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Fifty Years of Hurt: The Story of England Football and Why We Never Stop Believing By Henry Winter

Release date: 07th June, 2016
Publisher: Bantam

List Price: £16.99
Our Price: £9.99
You Save: £7 (41%)
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Twenty years ago, comedy duo Baddiel and Skinner employed a catchy tune with singalong lyrics to remind success-starved England fans that it had been three decades since the national team lifted any silverware of note.

In Fifty Years of Hurt, Henry Winter offers readers a well-argued update, although despite his intelligent suggestions and proposals, honed from his close involvement with (and clear love of) the national game and its makers and shakers, it’s difficult, even for the most ardent fan, to expect anything other than continued heartache.

Why should this be so?

Winter interviews a list of former luminaries, including Jack Charlton and Gary Lineker, who confirm that they and their team-mates always felt a genuine sense of pride whenever they pulled on an England shirt in preparation for an international duel, once the highest level of footballing competition. One wonders whether this is always still the case.

Today’s multi-millionaire footballer targets involvement in the Champions League (and its attendant rewards) as the game’s pinnacle. International football has plummeted in stature and the players’ employers (the clubs) have little compunction withdrawing them from international duty, usually citing phantom injuries as the cause of their absence.

Winter is on solid ground when he suggests that nowadays, English players are woefully under-represented in the nation’s highest league; he estimates that home-grown footballers are on the pitch for just 30% of the Premier League’s total man-hours.

Even Greg Dyke, who has enjoyed a handsome sinecure as FA chairman without achieving a great deal, is capable of identifying why someone should be planning a new book with the title Seventy Five Years of Hurt. The former Brentford chairman said the Premier League is “owned by foreigners, managed by foreigners and played by foreigners”.

While this situation persists, English fans desperate for success may be better off adopting another international team – ideally one containing players capable of scoring from the penalty spot.


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