Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Five years of That 1980s Sports Blog

Time flies when you're having fun. I can't believe that it is five years since I published my first blog on sport in the 1980s - an opportunity to vent my spleen regarding Arsenal's loss to York City in 1985 - and in that time I've managed to rattle off 214 more pieces.

I've always had a passion for sport, and in the past I often thought about writing a blog on a particular area. But for months I couldn't think of what to write about, until one day it hit me. Why not dip into my fading memory banks and produce blogs on sport in the decade that I fell in love with football, cricket, golf, et al.

At first I basically decided to write about anything that came into my head; for example, Daley Thompson at the 1988 Olympics, Keith Deller winning the 1983 World Darts Championship, and Bruno v Bugner. But more and more I thought it would be a good idea to try and relate the subject of my blog to something pertinent to a sporting event currently happening.

This led to a number of pieces on golf majors, the tennis grand slams, and a few blogs on the World Snooker Championships. More often than not, though, there has always been room for articles on some random nonsense that sits in my brain.

The "[Insert word here] of the 1980s" pieces have always been enjoyable to research and write. My favourite commentary moments have been covered in a couple of volumes (here and here); some sporting what-ifs pondered over; sporting firsts, punch-ups, and thrashings discussed. The good thing about these blogs is that there is always room for any readers to offer their own ideas.

Along the way, I have been able to write a few blogs that should not be taken too seriously. My favourite remains the spoof newspaper report I produced on the Balboa/Drago fight in Rocky IV, but it was also great fun to write about Jossy's Giants, and butcher a Billy Joel classic.

Initially the blog started slowly but through a few handy retweets, and plugs from the Guardian over by over reports (thanks to people such as Rob Smyth, Kevin Mitchell, and Steve James), the reading figures started to increase. When my Allan Lamb blog featured on the Guardian's 'Our favourite things this week' section of their website, I was as pleased as Punch.

But it would be in December 2012 that I would receive some very exciting news; the Guardian emailed me to ask if I would be interested in my blog appearing on the Guardian Sport Network. After deliberating for all of two seconds, I accepted the kind offer, and have been sending my ideas through from March 2013 onwards.

There have been so many people who have helped me along the way. Paul Campbell at the Guardian Sport Network has always been so encouraging and has had to put up with me emailing/tweeting him on a regular basis. Thank you Paul for all your time and effort.

As most people know, Twitter can be a horrible platform at times, but in the right hands it is a wonderful tool to communicate with like-minded people, and it has helped me immensely. Don't get me wrong, I would be happy enough to write my blogs and have just ten people read them. But through retweets by many kind Twitter users, my articles are sometimes read by at least 17 people. Thank you to all who have helped spread the word.

This isn't an award acceptance speech, but I could not write this without highlighting my appreciation to my wife and children for supporting me in my hobby. It does take up a lot of time, but it keeps me relatively quiet, so they are probably grateful.

My family and friends have always been enthusiastic, even though some joke about reading my blog as an aid for sleeping, threaten to email the Guardian asking them to get rid of my blogs, and often state that they are going to delete my work from the Internet. I think they are joking. Maybe.

People often stop me in the street and ask me what the future holds (they don't, they normally stop me to ask me whether I know that I am losing my hair). Will I ever run out of stuff to write about from such a marvellous decade? Hopefully not, as there always seems to be something hidden away that I have forgotten about.

Lately I have started to consider the possibility of writing blogs on sporting events that occurred in the more recent past. Are my pieces on events that largely took place over thirty years still relevant and interesting enough? But, do you know what? As long as I'm enjoying producing blogs on sport in the 1980s, then I might just carry on, if that is ok?

So I am going to continue to dip into the archives and try and come up with more sleep-inducing pieces for a few years yet unfortunately. For now I will leave you with my personal top ten favourite blogs (in no particular order) that I have written during my five years, because 1) I love lists and 2) I might as well plug them to see if more than 17 people will read them.

The story of Dundee United's epic 1986/87 season

How Eddie the Eagle Edwards won me over

The story of Christy O'Connor Jnr and his shot at the 1989 Ryder Cup

The good and bad of televised sport in the 1980s

The story of Alan Minter v Marvin Hagler

The eventful 1982 F1 World Championship

How Neville Southall won the Footballer of the Year in 1984/85

The 1987 FA Cup final

Sporting celebrations of the 1980s

Cricket pitch invasions of the 1980s


  1. Always been a pleasure to read your blog, both in terms of evoking nostalgic memories and also learning more about certain sporting events in the 1980s. Keep up the good work.

  2. Totally concur. The only blog I bother with. It strikes a chord with events I remember, and my only request would be more posts, more often, please.