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Hammersmith, London, United Kingdom
I'm a director of Maidenhead United Football Club. For ten seasons one of my roles at the club was to produce the match programme. The aim of this blog was to write football related articles for publication in the match programme. In particular I like to write about the representation of football in popular culture, specifically music, film/TV and literature. I also write about matches I attend which generally feature Maidenhead United.

Thursday, 17 November 2016

The Men Who Made Modern Football #7 Jimmy Hogan

Earlier articles in this series investigated the stories of men who pioneered the game in South America, today’s subject Jimmy Hogan, an Englishman of Irish descent, did so in Europe. Known as the ghost of English football for the way his ball playing philosophy was rejected in his homeland, he had an enduring influence on the continent, particularly in Mittel Europa countries such as Austria, Germany, Switzerland and Hungary.
Born in Burnley, Hogan was initially destined for the priesthood, but despite graduating from St Bede’s college in Manchester as head boy at the turn of the century, he elected to pursue a lifelong career in football.
As a player this amounted to little, appearing for a number of clubs up to the outbreak of World War One, with his longest spells coming at Bolton Wanderers and in his hometown of Burnley. On one occasion he pondered whether his ball skills needed improving but technique was of no concern to his coach so From that day I began to fathom things out for myself, I coupled this with taking advice from the truly great players. It was through my constant delving into matters that I became a coach in later life. It seemed the obvious thing, for I had coached myself as quite a young professional.”
This drive for self-improvement allied to an adherence to the Scottish philosophy of passing football first flowered on a summer tour to the Netherlands when having helped Bolton to beat Dordrecht 10-0 he pledged to “go back and teach those fellows how to play properly” taking over the Dutch national team for a short spell which included a memorable 2-1 win over Germany. This brought him to the attention of Hugo Meisl (MWMMF #5) who took him to Austria and began to shape the development of the game there. This was halted by the outbreak of World War One with Hogan being interned as an enemy alien.
Fortunately this was noticed by the English educated vice president of MTK Budapest, Baron Dirstay, who intervened to allow Hogan to become coach of the Hungarian club, whose league restarted in 1916, Hogan leading them to back to back titles.
Following the armistice Hogan returned to England and eagerly approached the FA, keen to share his continental experience. However he was shunned as a traitor by officials, suspicious of his apparent disappearance during the war.

After a short time working in a cigarette factory in Everton, Hogan returned to mainland Europe, this time to Switzerland where he coached Young Boys Berne and helped prepare the national team for the 1924 Olympics in Paris, where they reached the final. Following a short spell with Lausanne he moved over the border with Dresden, lecturing thousands of German footballers including Helmut Schoen on his footballing principles. His influence was so great that on his death in 1974 the German Football Federation secretary Hans Passlack described him as “the father of modern football in Germany”.
In the 1930s Hogan was reunited with Meisl in Austria and together they created the Wunderteam starring Mathias Sindelaar becoming, Italy aside, the decade’s pre-eminent European national side. After a spell coaching Racing Club de Paris, Hogan returned home for good in 1936 becoming Aston Villa manager, leading them to promotion from Division Two in his first season. Although he also had spells leading Fulham, Brentford and Celtic, it was as a coach that he was at his best and at this time he influenced the early careers of future managerial luminaries Tommy Docherty and Ron Atkinson.
Always with an eye to learning from the best, at the age of 71, the now white haired Hogan, took a group of Aston Villa juniors including Peter McParland, to see England play at Wembley in 1953. The visitors were Hungary who stunned the crowd by inflicting a first ever home defeat by a score of 6-3 to boot. After the came the Mighty Magyars coach Gusztáv Sebes (MWMMF #14) commented: “We played football as Jimmy Hogan taught us. When our football history is told, his name should be written in gold letters.”

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