Monday, 14 October 2013

Roy Hodgson: The Glory Years

Being given the job of England manager is like being told in the middle of a plane flight that you've got to take over from the pilot and ensure that everyone on board is gently guided to a safe landing. You’ll get a bit of time and you won’t have done anything like it ever before, but if you carry out your responsibilities well, you’ll be a hero forever. Make too many errors of judgement or just get things totally wrong, however, and you’ll end up as popular as a tandem parachute jump with Jedward.

Pity poor Roy Hodgson, then; the latest in a long line of men destined to fail spectacularly at some point or other but who selflessly signed on the dotted line at FA headquarters to much hoopla and fanfare. As things currently stand, he may be about to taste the glory of a successful World Cup qualification campaign with England, but just where did this journey to possible greatness begin?

As with so many things in life, the answer is provided by Shoot! magazine. In the issue dated 26 February 1977, there’s a curiously random article focusing on the little known Swedish club of Halmstad BK. But don’t be fooled by its randomness, for this was a brilliantly far-sighted look at the remarkable work of Roy Hodgson - ‘team boss’ and novelty wig wearer extraordinaire.

There he is; back row, far left, arms folded, mean, moody and struggling to cope with the Swedish dialect, we shouldn't wonder. Yet there he was, a man hell-bent on ripping up the league championship with a team that ten years earlier were playing down in the third tier. What a remarkable achievement for this 30-year-old, and what a glittering career lay ahead for this talented one-time resident of Croydon.

What a shame, then, that despite the success he experienced at Halmstad, Malmo, Switzerland, Inter Milan, Copenhagen and too many other places to mention, Roy Hodgson’s career is destined to end in undignified fashion when The Sun depicts him as a root vegetable on the back page of its newspaper.

Never mind, Roy - remember the good old days. We certainly do.

1 comment:

  1. Great piece. Roy looks like Trevor Francis' older brother in those pictures!