Playing the game

PUBLISHED: 17:43 10 January 2008 | UPDATED: 14:21 04 May 2010

BILL Shankly, the legendary manager of Liverpool, once said: Football isn t a question of life and death. It s more important than that. Or he is said to have said words such as those. And he was quite right, too. Football is important – and now we have

BILL Shankly, the legendary manager of Liverpool, once said: "Football isn't a question of life and death. It's more important than that."

Or he is said to have said words such as those.

And he was quite right, too.

Football is important - and now we have an Italian in charge of our national side perhaps the pride in our game on the international level will be restored.

For the moment, however, that's another question.

The reason I mention our national game is because I have just been given a book which is a collection of pages from Charles Buchan's Football Monthly.

Now those of us of a certain age remember the magazine in the 1950s and 1960s as the one publication which dealt with the game.

This was, obviously, in the days before back-to-back live coverage of television, and pages devoted to the game in the tabloid press.

It's interesting now to look back on those days when, really, the game was still as exciting, but less, shall we say, commercial.

It was the days when players were on a minimum wage and rarely demanded a transfer because it would have meant breaking a contract.

Now it sounds like something out of the Stone Age, but it did actually happen.

Still, to return to Charles Buchan and his Football Monthly.

Buchan created the magazine after a distinguished playing career with Sunderland and Arsenal, and days as a journalist reporting on the game for the then Daily News and for the BBC.

Buchan was respected in the game - although his opinions took much longer to work their way through.

In 1951, he was advocating the setting up of a Football Alliance for clubs outside the Football League. This would provide an opportunity for the successful clubs to get promotion into the Football League.

And what do we have today? Just that with the Football Conference.

Interesting, too, was comments from the ex-Manchester United captain John Carey when he advocated floodlight football.

He was convinced that it would not be a strain on the players as they were already playing a hard practice game in mid-week.

And, as he said, it would, in his words, give the opportunity for shopkeepers and assistants to see a game.

He would probably be amazed to see the number of floodlight games played these days.

The game may have changed, but it's still important.

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