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Football PoDs and alternate possibilities.

Geordie

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Per a discussion in the real thread, I thought it might be a good idea to set this up. I posted some individual PoDs in the "those that die young... don't" thread a couple of days ago, looking at the playing careers of Bobby Robson and Brian Clough.

There's the classic British World Cup team to discuss; Ali's army in 1978; US football keeping the moment going in one of the earlier attempts; WI the maximum wage survives/never happens/lasts longer; a Welsh feeder league into the English pyramid; no Miracle of Berne; Banks playing; the Northern League accepting the invitation to feed directly into the Conference, rather than taking a slot below the Northern Premier; Marseilles not cheating Dundee United out of a chance of European glory; countless PoDs for individual teams.

Have at it @RyanF, @Youngmarshall; @OwenM; @Fletch; @BenC
 

Fletch

A deviant for attacking Nazis apparently.
You could play with the historic foundations of the game with the FA covering all the United Kingdom rather than just England. Queen's Park got to a few FA Cup Finals in the early years of the game, and Rangers(who officially retained FA membership until 2012) got to a few FA Cup Semi-Finals, so it is possible to create a unified British set-up early on.

All you need to do is stop the creation of the other Home Nations FAs.
 

OwenM

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"There is no history of reserve teams playing in the same league as first teams in the British Isles".
A statement most football fans in that area would intuitively agree with, and at the least similar in sentiment to ones not infrequently uttered in recent debates - but a completely untrue one for each league system.
Even leaving aside the fairly trivial but politically charged cases of both Irish league systems and the quality of the separate Welsh pyramid where it seems to be rarer, it is far from as true as one might think in England or Scotland either. It is more that the many cases are too far down the pyramid or too long ago (or both) for most non-historians of football to know about.
In England, reserve teams are still allowed in Step 6 or Step 7 of the National League System (provided they are at least two steps below the first team) and the more amateur a football league you look at - both in the sense of the AFA and in lower leagues connected with NLS divisions - the more it becomes the norm rather than the exception.
But that is not all. A fan of Ipswich Town when they first entered the Football League in 1938 would likely have been taken aback at the idea they had never played league matches against reserves - in their last season in the Southern League they had finished behind Plymouth Argyle II (promotion and relegation between leagues being an even rougher concept in those days than it can be in the lower leagues today, champions Guildford City did not go up either - and even Arsenal's infamous 1919 promotion pales compared to some arguably more legitimate cases) and they only finished 3 points ahead of future main rivals Norwich City's II team as well, who in fact won several interwar Southern League titles of their own. Their 1935 win would be the last outright in the competition by reserves however, and in 1960, Exeter City II would be the last reserves to play in the league, most leaving for the (formerly London) Combination - which had itself featured first teams pre-war.

Further north, in 1922, the Third Division North was formed with teams coming from the Central League (becoming all-reserve as a result), the Midland League (which would be won by reserves every year from 1931 through 1937 and again from 1950 through 1955, still featuring Grimsby's and Scunthorpe's just before the NPL was formed), the North Eastern (won once by Newcastle Reserves and frequently by Sunderland or Middlesbrough's until 1956), the Lancashire Combination (won solely by reserves in the 1890s, often by Everton's in the 1900s, again by Nelson's in 1926 and Accrington Stanley's in 1955 and its second division frequently also, in both pre-WW1 and post-WW2 incarnations), and the Birmingham Combination (won by Walsall reserves in 1928 and those of Birmingham City, Wolves, and Villa twice in the 1930s).

Besides those of the above leagues surviving and with first teams (clearly still the top Northern regional leagues) the Northern Premier League incorporated sides from the Yorkshire League, which had been won most often by Bradford Park Avenue reserves (back in the first team's glory days) and was last won by Wednesday's in 1951, as well as the Cheshire County League, last won by Tranmere's in 1938.

