Saturday 28 December 2013

Retro Random Video: Rod Argent plays Top of The Pops

Imagine, if you will, a time in Britain when the theme to a World Cup programme on TV could be written and performed by someone you've never heard of. Certainly that used to be the case before the BBC and ITV went all out for ratings supremacy by enlisting the help of top acts like Jean Michel Jarre and Luciano Pavarotti.

Knowing which musicians could conjure up a tuneful melody to enhance the viewer's pleasure of some far-flung tournament was a skill in itself. Luckily one man was often on hand during the 1970's and 80's that could envisage the Latin passion of a World Cup in Argentina or the searing heat of Mexico. That man was Rod Argent - a man who would enter a Football Attic Hall of Fame if one existed - and his first association with football TV themes came in 1978.

Argent, under the name of Rodriguez Argentina (Rod Argent - geddit?) was part of the group San Jose that performed 'Argentine Melody (Cancion de Argentina)', the BBCs World Cup theme that year. The piece of music was released as a single on the back of positive viewer feedback and it reached number 14 in the UK charts.

Few World Cup themes from British TV can claim to have been so successful, but Argent had success eight years later with another top tune, ITV's 'Aztec Gold', which got to number 48 in the UK singles chart.

Anyway, if you're still unsure who Rod Argent is (let alone what he looks like), here's a rare chance to see him perform on Top of the Pops back in 1978 - the master at work, albeit in a silly hat.

Monday 23 December 2013

The Greatest France Home Kit 1964-2014

In May 2013, The Football Attic spoke to you, the football nostalgia experts of the world, to ask what you thought was the greatest England home kit that's been worn since 1965. Your response was fantastic and left us in no doubt that your favourite was the Admiral kit worn during the 1982 World Cup.

Now it's time to praise and assess the first-choice outfits of France, the country that gave us Raymond Kopa, Michel Platini and Thierry Henry. Over the last 50 years, the French national team have worn 30 different home kits all varying in complexity and style, so we'd like you to tell us which ones you like best, which ones are an affront to human decency, and above all, which is your favourite by voting via the form at the foot of this page.

Click for larger version

The graphic above shows all of the 30 kits mentioned (clicking on it brings up a larger version - right-click and 'Save As' while it's on the screen to keep a full-size version). We've tried to get as much detail correct as possible using the information sources available, but if you do spot any inaccuracies, please let us know.

As you peruse the different designs shown, you'll probably spot an anomaly (by British standards, at least). Where the French national team is concerned, it was common for two or more home kits to be worn at any given time during any 12-month period up to Euro 84.

Whereas in Britain we're used to a system of 'Kit A' being replaced by 'Kit B' and then 'Kit C', in France 'Kit A' might be worn for a few games only to be replaced by 'Kit B', but after a few more games 'Kit A' would be worn again before 'Kit C' appeared a few months later, then back to 'Kit B' and so on. Why this is the case, we're not sure, but if anyone out there has any details, please let us know.

In addition to this seemingly random flip-flopping between kits, it's also worth mentioning the diverse number of times each kit was worn. Some, like Kit 8, were worn at various times over a 7-year period while Kit 10, for instance, was only worn twice - and that was with a one-year gap between the two outings.

As far as manufacturers are concerned, there are three that we're aware of: Le Coq Sportif (1970-72), Adidas (1972-2010) and Nike (2011 onwards). Adidas enjoyed the benefits of a 33-year association with the French team that undoubtedly covered it's greatest era, but Le Coq Sportif are responsible for dragging the French kit out of the old-fashioned 1960's just as Nike are designing some new styles at the present time.

But enough of all this technical information. We want you to pin your bleu-blanc-rouge to the mast and tell us which is your favourite France home kit...

The winner of our Greatest France Home Kit vote has now been announced. Did your favourite kit win?

Further information:
To see all the above France home kits, plus many change kits and variations, head on over to Chris O's Kitbliss website.

Friday 20 December 2013

A Sort Of Christmas Message

Bill Shankly's famous quote about football being more important than life or death has been repeated ad-infinitum so I'm not going to do it here...apart from mentioning it just then...

