29 May 2012

Classic Kits - League of Blogs Style

Holland 88, Denmark 86, Coventry City's Brown Away kit (cough)... Classics all of them.

The one that intrigued me most yesterday as my mind wandered far from what it should have been concentrating on was Holland 88...mainly as this simple question occurred to me:

Did Subbuteo ever produce this kit?

From what I recall, Holland only ever had the plain orange shirt in Subbuteo form and it'd be one hell of a complex kit to produce at such a small level.

Having recently had far too much fun whipping up some Subbuteo style kits for the League of Blogs, it was only a matter of time before I set about producing one.  And here it is...

Holland - Euro 88 Final

I posted this on Twitter and John Devlin from True Colours pointed out the orange shorts were of course only worn in the final...so...a few tweaks later and...

Holland 88 Pre Final

It was only natural, having spent an age getting the pattern right, that I then use it for the other well known uses of the same design.  USSR 88 and West Germany's away kit from Italia 90 (I believe they wore it in a semi final...can't remember who they played...ahem)

USSR 88 & W Germany 90
So...who else should I re-create?  Denmark 86 is in the pipeline and there was a suggestion to create a wallchart for all Euro's / World Cup winners...sounds like a new project to me!

Leave your suggestions here or drop us a line on twitter.

UPDATE:  Denmark 86

UPDATE 2:  England 82



27 May 2012

The League of Blogs - Video gallery

You've probably been hearing a lot about The League of Blogs from us lately (and if it's too much, we apologise!) but we really are jolly pleased with the way everything panned out and the way all you wonderful bloggers came together to form such an impressive array of kit designs.

Up to now, your kits have appeared on our wallchart as a JPEG image (which you can view here), but due to technical limitations we haven't been able to show off the fine detail of all your designs to the full. Now, fortunately, we can!

To showcase all your hard work, we thought we'd put together a video montage showing nice, big, clear images of all 92 kits featured, and here it is!



Take a look and see if you can spot your own designs (if you submitted one) and do leave us a comment to tell us which are your favourites (apart from your own, that is!)

Once again, we thank you all for your participation in The League of Blogs. It's been a fun project and one we were glad to share with all of you.

25 May 2012

My First...Football Kit - CCFC Home 1986/7 - Update

One of my first articles on the attic was about my first ever football kit and at the time I had planned to include a pic of me in the thing, but I couldn't find it...well now I have...and instead of just linking to the article, I thought I'd reprint it, including said photo...so...here it is...and ooooh what legs!

.......................................................................

I’ll try not to bang on about Mexico 86 too much in any posts I make here, but given it was a hugely pivotal moment in my life, it’s gonna happen. Let’s just all come to peace with that and move on - about six months in fact, for it is now January 1987, having been subsumed by football and discovered in myself a perhaps unhealthy obsession with football kits. (I say unhealthy, I wasn’t doing weird things with them - I just like them... a lot... I’m not David Mellor you know – contemporary reference for you there.) And so it was that I came to be at Highfield Road on a foggy January morning, visiting the tiny chip-shop-counter-style cupboard known as the Club Shop.

Firstly, however, let me give you some background info, for this was technically not my first ever kit.. No, that was a red thing in the guise of the once successful outfit of Liverpool FC. Half of my family are from that part of the world and so it was that before I was actually interested in football my only contact with the sport was via them and this meant occasionally receiving Liverpool-themed gifts.

One Christmas, my brother received a Liverpool kit. I'm not entirely sure it was a genuine replica, but more of a market stall special as it had no badge or manufacturer label and was just all red. This was around 1984, when pinstripes were in. No matter, as we were told it was the official kit and that was all that mattered. A year or so later, it was handed down to me and I proudly ran out in it at school... next to my mate who was also sporting the Liverpool kit... which had pinstripes... which induced confusion in my non-football following brain. “Mine’s the official Liverpool kit,” I naively declared. “So’s mine,” the response. Brain meltdown. So apparently teams change kits every year or so... ooooh this football world is full of surprises!

So, picture the scene - a foggy morn, a bolt-hole outlet beloved of ‘sell to the public’ industrial estate retailers, and an excited pre-birthday 11-year-old gazing at all the merchandise nailed to the wall (OK, OK, I’m exaggerating. A bit...)

Sorry, bit more background required here: why was I at the club shop, which, being at the ground itself (none of your town centre megastores in those days my friends!) was a fair trek for my non-football loving parents? Well, despite this being a time before Sports Direct or internet shopping, we did have quite a few sports shops available to us. There was Davies (an Intersport), some other place whose name I can’t remember and a small independent sports shop, the type that has a ‘musty’ as its central design theme... the type that also sells school uniforms.

Davies was the place to get your kits though, being a great shop full of proper sporting equipment, including the cricketing helmet I yearned for. £125 though! And kits they had... Liverpool (on whom I had turned my back for the glamour of my home town of Coventry City... oops!), Man Utd, Arsenal - even England. And Coventry of course, what with this being Coventry? No...it’s like the Subbuteo World Cup all over again! Not even my home town shops stocked the blue and white stripes of CCFC.

