Saturday 14 November 2015

Farewell from The Football Attic

To those of you that have supported The Football Attic over the last four years…

We are very sorry to inform you that today marks the end of our journey into the world of football nostalgia.

Our intention was to bring you articles and features that brought to mind happy memories of bygone football. That we did so to an appreciative audience throughout is something we are both very proud of indeed.

Today is the fourth anniversary of The Football Attic arriving on the internet, and although we’re sad to be bringing the project to an end, we’re also happy to have lasted as long as we have. This has been due in no small part to you, the visitors to our website, the people that have listened to our podcasts, the followers of our Twitter and Facebook accounts and anyone that has interacted with us during our football nostalgia odyssey, especially those who helped make the League of Blogs such a success. Without your support and kindness, The Football Attic would have ended long ago.

We would also, however, like to give our warmest thanks to the guest writers that have produced so many wonderful articles and features over the last four years. We've been truly flattered at the regularity with which they've volunteered their time and effort, and the result has been a website that isn't just written for nostalgia fans but in many cases by them as well. To be able to share their talent for writing with you has been an absolute joy.

Though our journey may be coming to an end, our love for football nostalgia remains (as will our Twitter account), and we hope you continue to indulge your love of the subject too. Some people would have you believe that it’s always better to look forward, not back, and that the memories of the past cannot sustain you forever. We disagree. The history of football contains more than enough sights and sounds for everyone to enjoy. You just need to find them.

Our purpose has been to do so on your behalf, and we hope we made you smile along the way.

With sincerest gratitude,

Rich Johnson and Chris Oakley.

Thursday 12 November 2015

The Age of Management

Not so long ago, I found myself wondering whether football managers and coaches were getting younger, particularly those in the Premier League. Where once the First Division was dominated by bosses that were old enough to be your dad (or even granddad), now they’re usually younger than me. How the hell did that happen?

Maybe I was seeing a skewed version of reality. True enough, I'm in my mid-forties now, but that shouldn't mean all top-flight coaches are undergoing some sort of Benjamin Button complex as a direct consequence. Are there really more Eddie Howes and Alex Neils around than there used to be? I needed to find out, and I needed a spreadsheet. A big spreadsheet…


My aim was to establish the average age of every manager that’s started a season in charge of an English First Division or Premier League club from 1960-61 to the present day. To carry out this seemingly straight-forward task, I’d need to find out which teams were playing in the top division during each of the last 56 seasons, who their managers were on the opening day of every season and what their birth dates were. Perhaps not so straight-forward after all, but then again I'm no stranger to a wild goose chase in the name of football blogging.

To the best of my knowledge, I have done exactly that - with one exception. At the start of the 1977-78 season, Newcastle United’s manager was Richard Dinnis. At the end of the previous season, he guided The Magpies to a UEFA Cup spot (Newcastle’s first for seven years), and for that he was held in high regard by many of their fans. Unfortunately, despite this considerable achievement, history has not been kind to Dinnis because there’s not a single page on the internet that gives his date of birth (as far as I could tell). With much regret, therefore, this single detail has not formed a part of my research and one only hopes it doesn't affect the overall findings too much.


To try and make sense of the huge amount of data I’d collated, I had to lay down certain standards - usually with a view to simplifying the overall task.

Firstly, it would take far too long to include the age of every manager that has ever led a top-flight team at any stage of any season. I've therefore decided to focus on the managers in charge of First Division or Premier League teams on the opening day of every season, from 1960-61 to 2015-16.

In a few isolated cases, clubs have started a new season without a manager in post. Where this is the case, the overall figures are based on and include these absences where appropriate.

To regulate the calculation of how old each manager really is, I have opted to use a date that is consistent for every year - September 1. All the ages you see mentioned throughout this piece are based on how old a manager was on this standard date, such as it falls just after the start of every season. If I’d worked out how old each manager was on the first day of every season, it may have fluctuated if he’d been born, say, in the middle of August. Because the start date for every First Division / Premier League season changes every year, it has a capability to show variations in a manager’s age, as this table shows.

Something else relating to those ages. To make things a bit more ‘metric’, all the graphs I've created (yes, there will be graphs) describe ages to one decimal point. To illustrate this, instead of saying someone’s age is 38 years and 140 days, I've shown their age as 38.4. The ‘140’ part is shown as a percentage of 365.25, the extra 0.25 allowing for the frequency of leap years.

Now this is all well and good, I hear you say... or was that snoring I heard? What if someone was born on September 2? In theory, their age would be (for instance) 38 years and 364 days, but shown in ‘metric’ form it would be 38.997... and using one decimal place, that would be 39.0. Not exactly correct is it? Well, no, but mentioned earlier, this is my attempt to show the data in simplified form. It’s also meant as a guide, not the last word in authoritative report writing. What I wanted was a general litmus test to see if those pesky football managers were getting younger before my very eyes. If I use one decimal place to come to a conclusion, well… don’t shoot me.

Finally, before we get onto the exciting stuff (and I use the term ‘exciting’ quite wrongly), I’d like to declare my sources as being Wikipedia and The validity of this whole exercise rests to some extent on the accuracy of those and one or two other websites that helped to confirm the birth dates of certain managers. But not Richard Dinnis, oh no. International man of mystery is Richard Dinnis, apparently…


It all begins in the 1960-61 season, a season when Tottenham Hotspur would do the League and FA Cup double, Preston North End would be relegated from Division One never to return (thus far) and somewhere, just south of Buenos Aires, a legend was born that would have a hand in England’s footballing fortunes over two decades later...

Of the 22 men starting that season as managers of their First Division clubs, one name stands out above all others. He was the oldest of them all - Matt Busby, still rebuilding the Manchester United team that had seen eight of its members die in the Munich air disaster only two years previously. Busby would still be in charge of Man United at the end of the 1960’s, but at the start of the decade, his youngest counterpart was the wonderfully named Bedford Jezzard. Aged just 32 when the 1960-61 season started, Jezzard had only recently retired as a stalwart striker for Fulham and was now managing the Craven Cottage club after its recent return to the First Division.

