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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.

Sunday, 27 November 2016

The Men Who Made Modern Football #8 - Jack Reynolds

The most notable absence from the oligarchy of clubs which currently dominate European football must be Ajax. Revered not just for their success from the 70s onwards, but also their tactical philosophy of total football, the origins of their eminence lie with English coach Jack Reynolds.
Born in Bury, Reynolds’ playing career was similar to that of Jimmy Hogan (MWMMF #7), retiring at the age of 30 after spells in and out of the league with the likes of Burton United, Grimsby Town, Watford and New Brompton (Gillingham Town). Like Hogan he saw a future in coaching on the continent, starting in 1912 with St. Gallen in Switzerland where he impressed enough in a two year spell to be appointed German national manager. Unfortunately this coincided with the outbreak of World War One so he moved to the Netherlands instead and in 1915 started what was to become the first of three spells in charge of Ajax Amsterdam spanning 27 years. By 1919 he had led the club to their first pieces of silverware winning the KNVB (FA) Cup in 1917 and back to back Eredivisie (League) titles in 1918 and 1919, the latter being an invincible unbeaten season. Following the armistice he took charge of the Dutch national team for one match before fellow Englishman Fred Warburton was appointed on a permanent basis.
He continued at Ajax until 1947, apart from three years at Blauw Wit in the mid-1920s, and the Nazi occupation during World War Two when he was interned in a labour camp in Upper Silesia alongside PG Wodehouse where he arranged international football games between other prisoners and laid a cricket pitch.
He won five more Eredivisie titles in the 1930s and an eighth in his final season in charge in 1947. During this time he laid the foundations for the Total Football system with which Ajax would rule Europe under Rinus Michels (MWMMF #18 and coached by Reynolds during the 1940s) in the early 1970s. After his death in 1962 a stand at Ajax’s De Meer Stadium was named after him and when the Godenzonen moved to their current home at the Amsterdam Arena, he was remembered in the Jack Reynolds lobby.
Known by the Dutch as Sjek Rijnols, his greatest legacy lies not in the trophies won but the coaching philosophy introduced whereby all age group teams at the club were coached in the same tactics and style of play. In this way he changed the club forever.
Ajax expert and author Menno Pot said that he:
“really reshaped the club into something professional, even though the players weren't paid at the time. Football was an amateur game, but he introduced professional training methods, professional facilities that really allowed Ajax to make a huge leap forward. He was the man who came up with the idea that every player at Ajax should play the same system and the same formation. He wanted them to play offensively with skill, rather than with physical power."
This became the Ajax tradition which bore such prized fruits in the 1970s that it was seen as the ideal for all other clubs to aspire to. Today the financial muscle of Arsenal and Barcelona has allowed them to become its best exponents. If only Ajax could join them.

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