So to the club shop again. "Do you have the Coventry kit?" "Yes we do." Hmmm...that was easier than I thought. After a while debating what other goodies would constitute my birthday pressie, I ended up with the shirt, shorts and socks... the whole outfit. Interestingly the boys' version of the shorts used a completely different material from the youth's size and given I preferred the boys' ones, opted for those. I ended up changing them for a different size the following week as they were just that bit too small after all and this was the 80's where 'tight' meant circulation problems.

So was I happy? Yes! And no. See, when I obsess about something, I do it full on. I can’t stand seeing a kit for sale on eBay which clearly isn’t ‘right.’Argentina’s 1990 World Cup shirt had two blue stripes on the collar, who doesn’t know that? It was also actually the same tea bag type material as the 86 one too and no retail replica had either of those features, but that’s not the point! You see what you’re dealing with here?

mmmm...details...
So, my disappointments. The badge wasn’t stitched. In the 80's, no replica badges were stitched (except my England '88 top, but that’s yet another story) so I wasn’t too disappointed with that, however most badges were generally raised flock affairs. The badge on my shirt was flat. No big deal, but anyway... Second - no sponsor. Again, replicas rarely had sponsors on them, though the bigger teams (those available in Intersport) did. Again, not a major issue, but it bugged me a little. Yes, perhaps I should get a life...

The shirt...24 years later

What’s most surprising when I look at that kit now (replete with a red number 7 made from some old pyjamas that I stitched on myself), is how tiny it is It’s like a doll’s shirt. OK, so I was a child and now both my age and waist size are nearing 40, but it’s still shockingly small. It’s also aged very well. The badge does have bits missing from repeated wearing / washing and the Triple S Sports logo is similarly jaded, but the colours are still as vibrant as when I first got it.

Of course, Coventry went on to win the FA Cup in this shirt and I not only took great pride in following my home team, but also got called a glory hunter for doing so. To be fair, that happened in January when we were about to face Man U in the fourth round - a long, long way from ‘glory.'

This was surely the start of great things to come, and due to that Cup win, we had some money to spend. So what did we do with our winnings? We bought David Speedie. I believe this is the dictionary definition of a false dawn.

Well at least we have the memories. Unsurprisingly, this is one of the Coventry fans’ favourite kits, but not mine. My personal favourite was to come the following season as we moved into the world of 'name brand' kit manufacturers: the gloriousness that was the Hummel ‘Denmark 86’ style kit - one of the least favourite kits amongst CCFC fans.

And finally the replicas carried the sponsor's name too... that well known brand...Granada Bingo. A Coventry fan’s lot is not a great one...

One last anally retentive fact: The shirt cost £10.31. What kind of price is that? The 80's, eh? Messed up times...


.......................................................................


And now...THAT picture! 

Brown carpet...beige curtains...Thatcher's Britain...

23 May 2012

League of Blogs Roll Call

Now the League of Blogs Wallchart is complete, here's the full list of 63 participants.

A big thank you to you all!

The Football Attic    
AndrewCHarding    
Nelson's Column    
God, Charlton and Punk Rock    
Wayward Effort    
Football Cliches    
Wrong Side of the Pond    
Football Fatties    
Got, Not Got    
Kitbliss
We Are The Twins    
Miniboro
Cork City Kits    
Canadian Geordie    
A United View    
Footy Ramblings    
A Northern Soul    
World Cup Tracker    
The Footy Blog.Net   
The Real FA Cup    
The Sunshine Room    
Scottish Football Forums    
Nerazzuri World    
Estadios de Fútbol en España    
Ruud Gullit Sitting On A Shed    
French Football Weekly    
The Two Unfortunates    
Put A Jumper On    
Marceltipool   
Play With Flair    
Pentagame Sports    
True Colours Kits    
Spirit of Mirko    
Design Football    
My Life In Football    
A More Beautiful Game    
Three Match Ban    
Two Hundred Percent    
Bootiful Game    
Away Days    
EPL Talk    
Betting Expert Blog   
Football Fairground    
Bundesliga Lounge    
Slide Rule Pass    
Narrow The Angle   
Total Footbull    
Red and White Double Pivot    
Maradona's Right Foot    
Ekstraklasa Review    
One Stepover Too Many    
Charlton Casual    
The Seagull Love Review    
The Exiled Robin    
The Football Project    
Hungry Ted    
The False 9    
Down In the Box    
Feint Zebra    
2nd Yellow    
Row Z    
Football Following    
Llandudno Jet Set

The League of Blogs Wallchart is complete!

So it’s finally complete... the League of Blogs Wallchart has had its final (final) FINAL space filled, so let’s all take a moment to reflect on what has been a rather extraordinary journey...