There was nearly two decades of difference between their respective ages, and the average for all those men leading their First Division clubs into battle on August 20th 1960 was 43.4. Slowly but surely, that figure would rise and rise...

Click for larger view
The following season, there were three future England managers in the First Division. A 42-year-old called Alf Ramsey was celebrating the major achievement of guiding his Ipswich Town team to the pinnacle of English football, while at West Ham, Ron Greenwood was starting a 13-year stint that would bring notable success to The Hammers. At Villa Park, however, Joe Mercer was mid-way through his six years in charge of Aston Villa and was about to see his side win the very first Football League Cup.

As the years progressed, more and more familiar names arrived in Division One: Bill Shankly at Liverpool in 1962-63, Don Revie at Leeds in 1964-65 and Tommy Docherty at Chelsea in 1965-66 - the youngest manager in the top flight the season after. Come the 1969-70 season, the average age of a top-flight boss was up to 46 and Matt Busby, the oldest manager in the First Division since the start, had been replaced by Wilf McGuinness who instantly became the youngest of the twenty-two.

The arrival of the 1970’s coincided with the arrival of yet more famous names into the First Division managerial circle. While Brian Clough was leading Derby County to glory and Bobby Robson was riding high with Ipswich, the average age rose to 47.7, largely thanks to the ubiquitousness of managers like Joe Mercer, Bill Nicholson, Bertie Mee and Shankly.

Even when Bob Paisley took over in the Anfield hot seat, he began his first season aged 56 and soon became the oldest of all the First Division managers year in, year out with the Eighties fast approaching. Despite this, the average age dropped during the middle of the Seventies as many young bucks arrived for a taste of top flight management experience. Terry Neill was just 33 when he started the 1975/76 season at Tottenham, and Johnny Giles was only 35 when he took the helm at West Bromwich Albion the season after.

Click for larger view
The youngest ever manager to start a Division One season came along in the form of Colin Murphy. As reserve team manager at Derby County, he’d been promoted following Dave Mackay’s sacking late in 1976 and began the 1977/78 campaign at the tender age of 27. To this day, he remains the only man ever to start a season as manager of a top-flight club while still in his 20’s.

During the 1980’s, the average age of England’s top club managers levelled out between 44 and 45. Joe Fagan replaced Bob Paisley not just as Liverpool’s manager but also the oldest manager in the First Division two seasons running, and the title of ‘youngest manager’ changed regularly until Kenny Dalglish replaced Fagan for the 1985-86 season.

By now, some of the managerial greats of our childhood had become part of the establishment. Lawrie McMenemy at Southampton, Brian Clough at Nottingham Forest, Howard Kendall at Everton and Graham Taylor at Watford. After Joe Fagan’s retirement, however, the age of the oldest First Division manager dropped from 63.5 to 52.8 and suddenly things didn't seem quite as patriarchal as they once had.

Click for larger version
Into the Nineties, the slow and steady stream of recently-retired players turning their hand to management continued. Steve Coppell, Trevor Francis, Billy Bonds, Peter Reid... all showed that it wasn't necessarily an old man’s game, and this was a sentiment shared by Chelsea in particular. Between 1993-94 and 1998/99, the Stamford Bridge club was where you’d find the youngest manager in the Premier League; first Glenn Hoddle (starting at the age of 35), then Ruud Gullit (from age 34) and then Gianluca Vialli (also 34). One could argue that an intent to facilitate younger coaches helped form the foundation of Chelsea’s huge success today, and with some justification.

Click for larger version
At the other end of the scale, the age of the oldest manager was steadily increasing. First Ron Atkinson, then Jim Smith pushed the top end of the range towards 60, but when Bobby Robson took charge of Newcastle, the age of the oldest manager rocketed. Starting the 2000/01 season aged 67, he was 71 when his last campaign began at St James Park, and were it not for youngsters like Fulham’s Chris Coleman arriving on the scene, the average age would have rocketed upwards too.

Click for larger version
Ironically it was only when Alex Ferguson replaced Robson as the oldest manager in the Premier League that the average age started to rise noticeably. From being 46.8 in 2005/06, it climbed quickly to 51.8 in 2011/12 and this became the peak of the average age for top-flight managers in England. Since then, the figure has fallen only slightly to 51.3 for the 2015/16 season, propped up by stalwarts like Arsene Wenger (65 on September 1st 2015), Dick Advocaat (the oldest at 67) and Claudio Ranieri (63).

Click for larger version
And so it seems that even with Eddie Howe at Bournemouth (35 at the start of the current season), and Swansea’s Garry Monk (36), top flight management is not seeing its personnel getting younger with every passing year. Quite the opposite, in fact. As you can see from the graph below showing the entire 56-year period covered, the thin diagonal line in the middle shows a steady trend moving in an upward direction.

Click for larger version

Who'd have thought, then? It would appear that within the next couple of decades, we could be witnessing the advent of the elderly Premier League manager as a very real concept. Already comfortably past 50 on average, there must be something to be said for experience over youth. Whether it remains as the dominant factor when choosing the right man to lead one of English football's top teams in the future remains to be seen.

-- Chris Oakley

The Football Attic Podcast 30 - Future Nostalgia

It's all very well us old men banging on about what we remember from our childhood like a malfunctioning PeterKayBot, but what will future generations look back on with fondness?

Salted? Caramel?

So listen in as Rich and FSF Blogger of the Year Nominated Chris discuss what they think will stand the test of time and whether things we remember will still be around and in what form.

Subscribe to The Football Attic Podcast on iTunes or download our podcast here.

Wednesday 11 November 2015

Book Review - Sky Blue Heroes by Steve Phelps

We get sent a few books to review here in the Attic and it's always a delight, even if we don't always find the time to review them all. One book in particular I was looking forward to getting my hands on was this - Sky Blue Heroes by Steve Phelps, author of many a quality book about my beloved Coventry City.

