Published by Taschen
For those who lived through the seventies, The Age of Innocence will evoke memories of an era when football seemed simpler, less aloof and less remote from the fans. A time when, for instance, a West Ham fan could pop down to an East End pub and find Bobby Moore at the bar buying drinks for Harry Redknapp and Frank Lampard Snr. In short, a time when you could reach out and touch your heroes.
This book beautifully captures that age and will appeal not only to those who witnessed it first-hand but also to those who love the game, its history and its flamboyance.
It opens with introductory essays from four of football journalism’s top writers:
• Brian Glanville who recalls the European Cup in the 70s • David Goldblatt who considers how the game become truly global during this time • Rob Hughes who looks at the World Cups played in that decade • Barney Ronay who considers this age of innocence.
Then it allows the photographs to do the talking. And at over 300 hundred pages this weighty tome is full of them, reproduced in both colour, and black and white.
What memories they evoke.
Who can forget Pele and Bobby Moore embracing at the end of the Brazil versus England game during the 1970 World Cup? Or Bobby Charlton leading out his Manchester United team mates in his 606th and final league game for the Red Devils, in 1973? Those moments in time are reproduced here in all their glory.
There is even a picture of Jack Charlton having a crafty fag during training – a ritual that Bobby FC covered in its This Was the Week column.
But the book doesn’t restrict itself to the English game. There are plenty of images from around the world of football including (and this is one of my favourites) a shot of Diego Maradona in 1977 with his head under a hair dryer fixing his perm, while reading a soccer magazine.
Other football greats are captured through the lens of a camera including Eusébio, Franz Beckenbauer and Johan Cruyff, as well as great teams such as Holland, Italy and Argentina.
Although many of the pictures feature players in the heat of battle, quite a few show the quieter, less intense side of football.
For instance, there’s a picture of Helmut Schőn, West Germany’s World Cup winning coach, watering his garden a few weeks after his 1974 triumph.
Then there is perhaps the world’s greatest player, Pele, caught on camera during a TV interview with the legendary Johnny Carson on his The Tonight Show.
There is even a very topical shot: the Russian army in the stands at Dynamo Kiev’s stadium during an international against France, held in what is now the Ukraine. It begs the question, what would happen to the players from the USSR if they lost?
If I do take issue with this coffee-table book at all, it is where it’s billed the 70s as ‘footballs most beautiful era’. Yes there was some wonderful moments but it was also a time of cynical aggression on the pitch and violence off it. This ugly side of the game is not really shown in any depth, though, to be fair, it does include one or two representative pictures.
My favourite element in the book is where the words and pictures gel so perfectly. The picture is of George Best and the words sum it up so wonderfully.
Turn to page 79 and you’ll see George standing alongside a sleek sports car, outside his boutique shop. Then flip (well perhaps not, it is a big book) to the back cover and you’ll read his quote: “I spent a lot of money on booze, birds and fast cars. The rest I just squandered.” Magical.
The book closes with a 1970s dream team selected by one of the contributors. I won’t spoil it for you by naming the eleven but I’m sure many may well disagree with the line-up. What I will say is that two British players are included. I defy anyone to question their inclusion.
This is a publication you can turn to again and again and never tire of recalling those wonderful memories of a bygone age when football really did seem so much simpler, less aloof and less remote.
BB rating 8/10
by Richard Bowdery.