Tuesday, 9 May 2023

Book review: Everybody Wants to Rule the World

Some of you that may have read this blog in the past will possibly have come to the conclusion that I have a slight obsession about sport in the 1980s. So when an opportunity came to review a book on the subject then I jumped at the chance, in true Carl Lewis style.

Everybody Wants to Rule the World by Roger Domeneghetti looks back at Britain, Sport and the 1980s, providing a fascinating review of a turbulent decade from numerous angles. Split into four distinct sections - Culture, Identity, Conflict, Politics - the book dives deep into a number of key topics.

Tuesday, 2 May 2023

1983 European Cup Winners' Cup final: Aberdeen v Real Madrid

Forty years is a long time in football. Cast your mind back to 1983 and there are events that happened that simply could not be repeated. Unless the oil wells dry up then it is hard to see Manchester City being relegated. If they cannot find a nation to fund them then Hamburg winning the Champions League seems unlikely.

Just look at the landscape of Scottish football four decades ago. Dundee United held off the challenge of Celtic and Aberdeen to land their one and only Premier League title, with Rangers languishing in fourth. But the story of Dundee United's triumph was not the only feelgood chapter the New Firm penned during the 1982/83 campaign.

Monday, 24 April 2023

1989: The David Elleray experiment

When Amazon Prime footage emerged recently on Twitter of a referee officiating a French Ligue 1 fixture, the brief clip gave us all a fascinating insight into the role of match day officials. Communicating with colleagues, players and managers, while trying to make crucial decisions that could impact the course of a match and/or season, you wonder why people put themselves through this.

Undoubtedly there is a gap in the market for a documentary of this nature. A series following officials around at various levels of the game would be interesting and might make a few of us a feel a bit more sympathy towards these pilloried individuals. The job of a referee and assistant seems a thankless task.

There is a previous example of a referee walking out to the centre circle with a hidden microphone attached. A famous experiment carried out in February 1989 that certainly made an impression and opened a few eyes as to what it takes to try officiate a football match. David Elleray was about to take centre stage.

Tuesday, 4 April 2023

1983 US Masters: Seve Ballesteros

If the modern day Michael Fishes - or their American equivalents - are to be believed, then there seems a strong possibility that the 2023 US Masters may be hugely impacted by a depressing weather forecast. With thunderstorms and rain predicted to hit Augusta, Georgia, there have even been rumours circulating that the tournament may have to conclude on the Monday.

Hardly ideal for those of us who love settling down in front of the television for the traditional conclusion to the Masters on the Sunday evening in the UK. Whether first fears will be realised remain to be seen. But if play is extended to a fifth day then it will be the first time this has happened since 1983.

Thursday, 30 March 2023

Golden goals: John Hewitt (1983)

It seems some footballers are not content with just one golden goal in their career. Some get a little greedy, gorging on the glory, delighting at making their mark in history. In 1983, Aberdeen's John Hewitt achieved this and some, inflicting pain on two European giants and cementing his place in the Dons' Hall of Fame.

This piece could just as easily be about that winner on that rainy night in Gothenburg. But before Hewitt's header against Real Madrid came a goal on a memorable evening in the north east of Scotland that surely must rank as the most remarkable in the history of Aberdeen's Pittodrie stadium. You can't have one without the other.

Wednesday, 22 March 2023

1983 FA Cup final: Manchester United v Brighton

Manchester United and Brighton will soon meet at Wembley in the FA Cup semi-final. Forty years ago, the clubs contested a final that would live long in the memory.

It is possible that Gordon Smith has been contacted quite a few times recently by journalists willing to rake up his infamous last minute chance in the 1983 FA Cup final. But it would be unfair to remember Smith and the 1983 final for that moment alone. 

As with many finals during the glory days of the competition, that day in May was about so much more than the match itself. The cast of characters involved, the fairy tale of relegated Brighton reaching Wembley, the pain of Steve Foster, the team songs, banners, awful pitch, a helicopter. 'And Smith Must Score' is naturally the point where all roads lead to with this tale, yet dig deeper and there is so much more to enjoy.

Monday, 6 March 2023

1983/84: Tottenham v Nottingham Forest

It was a move that divided opinion. When news broke in the summer of 1983 that Division One matches would be shown live on BBC and ITV, there was more anxiety than expectation. From this point in time, the relationship between the national game and television would change the sport forever.

The £5.2 million deal struck would see both channels allocated five league matches each, although the BBC only covered four due to a technicians' strike leading to the Watford-West Ham fixture being scrapped. There was certainly no chance of over exposure during the first full season of live coverage.