1997 might not seem all that distant (to some of us anyway), but as you'll see in this excellent guest article from Luke constable of the awesomely named Ruud Gullit Sitting On A Shed (@RGSOAS), going back just 15 years, football still looks very different...
p.s. I've just found out where the name comes from...
In August 1997 I was just starting secondary school. I would spend that summer mourning the loss of my junior school life, trying on ill-fitting blazers, and buying Match magazine every week.
A recent spring-clean unearthed a copy of the magazine dated August 30, 1997, and I have since been transfixed by its pages. Littered with nostalgic references, each turned page wafted the smell of pubescent hormones as it seized me with the inverse effect of Marty McFly's Gray's Sports Almanac from Back To The Future 2.
Hundreds of pounds' worth of hard-earned pocket money was spent on this magazine by my 9-14-year-old self, but every penny was worth it. I would read each one cover to cover, even forcing my impressionable eyes through the rigours of such dull features as 'Chris Armstrong's Secret Diary'.
Share my experience as the memories dazzle my retinas and scorch my fingertips. Come sit awhile as I read to you, and laugh at pictures that have dated horribly, much like Premiership footballers have after first discovering what Rohypnol is…
The fun begins with Route One, a loose form introduction consisting of mostly ridiculous garbage, which was always hugely entertaining nonetheless. Even now, as a man that has read more than 12 (twelve) books, I can appreciate just how much fun this section was. With its combination of musical references (Kula Shaker! Way Out West! Sneaker Pimps!), puerile comedy features (Giggsy's Gig Guide! The Flash-o-Meter! Strange But False!) and colloquial anarchy, it is to the shame of many that the pages read like some vague blueprint for Soccer AM. But I digress, and to keep doing so would be to detract from the surreal comic devices that would make perfectly retweetable Tumblr pages today - 'Wot if Peter Fear was...(SOMETHING RANDOM)','Collyoaks', 'Broken Nose Corner'
'10 Brain-Bustin' facts about Chelsea' mentions how Graeme Le Saux is the club's record signing at £5million. Unfortunately I've been too busy to check whether or not this is still the case. If anyone can inform me of the answer, I will pick a lucky winner at random to win a very special prize - a lock of Gianluca Vialli's scalp!
Colin Hendry takes us on a visit to his house. The highlight is the picture of him wearing a hat, looking very much like a man that has never worn a hat before. He also reveals a shocking secret: "When I get the chance I like to sit on one of the sofas in the archway above the front door and have a think." I do hope today's generation of children are provided with a similar level of insight in their football magazines.
I leave you with the familiar sense of a magazine well read, that peculiar blend of satisfaction and disappointment that it's all over. That bereft sense that there is only one thing to do - reluctantly go back and read Chris Armstrong's Secret Diary.