Thursday, 28 February 2013

1984: New Zealand v England Second Test

If there was to be a contest to decide England's most embarrassing Test match defeat of the 1980s, unfortunately there are quite a number of candidates to choose from. Of the 105 tests played in that decade, England lost 39 matches (37.1% if my calculations are correct). Some of these losses were inevitable from day one - the vast majority of tests against the West Indies immediately spring to mind - others so unnecessary and completely avoidable - Headingley 1989 bringing pain to my fingers as I type - but some were just downright shameful.

The type of performance that makes you wonder why you spend so long worrying about such nonsense, filling you with anger, frustration, and a temporary desire never to put yourself through the misery of it again. With England currently touring New Zealand, one particular defeat jumped to the front of the queue whilst I considered pitching the concept of England's top 50 worst Test defeats to Channel Four. Step forward Christchurch 1984; your place in the hall of shame of English cricketing disasters is assured.

Friday, 22 February 2013

1987: Suntory World Matchplay

If you've ever taken the time to read any of my past blogs, you may be of the opinion that this particular blogger doesn't particularly like much about sport in the 21st century. This couldn't be further from the truth. Admittedly I am an child of the eighties, and I will bang on for hours about anything and everything about sport in this decade (as you may be aware), but give me a decent sporting event now and I am still as absorbed and transfixed as I was in my younger days. One example of this is the WGC Match Play Championship in Arizona. The top players in the world of golf, going head-to-head in a form of the game that I have always loved, makes compelling viewing in my opinion, and starts to give me the urge to get back out on the course after weeks of bottling it due to the wintry conditions in England.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

1986 League Cup final: Oxford v QPR

If it didn't matter so much to so many people, you could have been forgiven for sniggering at the state of English football at the start of the 1985/86 season. Banned from Europe due to the events of Heysel, with no TV cameras at matches due to a row between club chairmen and the BBC/ITV bosses, the game seemed to be dying a slow death. Not even the ScreenSport Super Cup could revive the flagging fortunes of football (I am being sarcastic), as attendances dipped and the sport became as marketable as a Sinclair C5. Football may have came home in 1996 and evolved into the well-oiled PR machine that we witness today, but ten years earlier the sump had well and truly fallen off the sport, leaving it juddering and grinding to a halt on the hard shoulder.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

1984/85 FA Cup: Fifth round

This piece follows on from my previous blogs on the first, second, third and fourth rounds of the 1984/85 FA Cup, which you can view here, here, here and here.

Turbulent is as good a word as any to describe the nature of the 1984/85 football season. Hooliganism and crowd disturbances were forever making headlines in Britain, the situation spiralling out of control and hurtling towards the inevitable, sad and unnecessary conclusion at Heysel in May.

The British weather was also contributing to the feeling of chaos surrounding the sport. Over 250 Football League games had been postponed by mid-February, causing fixture congestion that would make the modern-day manager and player wince, and bringing with it the possibility that the season would stretch on and on, finishing just before the start of Live Aid, if you believed some of the more alarmist elements of the press. The FA Cup was heavily involved in this mess; violence and snow blighting the famous old competition throughout the year.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Sporting punch-ups of the 1980s

Sport hurts. Be it emotional pain that never leaves you, such as say, losing the Champions League final after battling bravely with ten men, or missing a last minute penalty in an FA Cup semi-final replay, or physical pain, sport has the tendency to hit you where it hurts. In any 90 minutes, or twelve round fight, or test match session, the emotions of a fan can fluctuate wildly, normally ranging from hope to despair, happiness to heartbreak, stopping off at anger and resignation for a quick drink on the way. So you can only begin to wonder what it must be like for those blessed enough to be taking part in such events.

Throw people and teams together in competition, and you are bound to witness the odd occasion where things boil over a little. A time where the line between good and bad behaviour is overstepped, the boundary between competitiveness and combativeness is blurred, and things can turn slightly ugly. This week we revisit a few of these moments in the 1980s where the sporting mask slipped leading to man and fists colliding. Seconds out....