Thursday, 17 December 2015

1986/87: Aston Villa

Aston Villa's start to the 2015/16 season has brought back a few unwanted memories for any Villa supporter old enough to recall the unfortunate events of 1986/87. A campaign that saw the club relegated just five years after being kings of Europe, during a soul destroying nine months, involving two managers and just eight league wins. How had it come to this?

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

1985 UK Championship: Willie Thorne

The calendar year of 1985 was going so well for Willie Thorne. A breakthrough win at the Mercantile Credit Classic in January provided the perfect start, and although Thorne's performances towards the end of the 84/85 season and the beginning of 85/86 were not particularly encouraging, it looked as if the December would see the twelve months bookended with another ranking tournament win.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

England football one cap wonders

A look back this week on the twelve footballers who made their only England appearance in the 1980s. Including a couple of trips to Australia, a profitable visit to Iceland for two players, hard luck tales, and a woeful performance in Saudi Arabia that did little to help the cause of players and manager alike.

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

1982/83: FA Cup First Round shocks

A look back this week on some FA Cup shocks from the first round of the competition in 1982/83, including a couple of teams in financial dire straits having angst piled upon their misery, giant-killers adding to their growing reputations, and Bede McCaffrey writing his name into the history books of North Shields.

Monday, 19 October 2015

1984 FA Cup: Howard Kendall

Extracted and slightly adapted from my blogs on the 1983/84 FA Cup, a look back on Everton's progress in the competition, and how winning the trophy provided the foundations for the success that followed under the sadly departed Howard Kendall.

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Football League: Goals galore, Sept 25, 1982

Whilst browsing through my Telegraph Complete History of British Football book recently – I really, really must get out more – I stumbled across a section in the 1982/83 season that got me interested. It soon became clear that Saturday September 25 was something that I should be looking into. 

A day that would see 50 goals in the First Division alone, 151 in the whole of the Football League at an average of 3.35 a game, six hat-tricks, thrashings, outfield players in goal, and one player scoring four and ending up on the losing team. Football wasn’t always exciting in the 1980s, yet the events of this day in 1982 were refreshing to say the least.

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Euro 1984 qualification: Wales

Wales should hopefully seal their qualification for Euro 2016 in the next two matches, but in 1984 they were not so lucky.

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

The birth of the Rugby Union World Cup

The Rugby Union World Cup is now one of the biggest events in the sporting calendar, but it took years of negotiations and rejection before the tournament finally kicked off in 1987.

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

1980s: Sporting objects

This week I am taking a look back at some of the objects that featured in sporting events of the 1980s, including a certain confectionery stall that has gone down in Ashes folklore, an unfortunate wardrobe malfunction, a lucky mascot, an unwanted golfing obstacle, and a much maligned football trophy.

Friday, 26 June 2015

1985: Ashes memories

If the 1981 Ashes series was seriously good, and the 1989 version distinctly bad from an English perspective, then I would argue that the 1985 series was far from the ugly relative in comparison. Above all it was the series that made me fall in love with the game, during a summer when I didn't have a care in the world, and I found new heroes in Botham, Ellison and Robinson. So I hope you enjoy some of my favourite memories of the 1985 Ashes, starting with the day cricket found me. 

Monday, 15 June 2015

1980s commentary moments: Part 2

Following on from my original blog describing my favourite commentary moments of the 1980s, I've finally got around to writing volume two (it's only taken me nearly three years). Including moments of jeopardy, drama, misses, success, and outright condemnation, these pieces of commentary have lived long in my fading memory. I have still missed a few out; maybe I should start planning volume three for 2018?

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

1983/84 FA Cup final

This piece follows on from my previous blogs on the first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth rounds and semi-finals of the 1983/84 FA Cup, which you can view here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

For a young football enthusiast, May 1984 was an exciting time. In the space of a few weeks, both the UEFA Cup (second leg) and European Cup finals would be shown live, with Scotland v England, and the second half of Brazil v England also broadcast to the nation. In an era of famine this was a feast of live action, but even during this special period there was one day that stood out.

On paper, the FA Cup final between Everton and Watford was hardly the sort of match that would set the pulses racing, yet such was the prestige of the competition and the sense of occasion that the game was as eagerly anticipated as ever. Although the final will not go down as an all-time classic, it provided us with enough topics of discussion before, during and after the 90 minutes. The first FA Cup final to witness shirt sponsorship on display would be the scene of triumph and despair, redemption and controversy. For one man in particular, the agony had started in earnest a few weeks before the big event.

Monday, 13 April 2015

1983/84 FA Cup: Semi-finals

This piece follows on from my previous blogs on the first, second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth rounds of the 1983/84 FA Cup, which you can view here, here, here, here, here and here.

FA Cup semi-final Saturday in 1984, and as the thousands of supporters of the clubs involved made their way to the neutral venues in glorious April sunshine, there were a couple more chapters to be written in the fascinating tale of the competition.

