Every year, I try to squeeze in a few football books. It could be a biography, a book on football tactics or history or even a narrative that does not really fit any division. This year, one of the picks is Leo Moynihan’s Thou Shall Not Pass. An exposition of the evolution of football’s centre-halves. Like every other position in football, the Centre-half position has evolved over the last century; from being immovable and almost immobile humans whose only job was to stop opposing strikers, to attack starters who also broke down opposition moves and helped retain possession. In exploring the shift over decades, Thou Shall Not Pass relies on anecdotes and interviews with football figures. It is primarily an English book as most of the anecdotes are from English football and the players analysed are from the English league, even when they are not English.
Thou Shall Not Pass is a decent read and highlights the evolution of football to a more aesthetic game where passion and graft alone are no longer enough. In all of this, the days of good old rugged centre-halves remain memorable.