From the Jaws of Victory - Contributors, Part 1

We're beyond excited to announce the launch of 'From the Jaws of Victory', our new book about football's glorious nearly men.

You'll be able to get it on pre-order from this site from 2 November, at a pinch of a price (£8.99), with the full beans launch in a couple of weeks.

This book wouldn't be what it is without the phenomenal team of writers that have contributed to it - and before our pre-order period we'll be listing them here so you can get a taste of what's on offer. Here's Part 1!


Scott Murray - Bolton Wanderers (1953)

"The goal put the Trotters 3-1 up, and their star striker Nat Lofthouse, the newly-crowned footballer of the year, allowed himself to start dreaming. “The cup’s in our hands!” he told himself. Matthews, 38 years of age, several pints necked at the last-chance saloon, tired and emotional with the bell long rung and the landlord getting increasingly impatient, contemplated his journey into the long, dark night: the greatest English player ever to pull on boots appeared destined to end an otherwise storied career without tangible reward."

John Ashdown - Hungary (1954)

"No team before or since has held a two-goal advantage in a World Cup final and failed to lift the trophy. No team before or since has entered a World Cup final on the back of a 30-game unbeaten streak. No team before or since has ever faced, in a World Cup final, a team they had already battered 8-3 in the group stage. But then no team before or since was ever quite like Hungary’s Aranycsapat, the Golden Squad, the Magical Magyars."

Andi Thomas - Wales (1958)

"Looking back at World Cups, you see ‘Brazil won’ quite a lot. You don’t see ‘Wales didn’t’ all that often, even though Wales have failed to win many more World Cups than Brazil have won: 21 and counting. A 100% 0% record. The dragon prances under starless skies. 

"Twenty of those tournaments came and went with Wales gone in qualifying, a melancholy litany of inadequacy, injustice and penalties sent over the bar into nothingness. All smaller footballing nations have their own version of this story, of course; there are Paul Bodins of Syria, of Finland and Venezuela. But not all of them have a 1958."

Patrick Barclay - Dundee (1961-63)

"Dundee had enjoyed great days before. I’d learned about them at the knee of a grandfather who often mentioned the Scottish Cup triumph over Clyde. The winning goal was scored by John ‘Sailor’ Hunter. This was in 1910, two years before the Titanic went down and four before the outbreak of the First World War. My grandfather would have been about ten when the team rode gloriously home to the city of jute — in which industry he was to make his living — and jam and journalism and I was roughly the same age when he agreed to take me to a match at Dens in the mid-1950s."

Rob MacDonald - Scotland (1964-68)

"On a spring Saturday afternoon in London, Scotland led from the 28th minute. Law bundled the ball in from a few yards and, in contrast to Baxter’s detached grace, tore into England throughout. Not that anyone was surprised, even among the opposition — Law’s Manchester United team-mate Nobby Stiles later reflected: “I knew the Scots were taking it very seriously when Denis came on to the pitch wearing shinpads. I had never seen him wear them before.”"

Daniel Chapman - Leeds United (1967-70)

"When the time was right, Giles flicked the ball sideways, and when Lorimer hammered it, Peter Bonetti had no chance of keeping a sensational equaliser out of his top corner. And Leeds had nowhere to turn when referee Burns refused to let the goal stand.

"He said Chelsea’s wall had not been ten yards back. The Leeds players crowded him and jostled him and lost their minds. Eventually they took the kick again as if trapped in a nightmare, and as soon as the ball was cleared, they were sunk into reality by the referee’s final whistle. They fell to the grass, Don Revie felt numb, Tommy Docherty would have been very sick if it happened to him. But it didn’t happen to him. It happened to Leeds United."

Adam Bushby - Netherlands (1974)

"There were two-footed tackles. Off-the-ball smitings. Rugby tackles. Punches were exchanged. Indeed, Neeskens was knocked out cold by the elbow of Marinho Peres, who would become his teammate at Barcelona after the tournament.

"But amid the cynicism, there was also splendour. Neeskens beautifully floated Cruyff’s perfect centre over Emerson Leao shortly after half-time then Cruyff’s controlled flying volley made it 2-0 and Brazil’s fate was sealed. Luis Pereira saw red in the dying minutes for a vicious hack on Neeskens, but by this point, the jig had long been up."

Rob Langham - Brazil (1982)

"It’s often said that South American teams of the era were all the more beguiling because they were so unfamiliar. The Brazil squad contained only three Europe-based players in Edinho, Falcao and Dirceu, all playing in Italy, while the majority of the squad were holed up in the customary pre-tournament training camp of extended duration, away from prying eyes.

"In reality though, the Seleção were already on the radar. A whistle-stop tour in May 1981 had seen the Brazilians emerge with three away wins from a fierce schedule against West Germany, France and England; Eder’s dipping and swerving shot against the crossbar and Zico’s goal were indelible memories from the game at Wembley, a glimpse of fantasy on a par with the visit of a youthful Diego Maradona in Argentinian colours to London a year before."

We'll be back for Parts 2 and 3 in the next few days.

In the meantime, if you want to know any more, drop us a tweet @magicspongers (long story). We'd love to hear from you.

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