Why streetwise Johnny owed his teammate a big debt of gratitude

  • November 30, 2018 10:44
  • Jon Henderson

Sunday’s match at Stamford Bridge between Chelsea and Fulham is a fixture in which players’ leader Jimmy Hill played days after he had masterminded the campaign that brought an end to football’s maximum wage.


Not only was Jimmy Hill – the bearded one in the photograph – an unflinching inside-forward for Fulham, he was a union leader who believed in getting his hands – and knees – dirty.

The photograph, which shows Hill tangling with Chelsea’s goalkeeper Peter Bonetti at Stamford Bridge on 4 February 1961, was taken a few days after Hill, as chairman of the Professional Footballers’ Association, had led the players to victory in their wages war against the Football League and its clubs.

Hill’s vigorous command was a major factor in forcing the players’ employers to agree to abolish the cap on earnings. At the start of 1961 players were not allowed to earn more than 20 quid a week. Hill, having rallied the overwhelming support of his members, told the clubs: ‘Give way or we strike.’ The clubs gave way.

No one had more reason to be grateful to Hill for the clubs’ landmark capitulation than his Fulham team-mate nd England international Johnny Haynes.

The story that has been somewhat embellished but is broadly true is that the chairman of Fulham, the comedian Tommy Trinder, was so confident the maximum wage was a permanent fixture that he had boasted his star player, Haynes, was worth £100 a week.

Haynes, a streetwise Londoner, kept the press cuttings and, straight after the PFA’s victory, Trinder had to pay up.

There is more to this story than simply that but the fact is that Haynes’s substantial pay rise outraged officials of other clubs. Major H. Wilson Keys, West Bromwich Albion’s chairman, was not alone when he harrumphed that Haynes’s wage was ‘dangerous and unsettling’ and speculated that Fulham might have ‘to starve other players’ to finance it.

In fact, the idea that players across the board might straightaway start making extravagant demands was never going to happen.

At that time a lavish lifestyle was an unknown concept, to professional footballers, anyway. They were so conditioned to low wages in a low-wage society that the next step up was not-quite-so-low wages.

Bill Nicholson, Tottenham Hotspur’s manager, gave a much more realistic reaction than Wilson Keys: ‘No one can tell what difference it will make. We have a fair idea of the percentage increase we will offer but it would not be wise for me to disclose it. It is a matter for the club and player and might be some way from the amount we ultimately pay.’

The advent of players being paid serious money did not come for another 40 years with the convergence of two significant arrivals: the Premier League and satellite television. These in turn brought on a third significant arrival: every player’s must-have accessory, the agent.

What looked to many like a reckless gamble by Rupert Murdoch’s arriviste TV station, Sky, turned out to be the work of a savvy business brain. In 1992, Murdoch agreed to pay the newly formed league the thick end of £304 million, a stratospheric figure at the time, to secure live coverage of 60 matches a season over five years. The 2016-9 deal struck by Sky and BT Sports was £5.1 billion.

Sky has raked in massive winnings from its 1992 investment – and not just for themselves. The age of the multi-millionaire footballer was about to begin.

It might be nice if the Chelsea and Fulham players who on Sunday afternoon tread the same turf as Hill did in 1961 give at least a moment’s thought to the man who prepared the way for the huge rewards they now take for granted.


This is an edited extract from When Footballers Were Skint by Jon Henderson / @hendojon published by Biteback Publishing.


