Sunday, December 21, 2014

21 December 1957 - A Summers Day In December

On 21 December 1957, Charlton Athletic staged a record-setting comeback to beat Bill Shankly's Huddersfield Town in a Second Division match at the Valley.

The hosts got off to a difficult start when center half Derek Ufton went off injured in the 17th minute. The rules at the time did not allow for substitutes, so Charlton had to play on with only 10 men. Visiting Huddersfield took the advantage and were up 2-0 by halftime.

At the half, Charlton left winger Johnny Summers (pictured) moved to center forward. He also switched boots, throwing out his old ones for a new pair. The changes appeared to help, as, in the 48th minute, he scored to close the gap to 2-1. But Huddersfield responded and, by the 62nd minute, had extended their lead to 5-1. Then the momentum shifted. Within 19 minutes, Charlton were unbelievably in front 6-5, after four more goals from Summers and one from Buck Ryan.

Still, the drama had not ended. Huddersfield scored an 86th-minute equalizer, then, right before the whistle, Ryan powered the game-winner past the Huddersfield keeper. Charlton got the win, 7-6. It was the first and only time that an English league team scored 6 goals and lost.

After the match, Summers told reporters that he would hold on to those boots for the rest of his life. Sadly, he died five years later from leukemia. He was 32 years old.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

20 December 1983 - A Little Lesson In Hubris

On 20 December 1983, unknown thieves stole the Jules Rimet Trophy from the Brazilian Football Association headquarters in Rio. To date, it has not been recovered.

In 1946, the original World Cup trophy was named the Jules Rimet Trophy, after former FIFA President Jules Rimet, who organized the first World Cup tournament. The trophy is awarded to the winning team, but only those teams with three World Cup victories get to take permanent possession. Brazil were the first country to do so, winning their third title in 1970. Since then, both Italy and West Germany have earned permanent trophies as well.

The trophy was stolen before in 1966, just before the start of the tournament in England, but it was found under a garden hedge by a dog named Pickles, whose owner collected a £6,000 reward. The BBC reported that, at the time, Brazilian authorities claimed such a theft would never happen in their own country, as even Brazilian thieves love football too much to steal the trophy.

To replace the trophy stolen in 1983, Kodak of Brazil commissioned a copy which the company donated to the BFA.

Friday, December 19, 2014

19 December 1909 - Pubs, Beer, And Football, Who Could Ask For More?

On 19 December 1909, Ballspiel-Verein Borussia 1909 e. V. Dortmund was founded in a pub in the city of Dortmund, located in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia. They would go on to become one of Germany's most decorated clubs, with multiple league and cup titles, as well as Germany's first European trophy.

The founding members were unhappy with their former club, Trinity Youth, which was run by a strict authoritarian local priest. Reportedly, he tried to prevent the formation of the new club, but was blocked at the door of the pub where the meeting was held. As perhaps a further sign of rebellion from the church side, the club took the name "Borussia" from a nearby brewery.

Dortmund reached a peak in the late 1950s, winning back-to-back Bundesliga titles in the 1955-56 and 1956-57 seasons. They repeated that feat in the 1994-95 and 1995-96 seasons and currently have six league titles. In 1966, they defeated Liverpool 3-2 at the end of extra time to claim the Cup Winners' Cup, the first international honor for a German club.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

18 December 1961 - A Name Only An ENT Could Love

On 18 December 1961, the North American Football Confederation and the Football Confederation of Central America and the Caribbean merged to form the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football, better known by its acronym, CONCACAF.

As one of the six FIFA confederations, CONCACAF is in charge of World Cup qualification for its member teams. It also runs its own competitions, including the Gold Cup for international sides and the CONCACAF Champions League for clubs.

At the international level, the confederation has been controlled by the United States and Mexico who, between the two of them, have earned more than half of the confederation's World Cup appearances. Mexico has advanced the furthest, making it to the World Cup quarterfinals in 1970 and 1986 (both times as the host country). El Tri also dominates at the club level, with the three highest-ranked clubs at present (Cruz Azul, Pachuca, and Deportivo Toluca) all coming from Mexico's Primera División.

Curiously, CONCACAF also includes three South American teams--Guyana, French Guiana, and Suriname.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

17 December 2007 - Yet Another Brazilian Hat-Trick

On 17 December 2007, FIFA presented its World Player of the Year awards. It was a sweep for Brazil, with Kaká and Marta named World Player of the Year and Women's World Player of the Year, respectively. It was the first--and to date only--time a single nation claimed both awards.

Earlier that year, Kaká led AC Milan to the 2006-07 Champions League title, finishing as the tournament's top scorer with 10 goals. Marta, meanwhile, had helped her club, Swedish side Umeå IK, claim a double, winning both the league and the Swedish Cup. She also led them to that year's UEFA Women's Cup Final, where they lost to Arsenal LFC, 1-0.

The 2007 award was the second consecutive Player of the Year award for Marta, who won it a third time in 2008.

Brazil walked away with a total of three honors, as FIFA conferred the 2007 Presidential Award on Pelé for his years of service to the game.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

16 December 2002 - This...Is...Baggio!

On 16 December 2002, Brescia forward Roberto Baggio scored his 300th career goal in the home side's Serie A win over Piacenza. With that goal, he became the first Italian in over 50 years to reach 300, and only the third Italian ever to do so.

Baggio started his professional career in Serie C1 with Vicenza (1982-85) but soon moved to bigger stages with Fiorentina (1985-90), Juventus (1990-95), AC Milan (1995-97), Bologna (1997-98) and Inter (1998-2000), before moving to Brescia in 2000. By the time he retired in 2004, he had scored 318 goals in all competitions, third among Italians only to Silvio Piola (364) and Giuseppe Meazza (338). Along the way, Baggio amassed a number of honors, including two Scudettos (1994-95 and 1995-96) and the 1993 Ballon d'Or.

Despite his shooting prowess, he is widely remembered for a goal he did not score. In the 1994 World Cup Final, Italy were tied with Brazil 0-0 at the end of extra time. In the ensuing penalty shootout, Brazil were leading 3-2 after four kicks. Baggio stepped up to take the Italians' fifth and final kick and sent it over the crossbar to give the Brazilians the win.

Monday, December 15, 2014

15 December 1995 - Bosman Beats The Bossman

On 15 December 1995, the European Court of Justice issued its opinion in a trio of cases involving Belgian midfielder Jean-Marc Bosman (right). The decision rewrote the football rules governing transfers by allowing players out of contract to change clubs without a fee.

Bosman initiated the legal action on 8 August 1990 by filing suit against his then-current club, RC Liège, because the Belgian club refused to allow his transfer to French second-division side US Dunkerque. Although Bosman was out of contract, Liège still owned his playing rights and refused the transfer unless Dunkerque coughed up a transfer fee of 1,200,000 Belgian francs, which the French club declined to do.

The European Court of Justice ruled that Liège's actions constituted an illegal restraint of trade prohibited by Article 39(1) of the EC Treaty. The court held that players out of contract were able to move between clubs without a transfer fee, provided they were moving between clubs in the European Union.

While the landmark decision opened the floodgates for footballer transfers, it came too late for Bosman himself, who, after short spells for lower-division sides in France and Belgium, was out of football by the time the court published its opinion.