Sunday 27 April 2014

FIFA World Cup - In captions (Part 1)

At any given moment while you're watching a game of football on TV, you can tell what the current score is and how much time has elapsed. That's all down to the caption in the corner of your screen, a computer graphic that's been a part of 'Soccer on the Box' for the last couple of decades.

Turn the clock back further still and you'll find less and less information on display during important matches. As we discussed back in July 2012, the European Championships could barely summon up an 'R' for action replays before 1980, but this is a World Cup year, so when did we start seeing on-screen captions for the world's greatest football competition? The story starts nearly 50 years ago...

World Cup 1966

As host nation, England were able to boast not only some of the best football stadia in the world but also two of the best broadcasters - BBC and ITV. Together, they covered the entire 1966 tournament and beamed live pictures around the world via satellite - a World Cup first.

Had the tournament taken place a year later, it might just have been broadcast in colour (on the BBC, at least), but for the time being the action taking place across England was shown in black and white.

Saturday 26 April 2014

The Best of Bygone Football - And the winner is...

...Multiple Replays After Drawn Cup Ties!

Yes, you, the football nostalgia-lovers of this great world of ours have voted and made your voices heard. In your opinion, the best thing about bygone football is the potentially never-ending run of matches that decided the winner of Cup matches many years ago.

The result may be a surprise to some, but clearly we underestimated the strength of feeling by those of you that think penalty shoot-outs decide the winner of Cup ties all too quickly these days.

One of those people was Duncan A Woods who perused all his voting options before telling us on Twitter: "Couldn't decide until 'multiple replays after drawn cup ties' made me go misty eyed... Also replays must take place the following Tuesday and/or Wednesday and not in 10 days time." Duncan obviously remembers a time when the domestic football calendar wasn't skewed by the prominence of Premier League and Champions League fixtures - a sentiment no doubt shared by many of you.

Friday 25 April 2014

Esso 'Squelchers', 1970

The squelch - not just, as you'd expect, the term for the watery noise you get when you tread on a frog. Squelch also means 'to silence someone in an argument'. Who knew?

Esso knew. The giant oil company with the phonetic name (S-O = Standard Oil) were riding the crest of a wave after the enormous success of their 1970 World Cup Coin Collection and were looking for a football-related follow-up to maintain the constant flow of drivers into their UK petrol station forecourts. What they came up with was another beautifully marketed collection, once again aimed at the younger market.

Monday 21 April 2014

The Best of Bygone Football - Let battle commence!

As promised recently. we bring you the grand vote-off to decide The Best of Bygone Football.

With thanks to all of you that sent us your entries, we've been able to create a list of 30 candidates that in their own small way encapsulate all that's great about football the way it used to be.
All we ask is that you now spend some time considering the list below and make certain that your judgement selects what you believe to be the single most wonderful thing about soccer's golden era.

There's no need to rush, but you need to cast your vote before midnight (BST) on Friday 25 April 2014. After that, we'll tot up the scores and announce the winner as soon as we possibly can.

So now it's over to you. Choose your favourite, have the courage of your convictions and make a claim for the Best of Bygone Football. Happy voting and good luck!


Saturday 19 April 2014

The Best of Bygone Football - The Search Begins!

About a month ago, we recorded our most recent podcast. It was all about the myriad of largely overlooked but much loved things that used to make up the world of football several decades ago. Many of you contributed memories of your own to our discussion (thank you!) and we had a wonderful time reminiscing about everything from rosettes and rattles to Elton Welsby!

(Well, almost a wonderful time...)

Such enjoyable chatter gave us an idea - to find the best thing ever about bygone football. Way back in July 2013, we carried out a similar exercise to find out The Worst Thing About Modern Football, but that proved to be far too depressing - not least because we forgot to add Joey Barton to our list right at the start of the campaign.

Tuesday 15 April 2014

Hillsborough - A Personal Reflection

I don’t often write personal pieces on here, but I posted something on Facebook this morning and wanted to expand on it. Given football formed such a large part of my childhood, I just felt a need to put down my own thoughts on the Hillsborough tragedy and moreover how, in a single moment, life can change forever for some, while for others that moment means nothing.

They always say you can remember where you were when major world events happen. It may at first seem odd to have a picture of Bamburgh Castle in a post about a football tragedy, but 25 years ago today, on a sunny Saturday afternoon, I started my first ever oil painting.

I'd been to town that morning and purchased a few random colours from the clearance bin at the art shop in Spon End. While I was busy deciding which colours to buy, miles away, families were saying goodbye to loved ones, off to cheer on their team to Wembley.

Later that day, as I sat hunched over the dining table, brushes in hand, in the background, that afternoon's Grandstand filled the silence, covering a variety of sports I cared little for. Shortly after 3pm, there was a mention of some crowd trouble at the Liverpool v Nottingham Forest FA Cup semi-final.

Saturday 12 April 2014

Heads Up (Soccer Football), Vectrex, 1983

Once upon a time, arcade games ruled the Earth. Space Invaders, PacMan, Frogger - these titles and many more cropped up everywhere from your local pub to the fish-and-chip shop at the end of your road. Bright colours, synthesised music and quirky sound effects were the alluring qualities that invited you to insert a 10p coin and immerse yourself in an alternative reality.

The explosion in the popularity of video games was extraordinary. New home consoles such as the Atari 2600 and the CBS ColecoVision quickly appeared and merely had to be hooked up to a TV to enjoy an arcade experience of sorts, but one system went even further with a portable all-in-one system that had its own TV built in.

The Vectrex console was originally launched by American company GCE in 1982, but Milton Bradley (makers of children's games such as Operation, Guess Who? and Twister) soon took over the running of GCE and consequently made the games system its own.

Thursday 3 April 2014

Changing your stripes

Thumbing through an issue of Football League Review the other day, I stumbled upon an article that caught my eye. 'Inquiry: Are the club colours getting too drab?' was its title, and it surmised that the day of the 'fancy' football shirt seemed to be all but dead and buried.

Written in the first few weeks of the 1968/69 season by Bob Baldwin, it opened with the line: "Whatever happened to the Turquoise Blues, the Gold and Royal Blues and the Claret Bodies with Amber Yolks?" It went on: "These descriptive colour blends are not taken from a Paris fashion catalogue. They come from a pre-war list of official League club strips. Times have changed. Two-thirds of the clubs now use the more sober use of reds, blues or whites. Colour has gone from the game."

Intriguing. Was I to believe that the early 20th Century was a technicolor carnival of a million rainbow hues?