With the NOTW phone-hacking scandal deep in everyone’s mind at the moment, we decided at Football FanCast to look back at the great hackers of the English game, who more than left their mark on the opposition.
Billy Bremner – A central part of Don Revie’s Leeds team that took no prisoners throughout the 1960s and ‘70s, Bremner certainly enjoyed getting stuck in and was regarded as 10 stone of barbed wire. Billy led by example in terms of getting stuck in as the ‘Captain of the Crew’ and his Leeds team is still renowned now as being a side that didn’t do anything by half. Some people would call them dirty and they certainly wouldn’t have got away with some of their tackles nowadays.
Tommy Smith – A Liverpudlian not to be messed with. He was a traditional, uncompromising centre back, who was a rock at the heart of the defence for Liverpool for more than 15 years. He racked up more than 450 appearances for the Reds and I’d be scared to imagine just how many tackles he made during the 1960s and ‘70s. I think this Bill Shankly quote sums him up best: “Tommy doesn’t tackle opponents, so much as break them down for resale as scrap.”
Ron ‘Chopper’ Harris – Ron’s nickname kind of gives the game away. Defenders don’t get much tougher than ‘Chopper’ Harris, and as a striker you knew that if you came up against Chelsea in the 1960s or ‘70s that you would be in for a tough time. Chelsea through and through, Ron wouldn’t shirk a challenge. Infamous for what can only be described as agricultural tackles, more often than not if you went in for a tackle with ‘Chopper’ Harris you’d come off second best.
Norman Hunter – Norman “bites yer legs” Hunter, did exactly that, kick you from the first whistle to the last. Norman was another member of the famous Leeds team and greatly contributed to the no-nonsense reputation that followed them around, playing over 500 times for the club between 1962 and 1976 and making the number 6 shirt well and truly his own. Just imagine the number of crunching tackles he put in over his 14-year spell at the club. *Gulp*.
Graeme Souness – Graeme Souness was a hard player, but extremely gifted as well. It is to Graeme’s credit that he is known as much for his ability on the ball as he is for his tough-tackling nature, but that doesn’t mean that he’s not right up there as a hard man. He put in plenty of eye-watering tackles while at Middlesbrough and Liverpool, where he won countless trophies, but is renowned north of the border for a two-footage lunge that led to a 22-man brawl on his Rangers debut. Now that’s an entrance!
Kevin Muscat – You look up hacker in the dictionary and a certain Kevin Muscat is likely to feature high in the description box. The Aussie was certainly not shy in the tackle, as many physios, doctors and knee surgeons can account for, so the former Wolves and Millwall certainly left a mark or two in English football – as well as the shins of Melbourne Heart’s Adrian Zahra judging by the footage below.
Neil Ruddock – Razor’s reputation as a hard man goes before him, largely down to not only his imposing figure but the fact he would never hold back from a tackle. Unfortunately for Razor his rather physical approach to the game was frowned upon by the modern football fraternity and where the likes of Norman Hunter and Chopper Harris would get a warning in the years gone by, Ruddock would get an early shower as the referees no longer tolerated the physicality of the great game.
Terry Hurlock – I don’t think a hackers list would be complete without the presence of Millwall and Southampton Legend Terry Hurlock. Nicknamed the ‘Warlock’ he certainly took no prisoners and his crunching tackles and in his time Glasgow Rangers he amassed the record number of disciplinary points – quite an achievement given that he only played 29 games for them. The Warlock, just like Neil Ruddock were both signed respectively by Graeme Souness – the don of all football hackers.
Peter Storey – An Arsenal legend who was one of the games’ great character’s of past who has was once dubbed by Chopper Harris as the “bastard’s bastard”. Storey was an absolute no nonsense defender and in the quotes below he describes his thought process during matches: “I liked to get in and hit them hard early – you could still tackle from behind in those days and you knew if you flattened someone early on you would only get a warning from the ref. Sometimes it would be a hard, legitimate tackle, sometimes not legitimate but it was important to let the opponent know from the start that he was in for a long afternoon.” Enough said.
Vinny Jones – Before a certain Vincent Jones was sharing cocktails and canapés with the Hollywood A list, he was making his own video nasty’s on the football pitch with bone crunching tackles and well and truly leaving his mark on the opposition, just ask Gary Stevens. Jones disciplinary record was right up there with the Mark Dennis’ of this world; however his decision to star and release a Soccer Hard Men video back in 1992 brought him a ban from the FA for bringing the game into disrepute – it must have been the section which gave tackling advice to budding young hard men.