The line was clearly intended to not be taken too seriously, but one can't help feeling far too many people have taken this as a mantra and can't quite see the folly in it.

Just over a year ago I wrote about my growing dissatisfaction with certain aspects of the modern game. After that, I had a slight change of heart. My home team almost got to the final of the Johnstone's Paint Trophy, which may be laughable to some, but to a club that's been through what we have recently, it meant a huge amount. The record attendance for a non final match in the history of that competition is something that will probably stand for a long time. Alas it was that crowd that witnessed us demolished and dumped out of the tournament. It also showed the level of disunity between sets of fans with so called 'plastics' having verbal abuse hurled at them purely because they dared to want to see a match when their team is doing well.

The subsequent move to Northampton has further divided us at a time we ideally ought to put the overall long term future of the club at the forefront of thought and action. I can see both sides of the boycotting home games issue, but fundamentally it's created deep divisions which may never heal. To use a poor analogy, albeit one which does demonstrate the difference between football and actual life quite well, there are families who still don't talk to each other due to their chosen paths in the miners' strike in the mid 80s. The sentiments, arguments and reasoning behind the split is the same, but in this case, it truly was people's livelihoods that were at stake and families were torn apart and remain so to this day, such were the deep feelings involved. Whether Coventry return to the Ricoh or end up in a new stadium, the rifts have been formed and will remain long after we depart Sixfields. The damage has been done and in some cases will never be repaired.

While I don't wish to trivialise people's love for their clubs, it's the level of unreal importance that seems to have invaded the football followers' mindset that disturbs me. I'm not saying that people shouldn't care or that it's "just a game" as it's not, it is indeed a huge part of people's lives...but that's my's a part of life, it's not life itself, yet the sense of hysteria and entitlement that seems to go alongside everything football seems to be at ludicrous levels.

The following tweet from @wearethetwins sums up what I'm talking about.

"#Chelsea considering a change of strategy to salvage their season?!Last 16 of CL + 2 points off 1st in PL. Someone explain how this is bad?"
Someone please do!!! Seriously, how can this be regarded as anything approaching a situation requiring salvage?

What frustrates me most is that, while this hype has been generated for years by media with a product to sell, the sheer volume of fans who have swallowed it whole and spit it back out again verbatim is truly disheartening. The wailing and gnashing over Moyes at Man U after a few months, AVB booted out after a 'run' of poor results etc etc etc.

I'm not for one minute suggesting that managers have always been given time or indeed that some of the sackings haven't been right, what I'm trying to illustrate is the sheer level of noise about it all. Naturally, social media and the availability and anonymity of channels to  vent such spleen is a contributing factor, but again, it's the fact that fans feel this way in the first place, that it's somehow rational to be so outraged and disgusted that your team isn't top of the league and that your worthless piece of shit manager hasn't won every single game he's ever taken charge of! People regularly lose it completely with such unhealthy levels of anger it's sometimes quite shocking, literally shaking with rage that some refereeing decision wasn't 100% spot on or that their star player didn't score with every shot. This sense of indignation that everything isn't perfect is simply staggering: such a misplaced sense of entitlement so grossly out of proportion with events back in the real world.

Again, I'm not saying we shouldn't invest emotionally in football; that would be to completely misunderstand the nature of being involved in competitive sport, but when every single 'injustice' (oh and the use of the word injustice?...c'mon!) leaves you in a state of heart attack inducing apoplexy, it's maybe time to take a step back and consider what it does mean to you. Don't stop loving, just maybe turn down the noise a little.

For those wondering why I'm ranting about the modern game on a nostalgia site, while not simultaneously taking the tack of 'it was all perfect in the old days', the thought train that led me here was this...

I was pondering writing a piece to publish on Christmas day, just a nice little message of thanks and all that usual stuff. I then pondered writing something about the famous Christmas day game of football between the soldiers on the front line in World War I and the tragic slaughter that resumed days later. That led me back to Shankly's quote.

Football is a game. It's also more than a game, but it isn't life or death.

