66: It's football, but is it art? Er, yes

You've heard of ProZone and Opta boffins tracing every player's movement, for the sake of managerial insight and pub ammo. Such careful analysis is certainly scientific, but is it art? As so often in life, it depends what you do with it.

Artist David Marsh, for instance, has turned the 1966 World Cup final into a series of prints interpreted through the medium of movement. Tracing the movement of every single England and West Germany player might have taken a painstaking 92 hours, but every artist has to suffer for his calling right?

Marsh watched extensive footage of English football's most mentioned two hours, played at half speed, mapping movements (both on and off the ball) via the pitch markings and grass stripes. This was then used to compose a series of hand-drawn 'portraits' of the players, as represented by their activities. And the exhibition is called, with no lack of knowledge or humour, Some People Are On The Pitch.

At the heart of the collection - and indeed the game - is the fascinating duel between Bobby Charlton and Franz Beckenbauer. The Englishman, represented in red (of course), is closely monitored throughout by the peerless German. Both roam far and wide across the canvas.

'B. Charlton v F. Beckenbaeur - Full Match' Litho print, 584mmx420mm

"I was interested in taking the most talked about occasion in English sporting history and showing it in a way that had never been seen before," says Marsh.

"The 66 final is a match people talk about with immense fondness and pride, but very few actually know or remember much about the detail of the game. Watching the players in slow motion allowed me to understand their character and role in the team. From Alan Ball's tireless running to Franz Beckenbauer's shadowing of Bobby Charlton, the portraits show precisely what each player did.

"I liked the idea of being truly fanatical, recording as much as possible from the match and showing it all at once as an ultimate portrait of the game. I've carried this idea around in my head for a while and now seemed like the perfect time to do it." 

'Some People Are On The Pitch' Copyright 2010 www.davidmarsh.infoSome People Are On The Pitch is at The Gallery In Redchurch Street, London, from 11am-7pm Sun 6 - Sun 13 June. Prints (£19.66) and framed signed prints (£66) are on sale. For more information see www.davidmarsh.info

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