Historic World Wide Balon d'Or 23 player short lists

Discussion in 'The Beautiful Game' started by Tom Stevens, Jan 8, 2016.

  1. Tom Stevens

    Tom Stevens Member+

    Dec 12, 2012
    Club:
    Arsenal FC
    I thought it would be interesting to go back and attempt to assemble inclusive world wide 23 man Balon d'Or short lists and 3 finalists for every year post WWI. This will obviously be an imprecise exercise but and would like to make it as accurate as possible given the information available and would love input.

    I want to make the lists under the assumption (one that obviously not reflect the reality of the times) that voters are relatively evenly distributed throughout the parts of the world where soccer is a major sport and that voters have access to information about games from all over the world. Basically trying to approximate what a fully educated voters of the time might do. This would assume things like European voters knowing about Arthur Friedenreich before his 1925 European Tour where he was a huge revolution to the continent. Obviously they had a very high opinion of him when they saw him in 1925, so you can assume his exploits in South America would be viewed in a favorable light. I also wants this idea of educated voters to hopefully lessen the tendency of some players to win or place very highly in the Balon d'Or based on one game, for instance Lev Yashin winning in 1963 based in large part on one All Star game that many people in the press saw.

    I am not going to treat the voting period with to much stringency. For instance in 1920, the list will account for the entire 1919-1920 seasons in Europe as well as the 1920 seasons in South America and International competition in the 1920 calendar year.
     
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  2. Tom Stevens

    Tom Stevens Member+

    Dec 12, 2012
    Club:
    Arsenal FC
    1920 23 player short list. Finalist are in bold.

    Braun, Jozsef (MTK, Hungary)
    Buchan, Charlie (Sunderland, England)
    Calomino, Pedro (Boca Juniors, Argentina)
    Coppe, Robert (Union SG, Belguim)
    Ducat, Andy (Aston Villa, England)
    Friedenreich, Arthur (Paulistano)
    Hardy, Sam (Aston Villa, England)
    Janda, Antonín (Sparta Prague, Czechoslovakia)
    Kelly, Bob (Burnley, England)
    Konrad, Kalman (Amateur Vienna)
    Morris, Fred (West Brom, England)
    Neco (Corinthians)
    Orth, György (MTK, Hungary)
    Pennington, Jesse (West Brom, England)
    Pešek, Karel (Sparta Prague, Czechoslovakia)
    Piendibene, José (Penarol, Uruguay)
    Romano, Ángel (Nacional, Uruguay)
    Sesúmaga, Felix (Barcelona, Spain)
    Stuhlfauth, Heinrich (Nurnberg, Germany)
    Swartenbroeks, Armand (Daring, Belguim)
    Swatosch, Ferdinand (Simmeringer, Austria)
    Szabó, Péter (Nurnberg)
    Zamora, Ricardo (Barcelona, Spain)

    Honorable Mention: Josef Uridil, Gustav Wieser, Richard Kuthan, Louis Van Hege, Clem Stephenson, Vilmos Kertész, Jan Vaník, Josef Sedláček, Antonin Hojer, František Kolenatý, Leopoldo Conti, Luigi Cevenini, Herbert Lock, Jimmy Gordan, Andy Cunningham, Tommy Cairns, Josep Samitier, Pichichi, José María Belauste, Domingo Acedo, Billy Meredith, Stan Davies, Moses Russell, Joe Jones, Alfredo Foglino, Pascual Somma, Américo Tesoriere

