Sunday 28 September 2014

The Greatest Retro Football Video Game Ever!

Way back in August 2012, on our second ever podcast, we covered the subject of football computer games and it was a whole heap of fun!

Chris and I were discussing the subject again recently while also observing it's been a while since we had a decent vote-off here in the Attic. Put 2 and 2 together and you get 4... which is a nice bit of maths for you, but nothing really to do with computer games... To that end, we decided we simply had to decide once and for all which retro football computer game is the best ever!

Now, that word 'retro' is there for a very important reason and not just because we happen to be a nostalgia website. No, it's there so we can apply some kind of cut-off in history, lest the poll be overwhelmed with embryos who never got to experience the thrill of three minutes of gameplay after half an hour of epileptic-fit inducing load screens, and for whom the best game ever just depends on which version of 'FIFA' we're on.

For us, to make the cut, the games have to have a large degree of unrealism! 'FIFA' may have realistic player faces (and indeed names) and may look so real as to be almost indistinguishable from a match on TV, but we don't care about that! Where's the charm in realism versus the delights of a blocky sprite going by the name of Alun She-Ra? It's all very well being able to score a screaming volley and watch it back from 30 different angles, but don't we all pine for a simpler time, when goals could only be scored one of two different ways? No? Oh ok... maybe not that last one!

My own personal journey through retro video games starts with one of the worst ever... Arctic Software's 'World Cup'; a truly awful game, but it makes the cut because it's my first... and we're running the poll ;-)

So what else makes the list? Well, that's where you come in... We want your suggestions and if you feel so inclined, a justification of why you think your nomination deserves a chance. And you don't have to limit yourself to your favourite as that's what the vote-off's for. You can nominate any game you've ever played... once we've got a good list, we'll set up the vote-off and let the games begin!

Right - as hinted at, there are some rules... not many though.

1)  The cut-off point - we had to pick a point in time to decide between retro and modern and the point we've chosen is right before the PS2 was released. Why? The PS2 introduced the first batch of almost-realistic games. Sure, the PS1 had 'FIFA' and Actua Soccer which were almost there, but they're blocky enough to shade that degree of unrealism.

2)  That's about it...

So, get nominating on the form below... and keep an eye on the list of games on the Vote-Off Candidates page.


Rich (& Chris).

See also:
Our video game reviews...

Wednesday 24 September 2014

Catalogue of Eras: Marshall Ward - Autumn and Winter 1975-76

Once again it's time to plunge into the long-forgotten world of mail order catalogues as we search for football-related delights to remind us of an innocent time before the internet went and spoiled everything.

On this occasion, we're going back nearly 40 years to check out a Marshall Ward 'club book' that would have been put to good use in the run-up to Christmas 1975.

In our previous instalment, we found that football boots were available to buy in a 1982 catalogue, and here again they crop up, but in two flavours - 'cheap and nasty' and 'I could be the next Johan Cruyff.'

Sunday 21 September 2014

FKS: Soccer Stars 80

It's my firm belief that FKS should probably have been renamed 'NCM' around the start of the 1980's. 'Non compos mentis' is a fair description of what their football sticker collections were like back then, such were the variable standards employed throughout.

The new decade should have brought about a new dawn for FKS and its sticker albums in the UK, but instead they continued to churn out yet more of their basic, plain-looking stickers that were not dissimilar to the ones they were making a decade earlier. Look closer, however, and you'd have marvelled at some truly laughable examples of photography in the images that were featured, setting FKS well apart from the equivalent merchandise being made by Figurine Panini at the time.

To begin, there was the eye-catching front cover of the Soccer Stars 80 album. Overall, it had a more modern look than the corresponding Panini offering, although the picture showing West Bromwich Albion seemingly playing St. Mirren may have been every bit as baffling as some of the stickers inside. Along the bottom, a caption indicated that the English First and Second Divisions were featured among the 48 pages, and for good reason as this was the first time that Second Division teams had appeared in an FKS collection.

Inside, each of the First Division team line-ups consisted of 13 players, confusingly spread over one-and-a-bit pages. The extra 'bit' meant that some double-page spreads actually showed players from two or even three different teams. You wouldn't have got that in a Panini album, but then perhaps Panini had a bigger budget or better designers.

Each team section was titled in a never-more-Eighties green bubble font, followed by some rudimentary facts relating to the honours won by that team. There was also a handy grid showing their results from the previous season, with spaces provided for results in the current season too.

Sadly, FKS didn't bother with the team pictures and foil badges that were made so popular by their rivals, making do instead with the regular white-bordered player stickers bearing a name along the bottom edge. As for the photos themselves, let's just say they were... idiosyncratic.

While Panini standardised on 'head and shoulders' shots for their stickers, FKS were nowhere near as conscientious. They instead opted to raid image galleries, reuse old pictures from previous collections, take some of their own pictures and even paint over old pictures to form a tapestry of lunatic inconsistency.

If ever you're feeling depressed, just turn the pages of this album in its complete form to quickly cheer yourself up. Smile at Brighton's Peter O'Sullivan pinching his nose as he runs out onto the field for Brighton. Be amazed at Martin Peters wearing his Norwich City shirt from 1976. Laugh at Middlesbrough's Stan Cummins sharing his picture with one of his team mates, or Terry Cochrane proudly wearing his Burnley shirt despite having moved to Ayresome Park in October 1978. As for Trevor Francis, his shirt has had more paint applied to it than the Forth Road Bridge.

Uniformity was a key element of this collection - in more ways than one. Players were shown in their home kits, away kits, old kits, new kits, training kits, tracksuits and in Terry Cochrane's case, wrong kits altogether. The whole thing was a total hotchpotch from start to finish and could be considered to be 'interesting' if it wasn't for the fact that it was actually rather deranged.