Naturally there's been lots written about our 87 FA Cup win, but what makes this different is it's not a story of that journey told as a narrative by a distant voice; this is a collation of copious interviews with the people who were there and went on that journey. That doesn't just mean the fans. This includes everyone from the management, players, club staff and even the people who wrote the Cup Final song, Go For It City!

Starting with interviews from the players, the book follows events of the FA Cup run match to match, combining memories with excerpts from the club programmes and papers of the time. As always with these things, it's the minutiae that really set the scene... transfer figures in the tens of thousand rather than the millions, club jaunts to Spain rather than Dubai etc, all reminiscent of the pre-Premiership days when the 3rd Round Football Focus special would always show a 4th Division player doing his normal job (usually a brick layer) to show the discrepancy between top and bottom flight.

The chronological nature of the book not only means that each interview is short (rather than a series of long interviews with each person), thereby giving it a nice, punchy pace, but also allows the tension and excitement to rise as time goes on and what started as just another cup run in a freezing January, builds with each match to a rising sense of belief that this might actually happen and finally the explosion of sheer joy when it bloody well did!

It's a cliché say that something is a must for any particular set of fans, but this is a book that every Sky Blue fan has to read. For those who were there or at least a fan at the time, it's a beautiful recreation of the time and given the multiple viewpoints, there's always something you can identify with. Moreover, for those too young to have been there, it's as close as you'll get to living through it and in these dark days of League One, reminds us what we once achieved by having the right people and the right mentality.

So, if you're a Cov fan, make sure this is on your Christmas list!

Sky Blue Heroes is available from Amazon here.

- Rich Johnson

Ultimate BBC Goal of the Season - And the winner is...

...the first ever winner of the BBC's Goal of the Season competition - Ernie Hunt of Coventry City.

Image: BBC
That iconic donkey kick by Willie Carr, followed by Hunt's perfectly executed volley secured 37.6% of our votes, with another Coventry favourite, Keith Houchen, placing second with 33% of the vote. Third place went to Justin Fashanu's beautiful looping volley for Norwich against Liverpool in 1980 with 4.6% of the vote.

All in all, we received 109 votes, 71% of which were for the top two in our poll. You can say what you like about democracy, but Coventry fans certainly know how to mobilise their support when there's pride at stake!

Our thanks to everyone that took part in our vote-off, and here once again are your top three goals...

1st Place: Goal 1
Ernie Hunt (for Coventry City against Everton, 3 October 1970)

2nd Place: Goal 17
Keith Houchen (for Coventry City against Tottenham Hotspur, 16 May 1987)

3rd Place: Goal 10
Justin Fashanu (for Norwich City against Liverpool, 9 February 1980)

Tuesday 10 November 2015

Kit Collection Book Volume 2 Now Available!

Following the rather unexpected "success" of the critically acclaimed Football Attic Kit Collection book, it was only logical that a follow up would happen.

Given Volume 1 covered all the shirts I'd collected over the previous 27 YEARS, and Volume 2 would only be covering the subsequent 18 months, would there be enough kits to actually fill a second book?  Turns out that in that period, I somehow acquired approximately 100 new shirts. And not just any old shirts (though some are literally just some old shirts), but a plethora of special editions, charity shirts and some general oddness (rubber shirts anyone?). Not only that, but my first ever "match worn" Argentina shirt!

Feedback from the first book indicated a bit more info on each shirt would be nice, which coupled nicely with the smaller number of shirts. To that end, the first section of the book is dedicated to 'The Platinum Collection' (Premier would have been misleading) - a journey thorugh some of the more interesting shirts in my locker, from the awesome 1860 Munich Oktoberfest to the CD Guijuelo "Ham". Each of the shirts in this section get a whole page or 2 devoted to them, meaning close up pics as well as more info.

The rest of the book follows a similar pattern to the first, with sections for Coventry, England (& Scotland), Argentina, Internationals, Clubs and 'The Rest'.

While intended as an addition to the first book, a few shirts do make a re-appearance, either down to giving them some more space or because some new info has come to light.

What else is different? Well, it's 2 pages longer than Vol 1, at 100 pages.
It's also cheaper at £30 including UK Postage - Overseas buyers, I'll contact you to confirm your price before you commit.

So...there you go... If you'd like one, please fill out the form below and you'll get an automated email from me with instructions on what to do next. If you don't get one, check your spam filters then drop me a line.

NB The first Volume can also be ordered for a short time as well...if you want one, let me know in the Notes...any other message you wish to send...section on the order form. Volume 1 is also £30.

Rich Johnson

Thursday 5 November 2015

The Football Attic's Hit Parade: We Can Do It

The more you delve deeply into the history of football teams and their commercially released music, the more you realise that few clubs have ever created an original song from scratch. Even Jimmy Hill's 'Sky Blue Song' was a rewritten version of The Eton Boating Song, and that from a man regarded by many as a pioneer of football. Is there nothing new under the sun?

Liverpool Football Club were only following a precedent when they released 'We Can Do It' in 1977, just as they were entering a truly golden era of success. The song was a reinterpretation of 'I Can Do It' by The Rubettes, which reached number 7 in the UK charts during March 1975. Liverpool's version, as you'd expect, reflected the collective team ethic of the Anfield club rather than dwelling on a childhood love for rock and roll music.

Opting for a slightly slower tempo and a lower pitch than the cap-wearing popsters before them, the likes of Clemence, Thompson, Neal et al warbled proudly of their history and footballing capabilities. And because, presumably, someone thought they matched the stereotypical profile of 'dumb football players', the lyrics were suitably simple enough for them to sing, too.