In Scotland, the East and South of Scotland leagues still have the odd reserve team (and did pre-Lowland League when they were considered one step below the SFL), whilst further back the mostly reserve-based interwar Scottish Alliance League made a point of always having at least one first team, and the Division C of the SFL in existence between 1946 and 1955 also had a mix of reserve and first teams.
 

Milo

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If we are looking for early Football PODs, I think there's potential to do proto competitive European Club Football. The Sir Thomas Lipton Trophy sometimes called The First World Cup, famously won twice by West Auckland FC proves that, just need to formalise it and set up the infrastructure. Would have to be just a few European League Winners and played over a few days in one location. Might have butterfly or shorten WWI as it seems to deeply harm European Football for a generation.

Speaking of WWI, always wanted to see a story where the Christmas Truce leads to mutinies on both sides and eventually an end to the war but thats a bit unrelated.
 

OwenM

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So is it possible that having reserve teams in the same pyramid as firsts could today have been seen as as normal as it is in Spain or Germany?
In Scotland it seems pretty straightforward -keep Division C. I don't really know enough about the history of Scottish football to figure out how to do this (it does seem to have not done well financially) but it seems to me that if it's still around in a similar form at the time of the OTL 70s reforms, it's probably still a thing in some way today.
England is more complicated. I think you basically need a full pyramid system before everyone in the League has reserves in the Central League or Combination and mixed leagues go out of fashion in the 50s and 60s. One in the 20s or 30s doesn't seem impossible - probably easier than between the 50s and 80s tbh. And with how well the reserve teams in mixed leagues were doing in those decades, you'd probably get quite a few promoted to the Third Divisions - if they were allowed.
Before I started doing research on this properly I thought that'd be relatively easy - let the top reserve teams into Third Division North and Bob's your uncle - after all, only the top two divisions were considered full members of the league until 1992 anyway.
But reserve teams doing so well against first teams was mostly a post-Third Division development - except in leagues mostly made up of reserves like the 1890s Lancashire Combination and the Central League, which are easy to just see as an exception. So I have a feeling the Central League folding in the war may be needed, with the reserve teams there changing to the other leagues and doing well ahead of the creation of the Third Divisions.
 

RyanF

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Reading this I was reminded of Marky Bunny's efforts in the old country of the 1978 World Cup had England qualified.

England take home third place, but not before Scotland beat them in the second group stage (the presence of England mitigated taking the first two matches for granted), and Brazil beat Argentina in the final.

Now, potential effects of such a result as I see it are Argentina invading the Falklands withing twelve months, Scotland voting Yes for devolution, and Sunny Jim either calling an election in late 1978 or after a successful counter of the Argentine invasion.

Three huge butterflies right there.
 

Gary Oswald

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@zaffre had the idea that if John Charles didn't get injured in 1958, Wales could have knocked out Brazil.

Which would have huge consequences on football because yet another failure of the Brazilian team would lead to more pressure for change and more pressure on 1962. If Pele and Co don't cement themselves as the best team ever from 58 to 70, that has huge consequences on anyone who grew up in the sport then.

There is of course also the question as to who does win it if Brazil don't. Wales winning it would be huge for British football, for a start I think Wales would want to host games in 66 and it would very much alter the perception of British football.

But Wales would have to beat France and Sweden, both of whom were aggressive attack minded teams who both scored twice against Brazil. And either of them winning would also be interesting.

I'm obsessed a little with how little British journalists cared about the world Cup in the early days and the fact that George raynor, the Swedish manager who was runner up, was English and yet he couldn't get a job in the football league was so weird to me. He didn't even have an obituary in a local paper when he died.

So if he wins with Sweden, especially against Wales, will he be more appreciated? Will we see an earlier attempt to introduce Ramsey like tactics and discipline to the English game?

And if France wins it will Fontaine be even more overrated then he already is? (no, because he scored all his goals in useless games like the third place play off and wouldn't have done it in a final) @Redolegna
 

Redolegna

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And if France wins it will Fontaine be even more overrated then he already is? (no, because he scored all his goals in useless games like the third place play off and wouldn't have done it in a final) @Redolegna
I am contractually obliged to grind your bones into dust.
 

