Tuesday, 21 March 2017

1980s: Phoenix from the Flames

As an Arsenal fan who doesn't like international breaks - although I'm starting to see the appeal of them - I thought I'd try and cheer myself up this week. So I've delved back into the Fantasy Football archives, and taken a look at some Phoenix from the Flames clips based on footballing moments of the 1980s.

1980: Avi Cohen

After a handful of Jewish and Scouse stereotypes early doors, the boys get to speak to ex-Liverpool defender Avi Cohen about his own goal in the League title clinching match against Aston Villa in 1980, highlighting how it started a great tradition of Israeli internationals doing well at Anfield; linking into a banker on any 1990s football bloopers show reel - Ronny Rosenthal missing that open goal.

Sadly the package does include an retro clip of Alan Hansen's, well, package, and as the boys recreate Cohen's strike in front of the Kop (in the right goal), Baddiel goes fully Hansen in celebrating the moment.

1980: Trevor Brooking

The main theme of this Phoenix was the attempts of Baddiel and Skinner to try and get Trevor Brooking to swear, using a variety of tactics such as saying West Ham are rubbish, criticising his tie, and getting him to hammer his own thumb whilst knocking a nail into a piece of wood: "Aw Shhhhhhearer's had a good season".

After the recreation of the goal, we take a trip to EastEnders, with Pat and Frank Butcher discussing the hero status that Brooking holds amongst West Ham fans. Brooking finally does swear, but only when playing Dot Cotton. It still remains the most cheerful dialogue between characters in EastEnders that has ever been filmed.

1980: Clive Allen

A controversial incident, Clive Allen's disallowed goal at Highfield Road was given the full Baddiel and Skinner treatment. Allen's superb strike from a free kick was the very definition of hitting the postage stamp of a goal, as the ball cracked against the stanchion - not staunchion, only mental people say staunchion. But the goal was not given.

The officials then take centre stage; referee Derek Webb waves away protests to the music of Mozart; Skinner's linesman says that he couldn't see anything due to the size of the referee's collars, although he thinks it might have hit the staunchion; and Baddiel declares that he's going to wear his collar up, like the French do.

Inevitably the sketch draws to the punchline, as Allen complains, and Skinner leads into a clip of Jimmy Hill saying "staunchion". Like Del Boy falling through the bar, I know it's coming, but it still makes me chuckle.

1981: Ricky Villa

There are three things that I like about this Phoenix:

1. After Baddiel points out that Ricky Villa's surname is like the football team, Villa spends the rest of the clip dropping in similar examples; Alan Sunderland, Bobby Charlton, Clive Everton, Tony Blackburn, Terence Trent D'Arby, Michael Bolton, and Norwich McWhirter.

2. Villa, like every right-minded person, declares that Snooker Loopy is better than Ossie's Dream.

3. Skinner's portrayal of Man City manager John Bond, as 007. "I know what you're up to Burkinshaw. You and your hired foreign henchman. But you haven't allowed for my secret weapon. The dad out of Bread." Cut to clip of Gerry Gow.

1981: Hallvar Thoresen

Hallvar Thoresen may not have been a household name in the world of football, but his winning goal for Norway against England in 1981 produced one of the most famous commentary moments in sport. After recreating the goal - I think this has been cut in the YouTube clip - Baddiel and Skinner turn their attentions to Bjørge Lillelien's triumphant speech at the end of the match.

With the three dressing up as Lord Nelson, Lord Beaverbrook, Sir Winston Churchill, Sir Anthony Eden, Clement Attlee, Henry Cooper (he punches Eden for his part in the Suez Crisis), and Lady Diana, we get to see all the main figures of Lillelien's rant. And Skinner's Lady Diana then notes that Maggie Thatcher had been watching all of Norway's matches (cut to a clip of Thatcher falling asleep at a podium, obviously linking back to Norway's style of play).

The section ends with Baddiel producing a similar style commentary to celebrate Norway's 1992 victory over the Netherlands, with Vincent van Gogh, Van der Valk, the boy with the finger in the dyke, Martina Navratilova (oh, that's wrong), Jools Holland (probably), prostitutes, and the little mouse in the windmill included. "Dick van Dyke, can you hear me? Your boys took one hell of a beating".

