Tuesday 31 July 2012

Radio Times: 1986 World Cup preview issue

For the vast majority of us not able to visit the 1986 World Cup in Mexico personally, the Radio Times did a pretty good job of making you feel like you were actually there. Every possible detail about the build-up to the competition, the British teams involved and the climactic challenges awaiting them was covered comprehensively.

Jimmy Hill’s opening gambit, ‘Here we go!’ prepared us for a slower, more skilful brand of football better suited to the heat and altitude of Mexico. Luckily for Bobby Robson, Hill pondered, England “couldn’t be in a better group if they had applied for it.” It’s a shame that Portugal, Poland and Morocco didn’t end up sharing the BBC man’s sense of logic in the fullness of time.

In ‘Viva Mexico!’ Barry Davies looked at the creeping invasion of commercialism into the World Cup in contrast to the abject poverty of many of Mexico City’s inhabitants. In the wake of a crippling magnitude 8 earthquake the previous September, the Mexican capital was trying to rebuild and create the infrastructure for a successful World Cup. Uppermost in the minds of many, however, were the people that had died and the ongoing destitution they themselves were living in.

“The hoardings of the 12 official sponsors gained by FIFA’s agents, ISL Marketing, were at first slow to appear. Now they look down from every corner and surround the playing areas of the 12 venues” claimed Davies. Of the poor in the city, he said: “It would be nice to think that the World Cup will offer them – the people in the street – long-term gain and not just a passing lift to morale. But history may support the doubters.”

The hotels and base camps awaiting the squads of England, Scotland and Northern Ireland were detailed in ‘A place in the sun.’ While the Mexican heat provided a universal problem for all northern European teams to cope with, Monterrey served up another for the England team. At only 522 metres, it had the lowest altitude of all the venues, and what’s more it was only “designed for the overnight traveller or for a weekend away.” Nice.

Northern Ireland, meanwhile, were "living in style" at their hotel not far from Guadalajara, scene of England's classic encounter with Brazil in 1970. "Every possible sporting diversion is on offer from tennis to horse riding, baccarat to a golf driving range, with four nearby courses open to guests. There is even a bullring" we were told. But which of the hotel's useful facilities did the Northern Ireland squad make most use of? "As for the swimming pool" the article went on "it is one of those where crawling to the bar – freestyle fashion – is quite acceptable."  Question answered.

Acclimatisation to the heat was discussed further in ‘Soccer at the highest level’ where, according to Byron Butler, “the lessons of 1970 have been digested.” As part of the medical preparations the England party took 20,000 pills with them across the Atlantic – enough “to make Bryan Robson and the team rattle.” As if dehydration and a lack of the appropriate medication wasn’t bad enough, there was also ‘the Aztec two-step’ to consider – “a mixture of diarrhoea, nausea, abdominal pain and fever” better known to many as ‘Montezuma’s Revenge.’ Never let it be said it’s an easy life being a footballer.

John Motson, Des Lynam and Bob Wilson were on hand to give their views on the chances of England, Northern Ireland and Scotland respectively. According to the former Arsenal goalkeeper, Scotland’s place in the ‘Group of Death’ with West Germany, Denmark and Uruguay was no bad thing given their propensity for failing at the hands of minnows down the years. With Graeme Sharp of Everton up front with “West Ham’s 28-goal scoring sensation Frank McAvennie,” they could hardly lose, yet lose they did in two of their three games to end their Mexican campaign earlier than planned.

Page after page of team profiles were also provided in this edition of the Radio Times, all written by great figures from the British game including Ron Greenwood, Emlyn Hughes, Terry Venables and Bobby Charlton. And if that 24 pages of World Cup content wasn’t enough, you still had the job of building your viewing schedule for the week ahead.