The Completed League of Blogs Wallchart
 The Journey:

This excellent post by Chris got me thinking about my own years as an amateur kit designer and I suggested we design a kit for our blog. Chris agreed and I set about creating what now occupies spaces 1 and 2 on the wallchart. Happy with our newly acquired couture, Chris had a brainwave... we couldn’t be the only ones out there who loved kit design and there’s rather a lot of football bloggers out there... and what do most football bloggers also love?  Subbuteo! 

Chris put together the Subbuteo kit template and the first version of the wallchart with space for what we believed to be a rather optimistic 20 kits, and we were off. 

The original style wallchart

The brilliant @AndrewCHarding (andrewcharding) was the first blog to sign up with his design neatly representing his polka dot-based football artwork.

He was soon joined by @NelsonsColumn (nelsonscolumn.org) and serial LoB retweeter, @AlGordonCAFC (algordoncafc.blogspot.com) and from there it began to grow steadily.

Very soon, it became clear we were going to hit that golden 20 mark, so the wallchart was extended to 25 spots (and reformatted to a Tescophoto poster friendly 16x20 ratio).

Within a week it was obvious this too was not going to be enough and the halved format of the wallchart brought with it a set of limitations we’d never thought feasible. To that end, I took the decision to redraw the whole thing, taking inspiration from this particular Subbuteo wallchart and going for a portrait style poster.

And so the new format was born...

Ooooh portraity!

As the wallchart was now gathering popularity, it was more than doubled to hold 60 kits!  The excitement was tempered with a sense of tempting fate. Could we really fill another 35 spaces?  Well we all know the answer to that...

It was then we entered what I like to call the' rapid response insomnia phase' of the wallchart’s life span. This was the period where I’d become the default updater of the chart and was generally adding new kits every day - usually within the hour. I was also spending far too many late nights working on it, especially when knocking up a design for those without the necessary tools for the job. To say it was a labour of love is a huge understatement, and despite a slight sense of dread each time it became obvious I’d have to extend it again, how could I not be ecstatic to be in that situation?  I think the latest I worked one night was about 3.30am, but I was happy in my work.

Seventy spaces were filled, then 80... then crunch time. Interest was slowing down and it had to come to an end at some point...especially as I’d now added “2012” to the chart... Yes we’re doing it all again next year folks (he said, before slowly backing away from the baying mob).


Llandudnojetset H
And so the final figure of 92 was decided upon, nicely tallying with the number of Football League clubs and also one that fitted format of the chart without cramming them all in.


On the 20th May 2012, that 92nd spot was requested by @Llandudnojetset and the Football Attic League of Blogs Wallchart was complete... alas, due to there being only one slot left, we couldn’t feature both of their kits, so they asked for the away to go on the chart, and we therefore present the home kit here... a fine set of outfits!


Conclusions

I can honestly say this has been one of the most rewarding things I have ever done. To have been a part of something that united a total of 63 different blogs was just astounding and so much bigger than we ever imagined!  But of course, at the risk of sounding like a cliche, this genuinely would have been nothing without all of you who contributed so we'd both like to say a huge thanks to all who were involved and an extra special thanks to all those who retweeted / spread the word and helped this become what it has. 

Merch

Early on in this project, the idea of creating a real-world, physical copy of the wallchart was considered, and it’s still being considered and something we very much want to do. We’ll look into how this can be done and the costs involved and anything we do will be at cost.

Also along the way, in a rush of Panini love, I created sticker versions of the first batch of kits. I then bought some proper sticker paper and made them for real, and even though I say so myself, they look bloody awesome!


So so beautiful...

These will be a lot easier to produce as we can do them ourselves... just need some time to create the actual artwork for them all.

In order to work out how to pursue the above, anyone who’s interested in purchasing either, please let us know a.s.a.p. as the more interest we get, the cheaper it’ll be.

And with that, I shall go back to writing stuff about old FIFA films and other nostalgia...


Coming soon...
League of Blogs: "The Gallery"-style video...

18 May 2012

World Soccer: June 1983

SV Hamburg: champions of Europe. That statement might jar your sense of reality unless you transport yourself back to June 1983 when World Soccer reported on the European Cup Final.

The reigning Bundesliga titleholders had out-thought and outplayed their opponents, Juventus, to win 1-0 in Athens, the only goal of the game scored by current Wolfsburg manager Felix Magath. Keir Radnedge described in detail how the Italian outfit had been found wanting in the grand finale, not helped by the new signings brought in to improve the Turin club.

“One year ago, their midfield was the best organised in Calcio” said Radnedge, yet Liam Brady had been ousted from the team in favour of Michel Platini and Zbigniew Boniek -  initially to little effect. The two stars of the 1982 World Cup struggled to adapt to life at the Stadio Comunale and were soon campaigning for a change in team tactics. Though that would ultimately reap its rewards, the 1983 European Cup Final arrived too soon for them to play at their best as Juventus were silenced by the managerial brain of Hamburg boss Ernst Happel.

