Saturday 27 July 2013

The Football Attic Podcast 11 - England Kits

Following on the from the recent England Kit Poll here on the Attic, we thought it'd be fun to discuss the results of the poll and England kits generally down the years... and it was!

Listen as Rich rails against the poll result and the '82 kit in particular (yes, again! Let it go!!!)

Hear Chris defend it... along with the rest of the world!

Oh and listen out for some quality* mash-ups of some Prodigy and Aztec Gold... er...


Subscribe on iTunes or download here

Friday 26 July 2013

Retro Round-Up: 26 July 2013

Hello everyone! How are you? Has your week been a good one? Did you do all the things you set out to do? And what about that annoying itch you've been having... you know - the embarrassing one you've been meaning to see the doctor about?

We hope the last seven days have been pleasant for you and utterly itch-free, but even if things haven't gone so well, console yourself with the fact that the world of football nostalgia makes everything right in the end. Proof is provided with this wondrous list of web-based bliss we present here for you to enjoy...

The Guardian is here to test your knowledge of football players that appeared on Panini stickers. See how many you can score out of ten...

The Goldstone Wrap remembers Brian Clough's brief spell at Brighton still being long enough to accomodate one typically brazen utterance, as detailed here...

Who Ate All the Pies looks back to 1984 and the arrival of Diego Maradona at Napoli...

It's nearly 20 years since Norwich City's Jeremy Goss stunned the football world with his volley against Bayern Munich in the UEFA Cup, so here's 8-Bit Football with their own unique tribute...

Giles Metcalfe returns to Got, Not Got with a guest post about those football clubs named after companies and other corporate entities...

FootballGaffesGalore does the business again with over eight minutes of wonderful Sammy McIllroy memories on YouTube...

Subbuteo continues to make the headlines with the first Scottish Challenge Cup tournament - details here at Toy News...

A sad end to the career of a wonderful broadcaster: James Alexander Gordon rightly remembered as a radio great, again over at The Guardian...

And finally, our eBay Buy of the Week - The first 93 issues of Shoot magazine, presented in four binders - and yours for just £230...

Wednesday 24 July 2013

Solved! The Mystery of the 96-97 Argentina Shirt

OK, so most of you reading this will a) not be aware there's any kind of mystery around a certain mid-90s Argentina shirt and b) not give a toss, but I DO!

For the past few years, I have been seeing this Argentina shirt all over eBay and it's usually described as the 96-97 shirt. I know this to be inaccurate as I am a complete nerd when it comes to Argentina kits and I happen to know that, between World Cups 94 and 98, AFA had only one other style of shirt... although even that appeared in about 4 different versions!

A few weeks ago, I stumbled upon an excellent site, bursting with Argentina-Kit-Nerd-Porn (yeah, I'm uber-niche!) and learned such awesome facts as in 1991, the AFA Youth side wore kits almost identical to the "one off" away outfits the senior side wore against England at Mexico 86!

Perusing that site last night, what lay before me, but that 96-97 shirt! At last I thought, an answer! Except i was on my mobile so couldn't translate it... hours later and my PC screen reveals the truth.

I was right! It never was an official AFA shirt! Turns out it was a proposal Adidas put forward for the 1994 kit, but which was rejected due to the navy pinstripes, the AFA insisting there would be no colour other than the blue and white (4 years later, they finally allowed black detailing on the shirts worn at World Cup 98). So, not only was it not a shirt ever worn by the Argentina side, but had the AFA not been so prickly about a 3rd colour on the shirt, this could have been the outfit worn by Maradona in his last ever match for his country. Personally, I think they made the right call and the one eventually chosen for USA 94 was very classy.
88? Really?

So now you know... and probably still don't care ;-)

Just this one to solve now...

You can read the full article here. And in case you were wondering, I use Google Chrome, which translates it all for me...

Monday 22 July 2013

eBay - Top 10 Buying Tips

Following on from our recent Memorabilia Collecting Podcast we were contacted by Jamie Parkins, who's provided this excellent Top Tips guide for eBay hunting!

Between 2001 and 2008 I had the pleasure of working at eBay UK. In the early days I managed both the Sporting Goods and Sports Memorabilia categories - charged with growing the number of seller's listing items on the site.

In the case of the memorabilia, I was fortunate in that by its very nature, collectors, fans and aficionados knew the site well and were already selling items in their multitude. At a football level, pretty much every club was represented somehow by fans selling and buying memorabilia of all shapes and forms. Instead I tended to try and support some of the key categories at a grass roots level in order to build up support for the website. I fondly recall working with Corinthians PLC the makers of those weirdly big-headed figurines and also sponsoring the UK Subbueto Championships in Birmingham (top tip: running out of eBay goodies to hand out about 45 minutes in makes for a long weekend!)

I've been following The Football Attic for some time now and needless to say eBay comes up a lot. Whilst I'm not here to promote one trading platform over another, there's no denying it's in my DNA, and so I thought some tips on buying on the site might be of help to you…

Whilst I can't guarantee you Pele's 1970 World Cup shirt for under £100, you never know what gem these might lead you to.

