Sunday, 7 October 2012

Goal magazine, 10 August 1968

There is, I suspect, a number of people for whom the phrase ‘incorporating Goal magazine’ is the source of much confusion. Appearing below the main title of Shoot! back in the mid-1970s, those three simple words rattled around inside my own mind until recently. What was Goal magazine and why was its existence being compromised? As ever, the trail of nostalgia generated by decades of football fanaticism was there to provide all the answers.

‘The World’s Greatest Soccer Weekly’ was how Goal proudly announced itself on 10 August 1968. With its bright red cover, circular picture of Emlyn Hughes and George Best battling for a muddy ball and the potential to ‘win £2,000 free,’ the first issue must have stood out a mile on the shelves of newsagents up and down the UK.

Goal wasn’t short of a swagger when it hit the newsstands. Following a high-profile launch at London’s Savoy Hotel (complete with dolly birds, no less), readers found the first edition proclaiming its self-assuredness at every opportunity. The first two pages proved this with several warm wishes from football notables including Sir Stanley Rous and Bobby Moore, plus the first of many articles from star writer Bobby Charlton.

Charlton’s Manchester United side were European Cup champions, but they’d lost their league title to Man City at the end of the 1967/68 season. It was therefore ironic that United faced City in the first eight days of the new season, not to mention West Brom and Everton, both of whom had featured in the 1968 FA Cup Final. The England international midfielder accepted this as an anomaly of the fixture computer but wondered if Don Revie and Bill Shankly could have come up with a worse start for United. Remember, this was an era when fixture computers were (a) new technology, and (b) beyond the realms of suspicious human manipulation. Innocent times.

Bobby Charlton was quick to pick out Everton as a rising force in the English game, as was reporter Alan Hughes. Fulham, however, seemed braced for the departure of Johnny Haynes, their mercurial forward who, at 32, was nearing the end of his career. Goal speculated that QPR were preparing a bid for Haynes after their young striker Rodney Marsh had suffered an injury. As things turned out, Haynes received his testimonial at Fulham and stayed until 1970, while Marsh remained at QPR until 1972 when Man City came calling.

The sinister threat of football hooliganism was also reported in the first issue of Goal. A recent friendly between Arsenal and Rangers had resulted in thousands of teenagers invading the pitch where running battles ensued. The game was abandoned as 24 people were treated for injuries and a further 26 were arrested. A similarly violent coming together of fans in Buenos Aires resulted in over 70 people being killed during June of 1968, and reporter Peter Barnard was quick to suggest that those involved in football thuggery be heavily fined or even banned from grounds for life.

It wasn’t just the external threats to football that made the Goal headlines. Internally, the laws of the game itself appeared to be restricting fans’ enjoyment too, according to Eric Nicholls. He argued that the tackle from behind needed to be punished more severely and that the rule-makers should concentrate on that rather than the goalkeeper’s ‘four-step’ law which seemed ‘potty’ and unfairly restricted the men between the posts. Nicholls (and many others) would have to wait decades before a straight red card could be awarded for a dangerous tackle from behind.

Elsewhere in Goal, there were numerous snippets of news that highlighted the careers of well-known players before they were famous. In ‘On The Ball’, we heard that Bruce Rioch (future star of Everton and Scotland) was “not likely to leave [Fourth Division] Luton yet awhile” but added that “the club are turning down offers for him weekly.” Within a year, Rioch had moved to Aston Villa in a £100,000 transfer that broke the record for a Second Division club. Colin Todd, meanwhile, was staying put at Sunderland after the Roker Park club named him vice-captain. An England under-23 international at the time, Todd eventually signed for Derby County in 1971 and was also a record-breaker – his £150,000 signing-on fee being the highest for a British defender at the time.

Like Shoot! (the magazine that eventually swallowed up Goal), there was a two-page colour centre-spread, in this issue featuring a Liverpool team that could have been sponsored by Adidas if the players’ boots were anything to go by. In another full-page colour picture featuring Trevor Brooking, his fellow West Ham team mates were referring to him as being potentially “the greatest discovery we've ever made.” Whatever happened to him, I wonder?

As is often the case, however, the nicest part of an old football magazine like this is the back section where adverts and small features catch the eye. Here in issue 1 of Goal we find all manner of different ads offering everything from baldness remedies to  home studies helping you play the guitar in three weeks. There’s even an advert for Maserati Air Horns – “the famous Italian horns noted for their penetrating blast!”  Next time you watch old footage from a World Cup match in the 1970’s or early 80’s, you’ll know what’s causing all the noise…

Finally (and somewhat surprisingly for a football magazine aimed mainly at young fans), may column inches were dedicated to the art of winning the Football Pools including a weekly guide by Jack Potts, second only to Andy Capp in the Silliest Names of 1968 contest. If you wanted to win over £43,000 like four lucky Lymington dustmen, it was vital to know where to mark your X’s and luckily Goal was on hand to provide copious amounts of help.

Sadly it was a similar generation of revenue that ultimately proved Goal’s undoing. Having reached a peak circulation of 220,000 in 1971, sales of the magazine started to drop steadily and in June 1974 the decision was made to merge the title into Shoot!  With it, a well-known title virtually disappeared from our newsagents, but its concerted efforts to provide some decent weekly football reporting for us all to read fortunately remain to this day.

1 comment:

  1. If you are interested I have every edition of Goal Published all in very good condition.
    Regards John Adelaide aust.