Happel, leader of the Dutch side that almost reached the 1978 World Cup semi-finals, overcame the absence of one or two key players to create a masterplan which frustrated the Turin side. Players such as Jürgen Milewski, Horst Hrubesch and Wolfgang Rolff were allowed the space and freedom to switch positions, run at the Juventus defence and generally cause panic while their opponents stuck rigidly to their positional setup.



Radnedge summed up the Italians’ enforced tactical inferiority concisely: “Magath’s early goal meant that for Juventus the age-old Italian tactic of defend and strike on the counter-attack was useless. They had to come forward, and they didn’t seem to know how.”

The Road to Mexico

Sharing the opening page of World Soccer in June 1983 was the news that FIFA had unanimously chosen Mexico as hosts of the 1986 World Cup Finals. FIFA had originally given the hosting rights to Colombia as far back as 1974, but the South American country had stepped down in 1982, admitting they couldn't afford to stage the event.

Mexico ultimately won the bid to be the 1986 hosts when the world governing body’s executive committee met in Stockholm. Canada and the United States had also submitted bids, the latter ruffling a few feathers by enlisting Pele, Henry Kissinger and Franz Beckenbauer for their presentation.

As it is, FIFA president Joao Havelange needed little persuasion in awarding Mexico its second World Cup Finals, but some were surprised. The Brazilian had seen fit to only send an investigative commission to Mexico, dismissing the other two bids without further consideration. “Canada and the United States failed to reply to some important questions” said Havelange. “We could not keep on postponing the decision.”

Brian Glanville, writing in his column on page 20, was outraged for different reasons. He believed the 1986 World Cup should have gone to Brazil. Glanville felt that a Brazilian bid was doomed to fail because of the inharmonious relationship between Havelange and Giulite Coutinho, president of the Brazilian Soccer Confederation. He cited Don Balon who claimed the FIFA president had allegedly made a trip to Mexico City in the private jet of Emilio Azcárraga Milmo, millionaire chief executive of the TV chain Televisa. Hardly conclusive proof of underhandedness, but worth thinking about, claimed Glanville.

Club clash

Elsewhere in his column, Brian Glanville commented on Robert Maxwell’s on-going attempts to merge Oxford United and Reading into a new club, Thames Valley Royals. Glanville stood with both feet firmly in the anti-merger camp, saying “At the time of writing, it appeared the opposition to the merger had but modest chance of success, but I must say I wish it no success at all.”

Assessing Maxwell’s motives for combining the two clubs at a new location in Didcot, he went on to say: “When did families, per se, ever go to watch a game en masse in Britain? And why should they start now, just because Robert Maxwell dumps a leisure centre in the middle of the Thames Valley, with its egregious population of 1.8 million?”

Both sets of fans made their opinions known in the form of protests, while Maxwell threatened to close down Oxford United if the merger didn’t go ahead. It’s just as well he didn’t: Oxford United won the Division Three championship the following season, reached Division One in 1985 and would have played in the UEFA Cup in the 1986/87 season were it not for the ‘Heysel’ ban on English clubs in European competition.

Finals galore

As well as the European Cup, the finals of the European Cup-Winners’ Cup, the UEFA Cup and the FA Cup also featured heavily in this issue. For Alex Ferguson, there was the chance to bask in the glory of a 2-1 extra time win over Real Madrid in the Cup-Winners’ Cup Final.

On a bleak, rain-soaked night in Gothenburg, Eric Black and John Hewitt scored the goals to maintain a seventh consecutive season in which a British team had won a European trophy. “This is the greatest moment of my life” said Ferguson. “It was a magnificent performance in the conditions and I thought we thoroughly deserved victory.”

The two-legged UEFA Cup Final was won by Anderlecht, 2-1 on aggregate over Sven-Göran Eriksson’s Benfica. The Belgian side had become a force to be reckoned with in European football, appearing in the European Cup-Winners’ Cup Finals of 1976, 1977 and 1978, winning the first and last of those. Here, under the managerial leadership of legendary Belgian midfielder Paul Van Himst, they travelled to the second leg in Lisbon with a 1-0 lead from the first match in Brussels.

Though Benfica scored first through a 32nd-minute goal by Han Shéu, they relaxed too much, allowing Anderlecht to score a valuable equaliser six minutes later through Juan Lozano. The goal appeared to knock the wind out of Benfica’s sails, thus allowing the Belgians to comfortably stay on top in the second half and finally win the trophy.

On the domestic front, Manchester United needed a replay to overcome Brighton and Hove Albion in the FA Cup Final having drawn 2-2 at the first time of asking.

In the second match five days later, Brighton played well for the first 25 minutes before United struck four times – twice through Bryan Robson – to seal the victory. It was Man United’s first major success for six years and, as Paul Parish reported, spectators “would have fonder memories of Wembley’s excitement than the slide-rule boredom produced in Athens [in the European Cup Final].”



