Thursday 30 August 2012

At last - we're on Facebook!

Yes, it's true. The Football Attic finally has a page on Facebook and you're all invited to 'Like' it!

When we started out back in November 2011, we decided to ease ourselves gently into the murky world of social media. We didn't want to rush into anything, so we created our Twitter account first of all and waited to see if there was any negative fallout. With news reaching us that nearly 600 of you have since followed @FootballAttic, it's fair to say we're far from disappointed at the outcome, so thanks to all of you for that.

After Twitter, we dallied with Google+ and created a YouTube account but we always kept a Facebook page back as a last resort. We were never quite sure whether it was strictly necessary, but now we've decided to give it a go.

So what will you find on our Facebook Attic page?  For a start, lots of notices telling you about the great stuff we're providing for you on this blog site, but that's not all. We'll be spiralling off into all kinds of directions discussing the football nostalgia topics we know you love and getting you to interact with us too. We'll even tell you about great nostalgia material on other blog sites, because we're rather nice like that.

All in all, we'll hopefully provide you with a wonderful extra outlet through which we can satisfy your appetite for everything from Panini to Subbuteo. Just visit, 'Like' our page and spread the word.

Thanks very much and have fun!

Chris O and Rich J.

Steven Gabb's Top 5... World Cup Shirts

Yet more suggestions for the best World Cup Shirts now from Steven Gabb from the excellent blogsite Spirit of Mirko who has come up with his own mixed bag in more ways than one...

United States (1950, home)

Some kits are classics because they are stylish, others because they were used during a particularly successful era for a team. But to be a true classic I think the perfect storm of a wonderful performance and a great design are required. This is certainly the case for USA's 1950 kit. Not only is it smart - it's a truth universally acknowledged that the best kits feature a sash - the US recorded one of their finest ever international results wearing it, a 1-0 victory over Tom Finney's England.

Wednesday 29 August 2012

I've Got Stripes: The five most wretched striped football shirts of all time

Ed Carter returns with a fabulous guest post all about the place of the striped shirt in football history...

Listeners to the latest Football Attic podcast will now be fully aware that I have become part of the problem. The problem, specifically, is the way the world of football fans dotes on the Peru international kit. But we love sashes. Sashes on kits are brilliant things and, moreover very difficult to mess up.

Stripes, on the other hand, are a different matter. My own team are Brighton and Hove Albion, so I dote on striped shirts. Brighton of course once famously had a kit with striped shorts as well, by way of demonstrating the massive inadvisability of doing that.

There's another magical aspect to striped football shirts of a sort unrelated to sartorial concerns: teams who wear them underachieve magnificently. The last time a team who wore stripes as their first choice kit won the English football league championship was Sunderland in 1935/36 and the last FA Cup winner in stripes were the largely otherwise stripe-free Coventry City in 1987. The last team who are regular striped shirt wearers to prevail in football's oldest competition: Southampton, in 1976. And naturally, they weren't wearing their red and white striped shirts that day... the impossible glamour of the no-hoper is hard to overlook.

Tuesday 28 August 2012

Arsenal - Barclays League Division One review (VHS), 1989

A warm welcome to Rich Nelson, the man behind the wonderful Nelson's Column and designer of Kits 5 and 6 on our League of Blogs 2012 wallchart. He's discovered a VHS tape that covers one of the major high points in Arsenal's history...

Not quite from the Football Attic, this is a treasure from the Football Garage (aka Nelson’s Column). The video was a present for being so brave…

My first experience of travel sickness on the way to a school trip to Suffolk in July 1989, the nine-year-old Rich N survived, and returned home to be greeted by happy parents and a shiny shrink-wrapped purchase from the Islington Woolworths. I couldn't claim to be any sort of connoisseur of production values with my collection, mostly of Transformers and various editions of The Big Match (unknowingly recorded over with Coronation Street), but just pressing 'Play' on the video player was like I'd become a true sophisticate. Flowing titles, a saxophone-heavy soundtrack and the dulcet tones of Jim Rosenthal were in place, and it was time to remember the finest end to a season ever, far closer than its poor relation, May 2012.

