We have corrected several errors appearing on the
Football Association website. Thus, for example, the F.A. incorrectly has
Gordon Banks' birthdate as 18 May 1940 instead of 30 December 1937.
This factual sloppiness sometimes produces the ludicrous. The F.A.
lists Ray Clemence's birthdate as 27 January 1957 and his international debut as
the World Cup qualification match against Wales on 24 January 1973. That
would have meant Clemence played for England while still a few days shy of his
16th birthday. In fact he was born on 5 August 1948 and made his debut in
the earlier World Cup qualifier against Wales on 15 November 1972, when he was
24. The F.A's mistakes extend to appearances and goals figures. Thus,
for example, Tony Adams is incorrectly credited with only two England goals instead
of five, Terry Butcher with one instead of three, Jack Charlton with none
instead of six, Stanley Matthews with three instead of 11, and Chris Waddle with two
rather than six. Ray Wilson is credited with 63 starting appearances
when in fact one of his 63 appearances came as a substitute.
The Football Association,
with no fanfare apparent, launched
hall of fame for England national team players on its website as it was reformatted
in mid-May, 2002, just before the World Cup final tournament began. The
website features profiles of the honoured players, some of which have not been
this is written, the Football Association is still adding players to the list of honourees,
and we do not know how many players eventually will be selected to the initial
list. The Football Association continued adding players throughout May
until 46 were listed, and in late June added a 47th, Trevor Brooking, presumably
correcting an oversight. That is where the list now stands: 47
players divided into four goalkeepers, 13
defenders, 15 midfielders and 15 forwards.
On 8 May 2002 the Football Association website published the
full list of England managers/head coaches--including those who only served
temporarily--under the heading "England Hall of Fame." And on 8
July 2002 it
the same list under the same heading, only this time it gave the list play
on the website's front page and main England team page with links labelled
"England Hall of Fame." Apparently these
England managers/head coaches are also members of the new hall of fame.
The English football establishment's failure to honour
football's past has been disgraceful, and so this project, long overdue, was very welcome. In the wake of failed attempts to launch
of fame in England and
elsewhere, it was fitting that the Football
Association, rather than
some private company or organisation, took on the task. The Football
Association is correct in taking the view that a hall of fame does not require
an expensive physical structure or grandiose marketing schemes. It is the idea of honouring deserving players that is more
important than anything else. Should the Football Association eventually
decide to give its hall of fame physical embodiment in some form, well and good,
but in the meantime, a website section denoted the hall of fame admirably serves
the idea. Well done to the Football Association for putting the interests
of football first in this instance.
While the absence of commercial scheming in the new hall of
fame is encouraging, we could have wished for a little elaboration. No explanation accompanies the list of honourees. We
do not know what the criteria for selection are, although retirement from the
national team is plainly one of them. Nor do we know who did the selecting.
The list of honourees contains only two players
from before the Second War, Steve Bloomer and Viv Woodward. For the
moment at least, there is no room for Charlie Bambridge, Cliff Bastin, Ernie
Blenkinsop, Eric Brook, George Camsell, Wilf Copping, Bob Crompton, Sammy
Crooks, Stan Cullis, Bill "Dixie" Dean, John Goodall, Roy Goodall,
Eddie Hapgood, Sam Hardy, Harry Hibbs, George Hilsdon, George Male, Jesse
Pennington, G. O. Smith, Billy Walker, Vic Woodley and a host of
other pre-war greats.
Glaring post-war omissions include Wilf
Mannion, part of the famed forward line of unrivalled potency in the late
1940's, and Nobby
Stiles, the only player from England's 1966 World Cup winning side to be excluded.
Among other absentees are Viv Anderson, Colin Bell, John Byrne, Roger
Byrne, Raich Carter, Martin Chivers, Allan Clarke, Ron Clayton, Steve Coppell,
Jimmy Dickinson, Bryan Douglas, George Eastham, Neil Franklin, Ron Flowers,
Mark Hateley, Don Howe, Paul Ince, Francis Lee, Paul Mariner, Jackie Milburn,
Alan Mullery, Phil Neal, Alf Ramsey, Bobby Smith, Trevor Steven, M. Gary
Stevens, Phil Thompson, Dave Watson, Dennis Wilshaw, Tony Woodcock, Ian Wright
and Mark Wright.
Perhaps some of these omitted stars did not play a
sufficient number of matches for inclusion, although we think allowances
should be made where the First and Second Wars and the brevity of the
international fixtures list in earlier years truncated brilliant international
careers. Perhaps some of them simply did not play well enough. We refrain from further comment until it becomes apparent that the
initial list of honourees is complete, at which time we will be able to see
who is in and who is out and to gauge what the criteria for admission are if
they have not been spelled out.
The F.A.'s attribution of modern positional descriptions to
all the players, no matter the era in which they performed, produces some
anomalies. Inside forwards from the era when England lined up in the W-M
formation, with three backs, two wing halves and five forwards, are listed as
forwards, although the role they played is more akin to the modern-day
attacking midfielder. Wingers from that era were out-and-out forwards, but
the F.A. lists Stanley Matthews, who patrolled the right wing for England from
1934 to 1957, as a midfielder and Tom Finney, who played both wings in the
1940's and 1950's, as a forward. It is true that Finney played a few
matches as an inside forward or centre forward, but he was primarily a winger
and so the difference in the positional classification of these two contemporaries is difficult to understand.
We also question the description of Kevin Keegan, who
played as a free-roving attacker for most of his England career, and Emlyn Hughes, who played
as a defender for much of his, as midfielders. But it is the
Football Association's Hall of Fame, and so we have left the F.A.'s positional
descriptions as they are.