In short, the phrase "we can do it" crops up 45 times during the three minutes and ten seconds of this musical masterpiece. That's once every 4.2 seconds. Even Jimmy Case could have managed that, let alone Kevin 'Head Over Heels In Love' Keegan. It's fair to say this was never going to win a Brit Award, but then again a cover of 'Chanson d'Amour' by Manhattan Transfer was never going to be sung by The Kop's masses either.

This was very much Status Quo territory; a relentless guitar-strumming stomper, uncomplicated and easy to sing along to. It was also notably popular, peaking at number 15 in the charts in May 1977. Though the team didn't appear in person, the song did get heard over the closing credits of Top of the Pops at the end of that month, following an illustrious line-up that included Kenny Rogers, Bryan Ferry and The Stranglers. And Dave Lee Travis. Imagine that for a moment, if you will.

Two days before such an honour was bestowed upon them, Liverpool beat Borussia Mönchengladbach in the Stadio Olimpico in Rome to win the 1977 European Cup Final. It was to be Kevin Keegan's swansong in the famous red shirt, after which he moved to Hamburg. It was hardly coincidence that his departure as a future musical heavyweight in his own right heralded eleven barren years during which Liverpool FC enjoyed no chart success whatsoever. It wasn't until 'The Anfield Rap' came along in 1988 that the pride of (one half of) Merseyside was restored, and even then, the jury's still out where that particular point is concerned.

For now, though, we respect the ability of one club to take someone else's song, get it sung by a couple of dozen top football players and get it into the upper reaches of the Top 40. A magnificent achievement, and one that could only be matched in this case by John Barnes wearing a cap back to front. Staggering.

-- Chris Oakley

See also:

Friday 30 October 2015

Videoblog 8: Chris O's Football Shirts

Here at The Football Attic, it's not just Rich J who's owned a considerable number of footy shirts in his time. Chris O's bought a few down the years as well, and to prove the point, here he is to tell you all about the shirts he's owned in our eighth (and last) Videoblog.

An avid West Ham supporter, many of Chris' shirts are naturally of the claret-and-blue variety, but you'll be mistaken for thinking that he's confined his choices to the Upton Park club only. Watch the video and find out which other shirts he's proudly worn (in the presence of a sporting great, in one example...)

Wednesday 28 October 2015

Moving the goal posts

It's a great pleasure to welcome into the Attic our old friend Jay from who today gives us his take on goal frames, Italian style and Subbuteo (among other things)...

Like most things in my life, I look at goal frames in terms of pre- or post-Italia '90. As much as we can talk about BSB, BSkyB, Murdoch and "the inception of the Premier League" (the second best "inception" of all time... after "Inception") it was the 1990 World Cup in Italy that really moved the goalposts. Because this is an article about goalposts. So I used that metaphor.

Before Italia '90, goals looked to me like they looked in terrible footage of British domestic hooliganism. That is to say, either the goalposts shaped like enlarged P's, with the net draped down at the back of this protrusion, or with a 45° stanchion propping the net up. This was usually with the crowd separated from the pitch by advertising hoardings and/or fences, being mere inches from the byline. This look didn't work for me.

And so to Italy. I say this piece is about goal frames I have loved, but this is really the anti-goal frame goal frame. This is minimalism in goal frame form. In Italy the stadia - the like of which I didn't even realise existed - had a running track and acres of room behinds the goals! The fans were miles back, in some kind of Colosseum-aping divide between the entertainment and the paying public - which would surely call for sociological analysis if I had the time, inclination or requisite education to tackle it - and the nets... oh, the nets...

Roughly 500 yards back from the byline were two further posts - detached stanchions, should your imagination allow - and nylon cords ran from the upper corners of the nets, to these posts, securing the goal nets in a position of both statuesque poseurly confidence and louche malleability. The goal nets were the focal point of the pitch, given enough room to breathe and beckon the ball into their yawning chasms, but also sprung tightly enough to repel the strike should it evade a goalkeeper's reach.

And this is why I loved them so much. Because a ball shouldn't ever "nestle in the net". For one thing, "nestle" looks like "Nestlé", and we really don't have time to go into that, but mainly because when a great goal is scored, the ball shouldn't hit the net before its entirety has even crossed the line and retire to some dark corner in front of an oversized Draper Tools logo. Rather it should whip its way around the mesh, repeatedly bulging it like a foetus lashing out at its mother before rolling out, back into the active area and winking at the shattered and grounded goalkeeper that notices its reappearance in his peripheral vision.

Italia '90 did this, 501 Great Goals did not. Seriously, if you've ever watched that video you'll know it feels like at least 251 of them are penalties and the rest are tap-ins by Kerry Dixon. They all involved nestling. And the advertising hoardings are so close to the pitch that if Peter Shilton had staggered and fallen backwards over the goal-line as an Andy Brehme deflected free-kick looped over his head in a Barclays League Division One game in 1988 rather than in the Stadio delle Alpi in Turin, it would have seen him decapitated.

In 1990, I asked for "square goal nets" for Christmas, as the closest thing that Subbuteo did to the Italia '90 versions. As I was opening my gift, my grandfather (he's been dead for 17 years - THAT's football nostalgia) pointed out, in partial apologetic apprehension and, I suspect, with an undertone of pedantry, that he couldn't find any "square" goal nets, and these were the best he could do. They were exactly what I wanted, they were perfect and, post Italia '90, my views on football had changed. Bring on the inceptions...

Our grateful thanks to Jay, who not only manages Design Football brilliantly but also does a sterling job documenting the world around him at Well worth checking out if you can!

Jay can also be found on Twitter so follow him and have your life enriched by talk of football and many other things besides...

See also:

Thursday 22 October 2015

Ultimate BBC Goal of the Season

Image: BBC
For years it was the gold standard of football quality. Twenty-five yard screamers, fabulous team efforts, flying headers... they've all featured in the BBC's Goal of the Season competition over the last 45 years, and for a lucky few, the ultimate accolade has been theirs. Thanks to the votes sent in on the back of a postcard or sealed down envelope (latterly championed by a self-imposed panel of 'experts'), a succession of goals have been crowned the greatest seen on BBC Television every season, and they in turn have attained legendary status.