    At this point I still feel British football was seen as superior, despite evedence that the continent and South America were quickly catching up. West Brom dominated the English First Division, winning the league by 9 points and scoring 30 more goals than the next highest scoring team. Morris despite being a one season wonder, was top scorer and capped twice for England where he scored two goals. Pennington was the captain of the team and had the biggest reputation and most caps of any West Brom player. Villa won the FA Cup, equally prestigious to the league in the interwar period. Villa had significantly more players with big reputations and lots of caps. Bob Kelly was the standout player for the English national team, where he scored a hat trick vs rivals Scotland in a dramatic 5-4 victory and also led Burnley to second place. I did not include nay players from the Scottish league. Rangers won the title but they did not have any players who seemed to stand out as stars of the team, and the national team for Scotland had a forgettable year. Wales actually ended up winning the 1920 Home Championship by beating England on English soil for the first time ever in the final game. Again I do not have any good information on who the top player in this game was and I have not included a Welsh player in the 23 (there are a number of Welsh and Scottish players in the HMs). Billy Meredith was the most famous player of the side and he famously wept on the field after the game, but I have no idea if he played well and he was well past his prime at this point.

    In Continental Europe Sparta and Nurnberg are in the midst of their multi season undefeated runs. Spain, Austria, and Hungary are all seen as strong leagues as well. The 1920 Olympics are a major event for the continental teams. Czechoslovakia was dominant (based around the great Sparta Prague team) until the final where a bizarre match saw the Czechs refuse to play the second half and lose to hosts Belgium. Spain also preformed very well at the tournament as a literally brand new national team. I felt comfortable putting Pesek as a finalist as he was the linchpin for the excellent Czech and Sparta sides and has the reputation of the one of the, if not the top continental player of the time.

    In South America Uruguay won the Copa America over rivals Argentina and Brazil. Star forwards Piendibene and Romano bot appeared to have excellent tournaments. Romano also won the Uruguayan league and scored both goals in Nacional's 2-1 Copa Aldo victory over Boca Juniors. I felt the all conquering nature of his season was enough to put him ahead of Piendibene.

    Overall there were not a whole lot players that stood out as top 3 finalists having legendary seasons, but there were many players that seemed close for making it into the final 23.
     
  3. PuckVanHeel

    PuckVanHeel Member+

    Oct 4, 2011
    Club:
    Feyenoord
    Was that really extended to all of Europe or only the local press? (as the stories tell). I was under the impression that Andrade was the first with an aura across the full continent.
     
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  4. Tom Stevens

    Tom Stevens Member+

    Dec 12, 2012
    Club:
    Arsenal FC
    I agree with what you have said. I was not trying make a specific point about Friedenrich being viewed as the best South American player of the time, but more of a general point that European voters in theory would now about a South American player before he has played on European soil.

    Friedenrich's tour was likely to impress on a smaller scale based on the competition he faced, compared to the 1924 Olympics or ever Uruguay/Nacionals 1925 tour.

    Now would seeing a South American Player play well against European competition, and prove himself against competition from outside his normal realm be extra impressive? I am sure it would.
     
  5. Pipiolo

    Pipiolo Member+

    Jul 19, 2008
    Nat'l Team:
    Argentina
    Would the European media vote for Romano more than Frienenreich in 1925?
     
  6. Tom Stevens

    Tom Stevens Member+

    Dec 12, 2012
    Club:
    Arsenal FC
    Probably not, the impression I got was that Scarone was the star of the 1925 tour with Nacional, not Romano.
     
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  7. msioux75

    msioux75 Member+

    Jan 8, 2006
    Lima, Peru
    1920 players list by countries:
    England - 6
    Hungary - 4
    Belgium - 2
    Brazil - 2
    Czechoslovakia - 2
    Spain - 2
    Uruguay - 2
    Argentina - 1
    Austria - 1
    Germany - 1

    1920 players list by leagues:
    England - 6
    Austria - 2
    Belgium - 2
    Brazil - 2
    Czechoslovakia - 2
    Germany - 2
    Hungary - 2
    Spain - 2
    Uruguay - 2
    Argentina - 1

    Notes:
    Only two players (hungarians)!!! were playing overseas.
    Most represented clubs, with 2 players: West Bronwich, Aston Villa, MTK, Sparta Prague, Barcelona, Nürnberg
     
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  8. elegos7

    elegos7 New Member

    Jun 28, 2014
    Club:
    Liverpool LFC
    Hi Tom,

    It is a very interesting thread, it is good to read something about these early football seasons.
    Do not you plan to rank the top3? Who would win the Golden Ball?
    I would be interested who you consider the best in each year.
     