Simon

Oblivious
A discussion from the original thread that I thought I'd quote over into this one where it's probably more appropriate.
Possibly one more for the North East mob and older posters but I was wondering about Newcastle's 1996-97 season - the one where Keegan left early. I've seen some argue that it was the resignation and changeover which helped contribute to a loss of momentum and others that they were already off the boil, what do people think? Personally I lean somewhat more towards the latter than the former.
The question came about because I was wondering on the effects of Newcastle winning the Premiership in the '90s. The previous season would be easier but it occurring in Shearer's first season and Keegan's last had more attraction.

I think winning it in the Keegan era would firstly be a massive psychological barrier broken, in the biggest way possible. There are a lot of unknowns in this scenario, but that is not one of them. And I find it hard to believe it wouldn't have an effect on the club long-term. The permanent doom and the fatalism about no silverwear since 1955 would be gone. It is not easy to measure - you can't measure it - but sometimes those are the most important things.

There is a chance of doing a Leicester, or, more topically for this scenario, a Blackburn - but structurally we are in a better position than either of them. Indeed continued to be in a strong position even given what happened IOTL for quite some time into the new millennium.

We might end up winning some more stuff, and then fizzling and being an Arsenalish, top-four-just-about club in the era of the sheikhs and petroclubs - but even that would be a massive change over OTL.
 

Gary Oswald

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95-96 and 96-97 were Newcastle's to win. But the problem with them ever setting up a dynasty is well Ferguson's Man U.

There is a reason they won 13 out of 21 leagues and as long as they're there, and Wenger's Arsenal are there, it will take something very special to keep them ahead of those two.

More to the point, the collapse and Keegan quitting due to the pressure didn't come out of nowhere. It's something Keegan has repeated with other teams to the point that it seems an innate part of his character. That's always going to be there, and the issue of replacing him and replacing a lot of the team, which is always difficult in football is also going to still be there.

Yes, the psychological blow of not winning it was huge and had a massive effect on both manager and club but I don't think it was suprising that Ferguson's Man U started a dynasty and Keegan's Newcastle, though arguably more talented, didn't.

I don't think Blackburn mark 2 is an unreasonable prediction really.
 

Elektronaut

Holy, Holy, Holy
I realise I fucked up by implicitly excluding the mighty inter-cities fairs cup in that post. I meant domestic silverwear of course.

King Kev was a natural mercurialist so of course he's bound to burn out sooner or later. OTOH, a lot of big managers do have shelf lives of only a few years. Life would go on, particularly if that squad isn't broken up as it was under Dalglish. There was also a realistic prospect of a straight transition to Sir Bobby from KK which IOTL never came off because of the situation Sir Bobby was in with Barca.

And then we got the disaster of Rudd before Sir Bobby came in and stabilised us as a top four club for, what, five years or so. That was without premier league trophies and with the FA cup failures.

That has to be about the baseline; so a Blackburn repetition is just wishful thinking.
 

Geordie

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The only chance Newcastle have of setting up a dynasty, and is a slim one even then, is Keegan winning 95-96, then being replaced (either then, or at the end of the following season) by Bobby. John Hall wanted him, after both Keegan and Dalgliesh, but both times, he refused to leave a contract. Get him at the end of the season, and he's good for the next. Kev is always likely to go walkies, and (imho) despite Blackburn, Kenny never really recovered from Hillsborough.

Even with Bobby, though, they're more likely to be the weaker half of a duopoly, like Arsenal were from 98 to the rise of Chelski.
 
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Geordie

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However, one of the biggest mistakes Keegan made was nuking the reserves. You can't have your own home grown talent if you're not willing to actually grow it.
 

Elektronaut

Holy, Holy, Holy
Even then, though, they're more likely to be the weaker half of a duopoly, like Arsenal were from 98 to the rise of Chelski.
In a world where Fergie never made it out of his early seasons, though, (I know there's dispute about whether he was saved by winning 'that' match, but even if inaccurate this surely has to be a possibility given how rocky that period was) I can see a very evenly contested Arsenal-Newcastle duopoly in which Arsenal might not be the dominant force.

