You may have seen the debate in the news about teaching History in schools last week. A draft of a report that the National Council for Curriculum Education [NCCA] will be debating next month was leaked. The draft doesn’t recommend any change to the status quo as regards teaching History at Junior Cycle level, where the subject was downgraded to optional when the new JC system was introduced a few years ago [Geography and Science suffered a similar fate].
Imagine a world full of people ignorant of history. Not knowing what went on before, not having it as a reference point and touchstone to learn from. This applies to sports like soccer as much as current affairs and politics.
As a soccer fan, I’ve always enjoyed learning about the history of the game. Soccer has been played in Ireland since the 1860’s, although mostly in Ulster before the 1880’s. Our own League of Ireland and Football Association date back to 1921 [the FAI’s history will certainly need a major reboot after the events of 2019!].
Imagine not knowing about the history of soccer beyond Ireland. My son likes Manchester United and I felt it my duty to educate him about Munich. If he’d liked Liverpool I’d have felt a similar duty to tell him about tragedies like Heysel and Hillsborough as well as the great achievements of the Shankly-Paisley era. Celtic fans will similarly want to tell their children all about The Lisbon Lions and the many other events in their club’s long and proud history.
The game we play and watch today is a world away from its origins centuries ago. The rules are constantly evolving. Something I enjoyed learning the history of for an article I wrote here a couple of years back was the history of the League of Ireland ‘B’ division. More recently I looked into the history of substitutions in soccer.
The first mentions of substitutes in soccer history were of replacement or alternate players for players that failed to show up for games for whatever reason. Some of the literature refers to them as ‘emergency players’ for those who were ‘absent’.
Substitution during actual games was first permitted in 1958, although only for injured players at first. Some competitions and jurisdictions allowed for a separate substitution for goalkeepers.
England first allowed substitutions in the 1965-66 season, and on 21 August 1965 Keith Peacock of Charlton became the first ever substitute when he came on for the injured Charlton goalkeeper Mike Rose. Keith Peacock, by the way, spent his entire playing career at Charlton [from 1962 to 1979] and is Gavin Peacock’s father [he of QPR, Chelsea and Newcastle United fame]. On the same day Bobby Knox became the first substitute to score in English football, netting for Barrow against Wrexham.
By 1967-68 English football were allowing substitutes to be made for tactical reasons rather than just for injured players. 1970 saw the first use of them at the World Cup.
Over the years the rules around substitutes have continued to evolve. The number of substitutes allowed sit on the bench [well they used to sit on an actual bench – now they sit on ergonomic massage-chairs in a climate-controlled technical area] has increased from 1 to 3 to 5 to 7 [7 have been allowed be named in the Premier League since 2008-09], depending on the competition, with the number allowed to be used going from 1 to 2 to 3 to 4 [a fourth substitute is currently only permitted in extra-time of knock-out games in selected competitions]. The entire 11 can be swapped out in friendlies, but that doesn’t count!
A piece of history will be written this Friday when Bray Wanderers entertain Cabinteely for the first time ever in a League game at the Carlisle Grounds. This will be the third ‘El DARTico’ of the season, following Bray’s win in Stradbrook on the opening day of the First Division and Cabinteely’s win in Bray in the Leinster Senior Cup. Having Pat Devlin in the Cabinteely dugout just adds to the historic nature of the occasion.
History, you can’t live with it or without it!