Where We Go from Here - Introduction

  • November 27, 2018 10:47
  • Bernie Sanders

Where We Go from Here: Two Years in the Resistance || Bernie Sanders



During my campaign for president in 2016, I stated over and over again that the future of our country was dependent upon our willingness to make a political revolution. I stressed that real change never occurs from the top down. It always happens from the bottom up. No real change in American history—not the labor movement, the civil rights movement, the women’s movement, the gay rights movement, the environmental movement, nor any other movement for social justice—has ever succeeded without grassroots activism, without millions of people engaged in the struggle for justice.
         That’s what I said when I ran for president. That’s what I believe now. That’s what I’ve been working to accomplish over the last several years. At a time of massive and growing income and wealth inequality, as our nation moves closer and closer to an oligarchic form of society, we need an unprecedented grassroots political movement to stand up to the greed of the billionaire class and the politicians they own.
         And the good news is, we’re making progress. People in every region of our country are standing up and fighting back against the most dishonest and reactionary president in the history of the Republic. In state after state they are also taking on establishment politicians who are more concerned about protecting their wealthy campaign contributors than they are with the needs of the middle class and the working people they are supposed to represent.
         We’re making progress when millions of people, in every state in the country, take to the streets for the Women’s March in opposition to Trump’s reactionary agenda. We’re making progress when an unprecedented grassroots movement elects a young African American as mayor of Birmingham, Alabama. We’re making progress when tens of thousands of Americans turn out at rallies and town hall meetings to successfully oppose the Republican efforts to throw thirty-two million people off health insurance. We’re making progress when governors and local officials announce, in response to student demands, tuition-free public colleges and universities. We’re making progress when over the past two years hundreds of first-time candidates from every conceivable background run for school board, city council, state legislature, and Congress—and many of them win.
         The good news is that the American people are far more united than the media would like us to believe. They get it. They know that over the last forty years, despite a huge increase in worker productivity, the middle class has continued to shrink, while the very rich have become much richer. They know that, for the first time in the modern history of the United States, our kids will likely have a lower standard of living than us.
         The bad news is that instead of going forward together, demagogues like Trump win elections by dividing us. The bad news is that too many of us are getting angry at the wrong people. It was not an immigrant picking strawberries at $8 an hour who destroyed the economy in 2008. It was the greed and illegal behavior of Wall Street. It was not transgender people who threw millions of workers out on the street as factories were shut down all across the country. It was profitable multinational corporations in search of cheap labor abroad.
         Our job, for the sake of our kids and grandchildren, is to bring our people together around a progressive agenda.
         Are the majority of people in our country deeply concerned about the grotesque level of income and wealth inequality that we are experiencing? You bet they are. Do they believe that our campaign finance system is corrupt and enables the rich to buy elections? Overwhelmingly, they do.
         Do they want to raise the minimum wage to a living wage and provide pay equity for women? Yes, they do. Do they think the very rich and large corporations should pay more in taxes so that all of our kids can have free tuition at public colleges and universities? Yup. Do they believe that the United States should join every other major country and guarantee health care as a right? Yes, again. Do they believe climate change is real? You’ve got to be kidding. Are they tired of the United States of America, the wealthiest country in the history of the world, falling apart at the seams, with roads, bridges, water systems, wastewater plants, airports, rail, levees, and dams either failing or at risk of failing? Who isn’t?
         Further, a majority of the American people want comprehensive immigration reform and a criminal justice system that is based on justice, not racism or mass incarceration.
         Today, what the American people want is not what they are getting. In fact, under Republican leadership in the House, Senate, and White House, they are getting exactly the opposite of what they want.
