World Football

Wimbledon's Crazy Gang and the 5 Meanest Teams in History

Ryan BaileyFeatured ColumnistSeptember 26, 2013

Wimbledon's Crazy Gang and the 5 Meanest Teams in History

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    footballphilo.wordpress.com
    footballphilo.wordpress.com

    When a visiting team lined up in the tunnel at Wimbledon's Plough Lane stadium, Vinnie Jones and John Fashanu would famously walk up and down the line, sizing each player up while making derogatory comments.

    Once on the pitch, the real intimidation would begin: Just ask Paul Gascoigne about that one

    Throughout Harry Bassett's reign in the 1980s and into Joe Kinnear's tenancy in the early '90s, none of the top teams enjoyed playing against Wimbledon's Crazy Gang.

    They played an uncomplicated route one-style football, they were physical and they weren't afraid of a dirty tackle or two. 

    The Dons played the tough underdog role with aplomb and, as a lifelong fan, I loved every minute of it.

    Here are five other teams known for their menacing style...

     

Don Revie's 'Dirty Leeds'

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    Popperfoto/Getty Images
    Popperfoto/Getty Images

    Anyone familiar with David Peace's excellent book The Damned Utd will know that Don Revie's Leeds United side of the late 1960s and early '70s were incredibly successful—but also tough as nails.

    With highly-skilful players such as Johnny Giles, Billy Bremner and Allan Clarke helping the side dominate English football—they won the league in 1969 and 1974—Revie resented the "dirty" label that was often cast upon them, but Elland Road was an intimidating place to visit and they were a very physical side. 

    When Brian Clough arrived for his il-fated spell at Leeds, he told the players "they could throw away all their medals because they cheated all the time," just as it had been suggested in the movie and book of The Damned Utd.

Athletic Bilbao in the 1980s

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    pesstatsdatabase.com

    Anyone who visited the old San Mames stadium in Bilbao will know it is an intimidating place for outsiders.

    The Basque people are fiercely independent and in the same manner that Barcelona stands for the independence of Catalunya, Athletic Club are the embodiment of the region's pride and autonomy.

    Los Leones enjoyed their most successful era in the 1980s when they won the title in 1982-83 and the league and cup double the following season. They dominated Spanish football under the agressive, foul-mouthed, chain-smoking coach Javier Clemente.

    His side were famous for their tough, no-nonsense style of play that was known as "patapun y p’arriba." Essentially, it was the opposite of tiki taka, which translated to something approaching "get stuck in." 

    The meanest player was undoubtedly Goikoetxea, the centre-back who earned notoriety for a gruesome tackle on Diego Maradona that left the Argentine severely injured.

    The "Butcher of Bilbao" is thought to have kept the boots he was wearing that day on display in a glass case at home.

Tony Pulis' Stoke

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    Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

    Tracksuit and baseball cap advocate Tony Pulis has always worked with sides with small budgets and has always managed to keep them afloat.

    His squads, however, are never likely to win awards for the beauty of their play.

    During Pulis' second reign at Stoke, they were essentially the modern-day Wimbledon: lots of long balls, lots of antagonising with niggling tackles and clipped heels, and lots of physical prowess.

    They don't seem quite as imposing with Mark Hughes' current insistence that they actually play football.

    Like Don Revie before him, Pulis resented Stoke's reputation, once pointing out that Arsenal were actually a dirtier team.  

The Netherlands' 2010 World Cup Team

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    Jasper Juinen/Getty Images

    Before the 2010 World Cup, only Austin Powers' father in Goldmember had a reason to hate the Dutch, but they earned criticism for the aggressive and highly-physical style of play that brought them all the way to the final.

    Would you expect any other kind of style from a team containing Nigel de Jong and Mark van Bommel?

    The Netherlands' mean demeanour was shown in abundance in the final itself when juxtaposed against the delicate tiki taka of the Spanish. Perhaps their approach was best summed up in Nigel de Jong's flying chest tackle on Xabi Alonso

    Johan Cruyff later criticised his countrymen for their "anti-football" approach. Indeed, they had come a long way from Total Football.  

Argentina's 1966 World Cup Team

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    There is rarely any love lost when England meet Argentina on the football field—or the battlefield, for that matter—but the Albicelestes were shown to be particularly mean at the quarter-final stage of the 1966 World Cup.  

    The Argentineans were famously physical in their match-up with the hosts, picking up three yellow cards from the German referee.

    The most controversial moment—aside from the decisive Geoff Hurst goal which the Argentineans believed was offside—was the sending off of captain Antonio Rattín. He picked up a second yellow for "violence of the tongue," even though the official didn't actually speak any Spanish.

    Argentineans refer to the game as "el robo del siglo" ("the theft of the century"). A few years later, they would get their own back when Maradona's godly hand helped them lift the biggest prize in football.

     

    Suggest other mean teams below and follow Ryan Bailey on Twitter

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