#27: Where have all the hard bastards gone?

Your typical hard man of football — the no-nonsense, hard tackling, kick-it-into-Row-Z, tough bastard of a footballer — used to be a staple of the game. Every team in England needed one if you were to win a game of football.

Some players, like Vinnie Jones, made a career out of it when they had little else to offer. Others, such as Stuart Pearce and Roy Keane, were magnificent players who brought an edge to proceedings. Sometimes they went well over that edge, but they wouldn’t have been the same players without it and fans loved them for it.

Over time, however, these hard men of football have been phased out. Where did they go? Why don’t we see them at the top levels of the game?

Ste McGovern, Colm Boohig (Off The Ball) and Peter Henry (TheFootballFaithful.com) investigate the causes of this, how football has changed through the decades, and how popular culture has had its effect too.

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1.00: Who is the quintessential football hard man?

8.19: The difference between hard bastardry and shithousery.

15.30: The fine line between toughness and cowardice.

19.40: Why did the hard men of football get phased out?

28.40: Why VAR will be the death of shithousery.

32.20: The time Vinnie Jone’s arse fell out.

36.40: Was David Beckham and metrosexuality the catalyst for change?

41.46: The dissipation of toxic masculinity.

49.18: Listing off the hardest football men of them all.

#16: The Day Ireland Crushed The Netherlands’ World Cup Dreams

When Holland came to Lansdowne Road on September 1st, 2001, they brought with them a mighty squad full of world-class talent; a master tactician and Champions League winning manager; a reputation as one of international football’s greatest forces; and a huge weight of expectation on their shoulders.

The Dutch left that day with nothing.

So how did a team featuring Ruud van Nistelrooy, Patrick Kluivert, Marc Overmars, Jaap Stam, Mark van Bommel and Edwin van der Sar fail to get a result against the Irish? How exactly was it possible that a nation that could leave Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and Giovanni van Bronckhorst on the bench couldn’t beat a ten-man Ireland?

Listen to the latest episode of the Nostalgia Ultras podcast, where we discussed Ireland vs Netherlands in the World Cup qualifiers in 2001, to find out how the famous 1-0 victory went down:

Download directly here, subscribe on iTunes, or find us on your Android podcasting app. 

On the podcast we also talk about the Declan Rice situation, whether he will play for Ireland again, and our favourite Granny Rule players.

Join our Fantasy Premier League… league, with the code: 314466-96245. Don’t worry about joining late; your points gained up to now will still be included.

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#10: The Most Important Signing In Premier League History

Listen To Our Latest Episode Covering Roy Keane:

Subscribe On iTunes, Or Download Directly Here.


This week marks a quarter of a century since Roy Keane’s landmark transfer to Manchester United from Nottingham Forest, but was it the most important signing in the history of the Premier League?

Ste McGovern and Colm Boohig discuss the move that broke the British transfer record, while somehow trying to avoid the controversies that pot marked his career and focusing on what made him such a great player and how he liked to play football.

Was the greatest destroyer the English top tier has ever witnessed? Or is his passing ability and all-round play criminally underrated? Is he more a significant signing than Eric Cantona?

Let us know what you think:

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