  9. Tom Stevens

    Tom Stevens Member+

    Dec 12, 2012
    Club:
    Arsenal FC
    It is pretty tough to decide this season. I had trouble really taking three and separating them from the rest in the first place. The main issue is it is really hard to figure how Fred Morris was viewed in this time. In retrospect no one knows anything about him because he did nothing outside of this year. But this season he was the leagues top scorer for a team that ran away with the title. He also debuted for the national team where he had no trouble scoring. Pesek seems like a good bet as well and was thought to be the best continental player of the time (although Orth had a similar reputation, but this season I chose Pesek because the better performance for the national team) but I don't know if European voters would give him enough votes in this year as British teams still may be viewed as superior, as they were before WWI.
     
  10. AD78

    AD78 Member+

    Jul 17, 2013
    Club:
    Manchester United FC
    #10 AD78, Jan 11, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2016
    Good work !!!

    How far are you planning to go, up to and including 1955 i.e last non Ballon d'or year?
     
  11. comme

    comme Moderator
    Staff Member

    Feb 21, 2003
    Good luck. I'll enjoy this. Looking forward to it.
     
  12. Tom Stevens

    Tom Stevens Member+

    Dec 12, 2012
    Club:
    Arsenal FC
    I want to keep going further than that, as it was only a European Award until the 90s.
     
  13. AD78

    AD78 Member+

    Jul 17, 2013
    Club:
    Manchester United FC
    Sorry, just re read list and noticed non Europeans, I tried a similar excercise from 1924 onwards (doing by season as opposed to calendar year too) and selected 10 players. My list is still work in progress so interesting to see your larger list. I am very interested in the 1930's especially, I found a very interesting decade with a very high quality Mitropa Cup at club level, in addtion to the the start of World Cup, and more variation on big internatinal games.
     
  14. comme

    comme Moderator
    Staff Member

    Feb 21, 2003
    I'm guessing Morris wins for this year? 37 goals in the league for a title winning season.
     
  15. Tom Stevens

    Tom Stevens Member+

    Dec 12, 2012
    Club:
    Arsenal FC
    Probably my guess as well.
     
  16. Tom Stevens

    Tom Stevens Member+

    Dec 12, 2012
    Club:
    Arsenal FC
    1921

    Archibald, Sandy (Rangers, Scotland)
    Buchan, Charlie (Sunderland, England)
    Cevenini, Luigi (Internazionale, Italy)
    Cunningham, Andy (Rangers, Scotland)
    Ferguson, Hughie (Motherwell)
    Friedenreich, Arthur (Paulistano)
    Grimsdell, Arthur (Tottenham, England)
    Janda, Antonín (Sparta Prague, Czechoslovakia)
    Kelly, Bob (Burnley, England)
    Konrad, Kalman (Amateur Vienna)
    Kuthan, Richard (Rapid Vienna, Austria)
    Libonatti, Julio (Newell's Old Boys, Argentina)
    McMullan, Jimmy (Park Thistle, Scotland)
    Morton, Alan (Rangers, Scotland)
    Orth, György (MTK, Hungary)
    Pešek, Karel (Sparta Prague, Czechoslovakia)

    Piendibene, José (Penarol, Uruguay)
    Schlosser, Imre (MTK, Hungary)
    Smith, Joe (Bolton)
    Tesoriere, Américo (Boca Junior, Argentina)
    Uridil, Josef (Rapid Vienna, Austria)
    Walker, Billy (Aston Villa, England)
    Zabaleta, Albérico (Racing)

    Honorable Mention: Tommy Boyle, Jerry Dawsen, Jimmy Dimmock, Jimmy Sneed, Harry Chambers, Heinrich Stuhlfauth, Hans Kalb, Hans Sutor, Jozsef Braun, György Molnár, Davie Meiklejohn, Tommy Cairns, Václav Pilát, Domingo Acedo, Virginio Rosetta