1. Review Completed Items

A hidden gem, eBay saves historical data of up to 90 days for all items listed. By switching an advanced search to include "Completed Items" you can see what had previously sold and the price they went for. Really useful for getting a measure or proxy for the average bid price for a certain, repeated item, ahead of when you bid.

2. Timing is Key

Bid early and declare your interest or bid late and run the risk of lots of collectors fighting for the auction. In the early days there were plenty of 99p bargains to be won, but less so nowadays. Simply put, you are up against thousands of other people in most verticals now so don't be naive and think that no-one else is watching the item. The page views counter, sometimes displayed at the bottom of the listing, is a good visual reference to let you know if you have stumbled onto something that no-one or everyone is looking at! By bidding early you kind of declare your hand, but eBay at least then knows this and can keep you up to date with the progress of the auction. If you don't initially bid, remember to either watch or at least bookmark the listing as it's amazing how time can sometimes fly past and a bargain goes a missing.

As a football collector, another angle to consider is that during actual matches, the chances of a fan bidding on their team's memorabilia will fall as they are likely to be at the game or at least watching it. Items ending between 15:00-16:45 on a Saturday or 19:30-21:15 midweek may often end up going for less than usual.

3. Saved Searches

If you're tired of searching the same old phrase on eBay in the vain hope that that lesser spotted pre-season programme is going to be listed, why not set up a Saved Search? Punch your search into eBay and you'll be presented with the chance to save it. eBay will then automatically email you on a daily/weekly basis when an item is listed that matches the search criteria. Double up with the mobile app and you can get push notifications for when that item is listed. Again, no excuse to miss out when, say, you are away from your computer for a prolonged period of time.

4. Go Mobile

eBay got into the proliferation of mobile apps pretty early and it's easy to see why. With more people connected via their mobiles, the chance to win an auction when away from the traditional desktop means collectors have no excuse to miss out. The iOS mobile app is very easy to use and connects well to your My eBay account so Saved Searches and Watches are all displayed. The interface for bidding, it could be argued, is even better than bidding on your desktop but look to ensure your 3G or wi-fi signal is strong enough to not lose out. You can download the iOS app here and the android app here.

5. Know Your Budget

I'm amazed when I watch friends bid. General practice, seems to be (1) bid and get outbid immediately (2) panic stricken, pull a number out of thin air and throw in a new maximum bid (3) outbid again, draw in air through teeth and come up with another new number exclaiming "sod it" as they click on the bid button. This is NOT the way to plan a bidding strategy.

From the onset, know what you are ultimately prepared to pay for the item. What is it worth to you? What is the highest you would be prepared to pay for it? When you have that answer you have your highest placed bidding strategy. With that number to hand you can place your maximum bid, let eBay's technology bid for you and watch the auction unfold. If you win, great; if you lose, well tell yourself it was never meant to be.

6. International v Domestic

A subtle one, but eBay's search results can be quite funky at times. Depending on how you set your location and what your default search criteria is, you may be missing out on items listed in international market places. Most sellers of memorabilia - aware that their are no boundaries to the geography of football fandom - set their items to be sold to all countries, but occasionally you'll find the odd gem listed on another country site that you may be able to snare.

7. The Gamble That is 'Buy It Now'

When we introduced Buy It Now to eBay, the community kicked off. The end of eBay they cried. Now fixed priced sales represent over 70% of site sales. With sporting memorabilia often its hard to put a fixed price on nostalgia and seller's will often pray on the desperation of the collector by putting a Buy It Now price on an auction listing. It's a great way to snaffle that desired item, but usually you pay over the odds. An alternate approach is where you see a Buy It Now auction, bidding low and early will remove that fixed price opportunity. In doing so, you remove any chance of another collector grabbing the item at the higher fixed price and the listing reverts to a traditional auction, in which you are now the current leading bidder. 

8. Misspellings, Typos, Nicknames

Spurs v Tottenham Hotspurs, United v Utd, Glasgow Rangers v 'Gers. You get the idea. There are many ways a team can be represented online. Similarly Gazza v Gascoigne or England's World Cup winning captain misspelled as Bobby More. It has happened. eBay's "did you mean" algorithm is pretty strong but occasionally the odd gem sneaks through and goes for a bargain.

9. Snipe, If You Dare

Controversial they may be, there is no denying the ability of automated bidding software to snag you that all-important item in the last seconds. There is a useful review of them here but be aware that their usage comes at a cost, sometimes monthly usage or a flat fee per successful bid.

10. Be Bold - Ask the Seller

If it looks too good to be true it often can be but you always have the chance to ask the seller. Just because we're online it doesn't mean you need to take the human element out of the transaction. Email the seller your questions and break down their reply. Are they being open and transparent? Did they answer your question to your satisfaction? Would this be the type of person you would interact with face to face? If you are thinking of spending some serious money on an item then see if you can speak with the seller directly. Are they able to explain the background of the item in question? How is it in their possession? Last resort, question them about their feedback. If there are negs in there, ask them why that negative was awarded, what did they do to resolve the situation. It's about creating a bond of trust.

