Michael Batson

Travel Writer





Italy in Mexico, World Cup 1970 - 10 December 2022

The Italians arrived in Mexico in 1970 as European champions having eventually beaten Yugoslavia 2-0 on home soil two years earlier, and after winning the semi-final against the Soviet Union by the toss of a coin. Their playing ranks included two of the best attacking midfield players in Europe in Sandro Mazzola and Gianni Rivera, rivals from the two great Milan clubs; the latter being voted the 1969 European Footballer of the Year. They had an outstanding forward in Gigi Riva: he was powerful, he was quick with a great shot, and had an eye for goal. Riva has been described as the prototype of the modern player and so far ahead of his time there still aren’t many like him. The team was captained by Giacinto Facchetti, a tall, fast, mobile, and free-ranging goalscoring defender who, like Brazil’s Carlos Alberto, was a forerunner of today’s wingback. Their defence was founded on arguably football’s most infamous tactic, the catenaccio, a system with many fathers but nurtured in Italy by some of the great managers, practised across their leagues, and first taken into Europe to win continental silverware by the Milan clubs; the blue and the red. The bulk of the Italian squad for the 1970 tournament came from just two clubs: Internazionale (known as Inter) and Calcio Cagliari (Cagliari) from the island of Sardinia, with six players each. During the 1960s, under their legendary coach Helenio Herrera, Inter became probably the greatest exponents of catenaccio. Inter

Working in a Gold Mine in a Desert - 21 August 2022

I once worked in a gold mine in the middle of an Australian desert. To get there I flew to Adelaide from overseas with the intention of hitchhiking to Kalgoorlie, a mining town in Western Australia and base for many of the operators working in the mines that drive much of that state’s economy. I had done lots of hitchhiking before all around the

Kalgoorlie - Didyabringabeer - 29 June 2022

Once upon a time way out west, I went to Kalgoorlie by bus to work. Later I went back by rail for a visit. The town of about 30,000 is an isolated stop on the line across Western Australia where one stretch of railway runs completely straight for 478km – the longest straight stretch of rail line anywhere in the world. Kal’ to the locals, is over

Port Arthur and the Vandemonians of Tasmania - 28 May 2022

Tasmania was once called Van Diemen’s Land and is the world’s 26th largest island and Australia’s least populated state. From 1803 Britain settled the island as a penal colony, and almost wiped out the indigenous population in the process. Today Tasmania, or “Tassie” to use the colloquialism, is the most Anglophile Australian state, also having

Football and the Teams at Mexico 1970 - 4 December 2021

The 1970 World Cup in Mexico is widely thought of as the tournament against which all others are measured – a celebration of free-wheeling football where the winners Brazil triumphed with a team of sublime artists over the more disciplined, physically tactical Europeans who were represented in the Final by Italy with their pincer defensive

Mexico World Cup 1970 - 6 November 2021

Someone once said watching football is about bold, primary-colour emotions: the pursuit of joy and the endurance of pain. The ninth FIFA World Cup held in Mexico (31 May 1970 – 21 Jun 1970) had all these factors and is widely thought of as a seminal sporting event for lots of reasons; a World cup against which all others are measured. In many