Sunday 26 August 2012

League of Blogs Wallcharts - NOW AVAILABLE

Remember the League of Blogs? Remember when we all had fun together? You do? Well, that's marvellous, for I have have good news fellow League of Bloggers as the actual, physical wallchart posters are now available!

Took a while to find somewhere I could get them for a decent price for a decent size as I wanted them to look good and you know what..they do!

They are 20" x 30", printed on glossy photo paper, shown below...DVD of the awesome Sledge Hammer (look it up, then go buy it) included for scale.

DVD not included...

And so to the money side of things...and these are being done at virtually cost price.

£8.50 + £3 P&P

If you want one, email us at admin [at] the footballattic [dot] com and I'll let you know how you can pay.

Rich & Chris

Saturday 25 August 2012

Attic Kits Feature in Coventry City Matchday Programme

Today is a very proud day for The Football Attic and in particular, the Rich (@sofa_soccer) shaped half.

In today's Coventry City Matchday Programme for the game against Bury, 3 of my fantasy kit designs are showcased to all who buy a copy. As someone who, like Chris, spent hours of his teenage years designing kits, to have them in your home team's programme is just fantastic!

Before I go into how this came about, I want to say a big thank you to Derek and Gary of the brilliant Got, Not Got, for it is they who made this all possible. For those of you who may have missed it, we interviewed the Godfathers of Retro back in February.

Thursday 23 August 2012

Arctic Software's World Cup (C16 & Plus/4)

THIS is the game I talked about in the podcast! Turns out it was the game that US Gold utilised for World Cup Carnival, which Chris mentioned (and the fantastic 200% article he mentioned is here).

The C64 version doesn't seem to be too bad, but this is what I had to put up with...

Football computer games...screw you!

Tuesday 21 August 2012

The Football Attic Podcast Episode 2: Computer Games

Welcome back for Episode 2 of the Football Attic Podcast!

This week we delve into the uber-nerdy world of football computer games and discover that Rich seems to be bitter about almost any game he's ever played, except for Sensible Soccer

So...prepare for reminiscence and rants as Chris and Rich relive their geeky pasts ;-)

Download it here - (or right-click and 'Save as' to save your own copy)

Ed Carter's Top 5... World Cup Shirts

The kits keep on coming as today we welcome Ed Carter's choice of his favourite five World Cup shirts...

1. West Germany (1970, home)

(West) Germany have a virtually unblemished record of brilliant, tasteful football kits. Even when they went completely insane (1990 and 1994) they did so with such panache and style that it was brilliant and the world and Jeff Banks rejoiced. However, for me it's always the plainer the better and the 1970 West German kit is perhaps the most beautiful ever seen in the World Cup finals. Two-tone with simple collar and cuff trim and a brilliant black German eagle badge in a thick black circle. Dutch people would go to their child's wedding wearing this kit.

Monday 20 August 2012

Al Gordon's Top 5... World Cup Shirts

Al Gordon from God, Charlton & Punk Rock is the latest fellow blogger to give us his Top 5 World Cup Kits:

1. England (1982 Away)

Once upon a time Admiral set the standard in kit design.  This Leicester based firm had the best logo, the best templates and the best of the clients, England.
Many think the home kit of this era to be the greatest England shirt of all time, yet it is the red away version that I always fondly remember. A quarter past five on the 16th June 1982 we kicked off our World Cup campaign against Platini and the French. A Bryan Robson goal just a minute later and we all really thought it could be ‘This time’ after the disappointment of missing Argentina in 78. It’s interesting to note that both sides wore their away strips although the home ones didn’t clash.

Friday 17 August 2012

Commercial break

Five TV commercials from yesteryear with a football theme. Click the titles to view the ads...

