Wednesday, 17 July 2013

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:


  1. The "certain character" in the red and white shirt is Australian cricketer Max Walker. The Australian team was in England to play in the 1975 World Cup, followed up by a Test series against England, which explains why Walker was available to appear on the "Big Match".

    1. Great knowledge, Graham! We've been trying to solve that mystery for some time now! Thanks for letting us know... :)

  2. Chris,
    Glad to be of help. This still leaves unanswered question - how did an Australian cricketer get to feature in the opening credits of an English football program?

    Great blog, BTW!

    1. Quite, Graham, although this was the show that featured Elton John and Peter Cook among its guests during its long history!

      Thanks for your kind words - it's much appreciated... :)