    The British contingent failed to provide a single standout player. The Scots dominated the home championship, winning all three games with a 7-1 goal differential. Only two players played all three games Jimmy McMullan and John Marshall. On the domestic side Rangers dominated the league 10 points clear of second place (a huge margin back in the days of 2 points for a win). A number of Rangers young star players were breaking into the national team, but most were capped only once this year. In England Bob Kelly again starred, leading Burnley to the league title while Spurs won the FA Cup. Two of the big names of the time Charlie Buchan and Billy Walker had some of their best goalscoring seasons, but saw their teams preform poorly in both league and cup competitions.

    On the continent there were a number of excellent seasons. In Austria Uridil and Kuthan were great for Austria and Rapid, and Kalam Konrad had another great year for Amateur. Sparta continued to show there dominance, as a series of high profile friendlies this year cemented their place as the continent's best. In a home and away series vs Nurnberg billed of the unofficial European Championship (both teams were riding mutli year undefeated domestic streaks) the two teams drew 0-0 in Nurnberg before Sparta dominated in Prague 4-1. Sparta then beat a top British team, Celtic, in consecutive home victories 2-1 and 2-0. To cap the year they beat Barcelona in Barcelona 3-2.

    In South America a number of candidates stand out. For Brazil Friedenreich is the obvious choice as he won the Paulista and was top scorer with 38 goals in 22 games. He was famously unable to participate in the South American Championships in Argentina due to his race. Piendibene led Penarol to the title over rivals Nacional who had one the last two tournaments. This was also Piendibene's last stand as the center piece for Uruguay. Argentina won the South American Championships with two major stars, Tesoriere who did not allow a goal in the tournament and Libonatti who scored in every round. Libonatti's club team, Newell's Old Boys (Champions of the Rosario League not yet a part of the Primera Division), defeated Primera Champions Huracan in the Ibarguren Cup, which decided the champion of Argentina at this time.

    Deciding on a top three was very tough. The one player I felt strong about was once again Pesek, who is now at his peak of achievement and fame with Iron Sparta and a very strong Czech team. There are multiple other continental candidates with seasons that qualify. Orth led MTK to its 6th consecutive title and was top scorer for the second time in a row. He also scored 4 in three games for Hungary. Uridil had a legendary season for Rapid who easily won the title. He scored an amazing 35 goals in 24 games. The only other season comparable to this in the entire inter war period for Austria in Schall in 1928. For some perspective the preceding and following seasons saw top scorers with 20 and 21 goals. Urdil's teammate Kuthan was excellent for Rapid as well scoring 20 goals in the club year as well as being the creative player of the team. He also scored 8 goals in 6 games for Austria, where as Urdil was only capped 4 times this year (4 goals scored). In South America there is no clear cut top player. Friedenreich is the biggest name and had a great club season, but did not participate internationally. Libonatti's sucsess for both club and country seem to make him a credible threat to take votes from Friedenreich but he is a bit of an unknown quantity at this point and plays in a smaller league.

    I have buried the lead here by not talking about the fact that a hive not included a British player in the top 3. The best candidates seem to me to be McMullan, Morton, and Kelly. If Kelly had combined his international performance from last season with his title winning domestic performance this season he would be a very strong candidate, but he failed to score in his two caps for England this season, and England had a very forgettable series of international results. Morton was part of Rangers dominating team that one the eague by 10 points and nearly won the domestic double, but was capped only once for Scotland, but the cap was in the 3-0 victory over England where he scored. This is still early in his development and I do not know if he was yet seen as the star player for Rangers and Scotland that he would become in the rest of the decade. McMullan like Morton is still early in his career and I do not know if he yet has the reputation to command a large number of votes. He was one of only two players to play in all three of Scotland's games and led Park Thistle to win the Scottish Cup, defeating the dominant Rangers side in the final.
     
