Auxerre’s Polish Eleven

FranceMarian Szeja was the trailblazing debutant; Waldemar Matysik was one of the most influential and Andrej Szarmach the highest profile: imported players from Poland who became the driving force behind the unlikely rise of Guy Roux’s Auxerre from tiny 1960s provincial club to French 1990s powerhouse.

PolandFourteen Poles have played for Auxerre and between the years of 1974 and 1993 there were never less than two on the club’s books at any one time. Such has been their importance to the club’s cause over the past four decades that we have dedicated our latest Eleven fantasy team to choosing the best of them. With the majority of the signings having been midfielders or forwards, we have taken some creative licence in the positions we have given several of the players in order to give our team a more natural balance. Click More to read more detail about these players.

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A Confrontational Interview With Franz Beckenbauer

GermanyOne of the many bugbears that BTLM has with modern football is how worthless the practice of interviewing players has become. In the past a conversation with one of the stars of the day could, sometimes, offer a compelling warts-and-all exposé of its subject. Modern day player interviews by contrast are nothing more than sycophantic exercises in rehearsed statements and recycled platitudes.

It’s a consequence of the traditional master-serf relationship between the media and players unravelling over the past few decades. Nowadays footballers have become such huge icons with absolute control over every aspect of how their image is conveyed that interviewers dare not ask anything contentious for fear of being cast into exile and denied future crumbs from the master’s table.

It didn’t always used to be that way as this fascinating 1974 Shoot magazine interview with Franz Beckenbauer (below) ably demonstrates. The unnamed interviewer appears to have a near pathological obsession with the rumours that the West German legend undermined the authority of his national coach, Helmut Schön, during the recent World Cup.

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More Shorts From West Germany

Shorts!It’s back to the Bundesliga for another set of West German club and international football Shorts. Today we’re featuring stories about an unusual deployment of wingers, broken goal frames and Bayer 05 Uerdingen, a club always close to BTLM‘s cold, dark hearts for that famous European comeback.

GermanyA most unusual set of events blighted a Bundesliga game between Borussia Mönchengladbach and Werder Bremen in 1971. With just two minutes remaining the Bremen keeper Bernard and the Mönchengladbach forward Laumen crashed into one of the goal frames and broke it. The home side had no replacement goal available as League rules stipulated, so with the score standing at 1-1 the match was abandoned. The DFB duly awarded the game 2-0 to Bremen and fined the home club.
Fortunately for Mönchengladbach they went on to narrowly retain their Bundesliga title, all the while under threat of court action from their own players who were prepared to sue for loss of earnings through negligence had the club missed out on that championship because of the point lost through the broken goal incident.

GermanyIn 1976 Bayer Uerdingen bought back their former striker Manfred Burgsmüller from Rot Weiss Essen in a deal worth £100,000. A standard enough transfer apart from the unusual personal terms he negotiated. Instead of taking a cash signing-on fee as was the norm, Burgsmüller requested and was given ownership of a local sports shop instead.

GermanyInnovative tactical twiddling by West German trainer Helmut Schön during a couple of 1973 friendly internationals. Against both Australia and France he experimented by playing two right wingers in the same team – Uli Hoeness & Jurgen Grabowski – with the aim of overloading their opponents’ defences down one side. It proved to be a short-lived trial even though both games were won.

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Liverpool Vintage 1964-69

EnglandThis is the second post in our Liverpool Vintage series and features more imagery of the players driving the club’s 1960s transformation into the modern and world renown institution we still recognise today.

Shankly’s side stylishly won the title in 1964 just two years after promotion and watching various club captains hoist assorted silverware would become the most regular of occurrences for Liverpool fans over the next quarter of a century. Within the years featured in this post Liverpool also won an FA Cup in 1965 and another title in 1966, the same year they reached the Cup Winners Cup Final.

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Polish Non-League Football Photography

PolandOne of the great pleasures about BTLM is the number of interesting and creative football-minded people we have come into contact with from around Europe and beyond. Przemek Niciejewski is one of our favourites; a Polish photographer who has been brilliantly capturing the essence of European fan and stadium culture for the past quarter of a century.

We’ll be featuring some of our favourite images by Przemek over the coming months starting with these stunning images captured in and around non-League grounds in his native Poland. We love the stark, austere beauty of pictures that would be equally at home on our sister Twitter account @Brut_Football

Przemek is on Twitter @niciejewski and we recommend that you stop by his website to take a look at more of his fine work. Click on any of the images below to enlarge.

Argentina Vintage 1977-79

ArgentinaThe late 1970s was a time as good for football in Argentina as it was bad for democracy and human rights. The nation’s top clubs like Independiente and Boca Juniors dominated the Copa de Libertadores while the national side won their first World Cup in 1978 with success on home soil.

Images from the era feature here in this second Argentina Vintage post.

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England’s Repeat Champions

England flagFootball never sleeps, what with the Womens’ World Cup, the Copa America and the European U21 Championships vying for our attention during time we used to think of as the European close season. And once those competitions are concluded, quicker than you can say Europa League Preliminary Qualifying Rounds, a new club season will be upon us.

Chelsea 2015Of course in this age when transfer speculation is almost a sport in itself, there’s rarely any respite from the club game anyway. Just as soon as Chelsea secured the Premier League title last season, thoughts turned to whether José Mourinho’s side could successfully retain their crown next season and join that small but prestigious list of repeat English champions.

Chelsea’s manager has repeatedly expressed caution about how hard a task it is for a championship winning side to hold on to its title, but Chelsea will be favourites to do this come autumn nonetheless. In fact, the early Betfair picture—granted, one painted before summer signings take place— has early odds that comfortably position Chelsea as likeliest Premier League winner again. Not even a tricky early season schedule for the London club is seen as a discouragement for those in the know who fully expect the Blues to become just the 19th club in English top flight football to retain its title during the near-120 year history of professional football there.

Below is a list of five of the greatest English teams to have managed this feat:

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