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Red Mist Football’s Most Shocking Moments By Phil Cartwright

Release date: 20th March, 2019
Publisher: Hardie Grant UK

List Price: £12.99
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Long before the phrase ‘taking one for the team’ was introduced to football fans as a polite form of saying that a player had committed a deliberate foul and was about to be booked for his actions, the less subtle mantra applied by the nation’s most successful sides was ‘thou shall not pass’.

You knew where you stood when face-to-face with teak-tough defenders such as Tommy Smith, Ron Yeats, Jack Charlton or Norman Hunter. Not only could these guys look after themselves when the going got rough, as football matches often did during the 1970s, once they caught an opposing forward, the poor attacker was likely to be put on his backside – usually legitimately – after which he would receive a verbal warning along the lines of ‘don’t try that again’.

It worked. Hard men were once prerequisites for a successful football team and while they tended to play for northern sides, you wouldn’t refer to Spurs’ Dave Mackay, Arsenal’s Frank McLintock or Chelsea’s Ron Harris as ‘southern softies’. Or if you did, it would be a serious mistake.

Red Mist ‘celebrates’, what the book’s publicity blurb calls “thirty iconic game-changing moments that broke the hearts of nations and spawned instant legacies.”

In truth, however, it’s a rather unsatisfactory collection of well-known incidents featuring fans invading the pitch, some of them naked, a smattering of red cards “and events of football history that we just can’t stop talking about.”

Unfortunately, nothing in Red Mist comes close to replicating the brutality of a well-executed, full-blooded Tommy Smith tackle sending an opposing winger into the lower seats of Anfield’s old Kemlyn Road stand a couple of yards from the pitch.

Granted, we can read about Eric Cantona’s infamous kung-fu assault on a Crystal Palace fan, Matthew Simmons, in 1995, which former Manchester United director and lawyer Maurice Watkins called “…the most famous common assault case in the history of the English legal system.”

Equally predictably, we can relive Zinedine Zidane’s headbutt on Italy’s Marco Materazzi when the latter went to ground as though he’d been shot. ZZ was dismissed and Italy went on to win the resultant penalty shoot-out and the 2006 World Cup. Mission accomplished for Materazzi, but Red Mist fails to bowl you over.

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