1982: Patrick Battiston

It is quite tricky to make light of such a horrific injury, but with the help of Patrick Battiston, this Phoenix from the Flames manages to bring some humour to the Harald Schumacher's assault during the 1982 World Cup semi-final. After a bit of Anglo-French banter, Battiston explains the severity of his injuries, with Skinner enquiring about the decision taken by the referee that day.

Famously Schumacher got away scot-free, with the referee staggeringly awarding a goal kick, something that the sketch tackles in a 'You are the Ref' style comic strip. "He's in a coma and his spinal cord appears to be sticking out of his back. Pheeeep! Goal kick".

Fortunately Battiston avoids serious injury in the recreation, as if you look very closely, you can spot that it is actually a dummy that is hit by Skinner's fake Ferrari. Although whether referee Charles Corver would have spotted this is open to debate.

1986: Alan Hansen

"What I don't understand are the words Hansen, Alan, defensive and error in the same sentence," states the former Liverpool star and BBC pundit. "Could it be that you've missed out a 'never made a' in the middle of it?" This recreation of Gary Lineker's goal in the 1986 FA Cup final shows that Hansen was at least capable of laughing at himself, but I would have definitely preferred a re-enactment of his collision with Willie Miller at the 1982 World Cup.

The sketch concludes with Hansen providing some analysis on the goal, criticising his role in proceedings, as Skinner and Hansen are pinned down by imaginary scribbles. Involved in an argument with Brooking, the row leads to the West Ham man swearing at Hansen, which neatly continued the storyline from the 1980 Brooking piece.

1986: Manuel Negrete

A memorable goal from Mexico '86, Manuel Negrete's bicycle kick was the sort of thing that you tried to mimic as a child in the park (along with Mark Hughes' strike for Wales against Spain), and after the clip finishes, we get to see the Mexican demonstrate that 22 years after the event, he's still got it. But for the purposes of this sketch, Negrete receives help from a bunk bed, a magician, and the giant spider that lives above the Azteca Stadium.

1988: Peter Beardsley

Not an obvious choice for a 1980s Phoenix from the Flames, yet Peter Beardsley's four goal salvo for England against Aylesbury provides a lot of comedy material. Informing us that Bobby Robson wanted to get the confidence of his team up before Euro 88, Beardsley picks up on the slight flaw to the plan: "Well it turns out when we got to the 1988 European Championships that we had to play big international teams. No one from the Beazer Homes League at all."

Beardsley goes on to tell the tale of how his goal scoring exploits were hardly celebrated, which unfortunately leads to a less than sparkling Beardsley version of Eric Carmen's All By Myself. But the sight of Beardsley in an open top bus with the words 'I SCORED AGAINST AYLESBURY' emblazoned on it, saves the day.

1989: Terry Butcher

"So Terry, we're going to recreate the moment when you bled more than anyone's ever bled before on a football pitch." Terry Butcher's endless bleeding during a World Cup qualifier away to Sweden is the stuff of England footballing folklore. As Butcher points out in the sketch, it didn't help that England were wearing their whitest kit ever, with Hopkirk (Deceased), Elvis, the Pope, and that bloke from Fantasy Island (and his mate) lining up for the national anthem to emphasise the point.

Baddiel and Skinner focus heavily on the Swedish television coverage at the time, both donning white jumpers that eventually get covered in blood via the unstoppable flow from Butcher's head. Poor Steve Hodge takes a soaking come the end of the sequence, but for a man who set up Maradona's hand of God goal, and then swapped shirts with the cheat afterwards, I have limited sympathy.


  1. This is excellent. But you maybe should have also included recreation of Ray Hougtons goal against England in Euro 88 with the Terrorist on the pitch

    1. Thanks Andrew.

      I did look into the Ray Houghton Phoenix, but the clip has been removed from YouTube by UEFA, due to copyright issues.

      I also wanted to include the Michael Thomas goal against Liverpool at Anfield on May 26, 1989, but I couldn't find this on YouTube.