World Cup Grandstand was where the BBC’s coverage began at 6.10 pm on Saturday 31 May. Italy v Bulgaria and the opening ceremony were featured in the first programme, preceded as it was by The Keith Harris Show and a re-run of Whatever Happened to The Likely Lads? From Day 2 onwards, live matches were broadcast at an altogether less sociable hour of the day, usually from 10.50pm, with highlights shown at around 5.30pm when ITV had live coverage.

And what other televisual delights were on offer throughout this momentous week on the BBC?  Well for children there was The Kids of Degrassi Street, John Craven’s Newsround, We Are The Champions and Dogtanian and the Three Muskehounds. For older viewers there was a choice of viewing including Les and Dustin’s Laughter Show, M*A*S*H and Terry and June. Yes, it was entertainment all the way during the first week of June 1986… but mostly on the pitch rather than off it.

Tuesday 24 July 2012

Random Things From Our Football Collections: Pique

Awww, look at little Pique there, a microcosm of all Mexican stereotypes all rolled into one cute (?) little mascotty thing.

Aye Caramba etc

Let's just tick all the boxes shall we?

Sombrero - check
Pencil thin moustache... or is it a beard? - check
Two tone green skin - er...

There are rumours that he was even available in a little gift set, replete with mini wire cutters, false documents and years of second class citizen status, but that may have just been made up... by me... just now...

Ironically, the story of how this little fella came to be in my collection does indeed involve clashes with authority and border crossings.

Let me take you back to 1986 (again). I'm in my first term at secondary school and, as was customary at the time, us first years get the chance of a day trip to France. I believe these trips were known amongst the teachers as 'booze cruises', whereas for the kids, it represented the chance to buy all manner of contraband.

The day before we're due to leave for foreign shores, we're informed that our destination has changed. Far from the Gallic adventure we'd anticipated, we were instead bound for Belgium. To this day I have no idea why this last minute change took place; the only possible explanation must be that one of the teachers was a huge fan of Enzo Scifo...

As with any winter cross channel journey, the weather was horrendous and the decks were awash with salty brine and juvenile lunch in equal measure. We survived, however, and at 8am the following morn we docked in Bruges. On reflection, we technically didn't cross any borders... just sort of sailed into them.

'Twas a misty morn and as we boarded the coach to take us to the delights of the local hypermarket (because that's what you do the first time you set foot outside of your home country, go to a Tesco Extra), the heavens opened... a sign of things to come? Or just a cold front moving in from the east?

Finally, we arrived at the hypermarket and what a huge place it was too... full of... well, the same sort of stuff you could get over in Blighty, really, just with funny packaging and strange prices (remember Francs anyone?)  I made a sweep of the place and while my friends were busy hoovering up all the bangers they could find, I was occupied trying, with my limited resources, to find presents for my family. If you've ever tried to find souvenirs in your local supermarket, you'll perhaps empathise with my predicament and understand why my relatives ended up with mostly stationery-based gifts.

Having made my purchases, I was then wandering round the shop trying to find my friends when my eyes fell upon Pique. His little sucker attachment indicated he was clearly designed as a car ornament, but, being 11, I possessed no such mode of transport. That was not going to deter me from owning a rather ropey piece of Mexico 86 and so back to the checkout I headed.

Upon arrival at the checkout, the woman behind the desk eyed me with xenophobic suspicion, though it could have been mainly because I was with a group of schoolchildren who seemed to be trying to fill their pockets gratis at every opportunity. It probably was that. After I had completed the financial transaction involving my little mascot friend, she (the checkout woman, not Pique, who was, after all, clearly a male chilli) pointed at the bag containing my earlier purchases and demanded I show her proof that I had paid for them... or at least I assume that's what she said. She wasn't speaking English... how very insular!  I searched frantically for my receipts, but to no avail. What had I done with them? I'd only purchased them a few minutes previous.

She handed the bag to what I assume was a manager who looked at the contents and probably decided that any 11-year-old prepared to 'steal' some notebooks and a few pencils probably wasn't worth dealing with, so he handed me back the bag and ordered me from the shop.

