Footballers’ haircuts have provided some exceptional moments of comedy in the history of the game. In the sixties, we had the Bobby Charlton comb over – an iconic classic. In the seventies, the perm ruled, with Kevin Keegan sporting the definitive curly mop. In the eighties and nineties, the hairstyles of footballers became front page news, with the likes of David Beckham and his ever-changing styles causing many a stir. In this article Brian Clough’s statue reflects on how hairstyles have affected history…
The Life of Brian’s Statue: Short Back and Sides
Forget about Maradona’s goal against England in 1986. Forget about the one Carlos Alberto scored for Brazil in 1970. For me, the best goal ever scored was by my old mate Archie Gemmill for Scotland in 1978. The way he nut-megged the last defender before chipping it over the keeper makes it easily the best as far as I’m concerned.
But, it was a shame for the Scots. They conceded another goal and failed to qualify. Alan Rough was the keeper who let in that late goal. I, for one, admire his bravery in admitting that he couldn’t save Johnny Rep’s long range effort ’cause his hair was in his eyes. It wasn’t long after that game before he got a perm that was reckoned to be years ahead of its time. If only he’d got rid of his fringe sooner, then history could have been completely different. Scotland could have won the World Cup!
I’ve always impressed upon my players that there’s nowt wrong with a good old-fashioned short back and sides and a dab of Brylcreem on top to keep your mop out of your eyes. Players these days are a bloody fickle lot though, always wanting the latest fancy cut.
If you look at what happened in the Second World War, you’ll see exactly what I mean. Hitler was well on top. He’d conquered most of Europe and was driving east to conquer the Soviet Union. In footballing terms, he was in the ascendancy.
But, he couldn’t have anticipated how Churchill would eventually defeat him. It was Churchill’s low maintenance hair that turned that contest around. While Hitler was in his bunker pushing that oily fringe out of his eyes and trimming that bloody daft moustache, Churchill had the big cigar on. Hitler took his eye off the ball and failed to close the game out. The rest is history as they say, and there’s a lesson there.
Now then, I’ve never suggested that all players should adopt the Churchill haircut, but we should all be prepared to learn from history, whether it’s from Winston Churchill or Alan Rough.
This article appeared in NG5 Magazine and on www.ltlf.co.uk in 2010