POSTED: 2011-01-03 05:01:03

SFC Bookshelf: When Team GB played Olympic football without fear of FIFA

GB United? by Steve Menary (Pitch Publishing, Brighton)

KEIR RADNEDGE / Sports Features Communications

LONDON, Jan 03: With 18 months to go before the London Olympics, it is inevitable that the book industry is starting to focus attention on the 2012 party. A quirk of that prospect is that one of the initial publications focuses on an Olympic event from which Great Britain has been absent for more than 30 years: football.

This is ironic when one considers the present fuss over the make-up of the British team in London. This is being snubbed by the FAs of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in case a joint team jeopardises their independence within FIFA (Not that the best-of-both-worlds Scots and Welsh are averse to hosting 2012 matches in Glasgow and Cardiff).

But there are other issues to explain why historians must go back to May 5, 1971, for the last occasion on which Team GB lined up - a 5-0 qualifying defeat in Bulgaria - and to September 1, 1960, for their last appearance in the finals. That was a 3-2 win over Formosa or Taiwan, later known as Chinese Taipei, in Grossetto during the Rome Games.

But dates, places, line-ups and goalscorers are far from the totality of Steve Menary’s excellent GB United? British Olympic football and the end of the Amateur Dream (Pitch Publishing).

Menary, who has specialised engagingly in a lateral-thinking approach to the football world, delves deeply into what is the history of not only Olympic but British football itself.

It’s tempting to think that LOCOG chairman Lord Coe might have dipped into the book when he came up with the idea of the BOA enrolling Manchester United’s Sir Alex Ferguson as maanger of the British 2012 team.

After all, as Menary notes, it was not beneath Ferguson’s legendary Old Trafford predecessor- and fellow Scot - Sir Mat Busby to boss Team GB in 1948 . . . the last time London hosted the Games.

For more information contact:
Laura Walden ()
Keir Radnedge ()

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