Monday, 17 January 2022

Golden goals: Tony Morley (1981)

Generally there are always matches that a team will look back on at the end of a title winning season as the moment they knew something special was happening. The belief-affirming victory that convinced players, fans and media alike that this team could last the duration. Think Everton at Anfield in 1984/85; Arsenal at the same ground in 2001/02; Chelsea at Blackburn in 2004/05; Leicester at the Etihad.

In February 1981, Aston Villa travelled to Goodison Park neck and neck in a title race with Bobby Robson's Ipswich Town. A month earlier hopes had been raised in the claret and blue section of the second city that the title could be coming to Villa Park for the first time in 71 years. The 2-0 victory over champions Liverpool was a vital step towards the ultimate goal, and another would come at Everton.

Tuesday, 11 January 2022

1989/90: Aston Villa v Manchester United

As the decade drew to a close, the pressure on Manchester United boss Alex Ferguson was growing, as he prepared to take his expensively assembled team to Aston Villa.

After three years in the Old Trafford hotseat, it appeared as if Alex Ferguson was no nearer to unlocking the door to success at Manchester United. In fact, as 1990 approached, speculation grew that the former Aberdeen manager was about to go the way of many of his predecessors. 

Seemingly unable to get a tune out of his squad - which the press regularly pointed out had been assembled at a vast cost - performances during the winter of 1989 lurched from one disaster to another. Sliding towards the relegation zone, it was little wonder that some fans had decided that enough was enough.

Monday, 6 December 2021

1985/86: Richard Hadlee takes 9/52 against Australia

There must have been a tinge of regret for left-arm spinner Ajaz Patel as New Zealand lost the recent Test match and series in Mumbai. He achieved a remarkable feat in becoming only the third man to take all ten wickets in a Test match innings. But unlike Jim Laker and Anil Kumble before him, Patel ended up on the losing side.

Just 28.1 overs after his glory, the 33-year-old must have been left with mixed emotions as he prepared to turn his arm over once more. Dismissed for just 62, there was no way back for New Zealand. Patel may have added another four wickets to his match tally. Yet he didn't even claim the man of the match award.

Patel's match figures of 14/225 are the second-best return for a New Zealand bowler in Test match cricket. Those with a passing interest in the sport will not be surprised to discover the man who stands above him on that list. The fact that these figures were achieved in an historic victory for New Zealand made the accomplishment that much sweeter.

Wednesday, 1 December 2021

1984/85 Scottish Cup first round: Stirling Albion 20 Selkirk 0

There are no easy games in international football. Well the recent results of both England's men's and women's teams may have assigned this particular cliche to the recycling bin. As the men won 10-0 against San Marino, the debate reignited about the merits of weaker teams participating in qualification for major tournaments. Hold my energy drink, said the women's game.

The 20-0 annihilation of Latvia saw Lauren Hemp score four goals and Ellen White's hat-trick enabled the striker to establish a new scoring record for the women's national team. Whether these two results are good adverts for the game is questionable. Thrashings will always be a part of sport, but a team scoring twenty possibly should be confined to the preserve of children's football.

Immediately the mind rewinds to hammerings of the past. But putting aside the nines and tens I can recall, there is a match that instantly zooms into focus. Normally the 1984/85 Scottish Cup first round was not extensively covered by English newspapers. But one particular fixture resulted in Selkirk becoming a hotspot on the UK footballing map.

Friday, 26 November 2021

1980s: All I Want For Christmas Is....

Is it just me, or does it become harder as the years go by to come up with ideas for Christmas gifts for yourself? Every year my wife mentions that I need to produce a Christmas list for the family, and my mind goes blank, as I struggle to think of anything that I need (bar socks).

It's not like that during your childhood, especially if you were lucky enough to grow up in the 80s. There were plenty of videos, records/tapes/CDs, and computer games to choose from, as the Woolworths and WH Smiths catalogues were scanned in great detail.

And then there was the magic of the Argos catalogue. Picking up one of those bad boys and compiling a Christmas list from the many products displayed was a joy. Thanks to the legends at Retromash, I've been able to visit old Argos catalogues and party like it's 1985 again. 

Below are some of the gifts my parents were kind enough to buy me for Christmas, and a couple that got away. Maybe I should add the presents I didn't receive to my current list? 

Tuesday, 16 November 2021

Top 40 Sporting Theme Tunes: No 20-1

Following on from songs 40-21 in my top 40 sporting theme tunes, we are now into the top 20 countdown. From this stage on we are pretty much dealing with iconic tunes, and we even enter the world of radio.

It's fairly likely that I have forgotten an obvious theme tune, so please inform me (politely) of my glaring omission(s) in the comments. I'll have to add them into my Top 40 Breakers, in true 1980s Top of the Pops style.

Tuesday, 9 November 2021

Top 40 Sporting Theme Tunes: No 40-21

I always thought I would avoid a blog on sporting theme tunes. But sometimes you have to dismiss the nagging doubts and just go for it. You may love or hate this list, yet rest assured that I have spent quite a lot of time deliberating over this whole thing.

So get ready to play Yellow Pearl by Phil Lynott in the background, and do your best Ooh Gary Davies/Bruno Brookes impression, as we begin the top 40 countdown of 1980s sporting themes. 

This week we're going from 40 to 21, taking in some forgotten gems and a few classics. Next week will see the publication of the much awaited top 20. I just hope you can cope with the suspense.