Sport Journalism BA(Hons) co-leader Rob Steen is appearing in the three-part ITV4 documentary series The Football Mavericks, which started on Tuesday May 5 2015 and aims to “paint a unique portrait of those who dare to be different”.
Rob features prominently in the opening episode, entitled “The Magnificent Seven”. Focusing on English football in the 1960s and 1970s, it also features contributions from Rodney Marsh and Frank Worthington, members of the radical septet Rob met and profiled in his 1994 book The Mavericks: English Football When Flair Wore Flares.
“These guys were my teenage heroes,” recalls Rob. “I loved their artistry and their rebelliousness,” says Rob. The other extravagantly gifted rebels celebrated in The Mavericks, No.39 in FourFourTwo magazine’s “50 Football Books You Must Read” poll, are Stan Bowles, Tony Currie, Charlie George, Alan Hudson and the late Peter Osgood.
“They were bigger than pop stars because it wasn’t just the little girls that wanted them, it was the mums and the dads,” says Rob during an interview with Gabriel Clarke. “The dads looked up to them because they were doing things they wanted to do – dribble around guys then sit up all night and get p—-d. And then still go out and play the following morning.”
The programme raises the key question posed in The Mavericks, whether managers’ distrust of the maverick has cost England over the years, and wonders if Worthington, Marsh et al – who won just 26 caps between them – could have inspired the national team to glory, building on its sole World Cup victory of 1966.
“Had those managing them – Alf Ramsey and Don Revie – not been jealous of their talent and their refusal to abide by convention, I still don’t see why not,” says Rob. “And events in the 21 years since the book was published have done little to dissuade me that that distrust of adventure and unorthodoxy continues to blight English football.”
Watch the first episode.on ITV player – available until the beginning of June 2015.