The ferry journey back may have been fun for my friends as they hurled their bangers at every possible surface and watched as one of our number sleep-walked into the decks below and tried to get into someone's cabin, but for me, it was a journey of shame for I had been branded (incorrectly, remember) a criminal. I would forever be known as The Pencil Thief and my slow descent into full on criminality was as  inevitable as it was imaginary.

But still... Pique!

Friday 20 July 2012

Bartholomew Football History Map of England & Wales, 1971

As football memorabilia goes, it's not often you stumble upon something as functional as a map, but back in 1971 John Bartholomew & Son filled that particular gap in the market to great effect.

If you were lucky enough to be both a serious football fan and a car owner in the early 1970's, you'd have probably spent many a Friday evening poring over a huge map like this to work out how to get to the away ground of your choice. All well and good, except an ordinary map didn't really add anything to the match-day experience by virtue of it being… well… just a map.

Bartholomew's, however, saw the potential to add a much needed splash of colour and excitement to the proceedings. With this foldable 100 x 80 centimetre sheet, it was possible not only to plan your route by road but also become acquainted with much of the vibrant imagery the game provides.

The Midlands and the North-West
The bulk of the map was taken up by the outline of England and Wales filled with the markings of a million and one highways and motorways. Overlaid onto that were simple, angular illustrations of all 92 Football League clubs in kit form, joined by lines and dots to the exact location of their home stadium. This was a fine way to underline the footballing subject matter, however to be reluctantly honest for a moment, they did rather obscure the map itself.

Maybe the map was never intended to be used in anger anyway, such was the tiny detail that was printed upon it. This was borne out by the inclusion of this map's finest feature in my view – a top to bottom column showing the club crests of not only the league clubs of England and Wales but also many non-league clubs too.

Brighton and Hove Albion go for
the 'double badge' approach
Here we get a rare glimpse at so many of the graphic devices used by teams some forty years ago or more. It's easy to think that many of the club badges we see today have been around seemingly forever, but this map gloriously dispels that theory once and for all.

A casual glance throughout this parade of 160 miniature works of art reveals some forgotten classics. For a start, there's Aston Villa – a club not unused to changing their badge in recent years – here represented by a squat yellow shield filled almost completely with a lion of the same colour. Then there's Birmingham City, another team using the shield motif, but this time quartered in a bizarre zig-zag fashion prior to the introduction of the double-globe we know today.

Norwich City: Come on you Reds?
You may not be a fan of Bolton Wanderers' 'balloon' badge of the present day, but once upon a time there's was a round-ended shield coloured in red, yellow and blue – hard to imagine nowadays. Crystal Palace's badge, however, seems to have fallen through the cracks of time. Rarely seen, this is a beautifully designed shield labelled with the letters 'CP' while on top sits a simple depiction of the Crystal Palace building.

Another team suffering from colour crisis is Norwich City. Their badge (featuring heraldic lion and fortress) was mainly red and yellow. Back in 1971, they wore yellow shirts and black shorts with only the merest hint of green around the collar and cuffs. Having changed to yellow and green shortly after, it was perhaps obvious that the Canary motif would eventually replace the badge shown here.

Crests, shields and historical imagery were very much the order of the day back then, but perhaps the final word should go to the teams desperate to strive towards a more modern logo. Step forward Skelmersdale United, owners of a beautifully simple badge for its day, and Telford United, happy to adopt a basic compass point arrowing towards a football for its own graphical purposes.

With the tokenistic addition of a potted history of Football in England and Wales at the bottom, you have the perfect example of nostalgic design over function: in essence, a map that can't easily be used as a map. Hang it on your wall, however, and you've got yourself an absolute masterpiece.

To save a bigger version of all the badges shown, left-click on the image above right, then right-click and choose 'Save image as...' to store the full-size graphic on your computer.