Jamie Parkins is an eBay nut with a four figure feedback. His first purchase was a Watford Subbuteo team (LW 620 1986-88). You can find him at

Saturday 20 July 2013

Football and Comedy: Alas Smith and Jones (1986) - Tribute to Mel Smith

Sad news reaches us today of the death of Mel Smith, a fine comedy writer, actor and performer who graced British TV screens along with partner Griff Rhys-Jones during the 1980's.

Their long-running BBC show, Alas Smith and Jones, featured many a brilliantly observed sketch that often highlighted the joys and absurdities of everyday life. In tribute to Mel Smith, here's a quick sketch in which he plays the part of a TV announcer reading out the Saturday afternoon football results on Grandstand - itself lost to the changing trends of British programming.

Note the growing euphoria on the part of the announcer as he finally allows himself not just to accept the futility of reading endless football results, but enjoying the opportunity to convey his frustration to a watching public. If only real life was like this every once in a while.

Friday 19 July 2013

The Football Attic Podcast 11 & Square One Football Radio

The Date: 19th July 2013

The Time: 8pm

The Place: Square One Football Radio

Anyone who's listened to our most recent Podcast (no. 10) on Football Books may have picked up that we recorded Podcast 11 at the same time, yet there's been no sign of it yet...why is this?  Well, aside from not wanting you to gorge yourself on our aural pleasure, we've decided to do something a little different this time.

Good friend of the Attic, Steve Gabb, has recently set up an internet radio station, Square One Football Radio which is the UK’s first dedicated internet football radio station. They broadcast the finest football podcasts from across the United Kingdom, Europe and beyond. The station runs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and we at the Attic are very proud to be a part of it.

To that end, Podcast 11, which covers the thorny subject of England Kits down the years, will initially be available exclusively on Square One.

We'll then release it via the usual routes after a week or so.

In the meantime, head on over to Square One and check us out along with other podcast luminaries such as:

The Bundesliga Show
J-Talk Pod

p.s. prepare for an AWESOME mashup on the

Retro Round-Up: 19 July 2013

Greetings, one and all, and welcome to another sensational selection of the best retro football material we've found on the internet this week.

As ever, we invite you to send us your own favourite finds by dropping us a line to admin [at] thefootballattic [dot] com. Who knows - maybe you could feature in a future Retro Round-Up!

Your handy guide to spotting the casually dressed football hooligan of 1985, courtesy of Who Ate All The Pies...

Oleg Blokhin, a bald man and nine other players - the Soviet Union team of 1977 immortalised at The Vintage Football Club...

Speaking of bald men, what links Austin Powers, politics and the Argentina squad from the 1994 World Cup? The answer can be found at Old School Panini...

Bringing a new meaning to the phrase 'Italian football camp', Footysphere has a super postcard from the 1978 World Cup...

Dean Saunders - what a cock... Whichever way you look at it, the The Goldstone Wrap has the evidence...

Six things you probably did know about Subbuteo but are happy to be reminded about over at NewsTalk...

Or if you're Scotsman Tom Burns, there's much fun to be had actually playing the game, as reported in the Evening Times...

And finally, it's eBay Buy of the Week: A full set of Topps 1979 Pale Blue backed football cards in excellent condition... and yours for just £539.99

Wednesday 17 July 2013

Footballers and Wood – The First in a Very Occasional Series...

2 guest posts in a day? You lucky people you!  Here, Giles Metcalfe takes a look at the relationship between footballers and wood...and not a roast in sight!

Normally, when you talk about footballers hitting the woodwork it means the crossbar or goalposts, but this picture was taken in 1992, to promote Sheffield United’s main sponsor timber merchant Arnold Laver’s involvement with the American Hardwoods Export Council (AHEC).

Standing in front of what appears to be a mobile, roadshow-type stand; Sheffield United players Brian Deane, Tommy Cowan, Charlie Hartfield and Bob Booker (“Ooh Ah Bob Book-ah!”) look decidedly awkward and uncomfortable posing “woodenly” with Mr David Laver.

Unfortunately, there is no photographic evidence of them putting shelves up in the team dressing room, or using the wood for karate chopping practice...

Rumours that the goal frames at Bramall Lane were made out of American Ash (Fraxinus Americana) that season are also unfounded.

Our thanks go to Giles for his guest post. If you have any wood based football nostalgia memories, or indeed anything else, why not send them to us? Just drop us a line to admin [at] thefootballattic [dot] com and we'll do the rest!

The Big Match - Opening Titles (Part 2)

David Poza, creator of the epic YouTube nostalgiafest 'On This Day' returns with Part 2 of his look back at the opening titles of The Big Match...


The big change arrived: a new theme tune. And it’s probably what the fans most remember; it was called La Soiree, by David Ordini. In this season, we saw a longer version than in following seasons, and there were three different versions:

Early season: It includes a panoramic view of Wembley, a terrible miss by Roger Davies of Derby County, an Arsenal player doing funny things (funny at the time, not today), the marvellous double save by Jim Montgomery in the 1973 FA Cup Final (which marks the title), the famous banner (‘NORMAN BITES YER LEGS’) and Bob Stokoe running across the pitch to hug the keeper at the end of the final. From this set of titles some snippets were cut and appeared only during those months, like Jupp Heynckes goal at the UEFA Cup Final the previous season.