         The American people want a government that represents all of us. Instead, they are getting a government that represents the interests and extremist ideology of wealthy campaign contributors. They want environmental policies that combat climate change and pollution and that will allow our kids to live on a healthy and habitable planet. Instead, they are getting executive orders and legislation that push more fossil fuel production, more greenhouse gas emissions, and more pollution. They want a foreign policy that prioritizes peacemaking. Instead they are getting increased military spending and growing hostility to our long-term democratic allies. They want a nation in which all people are treated with dignity and respect, and where we continue our decades-long struggle to end discrimination based on race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, and nation of origin. Instead, they have a president who seeks to win political support by appealing to those very deep-seated prejudices.
         During the last several years, I’ve worked hard in Washington, but I have also traveled to thirty-two states in every region of our country. I have seen the beauty, strength, and courage of our people. I have also seen fear and despair.
         I have talked to people with life-threatening illnesses in West Virginia who worry about what will happen to them, or their loved ones, if they lose the health insurance that keeps them alive. I have talked to young immigrants (Dreamers) in Arizona who are frightened to death about losing their legal status and being deported from the only country they have ever known. I have talked to a young single mom in Nevada worried about how she can raise her daughter on $10.45 an hour. I have talked to retirees and older workers in Kansas who are outraged that, as a result of congressional legislation, they could lose up to 60 percent of the pensions they paid into and were promised as deferred compensation for a lifetime of work. I have talked to senior citizens in Vermont who divide their pills in half because they are unable to afford the outrageously high cost of prescription drugs. I have talked to workers in San Francisco who, as a result of gentrification, are no longer able to live in the neighborhoods they grew up in and love. I have talked to family members around the country who have lost loved ones to the opioid and heroin epidemics sweeping the nation.
         I would hope that each one of us honors the men and women who have, throughout history, put their lives on the line to defend our country. I will never forget meeting, in a small town in northern Vermont, an older gentleman who was part of the D-Day invasion at Normandy. I had goose bumps talking to him, trying to imagine all that he had gone through and the extraordinary sacrifices he and his comrades made.
         In school, we teach our kids to understand and appreciate the sacrifices that veterans made in defending “our way of life.” But we spend too little time explaining to them what that “way of life” means.
         Standing in Gettysburg in November 1863, soon after that terrible battle that claimed tens of thousands of casualties, Abraham Lincoln reminded his compatriots, and all of us, what that “way of life” was, and what our enduring responsibility in a democratic society is. He stated “… that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
         Government of the people, by the people, for the people. Creating a nation that works for all, and not just the few. That was worth fighting for in 1863. It is worth fighting for today. 
         Maintaining a vibrant democracy based on principles of justice has never been easy. In these dangerous and unprecedented times, it may be more difficult than ever.
         As a result of the disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court decision, billionaires are now able to spend hundreds of millions of dollars anonymously in ugly TV ads demonizing candidates who dare to stand up to them. Republican governors and legislatures are working overtime to suppress the vote, making it harder for people of color, poor people, and young people to vote.
         The internet and social media now allow for the worldwide transmission of total lies, and the capability of targeting those lies to susceptible populations.
         Further, recent studies show what the average American has long known. More and more mainstream media political coverage is devoted to gossip and issues of personality, and less and less to the major problems facing our country and the world. During the last presidential campaign, for example, there was almost no discussion devoted to climate change, the greatest environmental crisis facing our planet. There was hardly a mention that, in the wealthiest country in the history of the world, 40 million Americans live in poverty, or that we have the highest rate of childhood poverty of nearly any major country on earth.
         Yes, I know. These are painful and frightening times. Many friends have told me that they dread reading the papers or watching TV. But let us be clear. Despair is not an option. This struggle is not just for us. It is for our kids, our grandchildren, and the future of the planet.
         This book is about some of what I and millions of progressives have been trying to accomplish day by day over the last several years.
         Some of that work took place inside the Beltway, and much of it outside the Beltway. But no matter where it took place, the goal has always been the same. We must create a vibrant democracy where the voices of all people are heard. We must build a nation that leads the world in the struggle for peace, and for economic, social, racial, and environmental justice. And we must unite our country while repairing the damage Trump has done trying to divide us up.
         The struggle continues.