Penguin (1977)

The unlikely tale of a kids football team playing a Flightless Bird XI from the Antarctic and losing – in humiliating fashion. Having presumably exhausted all other options where local teams were concerned, the children in red-and-white stripes played off on a never-more-Seventies muddy pitch in front of a baying crowd that strongly support the birdy outfit (judging by their hats and scarves). The kids never stood a chance. The referee and various members of the crowd were heavily influenced by the allure of chocolaty Penguin bars and before you knew it, our feathery friends had put the ball in the back of the net. Cue rapturous scenes and a guard of honour as the winners waddled their way off the p-p-p-pitch. Exciting stuff.

Wednesday 15 August 2012

Rich Nelson's Top 5... World Cup Shirts

Rich Nelson from Nelson's Column and Escape To Suomi has kindly sent us his Top 5 World Cup shirts...

France (1986, Home)

A more refined version of the Euro 84 effort, yet to be replicated (unlike 1998’s copy of '84). The perfect shade of blue, matching with the shorts and socks to complete the Tricolore. Unfortunately this was the beginning of the end of the great French team, along with some really dreadful threads.

Rich J's Favourite 5... World Cup Shirts

Following on from Chris' Top 5 World Cup Shirts, I present my choices. Just missing out were Denmark '86 (Home) as Chris had chosen the away so I thought I'd find an alternative and West Germany 1990 (Away). A great shirt from a classic design, but just didn't quite make the cut... so, here they are:

1. Argentina (1986, Home)

It’s obvious Mexico 86 would rear its (none too) ugly head with anything I do, but this kit has been more than just a shirt to me - it’s been a lifelong quest. In the same way I spent most of my youth and adulthood trying to track down a Subbuteo World Cup Trophy, a parallel quest was to own this, or more likely, a replica of this shirt – a quest that has mostly been achieved.

There are several things about this shirt that set it above all other Argentina outfits. The centre stripe is white... big deal you say, but Argentina always have the centre stripe blue (I am deliberately ignoring Adidas’ shameless attempt to ape this iconic design at the 2010 World Cup). Big deal, I hear you repeat, but that’s me - I like the small details of these things.

Monday 13 August 2012

Chris O's Favourite 5... World Cup Shirts

1. South Africa (1998, home)

I know my taste in virtually everything represents the minority view, but I absolutely loved this kit when it appeared in the 1998 World Cup. Kappa, the manufacturers, showed brilliant originality in weaving together four colours into a mad tapestry the like of which has rarely ever been seen.

Saturday 11 August 2012

The Football Grounds of Europe

Most people have a list of things they'd save in the event of a fire. I have three books on my list (which kind of suggests it's a long list...I mean, I have a cat and three kids, but then again, the kids aren't on the list, they're old enough to save themselves... and doing the maths, that means each child can carry one of the books! Result!). Anyway, the books...the first of these is 'Mexico 86 - A Pictorial Review' by Phil Soar and John Bone, a glorious hardback book covering the whole of that tournament in great detail. The 2nd is 'True Colours' by John Devlin and the third is the subject of this article.

Have you ever wondered what various football grounds around Europe looked like towards the end of the 1980s?  Hasn't everyone?  Luckily for you, the great Simon Inglis has this covered with the excellent Football Grounds of Europe, published just before the 1990 World Cup which, may I remind you, was 22 (twenty-two) years ago!

Football Parade (1950)

Rob Langham from The Two Unfortunates has given us yet another fantastic article for the site:

One aspect of a football obsession that is perhaps under recognised is the impact of heirlooms. Sure, my formative years were stock full of Panini, Subbuteo and The Big Match, but it was items bequeathed to me by my father that played just as important a role – especially in forging a keen sense of the game’s history.

Among an assortment of annuals and notebooks, Football Parade, sold exclusively by Marks & Spencer and constituting something of a retrospective on the 1949-50 season was one such artefact. Presented with a foreword by a yet to be knighted Stanley Matthews, the aim, in the Tangerine man’s own words was to produce ‘the finest book on Soccer ever published’.