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  17. Tom Stevens

    Tom Stevens Member+

    Dec 12, 2012
    Club:
    Arsenal FC
    1922

    Alcántara, Paulino (Barcelona, Spain)
    Amilcar (Corinthians, Brazil)
    Beer, Richard (Vienna Sport, Austria)
    Bromilow, Tom (Liverpool, England)
    Chambers, Harry (Liverpool, England)
    Cringan, William (Celtic, Scotland)
    Dvořáček, Jan (Sparta Prague, Czechoslovakia)
    Fortes, Agostinho (Fluminense, Brazil)
    Gallacher, Patrick (Celtic, Ireland)
    Kolenatý, František (Sparta Prague, Czechoslovakia)
    Molnár, György (MTK, Hungary)
    Neco (Corinthians, Brazil)
    Orth, György (MTK, Hungary)
    Pešek, Karel (Sparta Prague, Czechoslovakia)
    Samitier, Josep (Barcelona, Spain)
    Scott, Elisha (Liverpool)
    Seoane, Manuel (Independiente)
    Smith, Billy (Huddersfield Town, England)
    Stephenson, Clem (Huddersfield Town)
    Walker, Billy (Aston Villa, England)
    Walker, Duncan (St. Mirren)
    Wilson, Andy (Middlesbrough, Scotland)
    Zamora, Ricardo (Barcelona, Spain)

    Honorable Mention: Richard Kuthan, Bob Kelly, David Jack, Billy Gillespie, Hans Kalb, Hans Sutor, Formiga, Arthur Friedenreich

    On the British side of things Scotland once again dominated the home championship. They won their second of three consecutive tournaments. Andy Wilson was the top scorer of all three of these wins and this season he was the top scorer of the English league as well with Middlesbrough. Celtic won the league with many of their holdovers from the great teams of the 1910s still leading the way with Gallacher and Cringan (who also played twice for Scotland). In England the dominant team of the 1920s, Huddersfield Town, would win their first hardware with the FA Cup and a much celebrated Liverpool team would win the the first of two consecutive titles.

    On the continent Sparta and MTK continued to dominate their leagues. Barcelona won the Copa del Rey for the second time of the decade led by Paulino Alcántara who scored 8 goals in the final three rounds of the tournament. He also played three games for Spain in late 1921 and early 1922, scoring braces in all three games.

    Brazil won the South American Championships despite drawing three of four group games, needing a playoff vs Paraguay to win the title, continuing the success of host teams at this tournament. Seoane had is record goalscoring season in Argentina, leading Independiente to the title scoring 55 goals in a 40 game season (Because of the split Argentina leagues he was not able to play for the national team at this time).

    The top three seemed pretty clear cut to my eye with Wilson and Alcántara both having great seasons at the club and international level and Seoane having an all time legendary season with his club.
     
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  18. Tom Stevens

    Tom Stevens Member+

    Dec 12, 2012
    Club:
    Arsenal FC
    1923

    Amilcar (Corinthians, Brazil)
    Andrade, Jose Leonadro (Bella Vista, Uruguay)
    Braun, Jozsef (MTK, Hungary)
    Buchan, Charlie (Sunderland, England)
    Carricaberry, Alfredo (San Lorenzo)
    Chambers, Harry (Liverpool, England)
    De Vecchi, Renzo (Genoa, Italy)
    Harder, Otto (Hamburg, Germany)
    Jack, David (Bolton)
    Longworth, Ephraim (Liverpool, England)
    Molnár, György (MTK, Hungary)
    Morton, Alan (Rangers, Scotland)
    Nasazzi, José (Bella Vista, Uruguay)
    Neco (Corinthians, Brazil)
    Orth, György (MTK, Hungary)
    Pešek, Karel (Sparta Prague, Czechoslovakia)
    Petrone, Pedro (Charley FC, Uruguay)
    Scarone, Héctor (Nacional, Uruguay)
    Scott, Elisha (Liverpool)
    Seddon, Jimmy (Bolton, England)
    Sedláček, Josef (Sparta Pague, Czechoslovakia)
    Tarasconi, Domingo (Boca Juniors, Argentina)
    Walker, Billy (Aston Villa, England)

