being the Manchester United v. Arsenal tunnel incident with Patrick Viera, after Viera decided to pick on wee Gary Neville. Judge for yourself.


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