Thursday 19 July 2012

Classic football shirt sponsors

It started as a single Twitter message sent out a couple of days ago by the great football blogger @mirkobolesan. It read:

"Napoli = Mars, Hellas Verona = Canon, Arsenal = JVC, Everton = NEC, Liverpool = Crown Paints, Man United = Sharp. #propersponsors‬"

David Johnson in
action for
No explanation was needed and none was given, yet everyone knew what was being discussed. Before long, many people (including myself) were chipping in with the company names that somehow seemed synonymous with individual clubs based on former shirt sponsorship deals. It was a discussion that ran and ran.

It’s almost 34 years since Liverpool became the first team to sport a company name on its shirts. It was Japanese hi-fi and TV manufacturers Hitachi that had the honour of starting a trend which would ultimately spread its commercial influence right the way down to 'grass roots' level.

Left: Alan Smith of Arsenal;
Right: Bryan Robson of Man United.
Though Hitachi’s name wasn’t seen on TV when Liverpool played, the partnership lasted four seasons – a long contract that helped forge a lasting association between the two parties. Such an extended bond between team and sponsor can create an inseparable connection in the minds of the fans, especially if they became partners so very long ago. Arsenal’s link-up with JVC in the early 1980’s is another such example, as is Manchester United’s with Sharp Electronics.

Alan Shearer during his
Blackburn Rovers days.
Yet for all that, company sponsors – if lucky enough – can raise their profile hugely if their contract happens to coincide with a winning spell for their football-playing associates. That was the fate that befell McEwans Lager when Blackburn Rovers won the Premier League in 1995, and for many years after. It’s fair to say no-one was offering up ICI Perspex as the name they most strongly associated with the Ewood Park club on Twitter a couple of days ago.

Sometimes, however, you don’t even need a successful era to be forever linked with a particular club. As @mirkobolesan pointed out in his first selection above, Napoli will always be tied with the confectionary company Mars – primarily because the shirt sponsorship deal coincided with the arrival of Diego Maradona in 1984. One could make a similar case for the Italian pasta company Buitoni who shared the sponsorship until 1991, and herein lies an ongoing dilemma.

Diego Maradona showing two
sponsors for Napoli.
If someone asked you to name the shirt sponsor with the most enduring connection to your club, chances are you'll have more than one to choose from. While one Charlton fan will fondly remember the Fads era, another might plump for The Woolwich or Viglen. Manchester City supporter? Maybe Saab are the sponsors for you… or would it be Brother, perhaps?

The more you think of the classic shirt sponsors each team has had, the more your head spins. What makes Hafnia more iconic as an Everton supporter than NEC? If you're from the red half of Merseyside, is Hitachi the ultimate in corporate partners, or would you go for Crown Paints or Candy or Carlsberg?

The importance of a company logo on a team shirt has become more important and more intrinsic to the very spirit of the game than anyone could ever have imagined prior to 1978. Which shirt sponsors would you give honorary status to and for which clubs? Leave us a comment using the link below and give us your thoughts…

Wednesday 11 July 2012

Golden Wonder 'All Stars', 1977

The worlds of football and savoury snacks are forever destined to meet and collide on a regular basis. Whether it’s Gary Lineker peddling the latest offerings from Walker’s Crisps or Peter Crouch urging us to buy more Pringles, you can be sure that The Beautiful Game will occasionally persuade us to devour half our own body weight in fat-laden comestibles.

The use of football to increase crisp sales is a subject we’ve not covered so far on The Football Attic (or any other football blog probably), but that’s about to change as we look back to 1977 and the launch of Golden Wonder’s All Stars.

It’s strange to think it now, but back in the 1970’s and early 1980’s, the UK crisp market was dominated by several big brands long before Walkers increased its popularity nationwide. As well as KP and Smiths, Golden Wonder were a major player and all three were happy to use imagery from TV, films and sport to sell more of their snacks.

This was proven conclusively 35 years ago when Golden Wonder's new range appeared in the nation’s shops. These bags of Bacon- (and latterly Salt and Vinegar-) flavoured corn and potato snacks would ordinarily have sold in small numbers were it not for an ingenious marketing idea. Those boffins at GWHQ figured they could apply the same trick used in boxes of cereal for years by including picture cards in their crisp packets. With a set of 24 to collect, kids couldn’t snap them up quickly enough.