‘We should be all right here, Stan – they haven’t even got the proper kit’

  • November 23, 2018 12:43
  • Jon Henderson

Sunday marks the 65th anniversary of the day England lost for the first time at Wembley to a team from beyond the British Isles, the consequence of calamitously underestimating a skilful Hungary side.


A small group of young players from Watford football club, shepherded by player-coach Johnny Paton, arrive at the Empire Stadium, Wembley, in the early afternoon of Wednesday 25 November 1953.

They are in good time for the 2.15pm kick-off of the match between England and Hungary, a game that Paton, a 30-year-old whose former clubs included Celtic and Chelsea, is particularly keen his charges should see. ‘Hungary are an exciting team,’ he tells them, ‘and you’re going to learn something about the game from them today.’

Others are less convinced. Charles Buchan, a former England player and one of the most respected commentators on the game, has written in the build-up to the match: ‘The clever ball-control and close passing of the Hungarians do not alarm me in any way.’

Buchan’s smugness reflects the insularity that pervades English football at this time, a mulish refusal to admir Hungary inspite of the evidence: unbeaten in 24 games, unofficially ranked number one in the world and holders of the Olympic title. They are damned by being foreign.

Paton is not so blinkered. Having seen more of the world than most footballers during his service in the RAF, which included playing a great deal of football overseas, he is well aware that antiquated coaching methods and tactical dogma among English clubs are a serious worry for the prospects of the domestic game.

With his professional playing career coming to an end he has acted on this concern by enrolling on the Football Association’s first coaching course at Lilleshall, one of the few initiatives that points towards a more enlightened future.

On this November afternoon Paton takes his unease with him to Wembley. He has no faith in the argument that because England have never lost at home against a team from outside the British Isles Hungary are heading for defeat.

It is impossisble to be sure but almost certainly Paton is at odds with most of the crowd of 100,000. He can tell from the banter that the majority of the crowd, informed only by views such as Buchan’s, are expecting to witness confirmation of English football’s superiority.

Only some of them have taken much notice of reports that Hungary will parade a new style of football. Those who have and are unimpressed are in good company. Billy Wright, the England captain, says afterwards: ‘We completely underestimated the advances Hungary had made.’

He also confesses he ridiculed Hungary after the two teams first came onto the Wembley pitch. He told teammate Stan Mortensen, ‘We should be all right here, Stan’, having observed the visitors wearing what looked more like shoes than boots. ‘They haven’t even got the proper kit.’

Outside the ground, people are paying the ticket touts good money to see Hungary put in their place: a tenner for the £2 10s. top-priced tickets and more than a pound for the cheapest ones sold originally for 3s. 6d.

Paton and his group have seats at one end, behind a goal. They watch the Hungary team warm up before kick-off not by dashing about but by juggling the ball. Paton pays special attention Ferenc Puskas. He notices that Hungary’s captain and emblematic star is all one-footed but reckons if he wanted to he could keep the ball up all day with his foot, head, knee and shoulder. Around him Paton senses the spectators’ awe at what they are watching – and the match hasn’t even started.

Puskas continues to demonstrate his trickery until Wright, his fellow captain, joins him in the centre circle to toss the coin. It is the first time the two men have met. Puskas, having been intricately working the ball with his left foot, signs off by nonchalantly transferring it to his thigh and letting it run down his shin on to the centre spot.

Wright says afterwards that when Puskas then gave him a charming, you’ve-been-warned smile he realised his earlier ridicule had been misjudged.

It is arguable that English football has never learned the lessons of that 6-3 drubbing by Hungary in 1953. They certainly didn’t in the short term, showing little inclination to change their ways in two defeats that followed soon afterwards: an even heavier thrashing by Hungary, 7-1, in a return friendly in Budapest and a 4-2 loss to Uruguay that eliminated them from the 1954 World Cup in Switzerland.

The 1966 World Cup triumph was greeted at the time as a new dawn, but even this has become an ironic symbol of our continuing deficiencies. The English game is still admired for its commitment and endeavour, but neither of these dated virtues has done the nation much good in international tournaments, where technically superior sides have prospered.


This is an edited extract from When Footballers Were Skint by Jon Henderson / @hendojon published by Biteback Publishing.


Alec Jackson’s good life is very different from the one awaiting today’s star players

  • November 22, 2018 11:43
  • Jon Henderson

The retirement options for former Chelsea star Didier Drogba make a stark contrast with what Jackson faced half a century ago.


One of the biggest differences between the lives of today’s top footballers and those who played in the postwar years is the options they have when they retire.

While modern players, just like their predecessors, are still relatively young when the game’s physical toils become too much for them, the contrasts in the choices of what to do next could hardly be dilineated more starkly.

Most obviously, one of the choices that Didier Drogba could now opt for is to put up his expensively shod feet for the rest of his life, a recourse that would have been out of the question for his mid-twentieth-century counterpart.

In the days when wages were capped – at £20 a week in 1961 when the restriction was finally abolished – and players were too poor to give up work when they were no longer able to play, managers’ jobs were, for most, the only employment they were qualified to do.

