Sir Walter Winterbottom: The Father of Modern English Football

Sir Walter Winterbottom: The Father of Modern English Football

Graham Morse

Language: English

Pages: 414

ISBN: 1782191380

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Sir Walter Winterbottom was arguably the most influential man in modern English football. He is known as the first England team manager, but more than that he was an innovator of modern coaching, sports administrator and a man ahead of his time; a man who had a profound effect on English football and who laid the foundations for England's success in 1966. Walter managed them all, from Lawton to Charlton, and inspired many to become coaches: Ron Greenwood, Bill Nicholson, Jimmy Hill, and Bobby Robson were among his disciples and took his gospel to the clubs they managed. Born in 1913, Winterbottom started out as a teacher and physical education instructor, playing amateur football in his spare time. He was soon signed up by Manchester United, playing his first game 1936 and winning promotion to the First Division in 1938. A spinal ailment curtailed his career, but during World War II he served as an officer in the Royal Air Force before the FA appointed him as national director of coaching and England team manager in 1946. He remains the only manager to have taken the national side to more than two World Cup finals and was created an OBE in 1963 and a CBE in 1972 before being knighted in 1978. Walter died in 2002 but his legacy continues to inspire many in football today, especially with the opening of the new St George's Park football academy. With interviews and insight from top football names, this book—written by Winterbottom's son-in-law—also draws on personal diaries, photographs and letters. However, this is more than just a biography of one man—it's the story of how modern football came about.

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discussions were frank and open, with all managers giving their assurances that they would do all they could to help England. At last Walter felt that his efforts at getting the support of club managers were paying dividends. The main topics they discussed were the selection of the team, the release of players for practice sessions and the international fixture list. Time was also made available for an open forum. On the subject of team selection there was universal agreement that this should be

the Daily Express, so confident the day before, was humble in his admiration for the Hungarians: ‘It it is easy to howl down the defeated England side and jeer “What a team!” But those who appreciate football will rejoice that there are such players in the world as the Hungarians and will exclaim “What a team!”’ Hackett, however, declined to place the blame at England’s door: ‘Fault this England 11; condemn them as inexpert strolling players: and then look around and find a better team. We must

a centre forward with his club was based on playing deep, with flying wingers cutting passes back into the middle, which Clough would run onto. Either the forward line would have to be rejigged to fit his style or he needed matches to fit himself into the team’s pattern, and it was too late for either. But above all the controversy centred on Bobby Charlton. Charlton was a young player of outstanding potential. His fast recovery from the Munich disaster and performances for Manchester United, as

anyone other than Walter, but Charlton later came to understand how the bureaucratic selection committee handicapped Walter’s plans: ‘There was no doubt Winterbottom had a minefield of a job, which, looking back, he ultimately could not win. I was certainly not going to give him any more grief than he was already experiencing on the back pages of the newspapers and no doubt, in the committee room.’ In England’s opening World Cup game in Gothenburg they faced Russia once more, and again it

Jimmy Greaves and Bobby Smith (Spurs), Johnny Haynes (Fulham) and Bobby Charlton (Manchester United).’ There was great spirit and confidence in the squad. Jimmy Greaves thought that Walter was creating an England team that was good enough to go on and win the 1962 World Cup in Chile: ‘The old guard had gone and Walter had created a young England team that was finely balanced and in tune with one another as players: one which played well as a collective unit while at the same time allowing

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