In this initial range (a World Cup series would follow in 1978), the great and the good of British football were immortalised by the paintbrush of Doug Harker. As was often the case with the 70's mode of illustrating sports figures, some looked more realistic than others. Where the likes of Martin Buchan and the ubiquitous Don Masson were instantly recognisable, others (such as Paul Mariner and Leighton James) were not. In the case of Ray Clemence, a worse pose couldn't have been chosen; the England goalkeeper's head tilted back to the point where it could've been anyone in a yellow jersey.

A casual glance at the two-dozen cards gives an indication of which teams were uppermost in the public conscience back in the Queen's Silver Jubilee year. Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester City were all represented, while special dispensation allowed the likes of QPR, Norwich and Leicester to appear by virtue of special players like Gerry Francis, Martin Peters and Frank Worthington.

North of the border, Rangers and Celtic weren't to be left out either. The unmistakable tresses of Alfie Conn represented The Bhoys along with Kenny Dalglish who, just a month after the release of this card collection, would move to Liverpool. Whether or not he took his strange black-and-white football with him, we're not quite sure.

As if 24 hand-painted pictures weren't enough, the reverse of each of the cards also contained a concise summary of each player's career. There were a few nuggets of information to be gleaned throughout, such as Frank Worthington's failed medical with Liverpool and Steve Heighway making his international debut before his league debut, but generally it was the usual 'Joe Bloggs is an expert in scoring goals with his head' kind of fare.

More interesting, however, was the insistence on specifying the full and original name that certain players were born with. Raymond 'Butch' Wilkins was often written out in full even back in 1977, but Luigi 'Lou' Macari undoubtedly wasn't, much like Joseph 'Joe' Jordan.

It was, at least, an attempt to give some authenticity and integrity to the piece and it's no worse off for it. The addition of a small booklet in which to store your cards was also a nice touch (if you were prepared to send off for it) completing a pleasant gallery of football figures that sums up the era nicely.

Friday 6 July 2012

Observer's Book of Association Football, 1972

Around the age of ten, I could often be found at the Thames View Library in Barking, Essex. It wasn’t because I yearned to absorb every ounce of knowledge from the hundreds of books that lay before me; moreover, my sister worked there and I often popped in on my way home from school to say 'hello.'

I’d linger a while, ambling up and down the aisles between the wooden bookshelves that matched me for height. Such were the frequency of my visits that I seemed to recognise many of the books purely by spine alone. Few of the titles were tempting enough for me to pick them up and read them, but the small ‘Sports’ section had an altogether greater appeal as that was where I’d find the football books.

One book always seemed to catch my eye. It was small with a white cover and was clearly born of a bygone age. It was called The Observer’s Book of Association Football and had a picture of Bobby Charlton on the front playing for England in the 1970 World Cup.

Though the book seemed a little antiquated even back in the early 1980’s, it retained an unusual allure. Inside this pocket digest were pages and pages featuring potted profiles of each Football League club including Barrow and Workington, whoever they were.

There were also summarised histories of some of the world’s greatest football clubs and outlines of every great player in the international game back in 1972, the year the book was published.

Yet to be honest, the many informative and enlightening words written by Albert Sewell were not my main interest. Whenever I removed the book from its shelf with all the inevitability of a moth drawn to a light bulb, I would turn instinctively to the small group of colour pages a fifth of the way through. Upon those pages were illustrations of virtually every shirt worn by league clubs in England and Scotland, and I couldn’t be more fascinated in them.