England hosts UEFA U-18 tournament

Staying on English soil, Keir Radnedge reported on a French victory over Czechoslovakia in the UEFA European Youth Championship Final held at White Hart Lane. World Soccer’s Associate Editor explained how the FA had made a bad job of organising the event, attracting only 30,000 spectators in total across the 28 matches. “In West Germany and Switzerland in the past” said Radnedge, “large crowds have been roped in by the simple expedient of giving away thousands of free tickets in local schools.” Not here and not back then, as it turned out, although the FA would soon catch on in a bid to fill Wembley Stadium more often in future.

Graham Taylor’s England side eventually finished third in the tournament, beating Italy 4-2 on penalties at Watford’s Vicarage Road ground. Taylor felt that the Italians were the best side in the tournament, but Keir Radnedge reserved a more critical view:

“The big disappointment was centre forward Roberto Mancini, the 18-year-old who cost Sampdoria £1.2 million a year ago. Apart from looking a little heavy for his height, he gave a distinct impression of a man who found this tournament too far beneath him after the hurly-burly of calcio.” Whatever happened to him, I wonder?

Transfer talk

With the domestic season over, World Soccer considered the rising stardom of Celtic’s 21-year-old striker Charlie Nicholas. The Glasgow-born footballer joined the Parkhead club in 1980 and had averaged better than one goal every two games by the time this issue had been published.

Reporter Alex Gordon was quick to praise the goal-scoring talents of Nicholas, giving a timely forecast about where his immediate future may lie. “All the speculation of his joining Liverpool/Spurs/Manchester United/Aston Villa/Real Madrid/SV Hamburg/Uncle Tom Cobbley United hasn’t sidetracked this amazingly mature and extremely popular young man.”

As it is, Charlie Nicholas left Celtic only days after this article reached the news-stands, but the fact that he was heading for Arsenal had not been so well predicted. The Scotland international apparently had a free choice of contracts from many of Europe’s top clubs. Liverpool, however, were probably the least likely club to snap up the future Sky Sports pundit. It was rumoured they were about to table a ‘measly’ £1 million bid for Nicholas AND Celtic’s star midfielder, Paul McStay. Hardly a surprise, then, that ‘Champagne Charlie’ never got to grace the pitch at Anfield…

Back page

Finally, with all the talk of Anderlecht doing so well throughout World Soccer’s pages, it was apt that the back cover depicted Ludo Coeck, the skilful Belgian midfielder who in 1983 moved from Les Mauves et Blancs to Internazionale.

Coeck made nearly 300 appearances for Anderlecht and enjoyed a 10-year-spell in the Belgian national team, scoring once in his side’s 10-1 win over El Salvador in the 1982 World Cup.

Unfortunately the move to Inter wasn’t a successful one for him and after a brief switch to Ascoli he returned to Belgium by signing for Molenbeek in 1985. Tragically, Ludo Coeck’s life was cut short when, at the age of only 30, his car crashed through roadside barriers near the Belgian town of Rumst. He died in hospital two days later, only two years after this edition of World Soccer was published.

11 May 2012

Chris O's Favourite 5... Football TV Theme Tunes

Continuing our 'Favourite 5' series, here's my best five TV theme tunes for British football shows (in no particular order of preference...)


'Jellicle Ball'
(World Cup Grandstand, BBC 1982) 



A rip-roaring in-your-face toboggan ride of a theme tune, composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber for the musical Cats. It’s a great theme tune because it encapsulates all the drama and excitement usually associated with a World Cup. The quiet start quickly explodes into a bold and (literally) brassy fanfare that hints at the urgency to succeed and the memory of erstwhile defeats. The final euphoric flourish, however, is born of a growing, repetitive momentum resulting in ultimate glory and a realised sense of exaltation. (That’s except for viewers in Northern Ireland.)

‘Jubilation’
(The Big Match, ITV 1980) 



Another fanfare to kick this one off, this time to herald a symphony of blaring synthesisers and twanging guitars. Like Jellicle Ball, the biggest virtue of this piece is its relentless pace that somehow symbolises the pace of modern football. The six-note signature phrase is wonderfully catchy and crops up at the beginning, end and several points in between, fitting in beautifully with the dynamism that Jeff Wayne used throughout. And yes, we are talking about the same Jeff Wayne that composed the musical version of HG Wells’ War of the Worlds, along with countless other musical pieces for TV and radio. Why here’s another one…

‘Matador’
(World Cup ‘82, ITV 1982) 



In many ways, this ITV theme tune from the 1982 World Cup just doesn’t work. It’s slower and more ponderous than my first two choices, has a moody feel to it which is perhaps at odds with the action-packed nature of the game and leans more than a little on the sounds of Mexico rather than host nation Spain. For all that though, this is a beautifully crafted tapestry of Spanish guitar, electric guitar, pan pipes, a melodious string section and Jeff Wayne’s ubiquitous synths. Probably not everyone’s cup of tea but certainly evocative of that wistful feeling back in 1982 as we waited for one of the British sides to do well under the blazing Spanish sun.

