Tuesday, 12 January 2021

1986/87 FA Cup: Chorley humble Wolves

The 1980s had started in exciting fashion for supporters of Wolves. Winning the League Cup at Wembley, with £1.49 million record signing Andy Gray scoring the winner against Nottingham Forest, the club finished sixth in Division One, and the future looked bright under manager John Barnwell. Yet the foundations for a decade of decay had already been established.

Thursday, 10 December 2020

Golden goals: Paolo Rossi (1982)

As the 1970s progressed, it seemed that the star of Italian forward Paolo Rossi would continue to shine brightly. Top scorer in Serie B for Vicenza in the 1976/77 season, Rossi became the first man to repeat the feat in Serie A the following season. And then came the 1978 World Cup.

Scoring three goals as Italy finished fourth, Rossi claimed the Silver Ball award for the second-best player in the tournament. 

Tuesday, 1 December 2020

1981/82: Arsenal's poor start to the season

Arsenal's recent loss to Wolves condemned them to their worst start in the league since the opening ten matches of the 1981/82 season. Before the current campaign, the news of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang renewing his contract was met with relief by Arsenal supporters. Back in 1981, the actions of their star centre forward was not as positive.

The summer of 1981 was tough for Arsenal fans. Losing Frank Stapleton to Manchester United for £900,000, manager Terry Neill had been linked with a number of centre forwards to replace the departing Irish international. Trevor Francis, Tony Woodcock and Justin Fashanu were amongst the names mentioned; none of these would arrive, although Woodcock did come a year later.

Friday, 27 November 2020

Diego Maradona

Part of me wondered whether this was worth it. So many words have been written in tribute to Diego Armando Maradona since the announcement of his death, and these pieces have been created by writers with a lot more talent than me. But I simply had to pen something about the greatest footballer I have ever seen.

Naturally my mind immediately rewinds back to 1986. When a man at the peak of his powers completely shapes a World Cup finals tournament in his image then it is hard not to start at this point. Undoubtedly the greatest player in the world at the time, Maradona decided to confirm this status at Mexico '86.

Monday, 23 November 2020

1987: Arsenal win four times at White Hart Lane

This is an edited version of my original article that appeared in issue 283 of The Gooner.

Arsenal played their first match at the new White Hart Lane during Project Restart, losing 2-1 to a late Toby Alderweireld header, continuing a poor run of league form at the home of their rivals. Without a league win in N17 since 2014 – Tomas Rosicky’s screamer separating the teams – at least Arsenal fans have the consolation of winning three trophies in that period.

You can’t beat the feeling of winning at the home of your rivals. Therefore, you can understand just how high Arsenal fans must have felt in 1987. In the space of ten months during this memorable year, Arsenal left White Hart Lane with four 2-1 wins, each demonstrating the newfound spirit sweeping through the club.

Tuesday, 17 November 2020

1980 US Masters: Tom Weiskopf's 13

It is reassuring to occasionally catch a glimpse of the human side of sporting superstars. When Tiger Woods carded a septuple-bogey 10 on the par 3 12th hole at Augusta in the final round of the rescheduled 2020 US Masters, thousands of golfers throughout the world could immediately relate to the 15-time major winner.

"This sport is awfully lonely sometimes," Woods revealed after his abberation. "You have to fight through it. That’s what makes this game so unique and so difficult mentally. We’ve all been there, unfortunately. Unfortunately I’ve been there and you just have to turn around and figure out the next shot and I was able to do that coming home."

Sunday, 15 November 2020

1980/81: Leicester end Liverpool's run

Liverpool's recent 2-1 win over West Ham extended their unbeaten league run at Anfield to 63 matches, consisting of 52 wins and 11 draws. Jurgen Klopp's men have a long way to go to surpass Chelsea's top flight record of 86 league matches undefeated at home between March 2004-October 2008. But avoid defeat against Leicester on November 22, and the German will have broken a 40-year old club record in the league.

Between January 1978 and January 1981, Bob Paisley's Liverpool went 85 matches in all competitions without tasting defeat at Anfield. 63 league matches (W50 D13), six FA Cup, nine League Cup, six European Cup fixtures and a solitary European Super Cup match had seen teams from England, Scotland, Portugal, West Germany, Belgium and the USSR attempt and fail to win at Fortress Anfield.