As you can see by the composite picture below, there were countless colours and designs to wonder at, all in long sleeves and none bearing so much as a club badge or a manufacturer’s logo. Some of the shirts looked familiar, like Arsenal’s famous red-white-white-sleeves combo or the Blackpool shirt upon which my school football team’s identity was based. Other designs already looked dated, such as Crystal Palace’s claret and blue vertical bands, but somehow it was of little relevance. These were my formative years in which the recognition of a team’s colours were key to my education and appreciation of a club’s history. All knowledge was good knowledge.

I could go on about the World Cup competition section near the back of the book or the black-and-white photo section in the middle, but there seems little point. This miniature encyclopaedia, the 47th in a series covering topics as diverse as ‘House Plants’ and ‘Freshwater Fishes’ was always my favourite book out of all those in my local library.

Though the building has long since gone, the book remains and I’m reassured to find that even now as a nostalgic 40-year-old, I still find that colour section just as appealing as ever.

Wednesday 4 July 2012

League of Blogs Sticker Album - Now Available

At 6pm today, I finally got my hands on the League of Blogs Sticker Album...and even if I do say so myself, it's pretty damn sweet! :)

Measuring 21cm x 28cm, it's roughly the size of an A4 softback book and features all 92 kits from the League of Blogs Wallchart, all served up in a Panini style.

There's a short history of the League of Blogs, the wallchart and the sticker album along with The Football Attic's 3 favourite designs.

And now you too can own one!

These will be available for £15 inc P&P (unless you live outside the UK, in which case we'll work out a price and let you know before you commit) and will include your very own design(s) in sticker form as an added extra.  NB The stickers images in the book are larger than the actual stickers so you can see them better.  If there's enough call for a 'blank' version of the book into which you could stick the stickers, we'll consider doing one.  The stickers would be extra...paper doesn't grow on...oh right...

So...to get your hands on one of these beauties, drop us an email at admin [at] thefootballattic [dot] com and we'll let you know how to send payment etc.

Addendum:  Just thought I better add that though we've called this a sticker album, the 'stickers' in there are printed directly into the book...

UPDATE - There are now 2 'blank' sticker albums available. These come with a full set of 95 stickers and are available for £25 each.

The pages will look like this...

So to summarise:

Standard album (with pre-printed pictures) - £15
Blank album + 95 Stickers - £25

Sunday 1 July 2012

UEFA Euros - in captions

Switch on your TV to watch any football match these days and you won't fail to notice the continuous presence of the score in the top corner of your screen. A handy facility for those who can't remember the score or can't wait for the commentator to utter it again among a billion random statistics, but it's still a relatively recent addition to our televised football coverage.

Once upon a time, you'd have been hard pressed to see any information presented to you on-screen while a game was being broadcast, be it the score, a player's name or the time remaining during the match.

Where the European Championships are concerned, we can trace a line back to 1980 to see the first regular use of captions and from there to the present day we can plot a steady improvement all the way forward to today's animated masterpieces.


Throughout the first five European Championships, the most you could have expected to see was a token 'R' in the corner of the screen to denote an action replay. In the very early days, it's likely you wouldn't even have seen that, but every long journey begins with a small step (as they say), so here's an example of a replay 'R' from 1976 courtesy of RTV Zagreb.

Euro 80

By 1980, Italian state broadcaster RAI felt the time had come to show us some primitive computer-generated captions. These usually displayed the names of key players on whom the camera lingered for more than a few seconds while the ball was out of play or perhaps the word 'Replay' as shown above. Very basic, but certainly very clear and on a par with the sort of captions occasionally seen during the 1978 World Cup.

Euro 84

The seventh iteration of the Euros were held in France but from what we can tell, TV coverage was divided up between several of the country's broadcasters. This assumption has been derived from the fact that all available footage shows captions of different styles as shown on the right.

That said, the captions seen most often (and consequently most synonymous with the tournament) are these ones featuring a tall yellow fixed-width font. These captions showed the time elapsed, current score and player names and numbers.

Euro 88

Before the next European Championships got underway in West Germany, a global audience had witnessed the colourful and captivating captions seen during the 1986 World Cup. National flags, 3D plinths upon which names were displayed and colourful kit diagrams had set a very high bar for the German broadcasters ARD and ZDF to beat two years later.

