It was one of the most famous Shakesperean speeches, uttered by Henry V, King of England, to his troops in camp prior to the successful outcome of the Battle of Agincourt in 1415, when the English longbowmen defeated the French. St. George is England's patron saint.
Later this summer St. George's Park will open for business and it will be the site of English football's battle to catch up with the rest of Europe, including the French. In 1988 Clairefontaine was opened by the FFF, 50km southwest of Paris and 19 years later the national team won the FIFA World Cup for the first time at the Stade de France, beating Brazil 3-0.
Today I had a quick chat with the player who scored the third goal in that match, Emmanuel Petit, of Monaco and later Arsenal, Barcelona and Chelsea. Around Europe there are a number of national football centres and I have visited most of them. Besides Clairefontaine we have Coverciano in the Tuscan countryside outside Florence in Italy, Koln in Germany, Zeist in Holland and others in Spain, Belgium and elsewhere. www.thefa.com/sgp.
Late summer 2012 we will see the opening of the English version not far from Burton on Trent, the brewing capitol of England. It will hopefully transform the English game and will be the training site for all 24 of England's teams in various age and gender groups. It will feature a Hilton Hotel and Hampton by Hilton Hotel for the more budget minded.
I spoke with the sales team, Sarah Harding and Becky Handley and also with the Chairman, David Sheepshanks at their booth at Soccerex EUROPEAN FORUM in Manchester today. There are eleven full size pitches including an exact replica of the Wembley pitch, a full size 3G indoor pitch, multi purpose hall, cutting edge medicine and science centre and much more. 330 acres in the National Forest in the Heart of England. In fact THE HEARTBEAT OF OUR NATIONAL GAME.
The Football Association has also announced that they will advertise for a Technical Director to be based at St. George's Park. The last T.D. they employed was Howard Wilkinson, ex Sheffield Wednesday and Leeds United boss, over 10 years ago. One rumour going around that The Wally with the Brolly, former England boss Steve McClaren, now coaching FC Twente in Holland, is a possible candidate. Despite his managerial record with the national team, he was a superb technical innovater, particularly at club level at home and abroad.
Incidentaly, another former national and club boss, Terry Venables, has just joined Wembley FC, in the ninth tier of English football, as Technical Advisor. the 69 year old led England to the semi-final of the 1996 Euros in England. Money from a sponsorship with Budweiser, who are also in the first year of a three year agreement with the F.A.Cup, made it possible for the small club.