How many of you Football (that’ll be soccer to those readers from across the big pond) fans are aware of a team called Corinthians? They were formed in 1882 by the then secretary of the Football Association, N.Lane Jackson. The intention was to develop an amateur team that was (this seems really amusing now) capable of challenging the supremacy of the Scotland national team!
They went on to become one of the most successful amateur teams in British football history, but after losing more than twenty of their players in the First World War their star inevitably began to fade, although they are still in existence today. They are still recorded in the record books as having inflicted the worst ever defeat in Manchester United’s history, beating the Red devils 11 – 3 in 1904.
During the 1890s the England team was made up mostly of Corinthians players and against Wales in 1894 and 1895 they supplied the whole team! So why am I rambling on about an old football club? Well it’s to do with their principles of gentlemanly conduct. If the opposition lost a player then Corinthians would also remove one of their own from the pitch to keep things on the level. They also famously refused to take penalties as they did not see that as very gentlemanly at all. When a penalty was awarded against them their goalkeeper would stand to one side of the goal.
Is this where the England teams phobia of penalties began? I suppose that is possible, given England’s penalty shoot out travails, losing 7 out of 8 in major tournaments. But there is always the possibility that if England refused to take penalties they might get a better result! They would at least have more respect surely? The only Team GB loss at London 2012 that didn’t disappoint me was the loss of the men’s football team as the thought of a bunch of arrogant, moaning millionaires kicking a ball around doesn’t really excite me that much any more. How did they lose? On penalties, and who missed one? An English player of course! Stand up Mr Sturridge!