As it turned out, they did a comparable job repeating many of those eye-catching techniques. As in Mexico 86, we saw team line-ups before the match using a video window showing the players' faces, plus we had a nice bold font clearly displaying all the important information during the games complete with flags and symbols.

Euro 92

Swedish broadcaster SVT had the job of bringing us coverage of the ninth Euro competition, but compared to Euro 88, they provided a slightly toned down style of on-screen caption.

Shadow panels were the order of the day upon which were displayed team sheets, scorelines and player captions in a bulky, slightly quirky font. Where those team sheets were concerned, we were even treated to the sight of mascot 'Rabbit' in the top left corner of the screen along with severed hands holding yellow cards next to those players that had previously been booked. Even the broadcaster's logo got in on the act from time to time.

Euro 96

With England as the hosts of Euro 96 some of us (well, me certainly) were wondering whether the job of providing captions and graphics would be down to the BBC or ITV. In the end it was both as the two parties joined forces to broadcast coverage of the event around the world.

What we got as far as captions were concerned was nothing like what we were used to on either channel at the time. There was a plethora of blue round-cornered panels with a moulded effect showing clear, simple details and no animation whatsoever. Though easy to read with its occasional use of national flags or yellow/red card symbols, it lacked something in excitement value and didn't exactly set the world on fire where visual presentation was concerned.

Euro 2000

Come the new millennium, that was all to change as a new era in on-screen imagery came to the fore. Though the blue colour scheme was retained from 1996 (and indeed coverage of World Cup '98), we were now treated to a degree of imagination as an oval motif was used to show flags and elapsed time.

A simple, stylish font was used to complete the effect and the overall impression was one of slickness and smartness for the tournament in Belgium and the Netherlands.

Euro 2004

With the arrival of the 12th Euros, we also had a strong sense of branding that permeated every aspect of the television coverage from Portugal.

The 'throbbing heart' symbol was a regular sight on our screens during live games and could often be seen on the vivid captions showing player names. A scroll motif was also employed to great effect showing full-screen team listings and formations before every game and the scoreline at regular intervals too.

Small ball-like flags were a subtle approach to identifying the nationalities of teams whereas a simple sans-serif font completed a polished, original look throughout the competition.

Euro 2008

Such was the popularity of the blue panels in Euro 96 and Euro 2000, it shouldn't have come as a surprise to see them return for Euro 2008 in Austria and Switzerland, albeit with a splash of red here and there.

By now we were well into the widescreen/HD era of TV broadcasting and the captions for UEFA's 13th continental cavalcade made full use of the technology appearing in our homes. Team sheets were crisply displayed in a clear white font on blue backgrounds and the slanted oval flag symbols had revolving white dots of light to add visual interest.

Continuing on from Euro 2004, the red and green tournament logo also cropped up here and there to reinforce the ever-present UEFA branding.

Euro 2012

And so to the current tournament which has wonderfully applied a sumptuous purple colour scheme to everything it touches. Coupled with a beautifully illustrated flower design, the presentation of captions during Euro 2012 has been taken to a new level.

Team sheets unfurl before us (much as they did during Euro 2004) and here again those lists of player names also rearrange to show the suggested formations for both teams. Sadly in this HD age, those of us watching in SD have had difficulty reading the numbers on the back of the shirt symbols, but I guess you can't have everything...

Breaking completely away from all that's gone before, the flags of the competing nations have been displayed on flower leaves rather than ovals or circles. You can say what you like about UEFA, but there's little doubt they really picked a more than competent design agency based on their output for this tournament.

The future...

So with television graphics having developed to such a high level, what can we expect for Euro 2016?  Not only that, what can we expect if Michel Platini gets his way and allows Euro 2020 to be held in a wide range of countries?

The answer is up for debate, but all we know is that things have moved on dramatically from those primitive 'Replay R' days prior to 1980.