‘Tutti Al Mondo’
(World Cup ’90, ITV 1990)



Staying with ITV (why did their theme tunes always outrank the BBC’s in my mind?), here’s a wonderful composition by Rod Argent and Peter Van Hooke that was used by the commercial station during Italia ’90. While the Beeb went for the safe operatic option with the Pavarotti-fest Nessun Dorma, ITV were altogether more creative by using this energetic fusion of both operatic and contemporary styles. This piece seemed to have everything: soaring vocals, crashing drum sequences, synth stings… all set to a beguiling rhythm. Scandalously overlooked, this was the perfect accompaniment to a World Cup that seemed mediocre by comparison.

'Argentine Melody'
(World Cup Grandstand, BBC 1978) 



And as if to prove that Rod Argent was no stranger to this sort of thing, here's another contribution of his, this time for the BBC back in 1978. Once again, we go through the list of national musical stereotypes, this time for Argentina: Castanets? Tick… Accoustic guitar? Tick… Yet for all that it's a positively harmonious romp through the foothills of Patagonia that seems to work delightfully despite being a little too slow to complement football coverage on TV. Working with Andrew Lloyd Webber (who wrote and produced the piece), the song was was released as a chart single 'performed by San Jose featuring Rodriguez Argentina'… or 'Rod Argent' for short. Who says musicians don't have a sense of humour?

7 May 2012

Radio Times, 8-14 November 1969


Can't help thinking this wouldn't have done much for Franny Lee's street cred back in 1969...

4 May 2012

Radio Times: 1971 FA Cup Final preview

For many people, the iconic image of the 1971 FA Cup Final is that of Charlie George slamming the ball past Ray Clemence in the Liverpool goal before celebrating horizontally on the Wembley turf. All that was still to come when the Radio Times was published for the week of 8-14 May 1971, but the big day was still looked forward to with the traditional customary air of excitement and anticipation.

On the front cover, Steve Heighway and John Radford added a splash of colour (the latter cut out and superimposed as if running in a trench) while the headline informed us that all the action from Wembley would be 'Live on Grandstand' and BBC Radio 2.

And what a schedule lay in store for us on BBC1. Cup Final Grandstand began at 11.45am (following The Perils of Penelope Pitstop and Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?) and was introduced by David Coleman 'direct from Wembley.' Providing capable punditry and gobbits of relevant anecdotage were Manchester City manager Joe Mercer, Leeds United manager Don Revie and Manchester United captain Bobby Charlton.

'Who'll win the Cup?'
Arsenal, but we didn't
know it yet...
The opening sequence of the programme was referred to as 'The Wembley Scene' and featured Frank Bough and Barry Davies profiling the two sets of players from their respective team headquarters (typically a hotel in Borehamwood or some such). After that at 12.30, it was time to meet 'The Cup Final Managers' where Bertie Mee and Bill Shankly conveyed their hopes and concerns ahead of kick-off.

The 'Goal of the Season' was announced at 12.45 along with the lucky competition winner who scribbled it down on his/her postcard. A £300 cheque was the prize for choosing Ernie Hunt's donkey kick volley in correspondence with Grandstand's panel of experts - a staggering amount that in today's money is equivalent to more than £3,600.

At 12.55 it was time for 'It's a Cup Final Knockout' featuring two teams representing Arsenal and Liverpool, led by disc jockey Pete Murray and actor Anthony Booth respectively. The show was hosted by David Vine who, let it be remembered, was the presenter in the early days of It's A Knockout before Stuart Hall made the programme his own.

By 2.25, kick-off was within tantalising reach and all the pre-match protocol was in full swing. The Band of the Coldstream Guards were doing their thing, the crowd was in full voice and the Duke of Kent was busy shaking the hands of the players out on the pitch. In the blink of an eye, the match would be played, won and reflected upon as David Coleman rounded up the best of the action and interviewed the key players - all in time for tea.

'Are goalkeepers crazy?' Who better
to provide an answer than Bob
Wilson...
Towards the back of this issue of the Radio Times, there's a lengthy interview with both goalkeepers - Bob Wilson for Arsenal and Ray Clemence for Liverpool. Wilson comes across as a man who thought about every  moment of every possible game; a worrier to some extent, but with good reason. He was a man that clearly took his job of goalkeeper seriously and his analysis of the team he faced in the Final was detailed and thorough.

Clemence, by contrast, was younger and seemed merely happy with his achievement of breaking through the talented ranks at Anfield to earn a regular spot in the team. He refers to his close friendship with Larry Lloyd and their scrupulous adherence to the same pre-match rituals ("We always order breakfast at exactly the same time, Larry always gets up, makes the tea and brings in the papers... Then we go out for a ten-minute walk.")

Taking superstition to the extreme, Clemence was happily cosseted in his own footballing world, however his comments about Charlie George bordered on the flippant: "...From what you see on television, he seems to be a bit erratic. He must have been booked two or three times and he hasn't played for all of the season. I've never faced his shooting, but he certainly hit that goal against Newcastle pretty well, didn't he?" Probably best to keep that in mind for the Final, Ray...

