Michael Batson

Travel Writer





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 system known as catenaccio (which means “door bolt” in Italian). Some observers called the 1970 Final as a “battle for football’s soul” with the romantic favourites winning, like in a fairy tale. But despite some of the wonderful football on show by some of the greatest players ever to appear in a World Cup, football was arguably in crisis. The World Cup was being challenged as a spectacle by events at preceding tournaments and the contrasting styles of play coming increasingly into conflict at tournaments across the world. The history of tactics, one football writer said, is the history of two interlinked tensions: aesthetics versus results on the one side and technique versus physique on the other. While globalisation now is blurring national styles, tradition perpetuated by coaches, players, pundits and fans is strong enough that they remain distinguishable. Every nation comes quickly to recognise its strengths but that maybe no nation seems quite to trust them. Mexico 1970 happened at a time when the world-wide code was said to be strained. England were world champions. In the eyes of Anglophile observers at the

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

Gérson and the 1970 Brazilians - 25 September 2021

Great football teams have many elements in common. They have timing, and the right balance of dedication, organisation, and a commitment to a common cause. Great teams like great players can marry inspiration with industry—they work hard. They also usually have an ability to make the difficult seem easy, like no effort at all because they always

Fla-Flu at the Maracanã - 8 July 2021

I once criss-crossed swathes of South America for four months by road, rail, and on water, with some flights in-between travelling from place-to-place, city-to-city, and country-to-country. The overwhelming impression you get of South America is one of diversity followed by its scale, it’s huge; Argentina is the eight-largest country in the

Brisbane to Cairns - 6 June 2021

When I first went to Australia as a teenager I hitchhiked from Melbourne to Cairns, about 3000kms (roughly 1800 miles) by road. You get a sense of the size of Australia when you realise that as far as north as Cairns (pronounced by the locals as “Cans”) is from Melbourne, there is still another 1100kms before you reach Cape York at the Torres

Ten Songs - 5 May 2021

Music can be a very personal thing. For a lot of people music is associated with specific events or times, with people and places, various phases of relationships – good and bad. Music can cover a whole range of emotions.  It can be uplifting or soothing but is rarely both in the same song or piece of music, unless your name is Beethoven

The Bình Xuyên and the Battle of Saigon - 7 April 2021

By 1954 Bay Vien (“Bay the Seventh”), an illiterate gangster once impoverished and homeless, had become the richest man in Saigon with immense wealth at the head of a criminal-military organisation thousands strong, and the key to the French presence in Cochinchina. He was the leader of a powerful Vietnamese criminal enterprise decreed by the

East Coast, New Zealand - In Your Own Time - 10 February 2021

Go east they say, it’s the wild side of New Zealand. The East Cape (the Eastland) of New Zealand’s North Island stretches 344kms by road along route 35 from the small town of Ōpōtiki to Gisborne – there’s a shorter route through the Waioeka Gorge on route 2 but you miss all the fun – though the Waioeka has its own attractions. I have driven from