Rest of the season: Not so many changes in the format, except from added moments from that season, like Brian Clough laughing at Muhammad Ali or a great save in a Spurs vs Arsenal game. Another change is that Stokoe’s run is shortened, because they wanted to make space for Bill McGarry’s run to hug Phil Parkes after an epic League Cup Final in March.


Maybe the season with the most sets of titles; I have counted up to four different kinds. They used a shortened version of the song and there are many things to say about that season.

Early-early season (August-September): It is not currently available on YouTube (but surely I will upload later) and from what I saw before, it’s just a goal and action review from the 73-74 season. Many things survived until the next set of titles, including Dennis Tueart’s goal at Oxford, Kevin Keegan’s goal in the 1974 FA Cup Final and Keith Weller’s magnificent goal at Luton were shown - all surviving until December. Also the way the 'The Big Match' logo was shown was very bizarre indeed...

September until December: Not so many changes in the format. The items previously mentioned were intact, and only minor changes appeared like Terry Mancini having fun in a game against Stoke and Bobby Gould celebrating a goal with West Ham (remember those two names). Also the appearance of a banner showing 'City Prepare to Meet Thy Doog' and the man himself, Derek Dougan, praying on his knees.

December until March-April: Probably the major change of this season. Many things disappeared and many others were updated. First, a great goal from West Ham against Wolves, moving through Malcolm Allison or a great save at Millwall (not sure), we see the logo stopping a great play by Chelsea... which finishes with a goal. Then, Frank Worthington doing comedy and our Terry Mancini with a wig... or is it his real hair? Also notice a Spurs player with a black eye and the magic sponge being applied. The end of the titles include a diving Newcastle player, a goal by Stan Bowles and a magnificent goal by Orient at the Texaco Cup.  Bobby Gould (remember?) is the last image of this set.

Late season: Another big change, with only two games included: both FA semi-final replays and both winners’ celebrations. But notice one thing: the so-called underdogs (Fulham) are shown in almost three quarters of the whole video, including celebrations in the dressing room, with some fans having a drink and singing (is this what happens nowadays?) West Ham only has 20 seconds with a slow-down picture of the players celebrating a goal. Oh! And Bobby Gould smiling again.


In this season we see up to three versions of the opening titles, and during the first part of the season we're invited to watch the first moments of the FA Cup Final! As the whistle blows, Alan Taylor scores one of his goals to help West Ham win the Cup. Bobby Moore and Alan Mullery appear as Fulham players after the game and then Billy Bonds appears with the Cup as 'THE BIG MATCH' appears. After that, this happened:

In the early season, we were shown several clips from the 1974-75 season, including Freddie Starr dressed as Hitler, Dickie Guy saving his penalty against Leeds United in the FA Cup or some mistakes by strugglers Chelsea and Spurs. A wonderful team goal from the Home Championships (by Brian Flynn) appeared for the rest of the season, and we were delighted to see women’s football in the form of a rather funny celebration.

During September to February, new material was added; Willie Carr’s goal against Birmingham, Franny Lee and Mike Summerbee not playing for Man City, and a certain character whose identity is not yet known at present (Note: If someone knows who is he, please, tell us!) Oh - and don’t forget that great name in British refereeing called Mr Kirkpatrick and his funny way of running.

End of the season, and the longer version of the theme was played, introducing several teams leaving their locker rooms heading to the ground (Arsenal, Leicester and Spurs are shown). After that, some action from the season including Alan Woodward’s scorcher at Derby, Bobby Moore in the Christmas Special and a couple of great saves too. The women’s football celebration is still in there and we have another scene of Mister Kirkpatrick telling us “When will this game finish?!”


For this season, I only have one set of opening titles and this is the last time the familiar tune sounded in the full original style. This time we see various scenes from last season and the early part of the current season (which leads me to believe this set was from September). There’s a Fulham player bleeding, Alan Gowling celebrating, a Leeds United player changing his shorts in the middle of a game and Dennis Tueart scoring his wonder goal against Newcastle United in the 1976 League Cup Final. And then, Terry Mancini again, Malcolm MacDonald in the yellow shirt of Arsenal and several pictures from Southampton’s FA Cup victory. The last scene is George Best and Rodney Marsh playing for Fulham – the best of friends.

‘La Soiree’ didn't remain as The Big Match theme after that season, and more changes were on the way...

See also:

Monday 15 July 2013

Super Top Trumps - World Cup Football

Whoever decided to give a children's card game the same name as a child's word for a bout of flatulence was either having a laugh or very naive. Yes I know it's actually based on the concept of a card having a higher than normal value in trick-taking card games, but c'mon...we all sniggered about it as kids. OK so maybe not all of us still snigger as we head toward our 40s, but...oh shut up!

For anyone who doesn't know what Top Trumps were, a) I feel so sorry for you and b) they were (and still are) a card game where each pack was about a certain subject (e.g. Planes, Animals and of course, Footballers) and each card was an example of that subject (e.g. Boeing 747, Eagle, George Best).