Maybe next time you're lining up your sights on your current target of anger, for a second imagine that instead of there being a phone in your hand, there's an actual rifle; that instead of sitting on your comfy sofa, you're in a mud filled trench and the person you're taking aim at is the same guy you shook hands and swapped gifts with the day before. Consider these two situations for a second, consider your lot in life and how much that refereeing decision, that missed shot, that sending off truly affects you and see if it actually means quite so much anymore.

All that said, we at the Attic hope you do all have a great Christmas and that the New Year brings at least one lot of 3 points and for some of you lucky ones, some actual silverware! Enjoy the highs and roll with the lows. Life is not that bad :)

Til Christmas Day, Merry Christmas!

Sunday 8 December 2013

Shoot! Soccer Quiz Book 1980

Regular Football Attic contributor Al Gordon of God, Charlton & Punk Rock takes us back to 1980 and Shoot! magazine's quiz book of the year ...

They say it’s the small things in life that count, well at least the less fortunate amongst us do. But a small thing for one person could be colossal for another, one man’s junk etc. And as you unwittingly stumble upon the discovery of one of these colossal moments, everything else in life fades away to a place it cannot hurt you, whilst you merrily immerse yourself with a relish (not literally you Americans) and a delight that you and only you could ever experience. I've just had one of these occurrences, totally unexpectedly, and apart from causing me to gasp loudly, it dominated my day as only football nostalgia can.

There is a lady at work, Sam, who comes from a large family with plenty of brothers. As she was rummaging through her mother’s loft for the Christmas tree and its assorted ornamentation, she discovered a box of old annuals. Look-in, Battlestar Galactica, all kinds of eighties memorabilia, but amongst these lay a little treat especially for the rose-spectacled enthusiast of the beautiful game. And there it was on her desk, unannounced yet boldly seductive, for me to enjoy. The 1980 Shoot! Soccer Quiz Book.

As far as I can tell, this hardback offspring of the magazine was a yearly affair spanning a decade, the earliest I've found being from 1973, the latest 1984 although there may well be others. This particular copy had obviously gone to a good home as the crossword was correctly completed and a couple of the colour pictures of the owners’ favourite players had been neatly cut out and re-homed in a presumably bulging scrap book.

There is just the one crossword; it’s not that kind of quiz book. This is more akin to the pub quiz format, a book full of football questions with the answers given upside down at the bottom of the page. How many questions there are in total I do not know, and I'm sure as not going to count them for you, but I’d edge my bets at around four hundred. Thirty years ago one magazine employee must have spent a month every year compiling these; it’s easy to tell which he conjured up first as they require a little knowledge –

‘During his league career in Scotland, Manchester United striker Joe Jordan scored just one goal. Was it for Morton, Motherwell or Montrose?’

Remember this was 1980 and you couldn’t just get your smart phone out your pocket. Not that you’d need to for some of the others –

‘What colour shirts do Blackburn Rovers usually play in?’

That was obviously written on a Friday afternoon returning to the Shoot! Towers after a liquid lunch.

There are sections for just about every specialised subject, defenders, midfielders, managers, Welsh internationals, Scottish internationals, the FA Cup, the Scottish Cup, stars of the past and my favourite, soccer badges from the States. As I get older and my memory a little more distant, the questions do seem much tougher on the whole than they would have done then. Asking me scores and transfer fees from thirty years ago is testing, asking me which division the San Jose Earthquakes currently play in is just plain unfair. In fact any question from three decades ago with the word ‘currently’ in is rather flawed.

Of course with most of these old publications, the foremost pleasure is in the pictures. Photos of Trevor Francis running out in his Detroit Express kit, pages of wonderful Admiral shirts and tracksuits, Just Fontaine surrounded by half a dozen Adidas clad beauties adjacent to a jubilant Partick Thistle squad celebrating with the Scottish League Cup in the year of my birth. A percentage of these are in colour, the rest in black and white or a derivative thereof.

It was common in those days to give a coloured filter to the black and white image so that it appeared blue or red or some such which looks crude now but must have been funky and cutting edge in the sixties and just plain old affordable in 1980.

