Sunday, 11 August 2013

TV Times: 1982 World Cup preview

What possesses a top magazine to feature a bunch of grotesques on its cover in the hope that it will sell by the million? Ask the editor of Hello magazine... or better still, stop for a moment and delight at the colourful composition that graced the front of the TV Times for the opening week of the 1982 World Cup.

Inside, there was a six-page special feature on the big event, part of which contained the writing of Martin Tyler. First up, Tyler explained (not entirely convincingly) that the hundred or more members of ITV Sport bringing the World Cup to our screens were of the highest order. I say ‘unconvincingly’ on account of the paragraph that begins: “Ron Atkinson, one of our panel of experts in Spain, is always a stickler for the correct pronunciation; he’s sure to be overheard practising the names of foreign players...” Pity he kept saying ‘tourneyment’ instead of ‘tournament’ as that was one of the many English words he was supposed to have mastered.

Tyler went on to describe the other key personnel in the ITV Sport team. There were the pundits - Brian Clough, Mick Channon, Denis Law, Jack Charlton - not to mention Ian St.John, Jimmy Greaves and Brian Moore. There were a raft of top reporters doing the rounds in Spain, namely Jim Rosenthal, Elton Welsby, Gary Newbon and Nick Owen, plus any number of familiar commentators such as Gerald Sinstadt, Hugh Johns, Gerry Harrison and John Helm. Tyler was even keen to point out the highly-talented squad of secretaries as well as all the production crew. Quite right too, I say.

Martin Tyler wasn't the only writer brought in to put TV Times readers in the mood for Spain ‘82. Tottenham’s Osvaldo Ardiles explained how Argentina could no longer rely on the ageing Leopoldo Luque and would now look to Diego Maradona - still only 21 at the time - for any success. Though the Argentinean was correct to point out that Brazil were “better than ever before”, he was a little way off the mark in predicting that they, along with Argentina or West Germany would win the World Cup.

Francois Van Der Elst, West Ham’s Belgian striker, focused on the European team’s chances of glory. West German coach Jupp Derwall, said Van Der Elst, “has a brilliant squad, so strong that he could pick two separate world-class teams,” picking out Paul Breitner and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge for special attention. “Italy I’m not so sure about” continued the Belgian. “Their side has stayed the same for perhaps too long and their tactics are too defensive. Away from home they are less potent.” So much for unerring insight there, then.

Maybe that was provided by Bobby Moore who was asked to discuss England’s chances. Though the former World Cup winner felt England could progress to the second round and beyond, he was at pains to point out the areas for concern. “My chief worry is that they will play well but, as we’ve seen often before, not score enough goals” said Moore. A look back at England’s results in Spain show the number of goals scored per match went as follows: 3, 2, 1, 0, 0.

With Denis Law wondering whether the pressure of being at a World Cup would be too much for Scotland’s younger players and Billy Bingham fancying his Northern Ireland team to “reach the quarter-finals” that year (there weren't any quarter-finals, Billy), it was certainly shaping up to be an exciting competition.

Just as well, then, that the TV Times was on hand to provide more cut-out-and-stick pieces for their World of Sport World Cup Wallchart that was given away with the magazine some weeks previously. I actually owned that wallchart back in the day, and my one abiding memory of it was the small, fiddly name tags that had to be glued on where the second round matches were displayed. Even now I've probably got traces of UHU under my fingernails somewhere.

Elsewhere in this issue, there were features on Elizabeth Taylor and Julie Goodyear (Bet Lynch in Coronation Street) plus adverts for Boots (‘Ferguson 3V29 VHS Video Recorder - £465’) and Ex-Lax Chocolate Laxative ("What a nice way to take a laxative"), but during a World Cup it was the non-football programmes on TV that would prove most important to some.

If the sporting action from Spain wasn't for you, there was always The Cannon and Ball Show, Sale of the Century, On The Buses and Give Us A Clue to entertain you, if indeed 'entertain' is the word we're looking for there. As we've said before, when there's a World Cup happening, TV companies are hardly going to put their best programmes out, and this just about proves it.

All in all, then, a curious 'special edition' of the TV Times. Though this issue commemorated a World Cup featuring not just one but three British sides, the magazine makers couldn't even find the budget to print their six-page guide to the tournament in full colour.

Putting that to one side, however, ITV were clearly looking forward to the start of the competition, and as history proved, their coverage was every bit as good as that of the BBC's, if not better at times.

I just wish I could find that old wallchart...


  1. Why are England represented by the lead singer of Heaven 17?