Each card contained a variety of stats, such as 'No. Engines', 'Wingspan' and 'No. Pints Consumed on an average Friday night'...probably. The controlling player would pick one of the stats and read it out. The others would then see what value their card had and the player with the highest (or lowest depending on the stat) value would win and collect the losing cards and to add to their pile. The game was over when one player held all the cards or when the owner of the pack got sore at losing and stomped off to their room in tears...again...

Nae, y'cannae!
Can we play too?
This particular incarnation of TT is the rather generically titled 'World Cup Football' and contains 35 notable teams from World Cup history...and Wales. Still, makes a change from me laughing at Scotland's inclusion in anything World Cup wait, they're in there, 34 notable...yeah you get where I'm going...

The cards have the following playing stats:

World Cup Wins
Semi finalists
Final Series Games
Games Won
Games Drawn
Games Lost
Goals For
Goals Against

The selection of teams is mostly unsurprising, but given the year this pack was produced (circa 1992), there are some interesting anomalies.

Yugoslavia are there, but they're listed with (unified) after their title and the box for their flag is left blank apart from a question mark in the middle. One can't help feeling there must have been a more sensitive way of handling that particular political question, but this is what we got.

C.I.S, aka the Commonwealth of Independent States, aka the former Soviet Union are also in there, though of course the C.I.S as it was never actually played in any World Cup, its existence arising after the 1990 tournament and over by USA 94, where Russia were the only country of that group to qualify. The picture used is also that of the USSR team.

There's also a country called 'Camaroon'

There's the ever present "Top Trumps Check List" and "Free Pack" offer at the back and also a nice little ad for Subbuteo!

I've only just got this set off eBay so as yet, I've not had the delight of being able to compare England's "Goals For" against Argentina's (55 v 82). In the meantime, check out Des Walker's haircut from the cover! Will.I.Am has a lot to learn!

As a final note, the BEST Top Trumps ever produced were the Horror series and the ultimate card of these was Death, who looked like a Sandman from Star Wars and was near invincible. Whoever got Death was almost always the victor...aaaah happy days!

F*** You!
See also:

Sunday 14 July 2013

New Kits for '83/'84

A new football season is almost upon us once again, but as the world fawns and coos at the sight of kits being launched for 2013/14, let's go back 30 years to see what English football fans had to look forward to in 1983/84...

As Canon make history by becoming the first sponsors of the Football League, many First Division teams have a wide range of new kit designs ready to burst onto the scene during the coming season. First of all, Arsenal's much disliked green-and-navy-blue away kit has been ditched, the Highbury club returning to a familiar yellow and blue combination. The kit is made by Umbro and features pale yellow shadow stripes and navy blue shorts with red trim.

Aston Villa, meanwhile have two new kits for home and away, manufactured by Le Coq Sportif. Gone are Villa's traditional light blue sleeves and white shorts - they're replaced by two light blue side panels on the shirt and claret shorts. The away kit is now all white and the shirt features thin claret and warm yellow horizontal stripes.

Birmingham City have added a third kit to their range. In addition to the blue and white home strip and the reversed away strip, Patrick have applied the same styling to an all red version. Twenty-five miles due east, Coventry City have finally abandoned their infamous 'Talbot' kits (along with the alternatives to be worn on TV only) having formed a new partnership with Umbro. The new home and away outfits have two-tone shadow stripes flanked by dark blue pinstripes, the home version being in sky blue as usual while yellow is now Coventry's away colour rather than red. Tallon replace Talbot as the club's main shirt sponsor.

Heading away from Umbro are Everton. They've teamed up with Le Coq Sportif for the coming season and have three kits all using the same design as that employed for Aston Villa's home outfit. Featuring a triangular inset below the neck and a pair of double stripes on the socks, Everton have elected for grey and blue away kit and a more familiar yellow and blue colour scheme on their third kit.

Leicester City and Notts County have not only both switched to Admiral as their new kit manufacturer but have also chosen near identical away kits. The home and away outfits for both clubs use the same 'double pinstripe' motif but it's the dark green and amber versions that Leicester and Notts County will wear for away games. The only difference between the two is in the socks - Leicester's will be green, County's will be amber.

At home, Leicester retain their familiar blue shirts and white shorts, but Notts County fans are in for a surprise. For the first time in 30 years, the black and white stripes have been replaced with a predominantly white shirt - something that will no doubt prove controversial among County's die hard supporters.

Less controversial are the new QPR home and away kits for this season. At Loftus Road, Rangers continue to wear their famous blue and white hoops, but the new Adidas shirts now have a subtle red horizontal pinstripe dividing the two colours. Away from home, QPR welcome some matching hooped shirts in red and black but without the pinstripes. Guinness also now featured as QPRs first shirt sponsors.

Like Notts County, Stoke City may also be expecting a few letters of complaint as they, too, have done away with their traditional stripes. Umbro's new home shirts for The Potters have a white body and red sleeves with red pinstripes replacing the old thick red stripes on the chest. For away games, Stoke have a new two-tone blue strip that follows the same template as their home equivalent.