    Honorable Mention: Ferdinand Swatosch, Vic Watson, Warney Cresswell, Vilmos Kertész, Ottavio Barbieri, Luigi Burlando, Geordie Henderson, Tommy Cairns, Andy Wilson, Antonin Hojer

    There were a number of great seasons from English players, especially some of the famous forwards. Buchan led Sunderland to second place in the league, scoring 30 goals. He also captained England in Paris as they beat the French 4-1 in a game that would become known as the "Buchan Game". Liverpool won their second consecutive league title paced by Harry Chambers 25 goals. He also scored 2 goals in four games for England this year. David Jack famously scored the only goal in three 1-0 victories in the final three rounds of the FA Cup to lead Bolton to the final. In one of the most famous finals ever, the White Horse Final, Jack scored again giving Bolton the cup. Scotland won the home championship for a third consecutive time, but England recovered some face, drawing the final game against Scotland 2-2 in Glasgow. Rangers reasserted themselves as champions in Scotland.

    On the continent MTK and Sparta continued there reigns and both Hungary and Czechoslovakia, built around these two club teams, had excellent years as well.

    In South America the core of the Uruguay team that would be a force in world football for the remainder of the decade was assembled. Scarone, Petrone, Nasazzi, and Andrade would come together to lead Uruguay to the 1923 South American Championships at home, winning all three games. In the Argentine domestic leagues both Domingo Tarasconi and Alfredo Carricaberry had great seasons leading their teams to titles.

    The top three was tough in that all the best performances seemed to come from English forwards. I feel pretty confident about Buchan having this be his year. Chambers is tempting as well, but Elisha Scott may have been the teams most popular, and maybe best, player. Jack was obviously great in the FA Cup but he was uncapped, which makes him hard to select for the top 3. Overall this was the most difficult top three to put together because of a lack of candidates. Pesek, Orth, Scarone or Braun could all be selected but it would feel unearned as all of them probably had better seasons that did or will not make the top 3. I ended up going with Tarasconi based on the very impressive goalscoring numbers, even though a number of knowladgable South American posters have told me he was seen as a level belwo the other top Argentine forwards of the time (Seoane, Libonatti, Cherro, Ferriera, etc).

    With the Olympics and Mitropa Cup coming up there are many more years with tough decisions for a group of finalists, but it is because there are more than three well qualified players.
     
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  19. Tom Stevens

    Tom Stevens Member+

    Dec 12, 2012
    Club:
    Arsenal FC
    For the last three years I would say the winners would be

    1921: Pesek
    1922: Unsure, all three seem very equal.
    1923: Buchan
     
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  20. elegos7

    elegos7 New Member

    Jun 28, 2014
    Club:
    Liverpool LFC
    Hi Tom,

    Thanks for continuing these selections.
    However, in 1922 Scotland did not dominate the home championship. They lost to Wales in a match where Wilson did not score any goals.
     
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  21. comme

    comme Moderator
    Staff Member

    Feb 21, 2003
    I really struggle with these years to get a good grip on the competitive balance in these years and I think that is key in terms of judging some of the performances.

    This was the average ELO ranking for the 1920s.

    1 1911 Uruguay
    2 1873 Spain
    3 1859 Argentina
    4 1843 Scotland
    5 1820 Czechoslovakia
    6 1795 Denmark
    7 1771 Brazil
    8 1768 England
    9 1761 Hungary
    10 1760 Austria
    11 1739 Netherlands
    12 1712 Sweden
    13 1701 Belgium
    14 1693 Italy
    15 1676 Portugal

    To me though, that seems quite a way off. It's formed largely from the way that certain nations were arbitrarily awarded their ELO rating at the outset. For instance Spain, who only played their first competitive match in 1920, started off with an ELO of 1800 while Belgium, who played their first match in 1904 started off with 1700. Meanwhile Belgium beat Spain at the 1920 Olympics and claimed gold.