In similar vein, the Soccer Stars 80 album featured a dozen England Under 21 players - six shown in the middle of the album, and six at the very end. None of the full England squad were included, though - just 12 upcoming young stars such as Russell Osman (in a grey Ipswich shirt), Derek Statham (distracted) and Kevin Reeves (asleep).

Luckily, higher standards were restored with the excellent gallery of Second Division team pictures, before leading into the Scottish Premier Division team pages that used the same format as their English counterparts. Then at the very end of the album there was the customary 'Special Offer' - something not unfamiliar to Panini fans. In this case, FKS collectors were invited to send off for up to 22 bronze medallions "each representing an English First Division Club from the current 1978/79 season." The front of each coin showed a club badge while the honours and cups won by the team were displayed on the back. Think 'fancy 2p pieces' and you're pretty much there.

With that, you have a full picture of FKS and it's floundering attempts to keep their foothold in the UK sticker market. Though they'd make further collections for another couple of years, they were finally declared bankrupt in 1987, never to be seen again.

It's anyone's guess what their stickers might have looked like had they still been around today, but my feeling is they'd be virtually the same as they always were. A plain white border around a randomly chosen photo - that was the FKS way for years and years. Unable to stray far from that tried and tested formula, it was perhaps this reason and this reason alone that ultimately proved the undoing for Britain's very own answer to Panini.

-- Chris Oakley

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Last Chance To Enter The Last Ever League of Blogs

Last chance? Last ever? That sounds like an awful lot of finality... and it is...

There's just over three weeks left to get your entries in for the League of Blogs 2014, but not only that - it's your last chance to ever be in the League of Blogs as after this one, there won't be another.

The League of Blogs started out as a bit of fun and has always been just that and after three good years, we've decided to retire the feature once this one has finished.

We plan to replace it with something completely new next year which should be just as collaborative, but that's in the future... For now, it's all about the LoB!

So don't miss out on your last ever chance to be part of the nation's favourite* league... head on over to the instructions page and get scribbling!

Commercial Break 2

It’s time once again to dip into the advertising archives as The Football Attic finds a short selection of British TV adverts that all take their inspiration from the world of football.

Sit back and enjoy Brian Clough doing some sterling voiceover work (even if his dental work leaves something to be desired), the worlds of Dad’s Army and Fawlty Towers colliding, plus a triple bill of animated stripy chocolate bar delights.

As someone once said, they don’t make ‘em like that anymore...

(You can also see this video and many others on our Football Attic YouTube page.)

Tuesday 16 September 2014

The Football Attic Podcast World Cup Extra No.2

Rich and Jay from are back to finish off their review of the recent World Cup!

We were going to cover other stuff too, but ended up quite engrossed in the land of FIFA so consider this the conclusion of our World Cup Extra...

Once again Jay and Rich bicker over the pronunciation of certain footballing names, Rich moans about domestic football and Jay tries desperately to make sense of his love for Suarez...and fails... 'Ave it!

Subscribe on iTunes or download here. Alternatively, catch The Football Attic Podcast on Square One Football Radio.

See also:
The Football Attic Podcast archive

Friday 12 September 2014

The Football Attic Podcast Extra No.2 - Vintage Era Football

The Football Attic loves going back to the 1970's and 1980's in search of fabulous nostalgia, but what happens when you go back even further - long before the Second World War and back further still to the late 1800's?

The answer comes in the rich seam of wonderful stories about the players, teams and other football folk that made the early days of British football such a glorious era.

To confirm that very fact, Chris O met up with Graham Sibley to talk about Chapman's Arsenal, a Twitter account that provides real-time insights into Arsenal Football Club during the late-1920's and early 1930's.

There's also a discussion about the formative days of British football that will feature in an upcoming podcast series that Graham's currently working on.

So if you fancy immersing yourself in a more innocent time when players had curly moustaches, centre-partings and very little money, why not listen in to The Football Attic Podcast Extra... you'll be glad you did.

Subscribe on iTunes or download here. Alternatively, catch The Football Attic Podcast on Square One Football Radio.

See also:
The Football Attic Podcast archive
WA & AC Churchman's 'Association Footballers' Cigarette Cards, 1938
The Guinness Book of Soccer Facts & Feats (1979)
The Sound of Football podcast

Friday 5 September 2014

Catalogue of Eras: Littlewoods - Spring & Summer 1982

"Like discovering a whole new shopping world in your own home", mail order catalogues have offered people a tempting glimpse through the looking glass into retail heaven for decades. By thumbing through anything up to a thousand colour pages, it was possible to turn your back on those busy high street stores and buy clothes, gifts and all manner of things from the comfort of your Shackleton's high seat armchair.

The innocent (if self-indulgent) pastime of casting a casual eye over the lingerie section has now become the stuff of legend, but what did the humble mail order catalogue have to offer for young football fans? This occasional series aims to bring you the answer in a parade of long-forgotten memories, easy-pay instalments and dubious marketing strategies.

Wednesday 3 September 2014

League of Blogs 2014 Deadline - Fri 10th October

All good things must come to an does everything else...

Several people have asked if they're too late to join the League of Blogs and the answer right now is "NO!"

If you're asking on the 11th October, however, the answer will be "YES, WHY WERE YOU SO LAZY????"

What I'm getting at is we've now set a deadline for the League of Blogs 2014 entries and that deadline is:

FRIDAY 10th OCTOBER at midnight!
(23:59:59 for those who wish to be pedantic)

That means you've got at least another five weeks, so there's no excuse to not join up... NO EXCUSE!!!!

For details on what I'm banging on about, see here and for the excellent entries so far, go to the League of Blogs Gallery