Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Into the archives: Pathé football films, 1931-67

I was recently introduced to the archive of old football films on the British Pathé website. I tweeted a couple of things at the time, more or less while still laughing at them. But I've now been back to revisit, and they're all just as good on second viewing. 

Here's a few highlights of what I found while hunting around the site. No doubt if you search for your team you might unearth further gems. Feel free to post links to them in the comments at the bottom of this post.

This is an absolute belter, as Southampton are put through their paces in front of the cameras. Look at the state of the crummy medal their manager wears (to training, no less) commemorating his FA Cup Final appearance with West Ham in 1923. Left winger Laurence Fishlock looks a bit handy, and we're even treated to a surprisingly slick slow-motion replay of his wing wizardry. (Fishlock, if you're interested, was also a fine cricketer for Surrey). The high point of this clip though is surely the defensive clearance from Bill Adams - agricultural, I think they call that.

Arsenal's management team introduce their 'happy family' team at Highbury ahead of their 1932 FA Cup Final with Newcastle. Herbert Chapman's a little husky so he passes duties on to his assistant who introduces the boys to us, one of whom is 'Little Charlie Jones', whose slight air of shiftiness suggests he's either just killed a man or perhaps really needs a wee. Another cricketer lurks within Arsenal's ranks you'll notice. Goalkeeper Frank Moss pulls no punches on how little he's enjoying his experience in front of camera. Edris Hapgood, who went on to captain England and was one of those who had to give the Nazi salute to Adolf Hitler, is not trusted with talking to camera here and instead just glowers. Great hair, even better collars and a nice little sing-song at the end. 

Scenes from Tottenham overpowering OFK Belgrade in a fixture played on somebody's allotment. This is worth a look for some great shots of the stadium including a gorgeous wide angle shot of White Hart Lane at half-time. The commentator's early prediction that "there may be some needle in this game" almost comes true, but just handbags sadly.

"His timing to meet the ball is really wonderful". More shots from training, this time Newcastle perform a few perfunctory actions like kicking and throwing as the narrator assures us we're watching some sort of master-class. The keeper can apparently "punch 'em, catch 'em and put 'em out of harm's way". All the more impressive if performed in a natty roll-neck jumper.

A silent one this, but no less enjoyable. For reasons unknown, the referee tosses the coin for the two captains and what appears to be a jockey. There then follows some eccentric fans, some shaky camerawork, a view-obstructing post and some glimpses of what looks to have been an awful FA Cup Fourth Round tie.

Dubbed the "Cockney Cup Final", this film shows the footage Pathé got at Wembley as Spurs took on Chelsea. Stick with this one through the so-so first-half highlights as there's a real treat after the teams walk off. The narrator enthuses: "Let's relive that first half through some of the faces in the crowd - the faces of Wembley". Great, a chance to revel in the fever of Cup Final day. Oh. Most of them look like they're witnessing some sort of horrific emergency dentistry.

No messing about, straight into the action as Wycombe Wanderers take on Bishop Auckland in the Amateur Cup Final. Impressively, Bishop Auckland are going for the hat-trick of wins. An early sign that they may indeed achieve this comes early as Wanderers winger Len Worley fluffs an easy ball. Lovely understatement from the commentator who notes that he "makes a bad pass". Watch it for yourself. That's not a bad pass. That's the worst connection anybody ever made with a football until this. Anyway, the Bishops run up the other end and score. They look pretty nifty even now. Wycombe are powerless to stop them clinching the hat-trick. One final point: look at the size of the bloody crowd! Packed.

Hooray! It's the annual boxers versus jockeys charity football match at West Ham, everyone's favourite thing that ever happens ever. We're introduced to the two teams and their magnificent shorts, and as the caption points out in stern brackets: "(One of the team is black)". Cor blimey guv'nor, etc. A mysterious celebrity chap kicks the game off - and wellies it straight up someone's backside. What larks. The boxers then unveil their clever tactical ploy: dainty little lobs over the heads of the puny jockeys, over and over again. The clip ends with the jockeys coming back strongly. A decision goes against the boxers and a burly midfielder is so livid he picks up the ball and hurls it at his own goal. Howard Webb would card you for that these days, of course.


Anonymous said...

love it! checking out my team DCFC training old skool stylee - great recommendation to while away a lunch break, cheers.

Narrow The Angle said...

Thanks for that - another belter!

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