Sunderland, however, have returned to their roots after two years wearing a controversial kit of their own. Le Coq Sportif's 'double pinstripe' kits lasted two years but have now been replaced with a set of three provided by American sportswear company Nike. This is Nike's first official contract with an English team and Sunderland fans will be pleased with their decision to reinstate the thick red and white stripes for home matches. Away from home, the Roker Park club can choose between a sky blue kit with dark blue sleeves and horizontal pinstripes or a pale yellow outfit with navy blue trim.

Finally to West Ham where Adidas have added a white collar, white cuffs and a sky blue horizontal band to the home shirt, while The Hammers' white away shirt now includes sky blue pinstripes. Both shirts have a simple badge of crossed hammers instead of the original club crest and local company Avco Trust now appear as West Ham's first shirt sponsors.

We look forward to seeing them all during the coming season.

Saturday 13 July 2013

Football and Comedy: Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads (1973)

Football and comedy. Mention the two words together in a conversation with a football fan and you'll often get the same response: 'Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads.'

The reason is simple. As British sitcoms go, very few encapsulate the dedication to football and the mental anguish of the common supporter like the episode entitled 'No Hiding Place.' For those of you unfamiliar with  this TV classic, here's the back story.

Terry Collier (played by James Bolam) and Bob Ferris (Rodney Bewes) are old pals that grew up in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Having enjoyed and endured a relationship of virtual brotherhood for many years, their time together reached a temporary hiatus when Collier joined the army and travelled abroad as a result of his military service.

Five years on, Collier returns home to Newcastle and is reunited with his old pal Ferris, but their home town has changed beyond comprehension. Many of the old buildings have been pulled down, former friends have moved on and the swinging Sixties have made way for the sensible Seventies. Terry is struggling to understand what has happened to the world he left behind, and when we pick up the story in this episode, even a trip to a hairdressing salon proves to be an eye-opening experience...

Surely one of the greatest TV theme tunes of all time, accompanied by a title sequence that illustrates the history of Bob and Terry's friendship. Their younger years featured in The Likely Lads which ran for three series on BBC television between 1964 and 1966. Some of the pictures shown in the titles derive from this series.

A never-more-70s hairdressing boutique welcomes the arrival of Bob and Terry, the latter alarmed that (a) it's not a barber's shop anymore, (b) women work there, and (c) getting your hair washed appears to be the new norm. As for manicures...

The first mention of football as Gary, one of the hairdressers, asks Bob who he thinks will win the Bulgaria v England match taking place that day. It's a lunchtime kick-off, but highlights of the game aren't due to be shown until that same evening. Ah yes, those dark, distant days when even an international match wasn't guaranteed to be shown live on TV...

Terry and Bob are planning to avoid the score all day in the hope of adding some excitement to their televisual banquet later that night, but will they make it?

In through the door walks Flint, an acquaintance of Bob and Terry and a man they can well do without seeing. Flint almost lets slip the latest news from Bulgaria, but our desperate duo exit quickly from the salon before hearing something unfortunate.

Incidentally, Flint is played by Brian Glover, a well-known actor back in the day and someone with his own football connections having played PE teacher Mr Sugden in the film Kes.

Oh dear - the secret's out... "2-0!" shouts Flint as Bob and Terry flee the scene. They arrive at their favourite pub, The Black Horse and come to terms with what they've just heard. Here we get a great piece of dialogue about the way football scores are discussed. "People don't go around saying 'nil-two' do they?" says, Bob, and you have to admit, he's got a point...

Luckily for the fellas, it's all a ruse; the match hasn't even kicked off yet, and Flint was merely pulling their leg. What a rotten thing to do...

Time for some casual international stereotyping now as Terry discusses the dubious qualities of Britain's foreign neighbours. Be it Koreans, Russians, Egyptians, Italians, French, Germans, Spaniards, Danes or Americans, they've all got negative qualities that Collier can't stand.

Such matters are cast aside, however, when Flint walks in and bets the lads that they won't be able to avoid the score until 10.20pm. Their first test comes when Flint turns on his portable radio...

Bob and Terry take refuge at the home of Audrey, Terry's sister. Further insinuations ensue about the ability of the Bulgarians to provide a decent playing surface for football along with various references to Enoch Powell and Pan's People that date the episode beautifully.

And then the phone rings... Audrey goes to answer it, but the boys are too shrewd and don't bother waiting to find out who's on the other end of the line. Just as well - it sounds like Flint...

The local church is the next place of sanctuary for Bob and Terry, but there's still six hours to pass and desperate times call for desperate measures. Personal confessions, games of I Spy and the Eurovision Song Contest are all discussed, but yet again Flint arrives to cause panic where once was calm.

The sequence ends with another topical football reference as Flint delivers 'The Gospel According To Sir Alf'.

Further problems arise as Bob drives the pair home in his car past a TV rental shop and then a one-legged news vendor bearing a placard. But what will it say? 'England Victory'? 'England Flop'? Time for some excellent ingenuity on the part of our persecuted motorists...

Finally Bob and Terry arrive back at Bob's new house to watch the match. With less than ten minutes to go, their frustrating ordeal appears to be at an end. With bottles of beer at the ready, their relief at having avoided the score - and Flint - is palpable... but Flint finds a way to collect his winnings in the end.

