The rise of Maggie Thatcher: The decline in England’s football fortunes

The only good thing that came out of the Margaret Thatcher and Ronnie Raygun lovefest in the 1970’s across the pond was some great punk music. For the first time there was a musical genre that Brits and the Yanks could go head to head. The Ramones vs The Sex Pistols, Iggy Pop vs the MC 5, The Dead Kennedys vs Buzzcocks, the New York Dolls vs The Stranglers. A stiff middle fingerup to fascism; great stage histrionics (Iggy Pop); some memorable lyrics (Sex Pistols, Anarchy in the UK), driving guitar sound, lovely leather gear, and hairdo’s.
Meanwhile, after seeing a glorious period of football with the English squad winning at Wembley in the 1966 World Cup, with Jimmy Greaves hurt, and Geoff Hurst replacing him and scoring a hat trick, and Gordon Banks, proving to be the best goalkeeper, with names made immortal in English folklore like Alfred Ramsey, Bobby Moore, and Bobby Charlton, during the Harold Wilson era, The 1970’s saw a decline with the Ayn Randian type of ‘me first’ politics, Maggie Thatcher decided that the working class could not afford their football. The 70’s and 80’s saw unprecedented union busting, a reduction in social services, increase in taxation and unemployment, the first push to privatization of the NHS, increased xenophobia, a tremendous increase in armament expenses and rhetoric towards the Soviet Bloc. It is no coincidence that her best friendship was with Ronald Reagan, whose conservative policies was in the USA as polarizing as hers was in the UK , and whose most rabid followers believe that he single handedly brought down Communism. AIDS was not even acknowledged and football was not even on the radar, as sweeping cuts to health, education, and sports were made by both governments
The World Cup squad made the quarterfinals in the 1970 World Cup losing to Brazil, the eventual winners, in what is considered the best World Cup team of all times with Pele, Rivelino, Jarizinho, Tostao, and Gerson. That was the year that the Conservatives came to power and Maggie Thatcher took over as the State Secretary of Education and Science. By the time she became the Prime Minister after the Conservatives won again in 1978, the English squad failed to qualify for the ’74 and ’78 World Cup. They also exited in the second round in ’82, before improving to the quarterfinals in ’86 and then 4th place in the 1990 World Cup. By that time Margaret Thatcher was on her way out. It is also no coincidence that English hooliganism was at its zenith during this time brought on by an increase in the nationalism during the Falklands war in 1982 and sentiment against the IRA, taking away from the national squad’s performance and focusing on the more unsavory part of English football. The lack of success at the world stage was mirrored in the European stage with England failing to qualify for the 1972, 1976, 1984, and 1988 European Championships.
The 1990’s has seen some success both in the national squad’s fortunes as well as in combating hooliganism. However the 1970’s and 1980’s of Thatcherism was a dark and forgettable period in the history of English football.

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2 comments on “The rise of Maggie Thatcher: The decline in England’s football fortunes
  1. John Terry is a step in the right direction;
    Listen up England, I really think, maybe not all this stuff; but some of the
    Having your girlfriend live with you, children out of wedlock, Beckham being such a sex symbol/showbiz like star;
    I think, this stuff has hurt the English team.
    There is a book, called Maveericks, what is that? Something about the kind of soccer/football coming out at a time when Glam Rock was in fashion. Maybe some of this is a part of it!

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