The mavericks – English football when flair wore flares
First published 25 years ago, The Mavericks was one of a new breed of literary football books. Artfully combining sports journalism with social history and sharp pop culture references, this updated edition explores 1970s football when a cult group of footballers delivered flair on the pitch and flamboyance off it.
Cocky, coiffured strikers meet David Bowie and Alvin Stardust; Gola boots exchange kicks with A Clockwork Orange and The Likely Lads; Admiral sock tags, platform heels and kipper ties mingle with cod wars, Harrods bombings and three-day weeks. In this, Steen recreates the early Seventies, the era when football joined the vanguard of English youth culture. This personal account revolves around seven Englishmen who followed in the trail blazed by football’s first tabloid star, George Best – Stan Bowles, Tony Currie, Charlie George, Alan Hudson, Rodney Marsh, Peter Osgood and Frank Worthington.
Proud individuals amid an increasingly corporate environment, their invention and artistry were matched only by a disdain for authority and convention. Their belief in football as performance art, as showbiz, gave the game a boost, and elevated them to cult status. During their heyday, nevertheless, they were largely ignored by a succession of England managers, none of whom were able to assemble a side competent enough to qualify for the World Cup finals. Against a backdrop of increasing violence on the field and terraces alike, of battles between players and the Establishment, this book – now featuring a new Foreword, Postscript and photos – examines an anomaly at the heart of English culture, one that symbolised the death of post-Sixties optimism, the end of innocence.
‘In an era of PR-bleaching and PC-niceties, The Mavericks is an oasis of flair, hair and devil-may-care attitude. Yet beneath Rob Steen also highlights with real poignancy the sometimes grim and earthy reality behind the curtain. This brilliant book remains essential reading for anyone who likes social history with a nice backheel.’ – Rick Broadbent