It's the moment they've both been waiting for and the TV's switched on. Football awaits... but who's this? It's Corbett Woodall, one time BBC newsreader who throughout the Seventies reprised his role in a number of programmes including Steptoe and Son and The Goodies.

Unfortunately on this occasion, he's the bearer of bad news. Instead of European football, they're about to see the European Figure Skating Championships. Suddenly, that 'England F...' headline makes sense - much to the disdain of The Likely Lads.

Friday 12 July 2013

Retro Round-Up: 12 July 2013

Another week, another selection of football nostalgia bounty washed up on the internet shoreline for us to sift through. Yes, it's time for another Retro Round-Up - your one-stop shop for the best vintage football stuff on the web from the last seven days. Not the biggest selection this week, mind you, but here goes...

We start with a fine selection of football photography over at Who Ate All The Pies, including this selection from the golden era at Stamford Bridge...

Entry No.6 into the Old School Panini Hall of Fame is Dutch master Johan Neeskens - check out his profile here...

Giles Metcalfe returns to Got, Not Got with a look at how football stars have been a magnet for car manufacturers down the years...

The Brighton and Hove Albion team were a musical bunch (depending on your viewpoint), according to The Goldstone Wrap...

How to sculpt, that's right - SCULPT - the hair of a Subbuteo player. Tim Tumminaro shows you all you need to know over on YouTube...

A fine starter kit for anyone wanting to immerse themselves in the delights of Shoot magazine - 78 issues from the 1984-1990 era for less than £20 over on eBay...

Have we missed anything? Is there a piece of retro football nostalgia lurking in the far corners of the internet that we should be including in our weekly round-ups? If so, drop us a line - leave us a comment below or email us at admin [at] thefootballattic [dot] com.

Tuesday 9 July 2013

The Football Attic Book Club

Not so long ago, we announced to an unsuspecting public that we were planning to record a Football Attic Podcast on the subject of football books. We asked for suggestions, memories, opinions and recommendations on books that are well read and well appreciated.

The response we got from you was nothing short of exceptional - in fact we got so many responses that we simply couldn't find a way to read them all out during our podcast.

And that's why we've created this blog post - to provide a go-to place all of your football book recommendations, comments and suggestions, should the need for literary inspiration ever strike.

If you want to provide us with further recommendations of your own or if you can provide feedback about one of the books mentioned, please leave us a comment at the foot of the page. Failing that, if any of you would like to review a football book for The Football Attic, that would be excellent too - just drop us a line to admin [at] thefootballattic [dot] com. We look forward to hearing from you!

And now, here's what you told us...

Terry Duffelen: ‘All Played Out: The Full Story of Italia 90’ by Pete Davies. “This book probably had the biggest effect on me. I really enjoyed the frankness of some of the interviews and Davies' account of the Italia 90 semi defeat has stuck with me forever.”

Steve Gabb: ‘Only a Game?' by Eamon Dunphy. “Great autobiography covering a couple of years in Dunphy's career playing as a journeyman midfielder for Millwall (in the Second Division) during the 70s. It's a really insightful read and made me understand a lot more about how footballers think. Though how relevant it is to modern day footballers, I'm not sure.”

‘A Season with Verona’ by Tim Parks. “A great introduction to Italian football and also covers a lot on Italian politics.”

Dixie Dean's biography: “I've always been fascinated by football in the early part of the 20th century. Dean's biog is great. It covers his famous 60 goal season as well as incidents such as crashing his motorbike, having a metal plate inserted into his head, making his come-back three weeks later (and scoring the winning goal - with a header). The first comic book hero. Great read. Eddie Hapgood's is also an interesting read, the first footballer biography.

Victorian Football Miscellany: “A collection of news articles and match reports printed in the late 19th century. Fascinating stuff and gives a wonderful insight into how football began in the UK.”

Stuart Howard-Cofield: “For the sheer beauty of the writing and making you look at football in a completely different way- almost as art - Eduardo Galeano's collection of essays Football in Sun and Shadow: An Emotional History of World Cup Football’ is a treat.

“I loved ‘The Miracle of Castel di Sangro: A Tale of Passion and Folly in the Heart of Italy’ for the drama, and ‘A Season with Verona’ by Tim Parks is a great look at Italian fan culture, mixed with a travelogue.

“Also, the Hunter Davies collection ‘The Second Half’, which was left at my local rail station's waiting room book exchange. It was the inspiration for me starting [Stuart's website]

Greg Johnson: "'Football In Sun And Shadow.’ Written by Uruguayan poet and author Eduardo Galeano it's a really vivid and visual read that's written almost like an experiential literary critique, but it never loses any insights, direction or its connection with reality. It's packed with history context on the game's development in South America and Europe, including socio-economic factors and also takes on the more aesthetic, slippery side of football in the most satisfying and thoughtful way I've ever come across. Couldn't recommend it enough, and it's a great change of pace to your standard football history, tactics or anthropology titles."

