Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Official Programme of the 1970 World Cup

A cheery red cover invites you to thumb through the 66 pages of this souvenir programme created as a guide to the 1970 World Cup. Priced at just six shillings (or 30p for any Brits harbouring decimal thoughts a year ahead of their time), this was the official handbook guaranteed to help you get the most out of the FIFA’s ninth global tournament.


Or at least two-thirds of it was. Some 23 pages were set aside for adverts, thus proving that rampant commercialism isn’t as new as you think. But what adverts – some for official partners like British Leyland (England’s coach providers), some for popular brands of the day like Mobil oil, and some for utterly random items like Action Man dolls (complete with sporting outfits, mark you). Even the Esso 1970 World Cup Coin Collection gets a look in.

But never mind that, I hear you cry – what sort of useful information could I find inside such an august publication? Well once we’ve been informed who makes up the World Cup Organising Committee, we’re given a short history of the competition translated into four languages. Throughout the programme, everything’s available in English, French, Spanish and German and printed in black, blue, pink and black again respectively.

After that, there are details about the previous tournaments, the qualifying results for the 1970 Finals and the ever-useful fixture list for the sixteen teams taking part.

Then it’s onto an illustrated profile of those teams and the stadia they were due to play in. Taking one group at a time, we get a black and white photograph of each venue plus a line up for each squad with monochrome images of six of the players.

Here we realise the limitations brought about by a lack of colour – and the lack of a photographer. The harsh Mexican sunlight means the likes of V Pereda and I Calderon are shown half-and-half in extreme brightness and shadow. The Swedish players look like they’ve had their photos taken at the local police station, while Bulgaria’s finest appear so dim and grainy as to be barely identifiable at all.

Yet it’s the Czechoslovakian team that causes most concern. Their team are depicted not photographically but as a series of paintings the like of which wouldn’t look out of place in the waiting room of a mental institution. Whether the budget ran out to pay for a measly six photos at the headquarters of the Czech FA we’re not quite sure, but it’s safe to say even an 80-year-old Spanish woman could have done a better job than this.

Finally at the back, there are pages where you can fill in all the scores of the matches as the tournament progresses plus the player line-ups for the two competing finalists. All in all, a curious mix of content which, it could be said, lacked the excitement brought about by Pele, Banks and their ilk, but nonetheless tried valiantly to build on the success of the previous tournament four years before.

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