Simon Inglis’s Football Grounds of Europe, soon to be reviewed on these pages, may have subsequently snatched away that accolade by a whisker, but Football Parade remains a mine of information.

Friday 10 August 2012

The Football Attic Podcast - Episode 1

There's a well known philosophical debate that asks "If a tree falls down in a forest and there's no-one around to hear it, does it make a sound?"

Well, we can't answer that, but we can pose the question "If 2 blokes spend 40 minutes talking about Panini and stuff, will anyone listen?"

Thinking about it, it's more you who can answer that question... so... you know... download it... now!

Right-click and 'Save As' from the link below:

Football Attic Podcast Episode 1

or download it from iTunes... when I figure that out...

And please let us know what you think :)

Tuesday 7 August 2012

Panini: Football 79

Having cracked the UK market the previous year, Figurine Panini returned with a new sticker collection – Football 79 – to further establish itself as the leader in its field.

The album's royal blue cover featured an action shot of Liverpool playing Club Brugge in the 1978 European Cup Final, but rather cleverly the designers also added a few well chosen stickers to make the collection even more appealing to young kids.

Inside once again was the trusty fixture grid into which scores could be written, but that was small fry compared to the first main feature of the album – a 6-part map showing the locations of all the league teams of England, Scotland and Wales. The map proved so popular that it returned the following year in Panini's Europa 80 album.

The stickers of the Football 79 collection were more rectangular compared to Football 78, but once again there were 17 of them for each team – 15 players, plus a badge and a team picture on every double page spread. The player stickers had a less cluttered look than before with each player name displayed simply at the bottom while a small pictogram featured just above it to indicate the team name, colours and badge.

The main talking point for Football 79, however, wasn't the player stickers but the team badges. For the first and so far only time in Panini's rich history of sticker production in the UK, team badge stickers were made from fabric rather than metallic foil. The fabric itself had a silky texture and a silvery sheen which was a masterstroke of design and added a tactile element to an otherwise papery norm.

Quite why these silky silver badges never returned in subsequent years is unclear, but one can only assume Panini (and the collectors of its stickers) favoured the shiny foils in far greater numbers. A shame as this was an example of great originality on the part of the Italian manufacturer.

The page layouts were much neater for this second domestic collection and a preference for showing the player biographies below the stickers was established in this album. Sticker spaces were decorated on either side by a column of red globe symbols while the text (including the team profiles) appeared in blue. For the Scottish League Premier Division, all the teams were given equal prominence at last although the club badges featured a green background rather than the silver one favoured by their English counterparts.

For the English Second Division, the same format was used as for Football 78. Each club had a badge and team picture – both in landscape aspect this time – with the badges sporting a gold background and a football symbol to the right of each one. The usual array of facts and figures for each team was on show, printed in blue throughout and accompanied again by a fixture grid.

Among the inevitable array of curiosities found within the Football 79 album are a youthful looking Sam Allardyce sporting the sort of moustache that no 25-year-old should ever have, Chelsea's Clive Walker sporting the frizzy blond hair and black beard combo that no-one should ever have and QPR goalkeeper Phil Parkes sporting the shaggy dog look that frankly no shaggy dog should ever have. All that, and the first sight of shirt sponsorship courtesy of Hibernian's affiliation with Bukta. Something for everyone, then, in this excellent Panini sticker album.

Saturday 4 August 2012

Football Manager (1982)

I was a Spectrum kid. Aged only eleven, I became the proud and grateful owner of one of Clive Sinclair’s first colour computers. My parents didn’t earn much money, but they put some aside whenever they had it and when Christmas came around, they usually treated me to a special present or two. In 1982, they surpassed themselves by handing me my first ever home computer.

I’d like to think I repaid their huge expense by using my ZX Spectrum regularly, often spending hours on end typing in a long and ultimately error-ridden program from a magazine. Yet as we know, most kids are mainly interested in games rather than programming, and in the early 1980’s I was no different.