Page 32 is entitled ‘We put you on the spot’. Here there are four referees, Clive Thomas, Roger Kirkpatrick, Jack Taylor and Tom Reynolds. The question was to identify them; I obviously am far too young to remember any, but how I wish Kilpatrick still officiated matches today. Nicknamed Mr Pickwick on account of his astonishing sideburns, the quality of abuse Charlton’s covered end could shout in his general direction is somewhat staggering. Clive Thomas however looks like Mr Bean’s father. Scary stuff.

Having had my mind opened to these quiz books I searched eBay only to discover how readily available and inexpensive they are. Starting at just a couple of quid this particular Shoot! spin-off has evidently still yet to reach collectable status. I may just go to a boot sale on Sunday morning, there could be boxes of them.

Oh, and by the way, it was Morton. Just in case you were wondering.

Once again, our thanks go to Al for this great post. If you'd like to write an article for The Football Attic, contact us at admin [at] thefootballattic [dot] com or catch us on Twitteror Facebook.

Wednesday 4 December 2013

Fantasy Nostalgia: The Football Attic Does The FIFA World Rankings

Let's face it, whenever FIFA releases its latest monthly World Rankings list, the international football community collectively thinks "yeah whatever" and carries on with its normal activities.

We at The Football Attic, however, think it could be made more exciting. Not only that, but we think we could present the World Rankings in a way that keeps all you nostalgia freaks happy as well as the international football fan in general.

Here's how it should be done...

Monday 2 December 2013

Got Not Got Book Spectacular

With Christmas just around the corner, we take a look at the latest books from the Got, Not Got authors, Derek Hammond & Gary Silke.

What could possibly be said about Got, Not Got that hasn't already been?  Not much if the glowing praise inside the latest incarnation is to be seen. There's even a quote from some 2 bit blog about Attics ;-)

Anyone who hasn't read a copy of the original Got, Not Got book is seriously missing out on a treat of nostalgia. OK, it's not a patch on The Football Attic Annual (what could be?), but it's nevertheless rammed full of sweet, sweet memories.

And so we come to its sequel...and we all know how tough it can be to produce a decent follow up - just look at Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen...hang on, the original was crap as well...this analogy isn't working. What I'm saying is, the original GNG was a masterpiece, so the pressure was really on to come up with the goods yet again. The problem with the past is, it's a finite resource...anything that was going to exist already has done and given the sheer weight of stuff already covered, would there possibly be enough to fill another book?

The answer is of course, yes. Not just a small yes, but a rather large one, as this time out, as well as coming up with another look at The Lost World Of Football (that's the title you see), there's also a bunch of club specific volumes and a further gem in the guise of 'What a Shot - Your Snaps of the Lost World of Football', which is a collection of readers' photos of football from years gone by. More of that later...for now we'll concentrate on the main course.

The LOST WORLD of Football

Following the same format as the original, which was billed as the A-Z of lost football, this runs through yet another alphabet of nostalgia, running from Airfix Footballers to Zetters.

Naturally with a book like this, it's impossible to cover everything in a review so I'll instead choose some of my favourite highlights.

Memories :)
Keeper Klobber - a whole page devoted to all things goalie, from Peter Bonetti gloves to some rather fetching ads for Sukan Sports. Right on the side of the page are two kit illustrations from the Reusch advert I gazed longingly at in the weeks leading up to Christmas in 1987. I never could decide which kit to get (silver and blue looked awesome, but yellow and black looked so much more the real deal) and so I never got one...

Filbert Street Revisited - a two page spread detailing a ridiculously accurate model of Leicester's ground circa 1979 courtesy of model maker Micky Bates.

Star Turns - the top 5 Player or Club 7" singles, featuring possibly the most terrifying artwork ever, courtesy of St. Etienne fan & pop star, 'Jacques Monty'.

Pocket Money Endorsements - "When it's the Best Patio Door v. The Rest, Trevor Brooking is on Therm-A-Stor's side" - nuff said!

Part of the joy of a book like this is the little gems one might usually overlook. One of these is entirely non-football related, but still evokes that warm sense of nostalgia perfectly. Lurking at the bottom of one page is an image of a set of Ever Ready batteries (now more well known as Energisers). This may not mean much to a lot of people, but to me it captures that Christmas morning feel and takes me back to that first time I tried out my new Subbuteo floodlights.