To score a BBC Goal of the Season requires talent, technique and skill. For several decades, however, you'd have needed a sizable portion of luck too. It was only comparatively recently that the BBC Match of the Day cameras started covering every match in England's top flight, but in the days before the Premier League, you were more likely to see the highlights of only a few games from the four divisions of the Football League every weekend. As a goalscorer of considerable ambition, the chances of scoring a goal capable of being remembered for generations was slim enough without the randomness of getting it captured for all posterity.

But lets now celebrate the goals that made it; the Goals of the Season, as shown on BBC television since 1970, and choose the greatest of them all. Listed below are all 45 winners of the BBC Goal of the Season competition, and we invite you to watch them all and savour their beautiful brilliance. Once you've done that, we'd like you vote for your favourite at the foot of this page. No need to write your three goals in order of preference on the back of a postcard - just type in the number of your top goal and technology will do the rest. The closing date for entries is 10 November 2015.

Goal 1
Ernie Hunt (for Coventry City against Everton, 3 October 1970)

Goal 2
Ronnie Radford (for Hereford United against Newcastle United, 5 February 1972)

Goal 3
Peter Osgood (for Chelsea against Arsenal, 17 March 1973

Goal 4
Alan Mullery (for Fulham against Leicester City, 26 January 1974)

Goal 5
Mickey Walsh (for Blackpool against Sunderland, 1 February 1975)

Goal 6
Gerry Francis (for Queens Park Rangers against Liverpool, 16 August 1975)

Goal 7
Terry McDermott (for Liverpool against Everton, 23 April 1977)

Goal 8
Archie Gemmill (for Nottingham Forest against Arsenal, 21 January 1978)

Goal 9
Ray Kennedy (for Liverpool against Derby County, 24 February 1979)

Goal 10
Justin Fashanu (for Norwich City against Liverpool, 9 February 1980)

Goal 11
Tony Morley (for Aston Villa against Everton, 7 February 1981)

Goal 12
Cyrille Regis (for West Bromwich Albion against Norwich City, 13 February 1982)

Goal 13
Kenny Dalglish (for Scotland against Belgium, 15 December 1982)

Goal 14
Danny Wallace (for Southampton against Liverpool, 16 March 1984)

Goal 15
Graeme Sharp (for Everton against Liverpool, 20 October 1984

Goal 16
Bryan Robson (for England against Israel, 26 February 1986

Goal 17
Keith Houchen (for Coventry City against Tottenham Hotspur, 16 May 1987)

Goal 18
John Aldridge (for Liverpool against Nottingham Forest, 9 April 1988)

Goal 19
John Aldridge (for Liverpool against Everton, 20 May 1989)

Goal 20
Ian Wright (for Crystal Palace against Manchester United, 12 May 1990)

Goal 21
Paul Gascoigne (for Tottenham Hotspur against Arsenal, 14 April 1991)

Goal 22
Mickey Thomas (for Wrexham against Arsenal, 4 January 1992)

Goal 23
Dalian Atkinson (for Aston Villa against Wimbledon, 3 October 1992)

Goal 24
Rod Wallace (for Leeds United against Tottenham Hotspur, 17 April 1994)

Goal 25
Matthew Le Tissier (for Southampton against Blackburn Rovers, 10 December 1994

Goal 26
Tony Yeboah (for Leeds United against Wimbledon, 23 September 1995)

Goal 27
Trevor Sinclair (for Queens Park Rangers against Barnsley, 25 January 1997)

Goal 28
Dennis Bergkamp (for Arsenal against Leicester City, 27 August 1997)

Goal 29
Ryan Giggs (for Manchester United against Arsenal, 14 April 1999)

Goal 30
Paolo di Canio (for West Ham United against Wimbledon, 26 march 2000)

Goal 31
Shaun Bartlett (for Charlton Athletic against Leicester City, 1 April 2001)

Goal 32
Dennis Bergkamp (for Arsenal against Newcastle United, 2 March 2002)

Goal 33
Thierry Henry (for Arsenal against Tottenham Hotspur, 16 November 2002)

Goal 34
Dietmar Hamann (for Liverpool against Portsmouth, 17 March 2004)

Goal 35
Wayne Rooney (for Manchester United against Middlesbrough, 29 January 2005)

Goal 36
Steven Gerrard (for Liverpool against West Ham United, 13 May 2006)

Goal 37
Wayne Rooney (for Manchester United against Bolton Wanderers, 17 March 2007)

Goal 38
Emmanuel Adebayor (for Arsenal against Tottenham Hotspur, 15 September 2007)

Goal 39
Glen Johnson (for Portsmouth against Hull City, 22 November 2008)

Goal 40
Maynor Figueroa (for Wigan Athletic against Stoke City, 12 December 2009)

Goal 41
Wayne Rooney (for Manchester United against Manchester City, 12 February 2011)

Goal 42
Papiss Cissé (for Newcastle United against Chelsea, 2 May 2012)

Goal 43
Robin Van Persie (for Manchester United against Aston Villa, 22 April 2013)

Goal 44
Jack Wilshere (for Arsenal against Norwich City, 19 October 2013)

Goal 45
Jack Wilshere (for Arsenal against West Bromwich Albion, 24 May 2015)

This poll is now closed.
Thank you for all your votes. The winner will be announced on The Football Attic website shortly.

Monday 19 October 2015

Jonathan Roberts' 5 Best Players That Never Played At International Finals

We welcome another guest writer to The Football Attic as Jonathan Roberts reminds us of some of the great players that never qualified for a major competition...

"A World Cup without me is nothing to watch so it is not worthwhile to wait for the World Cup." Those were the words of the one and only Zlatan Ibrahimovic, following Sweden’s failure to qualify for the 2014 World Cup.