Despite the limited graphics and processing power on offer, most of the titles available seemed quite exciting back then, so when Football Manager came along, it went straight to the top of my ‘must have’ list. Written by Kevin Toms and published by Addictive Software, this was a game that asked you to pick a team, select the right players and guide them all the way to glory in the FA Cup or Division 1. A shrewd footballing brain was required to do so, let alone a bit of luck and a tape recorder that didn’t mangle up your most recently saved game.

Choose your weapon...
There was no fancy title screen to welcome you into the game. Instead, you were invited to choose your team, and by that it should be noted that you were picking a team name, not necessarily the players within it. As a West Ham fan, my game would always begin by typing in 16, after which I'd list my players with a swift press of the rubber key marked 'A'. Luckily for me, the default squad did feature some West Ham players but essentially this was a random selection of professionals from all teams that needed sorting out over the course of a season.

Kenny Sansom - pack your bags...
All players had a skill level from one to five, an energy level of one to twenty and a monetary value. As manager of your team, the first thing to identify was those players that were making up the numbers. Kenny Sansom - sorry, but a skill level of one and an energy level of seven just wouldn't cut the mustard. Luckily, such players could be sold, although whether you were prepared to accept a derisory offer from another team would be for you to decide.

Blackpool - lacking morale
With that out of the way, you were ready to begin your first match in Division 4 – the starting point for your initial league campaign. As advanced warning of what was to come, you were shown the head-to-head ratings for your team and your opponents. Here you could assess the strengths or weaknesses in defence, midfield and attack, along with the energy and morale levels of both teams. If things looked a little shaky, you could tweak your starting XI to make sure you had the optimum score in all areas. There wasn't much you could do about the Morale rating, though, save for winning a few consecutive games.

No goal - and no ball either
There was only so much tweaking you could do, however, and inevitably the match would have to go ahead. Having decided which colour your team would appear in for the season (only black or white, I'm afraid), you were ready to sit back and watch the action. Yes, it was primitive by today's standards, but in 1982 the sight of some crudely-drawn players animated jerkily on a bright green pitch was enough to induce huge amounts of excitement and stress in equal proportions.

One-nil to The Hammers!
The thing to bear in mind is that during the often lengthy match highlight sequences, there was a considerable element of randomness that added a frisson of apprehension to even the most one-sided games. You were never quite sure how many shots on goal either team would get (let alone how many would go in) and on a few rare occasions a shot that seemed to be going off target might be deflected in by one of your other players.

Sure, you weren't told who was taking a shot or who had scored, but somehow that wasn't important. You merely wanted to see whether your team had scored more goals than your opponents, and it wasn't until the final score was displayed that you could finally breathe a sigh of relief that it was all over.

Plenty of goals at Gresty Road...
Having cast an eye over the other results from around the country and assessed your place in the league table, it was back to the drawing board to begin the whole process again. As well as league games, there were also occasional FA Cup matches thrown in for good measure and with a good run of form these could increase your club's income so that you could buy more players or pay off the loan you'd taken out, depending on your financial disposition.

Never mind, Hull - plenty of
games left
Come the end of the season, what with all the buying and selling of players and selection of teams, you probably felt as though you'd had quite an insight into the world of football team management. Naturally enough, it barely scratched the surface of what things were like in the real world – or even the video game simulations that we know nowadays – but the game was a masterpiece of coding and simple gameplay. It caught the imagination like wildfire back in the day and it's a testament to Kevin Tom's work that the title was still on sale many years after it was originally launched.

West Ham promoted!
As an 11-year-old, I loved playing Football Manager and my classmates at school did too. I know this because for one brief period, several of us would compare our results and league positions daily having written the important details down on bits of paper. How's that for video gaming with a social network element?

Football Manager was the first in a long line of computer games aiming to recreate the struggle to succeed as the boss of a top club, and it deserves all the adulation it's received over the last 30 years. In an 8-bit world of simple sprites and basic sounds, it still owns a place in the hearts of those of us that played it, and for that, Kevin Toms can feel rightly proud of his pioneering work.