There's a lovely pic of Highfield Road in there too...albeit covering casuals and hooligans, but hey, us Cov fans will take what we can these days ;-)

The item called "Football Unfunnies" takes the same tack that we did in our Backpass article on Shoot! magazine, that the majority of football cartoons just weren't funny.

For many readers, a real delight awaits in the "Posing in Your Kit" section, a couple of pages of readers' pics of themselves posing, as the title suggests, in their childhood kits. Quite how they failed to use this gorgeous pic of yours truly in full CCFC outfit I'm not sure, but there are plenty quality kits and matching hairstyles to go around. My personal favourite is of brothers David & Mark Jameson in Newcastle's classy 85-86 home and away outfits.

For me, it's not just the coverage of ephemera that make the LWOF a great read, but the reminiscences of the authors with titles such as 'In the Garage' and 'Long Hot Summer' providing a real personal touch which is sure to have readers nodding and smiling as their own memories come back.

Finally, there's a truly heartwarming section near the end under the banner 'You could send letters', which showcases a series of replies to letters from author Gary Silke to various clubs. Each one has clearly been typed by hand and though some of them do have a distinct air of the standard 'don't call us, we'll call you' response, the fact that someone somewhere had taken the time to reply is, in this age of computer generated responses, a truly beautiful thing, a phrase which neatly sums up the Lost World of Football

Got, Not Got - The Lost World of Manchester United

Alongside its bigger brother, the GNG team have released a series of club specific GNG books. These are naturally smaller affairs and have a slimmed down price tag of only £12.99. Very often with this sort of thing, the slimmed down tomes often just repeat what's already in the bigger book and leave you with a sense of disappointment. Not so here as these have a wealth of material all related to the relevant club. This one covers Manchester United and has 144 pages of Old Trafford related memorabilia. Again there's a vast amount on offer, with very little crossover from the main book.

I can't wait to get stuck into the Coventry one...what? There isn't one? This is just like my childhood all over again! ;-)

While there may not be a CCFC version, there are books available for Leeds and West Ham and I've no doubt there'll be others to follow.

What A Shot!

When this book landed in my lap, I thought I'd gone to retro heaven. While the above two may be choc full of facts and pics, this is pure photo based gold. The book is a compilation of photos from the authors alongside a host of those sent in from Mr. J. Public. The end result is a raft of over-exposed, grainy, often blurred and badly angled photos from days gone by and by god if it isn't one of the best collection of football photos known to man, then I don't know what is!

Its amateurish nature is what gives it its undeniable charm as we all recognise the sort of photos on show. Alas, I neglected to send any shots of my own in and so don't have the pleasure of seeing my own handiwork displayed, though there is a great shot of our very own Chris next to the vampiric looking Ray Reardon, the then famous snooker player.

Highlights include the previously mentioned David Jameson's shot of Mirandinha's first appearance at Newcastle; photos of the Baseball Ground both in its heyday and also after its demise; several other long since abandoned grounds in various states of decay and some serious floodlight porn.

A bad photo of...a bad photo!
As I say though, the real pleasure in this is the wealth of grainy shots only a 110 or 35mm Minolta from Dixons could produce and the sort of photo Boots would affix a sticker to, advising of how to not use the flash in close up or something about overexposure. If you have only ever lived in a world of digital cameras where any bad shot can be deleted in a heartbeat, this is not for you. If, like me, you waited with baited breath outside Snappy Snaps (or for them to arrive in the post from Truprint), then you will fall in love with the photos in What a Shot!

If you're in any doubt as to whether this book is worth it, I can only urge you to get it. For £12.99, it'd seriously be insane not to.

Still not convinced? (seriously?) You can take a sneak peek inside all 3 books by clicking on the sample chapters below.

Lost World of Football

Lost World of Man United

What a Shot!

Coming soon...we take a look at "Six Stickers", Adam Caroll-Smith's attempt to track down the players from the missing six stickers in his Permier League 96 album...and we have 5 copies to win!