As a result the numerous players who queued to be given a managerial break were motivated by a neediness that meant boards were as penny-pinching in rewarding them as they were their players.

No wonder this was the golden age of footballers regarding club directors with utter disdain, summed up by the chapter in Len Shackleton’s autobiography that was headed ‘The average director’s knowledge of football’ and consisted of a blank page.

For those players who failed to land a job as a manager or were not inclined to seek one, the possibilities were limited – and some were more accepting of this than others.

Alec Jackson was one of the accepting ones.

Jackson, who played in the Football League for fourteen years, ten of them (1954-64) with West Bromwich Albion, was one of those with no managerial pretensions. He left school at 15, found employment as a machinist close to his home in Tipton and, from everything he tells me, had no ambition other than living what might be described as a traditional working man’s life.

The fact that for a decade Jackson, an outstanding athlete and footballer, was idolised by thousands of Baggies fans did not alter his sense of who he was or where he felt he belonged.

Not much better off when he retired from playing professional football than he was when he started, Jackson wished only to return to his roots.

‘When I retired,’ he says, ‘I went into a mill and since then I’ve done just about everything, working 18 hours a day. It needed to be done.’

Jackson, born in 1937, was growing up when the population’s sense of self-sufficiency was reflected in the numbers who produced their own food on allotments, plots of land made available for non-commercial gardening. There were more than a million of these in Britain after the Second World War.

This number has dwindled to fewer than 300,000, one of them in the possession of Alec Jackson. ‘I’ve had my allotment for 37 years and I’ve still got it,’ he says. ‘I still work it but I’ve had to cut back. Me and a friend share it, one half each. I produce just about everything you can eat.

‘And I do other bits and pieces, making things, fishing. I’m lucky because I’m hanging on. There’s quite a few of those I used to play with who have gone. Good people have gone.’


This is an edited extract from When Footballers Were Skint by Jon Henderson / @hendojon published by Biteback Publishing.


He forgot his boots – but still scored a great goal

  • November 21, 2018 10:17
  • Jon Henderson

A match for Wales against England stands out for Cliff Jones among all his many other appearances for his country and Football League clubs, Swansea, Tottenham and Fulham.


‘For me, being a Welshman, putting on the Wales shirt was my biggest honour,’ Cliff Jones says. ‘It still stays with me.

‘My first game was against Austria in Vienna in 1954. I was 19. I struggled in that game a bit. We got beaten 2-0. So I didn’t get picked again for more than a year.’

He was brought back for the British Championship match against a powerful England side – Stanley Matthews, Tom Finney, Nat Lofthouse and Billy Wright – in Cardiff. ‘It was 1955 and I was 20 years of age,’ he says, ‘and the funny thing was I’d forgotten my boots.’

In a panic he rang his wife, Joan – they were still newly-weds – to ask her to deliver the boots to him at Ninian Park as quickly as possible. ‘It’s just before the game,’ Jones says, ‘and I’m sort of darting about waiting for my wife and the manager’s looking at me.’

‘What’s up, Cliff? Don’t worry about tickets,’ the manager said. It was now about an hour before kick-off. ‘Just give the tickets to the bloke on the door and he’ll let your wife and family have the tickets.’

‘It’s not the tickets,’ Jones said.

‘Well what is it?’

‘I’ve forgotten my boots.’

‘What, you forgot your fuckin’ boots. We’re playing against England, Stanley Matthews, Tom Finney, and you forgot your fuckin’ boots.’

‘He went off on one, didn’t he,’ Jones says.

The upshot was that the boots arrived in time and Wales won 2-1, their first victory over England in 17 years, with Jones scoring the winning goal.

He details how he did it as exactly as if telling me what he had just had for breakfast. ‘I cut in from the left and Roy Paul, a brilliant wing half, slanted a ball over. I could see it coming and I came across Billy Wright, the England centre half, got up and went bang with my head.

‘It went straight in at the far post. Great goal. Billy Wright had no chance. I was carried off shoulder high at the end. Amazing. One of my great moments in football.’


This is an edited extract from When Footballers Were Skint by Jon Henderson / @hendojon published by Biteback Publishing.