Of course the main purpose of the Radio Times was (and still is) to inform us of all the top programmes appearing on BBC TV during the coming week. In this issue you might have singled out The Andy Williams Show and The Good Old Days as special highlights to look forward to, or perhaps an attempt at brand diversification in the form of A Question of News. Presented by Richard Baker, this was a short-lived attempt at replicating the success of A Question of Sport which, at that point, had been running for just over a year.

Green Cross Code: Stop,
Look, Listen, Think.
Elsewhere, there was the chance to catch up on England's Euro '72 campaign with highlights of the match against Malta in Sportsnight, while on Radio 1 there were the audible delights of Tony Blackburn, Terry Wogan and Anne Nightingale to pass the time away.

Finally, to round off this issue, there's the customary saunter through the many pages of adverts, and what better way to teach our kids road safety skills than with a relatively new campaign called 'The Green Cross Code'. Dave Prowse in a green-and-white superhero suit was still four years away at this point, but like Gerry Francis looking from side to side in all his interviews, there was more than one way to tell kids how to cross the road.

3 May 2012

The Big Match: Studio Timeline (Part 2)

In the first part of our Studio Timeline, we saw The Big Match embrace all manner of interior design styles from 'Glam Rock' to 'Doctor's Waiting Room.' Here in this concluding part, we witness the decline of the studio space itself as somewhere to conduct interviews and the dwindling use of logos to remind us what it was we were watching all those years ago.

August 1975

Style:
Explosion in a paint factory
Colour scheme:
Ever tried to decorate your house using whatever was left in those tins of paint out in the shed? Yeah, that. The 1975/76 season saw Brian Moore surrounded by wavy lines and curves of lime green, yellow, blue, grey, brown, red, white... in fact it's probably easier to list all the colours that weren't used, but we won't.
Brian's desk:
A modern, curved affair in white with slats at the front to allow for... ventilation to... er... something. Behind the desk, a big ITV Sport logo and the name of the show were displayed boldly on a large venetian blind contraption which acted as... A REVEAL! Yes, once ITV's top football commentator had verbally set the scene for the highlights package to come, the venetian blind would swivel round to display a chroma key screen showing the appropriate video footage. Not perfect, but certainly inventive (see below).

The big swivel (l-r): The boards revolve to reveal.. Wolverhampton
Wanderers wearing white shorts with their old gold shirts.
Guest area:
Still no desk to sit behind. Instead, two comfy leather swivel chairs were placed adjacent to Moore in front of a colourful backdrop, most notably showcased by Peter Taylor doing his Norman Wisdom impersonation on the Christmas 1975 programme.
Gimmicks:
Who could possibly ask for more than a swivelling venetian blind with a big ITV Sport logo on it? Not us, that's for sure.
August 1975 onwards: Curves, colours and swivelling
blinds.

August 1976

Style:
Sunshine in abundance.
Colour scheme:
In short, yellow. Oh, but wait - strangely, there was a knowing nod back to the early 70's with a set of chrome bars mounted on the wall. Those bars provided a 'frame' for a circular chroma key window in which pictures could be displayed. Clever.
Brian's desk:
A giant L-shaped beast painted (yes, you guessed it) in yellow, big enough to allow a couple of guests to be accommodated. Behind Brian, however, was a circular Big Match symbol which (as far as we can tell) was illuminated to brighten the image of two football players in action. Nice, if you like that sort of thing.
Guest area:
After Peter Taylor's impersonation of Norman Wisdom the Christmas before, the ITV production team presumably made it as difficult as possible for new guests to perform by stuffing them behind the biggest desk they could find. Frankly, who can blame them?
Gimmicks:
Nothing much, except for that circular chroma key window which was only rarely used for occasions such as the Golden Goals competition. We've seen worse, mind.

August 1976 onwards: Mellow yellow, illuminated signs and Glam Rock
returns!

August 1977

Style:
Late-70's pizza restaurant chain.
Colour scheme:
A seemingly short-lived but no less pleasant combination of red, white and green stripes on a tame beige backdrop.
Brian's desk:
Another L-shaped desk, but this time smaller and turned round to withhold Moore in his own cosy corner of the studio. The front of the desk proudly displayed the words The Big Match in a nice, chunky font, while behind the desk was a window that could show static pictures or a video preview of the match highlights to come. A simple, but effective design.
Guest area:
What guest area? From what we can make out, this was the start of an era where studio guests no longer figured in the programme and the central focus became Brian Moore presenting on his own. It meant only a smaller studio was needed, therefore less need to splash out money on fancy chairs and other paraphernalia.
Gimmicks:
Nothing fancy - just that window screen behind Brian's desk.

August 1977 onwards: ITV Sport adopts an Italiano style
as the Big Match studio shrinks in size.