“Both of Musa Okwonga's books, 'A Cultured Left Foot' and 'Will You Manage?' are excellent reads. The books are both written as investigation/debates into what is required to become a great player and manager respectively. They're really lucid but full of anecdotes and information from first hand sources, sometimes from backgrounds and angles you wouldn't expect.”

James Bartaby:Paolo Di Canio's autobiography is a good read, as is ‘Manslaughter United: A Season With A Prison Football Team’, a book by Chris Hulme.

Michael Chapman: 'How Football Explains The World' by Franklin Foer. I really enjoyed it but I was obviously a convert since childhood; but I loan it to everyone who asks me 'why soccer?'"

Kevin Bell: "Footballeur "by" Robert Pires sticks on my mind as the most dull book I've ever read. Title spelling is best bit! Also Harry Pearson's 'The Far Corner: A Mazy Dribble Through North-East Football'. Football has changed loads since it was written and on re-reading it feels nostalgic."

Phil Lucky: "'The Beautiful Game? Searching for the Soul of Football' by David Conn is an eye opener. Robert Enke's bio ('A Life Too Short: The Tragedy of Robert Enke' by Ronald Reng) is brilliantly written, very sad. 'Fever Pitch' by Nick Hornby is an obvious classic; Cass Pennant's is good; 'The Football Factory' by John King; Enke's is my fav though. Cried like a baby."

Mark Biram: "So many! 'The Ball is Round: A Global History of Soccer' by David Goldblatt, 'Calcio: A History of Italian Football' by John Foot, 'Feet of the Chameleon' by Ian Hawkey and 'Behind the Curtain: Travels in Eastern European Football' by Jonathan Wilson.

Simon Robertson: "Mine would be 'Soccer Club Colours' by Martin Tyler and more recently John Devlin's 'True Colours.' I also remember a series of kid's football books by Michael Hardcastle ('Scorton Rovers')

Richard: "I haven't read too many, but Jason Cowley's 'The Last Game: Love, Death and Football' is very good. 'Fever Pitch' is probably my favourite. Oh, and I'm not sure it counts, but John King's 'The Football Factory' is superb."

Andy Lee: "'Got, Not Got: The A-Z of Lost Football Culture, Treasures and Pleasures' by Derek Hammond and Gary Silke - it's The Football Attic in book form..."

Daniel Burdett: ‘The Rothmans Football Yearbook’ - “that was the Bible of football information each year before the internet.”

Se├ín Flannagan: "‘Inverting the Pyramid (The History of Football Tactics)’ by Jonathan Wilson, ‘Jumpers for Goalposts: How football sold it's soul’ by Rob Smyth, and ‘The Miracle of Castel Di Sangro: A Tale of Passion and Folly in the Heart of Italy’ by Joe McGinniss."

Andrew Rockall: 'Provided You Don't Kiss Me: 20 Years with Brian Clough' by Duncan Hamilton or Robin Friday's story 'The Greatest Player You Never Saw' by Paul McGuigan

Giles Metcalfe: 'Football Against the Enemy' by Simon Kuper and 'The Greatest Footballer You Never Saw' by Paul McGuigan

Michael Oliver: ‘My Father and Other Working Class Heroes’ by Gary Imlach

Gary Silke: ‘Soccer Tribe’ by Desmond Morris (for pictures), ‘Fever Pitch’ by Nick Hornby (for words)

Geoffrey Vivian: ‘Only a Game?' by Eamon Dunphy

Rob Stokes: 'Goalkeepers Are Different' by Brian Glanville

Football Shirt World: 'Up Pohnpei: Leading the ultimate football underdogs to glory' by Paul Watson

Mighty Tractor: "Kids' book called ‘One Nil’ by Tony Bradman. Classic story."

Steve Coe: The 'When Saturday Comes' collections and books

John Devlin: ‘True Colours Volumes 1 & 2’

Yes, well you would say that, John...

Al Gordon recommended the following:

Left Foot Forward - Garry Nelson

Apart from being centered around Charlton, this book shows a far less glamorous side to the English professional game. We take footballers for granted but it's not the easy life we all presume, especially when you're close to hanging your boots up. Where will the next contract come from and will you have to pull your children out of their school when and if you sign it? Not to mention one more knock on that knee and it's game over for good.
A year in the life of a journeyman footballer, it's stressful but you want change it for the world.

The Greatest Footballer You Never Saw -  Paul McGuigan

Cross George Best with Frank Worthington and you'll still fall short of the player that was Robin Friday. Throw in a little Keith Richards and you'll be getting warmer. Sex, drugs, rock'n'roll, booze, more sex, prison, and a little football and you've got a story of the most unbelievable of all footballers.
As you'd expect from a hell raiser like this he died far too young, it's very unlikely you'd know anyone who watched him play and perhaps the most bizarre bit of all, he did it in middle class Berkshire.

More Than Just A Game: Football v Apartheid - Charles Korr

Robben Island prison. We've all heard the stories, conditions not much different to the Nazi concentration camps from World War II. One thing kept those prisoners going, one thing gave them hope, football. It's not unheard of for inmates around the world to play football matches remember the Porridge motion picture spin off) but on Robben Island they formed teams and even a structured league. The most moving football book you'll ever pick up.