Rather arrogant, yes, and although one of football’s most charismatic and admired stars was denied a place at the tournament in Brazil, it isn’t inconceivable to think that he may not have made it anyway. Football can be a cruel sport and it often doesn’t matter who you are; if your name’s not down, you’re not coming in.

Football history is littered with tales of top players who have never played in international finals. Today, we’re going to look at who we think are the top five players never to have made it to international finals.

5. Ryan Giggs
Manchester United’s rock. More league and European titles than you can count on two hands. In fact, at the time of writing, Giggs is still the most decorated player in the history of the English game but never made it to an international tournament with Wales. If only he’d still been playing in 2015! The highlight of his international career was probably becoming captain for Team GB at the 2012 Olympics.

4. Ian Rush
‘It’s what Ian Rush drinks!’ Remember that advert? Yep, most of us do. Remember Ian Rush at the World Cup? Er... no. Another Welsh legend, despite multiple domestic and European titles, Rush never featured on the biggest stage of all. The current Welsh team have made it to the finals of Euro 2016, but are likely to face some difficult opening fixtures.

3. Alfredo Di Stefano
Diego Maradona once described Di Stefano as the best player to ever have graced a football pitch. Oddly, despite having played for Argentina, Spain and Colombia, a mix of bad luck and injury meant he never reached the ultimate football stage.

2. Eric Cantona
When he wasn’t launching himself into the stands to ‘confront’ angry fans, Cantona was simply a magician on the pitch. Unfortunately, it was that very temper which rendered him ineligible to compete for France at international tournaments. Twelve months after making his international debut in 1987, Cantona made a derogatory remark about the France manager, Henri Michel, and was subsequently banned indefinitely. A brief return in the early 90's saw him narrowly miss out on the 1994 World Cup following defeat at home to Bulgaria in the qualifiers. The infamous karate kick was the final nail in the coffin, preventing him from appearing at France ’98.

1. George Best
Perhaps the greatest international no-show tragedy of all was the inconceivable fact that Manchester United and Northern Ireland genius, George Best, never made it to the World Cup with his beloved home country, despite gaining 37 caps. Northern Ireland did qualify for the World Cup in 1982, but by then Best was 36 and a shadow of the player he used to be.

Saturday 17 October 2015

Panini: Football Superstars (1984)

Back in February 2014, we reviewed Panini’s ‘Soccer Superstars’ collection from 1988. Consisting of an album into which picture cards (not stickers) could be inserted, this was a rare chance to see Panini veer away from the tried and tested sticky-backed formula of yore. It was not, however, the first time they’d attempted something so radical.

Four years earlier, the similarly-named ‘Football Superstars’ made an appearance and on this occasion, the medium of choice was not cardboard, but plastic. Clear plastic. It was an inspired selection and provided a somewhat futuristic slant on the stickers we’d been collecting for many years (not that these were self-adhesive).

As with Soccer Superstars, the pictures of players and national team emblems had to be slotted into diagonal cuts on each page of the accompanying album. The pages were loose and unstapled which meant, in theory, that you could pin each completed double-page spread on your bedroom wall. Five teams were featured - England, Scotland, France, Italy and West Germany - while the last two pages featured ‘All Stars’, a collection of top players from around the world.

Curiously, the double-page format isn't as jam-packed with pictures as in Panini’s regular ‘Football’ series that was available at the time. Instead, only a dozen cards are featured, and in the case of the five mentioned teams, that means one team badge and eleven players. There’s no text giving a potted summary of their careers, just a few paltry details relating to each individual below their card.

The plastic cards themselves, however, look great. Before they’re slotted into the album, they can be held up to the light like a film negative to gain a tantalising glimpse of a picture that isn’t immediately complete. Placed on a white space inside the album, though, they come to life with a distinct vibrancy you won’t find on a regular Panini football sticker.

The choice of teams is a curious one and reinforces the feeling that this was a one-off set-piece project by Panini. Dated by various internet sources as being from 1984, the album features Scotland’s Graeme Sharp who didn't make his international début until 1985. Whether Football Superstars was actually published the following year is unclear, but either way the absence of other prominent countries like Spain and Belgium is a little unfortunate.

England’s line-up is a mish-mash of established players, those heading for the end of their international careers and those struggling to get theirs off the ground. The reassuring presence of Peter Shilton in goal is matched by Terry Butcher, Bryan Robson and Ray Wilkins outfield, but beyond them, there are some less familiar faces. Stoke City’s Mark Chamberlain (father of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain) made only eight appearances for England, while Mike Duxbury of Manchester United only managed two more. Tottenham’s Graham Roberts only notched up six appearances.

All of the other teams boast an altogether more convincing array of current and future stars covering everyone from Lothar Matthaus and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge to Paolo Rossi, Michel Platini and Kenny Dalglish. Nearly all of them made an appearance at the 1982 or 1986 World Cups, and a fine bunch they make too. Added to the dozen ‘All Stars’, however, you have an even more rounded view of the top footballing talent of the mid-1980’s.

Here we find South Americans in the form of Passarella, Zico, Maradona and Falcao, plus the best from the rest of Europe. Finally there is a mention of Arconada and Gordillo of Spain and Enzo Scifo of Belgium (both countries capable of having their own double-page spread), plus Poland’s Zbigniew Boniek and Chalana, Portugal’s ace midfielder of Euro 84. Even Ian Rush gets a much-deserved inclusion, alongside another star of Euro 84, Soren Lerby.