January 1978

Style:
DIY superstore.
Colour scheme:
Two-tone blue in a series of broad diagonal bands, plus a splash of green for the front of the desk. This blue colour scheme lasted well into 1980 - a surprisingly frugal approach by ITV considering all previous studio designs were refreshed annually (up until the brief August '77 vintage).
Brian's desk:
Probably the same one used before everything was painted blue. Still, it had a hole in the worktop to allow a microphone to be poked through, plus ample room to house the ubiquitous and never used telephone. And look - it's the old 'moon landing' font on the front! Behind the desk, another window screen showed a variety of static boards over more than two years.
Guest area:
Still none, according to our research.
Gimmicks:
The by now common use of colour separation to make that window screen behind the desk come to life.

January 1978 onwards: Blue stripes, futuristic fonts and changing boards.

August 1980

Style:
Job centre-a-go-go.
Colour scheme:
A change at last in the form of some beige with an occasional splash of green in a series of angular bands around the studio walls. For a brief period, there was also a wall  that was mainly green in colour (the bottom half being beige) that proudly displayed the new Big Match logo, synonymous with an equally new theme tune composed by Jeff Wayne. At some point, however, this was phased out and a new set was introduced featuring a repeating pattern of a football player dribbling a ball in alternate shades of green and light brown on white.
Brian's desk:
Having no doubt had a whip-round, ITV splashed out on a super new desk for both Moore and new sidekick Jim Rosenthal to sit behind, and splendid it looked too. With curved frontage and painted in a lovely warm sandy colour, it suddenly transformed the diminishing image of a programme that had been looking a little tired over the previous couple of years.
Guest area:
Guests? What are they?
Gimmicks:
You can't have chroma key screens AND a new desk, you know...

August 1980 onwards: Green and beige before a quick change with a new
desk and a parade of painted players.

1981/82 and 1982/83

Sadly there's not much to report during the final two seasons before regular live football arrived on British screens. The concept of having a spacious studio with big desks and elaborately decorated backdrops was no longer considered necessary, let alone revolving screens and rotating displays.

Come the 1981/82 season, ITV did away with fancy designs and even a visible desk for Moore and Rosenthal to sit behind, instead sitting them in front of a boring pale brown wall. The season after, they at least managed a slightly warmer coloured, textured backdrop and hung the Big Match logo on the wall, but that was about it.

(left) 1981/82: Jimbo in a sea of beige; (right) 1982/83: ITV
push the boat out by hanging a logo on the wall.

From this point on, football coverage on TV was all about being seen in a glass-fronted studio at the ground where the match was being played. The heady days of highlights shows featuring interviews with famous players and clips of the best action were now a thing of the past. Football on TV was changing, but at least we still had the memories.

2 May 2012

My First...Goal(s)

Exactly how does one determine which of their many goals (we've all scored loads of goals right?) they'd consider to be their first?

The particular criterion I've used to decide is this: What do I regard as my first ever 'goal'?

That's it...no science here, just plain old 'what feels right' and for me, what feels right as my first goal is the first one I scored in what I regard as some form of proper match.  That proper match was in games in the final few months of primary school. Yes I'd played plenty of kickabouts down the field, but they were just that, kickabouts. Nothing formal, no real competition, no ref etc. I'd also only just taken any sort of interest in football due to Mexico 86, which I may have mentioned once or twice before, so this was the first time it actually meant something to me.

And so to the goal itself. It was a Monday afternoon in early June 1986 and the last lesson of the day was games. I chatted to my friend about our differening Liverpool replica kits as we walked from the classroom up to the playing field. After some lessons on passing etc, the last half hour would involve an actual game, played up the pitch, rather than across it. (The pitch was laid out differently 26 years ago, honest!)

My memory of the goal is somewhat sketchy (until I decided to write this, I'd almost completely forgotten about it), but from what I recall, the ball came in...wait, let me do this in proper footballer speak:

Anyway, the ball's come in from the left, I've looked up and seen it, controlled it and then I've stuck it in the back of the net (between the cones).  I've then proceeded in a vertical manner, escaping the Earth's atmosphere, where I've propelled myself towards, then around our planetary satelite...Brian.

Having said that, even literally being over the moon (that's what I was getting at you see), would have been nothing compared with the wild celebration run I went on...I'm not sure if I then missed kick off due to my Tardelli-like mazy run, but I didn't care, for I had scored and WHAT.A.FEELING!!!

Our school had its own Blimp-cam. (all marked positions are approximate)

The reason I'd almost forgotten about this watershed moment is I more clearly remember the first 2 goals I scored in secondary school, for they had greater significance, the first being an equaliser to make it 3-3 and the last being what turned out to be the winner - I'd made it 5-3, but they pulled one back at the death to make it 5-4.  My pleasure at having scored the winner could not be diminished even by my team-mate, who'd scored our 4th, loudly proclaiming that 'it was only the winner cos they scored again'.  Ah suck it up, Mr. Didn'tScoreTheWinner (not his real name).

So that was my first goal(s)...what was yours and what makes it 'the first'?