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A tribute to Alf Ramsey, football’s forgotten hero

No better book about England’s victory in the football World Cup of 1966 and what followed it has ever been written. Duncan Hamilton’s Answered Prayers has the authority of a work of history and pulses with the narrative power of fiction. Its unlikely hero is Alf Ramsey. He emerges as a curiously complicated character through whom Hamilton tells his story. The men in charge of the FA were regarded as a vengeful, ungrateful bunch of heartless incompetents This is not a tale of the glory of that sunny day. It is instead a kind of melancholy eulogy. England won despite English football’s powers that be – ‘unpleasant men’ such as

The conspiracy against women’s football

The moment before the fall of women’s football can be precisely dated. On Boxing Day 1920, Dick, Kerr Ladies FC beat St Helens 4-0 at Everton’s Goodison Park in front of 53,000 paying spectators, a sellout crowd. That was too much for the men at the Football Association. Hysterical at the sight of women running about as they liked and scared of competition from the female game, they banned it a year later. ‘The game of football is quite unsuitable for females,’ its ruling explained. From then on, the FA barred men’s clubs from letting women use their fields. Female players were condemned to jumpers for goalposts in parks. In