Selective divergence I guess but not at all implausible I don't think. Hell we might end up with Fergie as manager post-Kev.
 

OwenM

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In a world where Fergie never made it out of his early seasons, though, (I know there's dispute about whether he was saved by winning 'that' match, but even if inaccurate this surely has to be a possibility given how rocky that period was) I can see a very evenly contested Arsenal-Newcastle duopoly in which Arsenal might not be the dominant force.

Selective divergence I guess but not at all implausible I don't think. Hell we might end up with Fergie as manager post-Kev.
My understanding is they'd told him he was safe but our ultimate position in the league was so much poorer than expected they said afterwards they would definitely have at least strongly considered it otherwise.
I suppose we might have done better if we went out of the Cup in the third round but I suspect that only defers the issue one more season.
 

Simon

Oblivious
Coming back to this I don't think it would have been the start of any kind of dynasty, as Youngmarshal says you have Man U, and then five years or so later the start of the introduction of silly money to the game. Veej probably has the right of it in his post from the other thread of it perhaps setting them up as a top four or thereabouts club. Of course even that would be a major improvement, and has the added benefit of likely making the club too expensive for Ashley to buy later on.

The idea of Sir Bobby taking over straight after, hopefully not breaking things up and doing a better job with the reserves, has a lot of appeal but looking at history to make it work you'd have to avoid his already being contracted elsewhere. Off the top of my head what happens if Sporting CP don't fire him until the end of the season - does he end up doing three full years at Porto or just the two and still move to Barcelona?
 
Little parochial of me, but what if Middlesbrough hadn't had 3 points deducted in 1996/1997 for non-completion of the match against Blackburn Rovers, or they bit the bullet and fielded a team of kids to complete the match?
Middlesbrough were one of the suprising big spenders in the Premiership early days, and managed to tempt some big name players to Teesside with stupid money and Byran Robson's name. Apparently there were ambitious transfer targets lined up for the next season if safety was achieved, and Juninho, Ravanelli, Emerson etc might have been up for another attempt at the big time.

They managed two cup finals and controversial relegation, few butterflies (e.g. Heskey not equalising in the 118th minute of the League Cup final) and it might have been something special.
The focus on cup runs may have made the fight in the league that much harder, but even a defeat to Blackburn and no other changes would have staved off relegation.
Bryan Robson can't have been an awful manager, as he managed multiple cup finals and achieved promotion twice, but there did seem to be a struggle to achieve a comfortable finish when in the top flight.

I'm not sure how much it'd change things in the long run, could end up just being a period Middlesbrough got to two cup finals and scraped to safety in the league and nothing else memorable, but that 3 point deduction is one of the big talking points in the club's history.
 

Gary Oswald

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To be even more parochial then Ben that Boro team came straight back up and so Sunderland came 3rd. If they hadn't gone down we could have come up a year earlier. Which would be a very different team. Johnston, bridges and Clark would still be there, but sorensen, schwarz and mccann would not.
 

Elektronaut

Holy, Holy, Holy
Coming back to this I don't think it would have been the start of any kind of dynasty, as Youngmarshal says you have Man U, and then five years or so later the start of the introduction of silly money to the game. Veej probably has the right of it in his post from the other thread of it perhaps setting them up as a top four or thereabouts club. Of course even that would be a major improvement, and has the added benefit of likely making the club too expensive for Ashley to buy later on.
I feel like that's the most likely outcome. It would probably solidify what seemed to be the natural position under the Sir Bobby and Kev era, of top seven finishes. We'd probably end up like Spurs over the last decade or Liverpool, Europa League* in the lean years, Top four in good ones and with occasional title challenges which don't make it. We could also become an Everton - relatively stable, reliably top half. But I think the club would attract bigger money than that if it's a proven prem title winner and stable in the top half.
 
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