It’s all very nice and all very different, but in many ways this collection seems a little tame by comparison to Panini’s regular self-adhesive equivalents. The innovation of making clear cards is excellent and the attempt to show such versatility is very admirable, but the content of the album lacks substance and direction. One could even bring into question the use of the term ‘Superstars’. Diego Maradona, absolutely, but with the greatest of respect, Mike Duxbury? Probably not…

There was, however, one additional reason to buy packets of Football Superstars cards, and that was the inclusion of a scratch card game. It consisted of a series of silver spots located all over a football pitch, and as either the red team or the yellow team, you had to scratch one off at a time to navigate your way from the centre circle to the opposing goal. Revealing a ball symbol enabled you to scratch off another silver spot, failure to do so gave your opponent another turn. Good harmless fun, and further proof that Panini could think outside the box when it came to creativity, but this was very much a sideshow to those clear cards that numbered only 72 in total. Personally I’d have rather had more cards to collect and not had the scratch cards, but there it is. This was, as mentioned before, Panini showing off their many and varied skills, and this album is an interesting part of their history accordingly.

-- Chris Oakley

Our huge thanks go to Graham Hannay of Retro Football Stickers for allowing us to use the images featured in this article. To find some of those missing stickers you need to complete your collections of yesteryear, check out Graham's website at

Thursday 8 October 2015

Subbuteo: My who/what/where/when/why

I was very lucky to have enjoyed Subbuteo when it was surely at its peak. Over a period of five or six years, I built up a small collection of items and played dozens of games, and not once did I fail to be charmed by it. Subbuteo is responsible for some of the happiest times of my childhood. This is what I remember.


It must have been my parents that bought me my first Subbuteo set, not to mention most of the items that made up my eventual collection. Towards the end of the 1970’s, well before I’d reached the age of nine, they got me a Subbuteo Club Edition starter kit. Though basic in its content, it had everything I needed to get started: a pitch, two goals, two teams, two balls and some corner flags (not strictly necessary). Thanks to my mother and father, June and Ron Oakley, Subbuteo quickly became one of my favourite pastimes.

Having attained all manner of teams and accessories over several years, I was then lucky enough to find a regular playing partner. Alan Young, one year my junior, lived only a three-minute walk away and was just as keen on flicking little plastic men as I was. Alan didn't have any Subbuteo equipment of his own, but that didn't matter as I was only too happy to transport all my important bits and pieces to his house every weekend in an old LP carrying case. Together, we’d organise FA Cup and World Cup tournaments, playing them alternately and endlessly on the floor of his bedroom. Happy days indeed.

One of our World Cup tournaments caused considerable embarrassment to me, thanks to my teacher of French, David McKelvey. During one lesson, I decided to relieve a pervading sense of boredom by reading a sheet of paper I’d brought with me to school. It contained all the results from a World Cup competition that Alan and I had played the previous weekend. Highly decorated by my own fair hand (using felt-tip pens and Letraset rub-down lettering), it’s hardly surprising that it caught the eye of Mr McKelvey. Walking around the classroom behind me, he sneaked up, saw me reading my score sheet and snatched it out of my hand. “Ah, what’s this?” he announced to the class. “Subbuteo World Cup 1984? Host nation, Scotland... Group A - Brazil 1, Italy 0... England 2, Sweden 2...” and so he went on, reading out result after result on my piece of paper. It would have been enormously convenient for the ground to open up and swallow me at that moment, but alas it didn’t. Oh the shame…

One final person worthy of mention is a distant aunt of mine whose name I don’t even know. I think she was from my Dad’s side of the family and lived with her family in Kent, miles away from our modest abode in north east London. From what I can recall, she only ever visited our house once and when she did, she arrived carrying three plastic carrier bags stuffed full with something. To my surprise, she handed them to me and said “There you go - these are for you. My son’s too old for these now, so I thought you might like them.” The bags contained a Subbuteo stadium stand awaiting assembly, lots of ‘heavyweight’ teams including Ireland and Scotland, two floodlights and all manner of other paraphernalia. It felt like I’d won the lottery jackpot.

Thank you, ‘mystery aunt’, whoever you were...


So what did I end up with in my Subbuteo collection by the time I called it a day at the age of 15? Well let’s start with the accessories. I had one standard pitch, a stadium scoreboard (brilliant), two floodlights (ornamental, but ultimately useless), a TV tower, a Trainers Bench Set (beautifully rendered in clear plastic), a FIFA World Cup trophy, the FA Cup trophy, three FIFA balls (lovely), three Tournament balls (unusable due to the self-adhesive coloured patches that made the ball roll in random directions), a First Aid Set, a Stadium Grandstand (essential for capturing any sense of realism), two Tournament Goals, several packets of number transfers, two Throw-In Figures (crap), two Corner Kick Figures (only slightly better), six Ball Boys (dig those yellow tracksuits, fellas) and a VIP Presentation Set (featuring five people, one of which looks like Her Majesty The Queen holding the FA Cup. Not ideal if you were playing a World Cup tournament, but there it is.)

As for the teams, well first I had ‘The Reds’ (#01) and ‘The Blues’ (#02) that came with my Club Edition set. They were both brilliantly versatile as you could pretend they were many different teams. The Reds could be Denmark, North Korea, Tunisia, Nottingham Forest, Bristol City, Austria (away)... the list goes in. Similarly, The Blues could be Everton, Japan, Leicester City, Birmingham City, Ipswich Town, Cardiff City, Italy… even Scotland and France, at a push. Enough to play an FA Cup and World Cup on their own.

Luckily, I could call upon more variety than that. I also had Liverpool (/Brechin City/Scunthorpe), Spain, Brazil, Manchester United, West Germany (or Ipswich away, Man United away, etc), East Germany (but more usually Tottenham), Crystal Palace (with the classic double diagonal sash), my beloved West Ham United (in late-70’s Admiral attire), Watford, England (which came in a fancy polystyrene-inset box) and West Bromwich Albion away (1983-84).

The latter of these teams I must single out for special mention as it was bought for me by my Dad. My West Brom team, resplendent in yellow shirts and blue shorts, was bought as a ‘get well’ present as I’d been suffering with tonsillitis for some time and my Dad thought it would cheer me up and lift my spirits. It did, and although I now smile at such a random choice of team, I don’t think he could have picked anything better. Horizontal pinstripes were very much the ‘in thing’ at the time, and this team, number 473 in the Subbuteo catalogue, was easily the most modern-looking of all those I owned. Not only that, but I could also use it as Sweden in my World Cup tournaments. Thanks Dad...