    Similarly Brazil started off with 1800 points while Yugoslavia started off with 1600. Brazil didn't tear up any trees in the early 1920s, firmly established themselves as the third, at best, side in South America. They then didn't play an international for 5 years before losing to Yugoslavia at the 1930 World Cup. So how were Brazil in this decade? Were their state leagues of a serious standard or not?

    I personally am certain that the English league was, by a distance, the best in the world at this time. Not only did they have their own stellar players, they also had many of the best players from Scotland, Wales and Ireland, and the performance of the English League XI against their Scottish counterparts is good evidence of that.

    Scotland would be high up too as would Uruguay and Argentina.

    Beyond that we're into more speculative territory. I think that the Central European powers would have been very handy but I'm unsure on a great deal more than that.

    A stab at trying to rate the leagues:

    1. England
    -----


    2. Argentina
    3. Scotland
    4. Uruguay
    ----

    5. Austria
    6. Hungary
    7. Czechoslovakia
    8. Italy
    -----

    9. Spain
    10. Brazilian state championships
    11. France
    12. Holland
    13. Denmark
    14. Sweden
    15. Yugoslavia

    Based on that, I think I'd expect the English players to be the dominant force as a general rule in the early years.
     
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  22. comme

    comme Moderator
    Staff Member

    Feb 21, 2003
    I guess what I'm trying to say, and this is more to play Devil's Advocate as I think you're doing a great job here Tom, do the goalscoring achievements of a Friedenreich or an Orth compare with the quality of those in the English league? Would Kada have been an outstanding player in England or Scotland? Would he have matched off against a Meiklejohn for instance?

    I do think it's extremely hard to really judge.
     
  23. elegos7

    elegos7 New Member

    Jun 28, 2014
    Club:
    Liverpool LFC
    I also think that before the 1930s, the ELO ratings make little sense. Apart from arbitrarily awarding ELO points at the outset (which can lead to a lot of errors), they also take into account matches that are not considered official by a national football association. An example is England at the 1920 Olympics: they played (and lost) with an amateur team, nowhere near as good as their professional national team, yet they lost their No1 ELO rating because of this defeat.
     
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  24. comme

    comme Moderator
    Staff Member

    Feb 21, 2003
    Yep, also just to make another point on the arbitrary nature of the ELOs.

    Wales started off with 1500 points, Ireland with 1400. They only played against England, Scotland and each other in the first 50 or so years of the game and so the only way they could gain points was to take them off England and Scotland. In turn that meant that England and Scotland couldn't really gain any more points than they already had because Wales and Ireland were working off such a low base score.

    It makes so much of the early years effectively useless as a proper guide.
     
  25. peterhrt

    peterhrt Member

    Oct 21, 2015
    Club:
    Leeds United AFC
    There is evidence that English football was pretty weak after WW1. Herbert Chapman and Ivan Sharpe both said standards had declined since pre-war days. England shared one Home Championship during the 1920s and won none outright. Deliberately avoiding wartime enemies, England did not play any of the stronger continental European powers till 1929 when they lost to Spain.

    Personally I think the tipping point when British football lost its lead occurred as early as 1917. Jimmy Hogan's arrival at MTK that year and the bankrolling of its millionaire president would have given MTK the lead over English clubs, who stagnated for four years. The Scottish league, having continued in diluted form, may have been stronger than the English, using the Home Internationals as a guide. As Tom says, Sparta Prague beat Celtic twice in 1921. They would not have been far behind MTK.

    South American football received a significant boost from the formation of its federation in 1916 and the introduction of regular Copa America competitions. By the 1924 Olympics, Uruguay had taken the game to a new level.

    England produced very few top-class footballers during the 1920s. Arguably only one: Dixie Dean. The best player in the country by some way during the first half of the decade was Buchan, who was very much a product of the pre-war era. Scotland produced the Wembley Wizards and McGrory.

    Having humbly submitted my own annual Top 3s recently, I do not want to intrude unduly on Tom's far more ambitious project. But I think he is right to look beyond Britain for the leading footballers of this decade.
     
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