Thursday, 27 June 2013

The Big Match - Opening Titles (Part 1)

Time for another guest post now as David Poza, creator of the epic 'On This Day' series on YouTube that showcases historical football matches for every day of the year, takes us through the ever-changing opening titles from ITV's classic football highlights programme. Here's Part 1...

The Big Match was the famous rival of Match of The Day and during 15 years it featured some of the best opening titles that I have ever seen. The music changed during the years and probably followed the changing times.


The first opening titles are very basic; without much fuss or effort. Just some goals and actions from the last season of the old ATV ‘Star Soccer’ show in London. Very nice to see Leeds United’s goal in the League Cup Final against Arsenal. The longest action shown is the magnificent goal of Bobby Charlton against Spurs, which ends with the commentary of Hugh Johns’ “Oh, a fine goal!”

The music during the next four seasons will be the famous song by Keith Mansfield ‘Young Scene,’ a very catchy song that takes us to the sofa to see… West Ham v QPR for example.


We find the first versions of the opening titles, and these will be a constant in almost every season.

Up to October or November, The Big Match had a very simple intro; some goals from the past season including Neil Young’s goal at the FA Cup Final, Bobby Gould celebrating in the League Cup or a very long individual play that ends in a corner at Stamford Bridge (notice the lack of hoardings at the time).

The transformation is complete when colour arrives at LWT. The problem arrives when the archive team doesn’t have any colour pictures from games covered by ITV. The troubles have a very easy answer: take a bit from World Cup ’66, a bit from Pathé recordings of Chelsea v Arsenal and the European Cup of ’68, and everything will be clear!


Up to three changes to the opening line-up in the first season of the 70’s.

1. From the early season: First color pictures in the archive! It was just like a review of the late season: Rivelino scoring against Uruguay, George Best sent off for Northern Ireland or the Goal of the Season 1970 (George Graham against Palace) are featured.

2. From December to the end of the season: A random selection of bits and pieces from the early season including Jimmy Greaves at West Ham, Rodney Marsh’s magnificent goal against Birmingham, and the banner of THE BIG MATCH showing Gary Sprake in disbelief after another mistake. At the end, another Golden Goal: Johnny Hollins against Arsenal in September.

3. 24 April1971: A one-off title made to celebrate Frank McLintock’s Footballer of The Year Award. He’s seen at Stamford Bridge talking to his team-mates.


The last one to feature Keith Mansfield’s song. It was unaltered until the end of the season except from one fact I will mention later. The titles include some of the most striking pictures so far. Starting with a wrestle at Hull, a Derby player attacking Paddy Crerand (imagine this going backwards and forwards and you get what was funny in those days), George Best humiliating Gordon Banks and finishing with the three winners of the cups making the banner. The variation is the ending, changing Tottenham’s League Cup celebration and Charlie George’s goal at the FA Cup Final the previous year for Stoke’s League Cup final bath and the goal by ’The Old Man,’ George Eastham.


There are three versions of the opening credits during this season. The biggest change was the theme tune. Mansfield was retired and The Big Match saluted a piece made by The Don Harper Orchestra called ‘Cheekybird.’ For most, it was a big change (including me) and more changes happened in the presentation of the opening credits.

During the early season, we saw one of the most bizarre titles of the 70’s. This contained superimposed pictures from various Finals and games, so we can see a vicious foul at the FA Cup Final in 1972 and Denis Law celebrating a goal, all superimposed at the same time.

Then a revamp was needed. Maybe the first set of titles didn’t catch the attention of the audience, so a radical change appeared. With THE BIG MATCH title in front, the two teams that were playing the main match were seen leaving the tunnel behind, and that was during a 2-3 month period. And again there was a need for change… so what better than to go back to the classics: pictures of goals and saves.

In January 1973 we were delighted to see… Gordon Banks’ underwear. Probably not the best beginning for an opening credit, but in my opinion, the song and the pictures chosen were appropriate and caught my attention as soon as I saw them. That included among others, Cyril Knowles’ own goal against Crystal Palace, Peter Lorimer’s screamer at Selhurst Park or Jimmy Hill acting as linesman. Great opening credits indeed.

But things were to change again the following season…

Our thanks go to Jamie Pollob for his guest post. Part 2 of his series 'The Big Match - Opening Titles' will feature here on The Football Attic soon.

If you'd like to share your nostalgia memories with us, why not send your words to us like David did? Just drop us a line to admin [at] thefootballattic [dot] com and we'll do the rest!


Post a Comment