As mentioned previously, Alan Young’s bedroom floor was where I had much of my fun as a 13-year-old (stop laughing at the back). Later in life, I discovered that most people played Subbuteo on a table of some sort when they were younger, but this never happened for me. My green cloth pitch was always smoothed out on the carpet wherever I played, and I’d be sat on my knees throughout an entire match, scrabbling around hither and yon to follow the action.

Many was the time I’d visit Alan’s house on a Sunday afternoon to play Subbuteo, especially during the dark Winter months. For the big games, like FA Cup Finals or World Cup Finals, we’d set up the stadium stand and the floodlights (that couldn’t illuminate an ant’s head) along with every accessory in my possession. For regular games, however, we’d make do with the trusty old scoreboard and maybe the TV Tower for a little bit of basic authenticity. As we played, we’d commentate in the way you do when you’re young, writing down the scores for each match along the way. When the opening bars to the Bullseye theme tune could be heard from downstairs, however, I knew it would soon be time to pack everything up and go home.

Apart from Alan’s house in Rowe Gardens, Barking, where most of my Subbuteo playing took place, there were only a couple of other places where flicking and kicking ensued. On a few occasions, I played in the spare room at Martin Lewis’ house. Martin was another good friend of mine and if my poor memory serves, we played Subbuteo on his snooker table, although I could be wrong. One thing I do recall is that he had the Tottenham team in their pale blue away kit. It doubled up as Club Brugge, which no doubt would have been handy for any UEFA Cup tournaments that went on.

Then there was another school friend of mine, Trevor Scannell. I had a brief spell hanging around with him circa 1983, and one time I recall visiting his house during the school summer holidays. I was delighted to discover that he, too, played Subbuteo but when he unveiled his Astropitch, rolled up in its cardboard tube, I felt an envy so strong, it almost bordered on physical violence. I wanted that Astropitch more than anything else for, ooh, the next 20 minutes, and would happily have stolen it if I knew I wouldn’t be the sole suspect for the crime.


I was very fortunate in that my early obsession with football coincided with the introduction of Subbuteo’s ‘lightweight’ teams. These were more modern-looking than the previous ones whose players wore baggy shirts and shorts and look like they were designed in the 1950’s (which they probably were). The early-80’s heralded the arrival of this new sleeker version of Subbuteo player along with a wide range of accessories to complete your immersive experience.

I can’t say for certain when I got that first Club Edition set, but my best estimate is 1979. I remember its vivid green box sat on top of the wardrobe in my bedroom, but at the age of only eight, I probably played it rarely. It was only when I attained more teams and a regular playing partner in Alan that the big green box was regularly brought down from its lofty position.

As for the end of my playing days, that would have probably been around 1986. By that point, Alan Young and I had gone our separate ways and my twelve years of school education were coming to an end. I would soon be leaving school to get my first job as a young adult, which meant other seemingly juvenile pastimes like Panini sticker collecting were looked upon as being ‘kids stuff’. But oh, what great pastimes. To have those days back again would be a pleasure beyond compare.


Why should Subbuteo be such an addictive thing to get involved with? Put simply, it offered a make-believe world that couldn’t be penetrated by life’s dissatisfactions. Whether you were building your collection of teams and accessories or playing a game with your mate, Subbuteo was a football world created just for you and enjoyed specifically by you.

Quite why children have a necessity to pretend and envelop themselves in a false reality I don’t know. It makes more sense for adults to keep the real world at arms length, what with all the stresses that come along via marriage, children, families, mortgages, work and heaven knows what else. Maybe that’s why those silly ‘adult colouring books’ have finally made an appearance. By focusing on one seemingly trivial activity, the brain forgets all the bad stuff... and yet as kids, we don’t see certain things as trivial. We see them as valuable - valuable in that they make us smile and be happy. Nothing more, nothing less.

Subbuteo did that for me when I was young. Whether it be the hope of finding a new poster or catalogue at my local toy shop or the turning of a wheel behind the Stadium Scoreboard, Subbuteo was sheer and utter unadulterated bliss. This much I remember.

-- Chris Oakley

Wednesday 7 October 2015

The Greatest Germany Home Kit 1965-2015: The Result

Over the last half a century, the national football team of West Germany, latterly just Germany, have worn 22 different home kits. Some have been simple in their design while others have been colourful and complicated.

Back at the start of September 2015, we presented all 22 kits of them in graphical form and invited you to vote for your favourite. With the voting period now over, we can now proudly announce the winner... and it was this:

It may not come as much of a surprise to some of you (not least in light of recent events), but you voted the Greatest Germany Home Kit of the last 50 years to be that worn between 1988 and 1991, made by Adidas.

We received a total of 165 votes, and a whopping 47.3% of those were for our winning kit, Kit J. Well behind in second place was Germany's 2014 World Cup kit (Kit V) which received 9.7% of the vote, while Kit B, worn regularly over a 13-year period between 1965 and 1978, came in third with 7.9% of the vote.

Four of the 22 kits, including those worn during Euro 2000 (Kit O) and Euro 2004 (Kit Q) didn't receive a single vote, but perhaps more surprising was the higher-than-predicted ranking for Kit L. The much derided ensemble from the 1994 World Cup actually came fifth, thereby proving that not everyone thinks it's a complete abomination.

Here's how the voting went in full:

Click for larger version
And, there it is - Germany's 1990 World Cup kit is the greatest of the last 50 years. A worthy winner... unless you think otherwise, in which case, please feel free to tell us which kit should have won!

Our sincere thanks to all of you that took the time to vote. We really appreciate it, and once again, our thanks also go out to Terry DuffelenRich Nelson and Rick Joshua for all their help in putting together this feature.

-- Chris Oakley