Football Legends : Jack Reynolds

“Jack who?” I hear you ask? Well for the more educated of football fans, the name of Jack Reynolds is one they like to role off the tongue to prove their education of the beautiful game but for many it’s a name and a legacy that is often over looked, especially in a week where we are celebrating legends. I had only discovered his story when researching the roots of ‘Total Football’ which I assumed like many to be a Dutch revolution in the 1960s, but the English man in question had a huge part to play.

Manchester born Jack did not have a highly regarded playing career starting at the turn of the 20th century playing a few seasons at Burton United and Grimsby Town before becoming a coach at F.C. St.Gallen in Switerland in 1912. There are sources linking him to the coach of the German national side but the outbreak of World War 1 saw Reynolds move to Holland where his legacy began.

He became coach of Ajax Amsterdam, then a new and small club in the football world but Jack transformed them into a professional outfit even though the players were still unpaid. He made improvements to the club’s facilities and introduced training methods that progressed to players working on skill with the ball rather than the physical side of the game.

Over his 27 years with Ajax, Reynolds won the Eredivisie as many as 8 times and Ajax expert and author, Menno Pot speaks very highly of the legacy that Reynolds left at the club saying : “He was the man who came up with the idea that every player at Ajax should play the same system and the same formation.”

It sounds like a very similar system to what managers like Arsene Wenger at Arsenal and Pepe Guardiola at Barcelona use today.

The roots of Ajax and Holland’s “Total Football” are credited to Rinus Michels who was a former product of Reynold’s youth system in Amsterdam. Mr Pot believes that without Jack Reynolds, Ajax would never have become a force in European football and he is seen as one of the club’s founding fathers.

His reign at Ajax was also interrupted due to World War II where he was taken as a Prisoner of War by the Germans from 1940 to 1945. He made a return to football after the war was over and lifted his final trophy with Ajax in 1947 but decided to retire from the game.

Today, Ajax still recognise the contribution he made to their club and having previously had a stand named after him at their former ground, they now have the ‘Jack Reynolds Lobby’ at the Amsterdam Arena.

Reynolds spent his retirement in Amsterdam and his story is one of most remarkable and impressionable I have ever seen in the history of the game. His modern philosophies and actions on the game created a huge influence, not only on one club and a nation but also the football world, a true LEGEND.


Football Legends : Ken Aston

The talk of referees in football has never been a positive one, especially this season with Sir Alex Ferguson facing a 5-match ban for comments he made about match officials. But the men in black (or whatever colour they’re wearing these days) have a history in the game, without them football games would not be able to function and the rules they are using are in place to make the game better. A pioneer in football rules and refereeing is former English referee Ken Aston.

He is probably best remembered for being the referee during the infamous World Cup game between Italy and Chile in 1962 which was dubbed ‘The Battle of Santiago’ because of the large degree of violence and brawls during the game and credit to Aston for keeping the game playable for 90 minutes.

But Aston was more than just a top referee at that time, he was the man who invented the red and yellow card system after some confusion during a game between England and Argentina at the 1966 World Cup. England’s Jack Charlton had called the press office after the game after reading he had been cautioned by the German referee, baring this in mind Aston came up with the idea of a yellow (steady) and red (stop) card system after stopping at traffic lights. His idea meant that the cards could be universally used in games and break down language barriers. It was first used in the 1970 World Cup.

His involvement in the game did not stop there as he was the first referee to use the black with white trim as a uniform which became standard attire for match officials. Previously, in 1947 he introduced bright yellow flags for linesman to use having previously used the colours of the home team.

He also introduced the idea of a substitute referee in 1966 in case the match official couldn’t continue. Other inventions were the number boards to announce substitutions and he proposed that the pressure of the football to be written into the laws of the game.

Ken Aston, who was a Lieutenant-Colonel in the British Indian Army during World War II, was FIFA’s Head of World Cup Referees for the 1966, 1970 and 1974 tournaments. His legacy lives on today, where the red and yellow card system is still used as an important part of keeping order in the game whilst keeping everyone informed about key decisions.

But, for those who’ve not seen any footage of that infamous ‘Battle of Santiago’ game, then check it out on the video clip below for some astonishing scenes during a World Cup game. And if you’re watching it with other people, you can inform them of how important the referee Ken Aston was to football.

One quote from Aston which I love was what he admitted after this game : “I wasn’t reffing a football match, I was acting as an umpire in military maneuvers.”