Could the Plymouth adventure extend one match further and the Third Division club make history by reaching Wembley? Would Watford's six year journey from the Fourth Division to the Twin Towers be completed? Would Everton return to Wembley and make up for their Milk Cup final disappointment? Or would Southampton crown a marvellous season and reach their second FA Cup final in eight years? So many questions would be answered on Saturday April 14.

Friday, 27 March 2015

1989 World Snooker Championships

Steve Davis had not enjoyed the greatest season in 1988/89, yet at the Crucible he showed his true class, winning his sixth and last World Championship.

Monday, 23 March 2015

1989 US Masters: Nick Faldo

Nick Faldo shot a final round 65, helping him to win his first green jacket, but his victory owed a lot to Scott Hoch and his infamous missed putt on the first play-off hole. 

Sunday, 15 March 2015

1986/87: Dundee United

Not every story has a happy ending. Sometimes the boy doesn't get the girl and not everyone lives happily ever after. Sport is no different, the very nature of the beast meaning that more often or not there will be a tale of woe to be told, with plenty of visits to the hotel named Heartbreak. When the disappointment arrives after months of hope and expectation, it makes it an even more bitter pill to swallow.

Take Dundee United's gruelling 1986/87 season. A nine month campaign comprising of 67 matches in four different competitions (70 in five if you include the Forfarshire Cup), the season saw the Tayside club bring joy to their supporters and provide Scottish football with a boost when it was needed. Yet during five days in May the dream turned into a nightmare, two final defeats leaving Jim McLean's side without a pot to show for their efforts. Sport hurts.

Monday, 9 March 2015

1980: Argentina Grand Prix

The first Grand Prix of the 1980 World Championship was anything but dull. Taking place at the Municipal Autodrome in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on the number 15 version of the Oscar Galvez circuit, the track surface may have been far from ideal, yet it helped to create an entertaining spectacle, that just 13 days into the new year, gave a reasonable indication of what was to follow in an exciting decade for the sport.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

1983/84 FA Cup: Sixth round

This piece follows on from my previous blogs on the first, second, third, fourth and fifth rounds of the 1983/84 FA Cup, which you can view here, here, here, here and here.

"The FA Cup that has overflowed with surprises is almost empty of quality. Among the unlikely sixth round survivors are a third division club that was 10 minutes away from extinction two years ago, a second division club facing a winding-up petition on Monday, and the poorest supported first division club that is expected to be relegated in May". The Times' preview of the 1984 FA Cup quarter finals was hardly endorsing. But if you looked closely enough you could make a defence for the competition and the surviving clubs.

Everton were at the start of a run that would take them to a League title just over a year later; Southampton were enjoying a season to remember, many of their players hovering around in Bobby Robson's England thoughts; Watford were continuing their rise under Graham Taylor, with a prolific strike partnership and one of the most exciting talents in the domestic game; and who could fail to be warmed by the tale of John Hore's Plymouth as their FA Cup adventure showed no signs of abating? Maybe the 1984 FA Cup was not quite as mediocre as some would have us believe.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

1980s League Cup finals

This week I am taking a look back on the League Cup finals of the 1980s. A decade which saw the final shown live for the first time, the competition sponsored by two different companies, Liverpool end their league Cup drought (and some), as heroes and villains aplenty were made during a time when the competition thrived.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

1987 Cricket World Cup: Best performances

Following on from my recent piece on the top performances at the 1983 World Cup, this week I am looking back at the 1987 tournament. Featuring a typical one day innings from Allan Lamb, a superb knock in a losing cause by Dave Houghton, some explosive hitting from Viv Richards, top semi-final displays from Craig McDermott and Graham Gooch, and a contribution in the final that perhaps should get a bit more credit than it deserves.

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

1983/84 FA Cup: Fifth round

This piece follows on from my previous blogs on the first, second, third and fourth rounds of the 1983/84 FA Cup, which you can view here, here, here and here.

With most of the main leads out of the 1984 FA Cup already, it was time for the supporting cast to take centre stage as Fifth Round weekend approached. Two First Division clubs would fluff their lines, bundled out by lower league opponents during a round that was blighted by the continuing issue of hooliganism, as clubs and the police struggled to control the angry young men gathered in and around the grounds (as Andy Townsend might say).

Some may have been sneering at the apparent lack of quality left in the FA Cup (a slightly snobby attitude), but the competition somehow managed to limp on regardless.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

1983 Cricket World Cup: Best performances

There were a number of memorable displays at the 1983 World Cup, during a tournament in England and Wales that saw the West Indian champions finally toppled. This week I am looking back at some of the key performances during the tournament, covering the story of an inspired Zimbabwean, an unlikely West Indian hero, struggles for Sri Lanka, an inspired Indian skipper breathing life into his team, and the subsequent successes of India's seamers who took their team all the way to the ultimate prize.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

1983: Wales v England (Rugby Union)

England had not won in Cardiff since 1963, but they came desperately close in 1983, even during a Five Nations campaign that turned out to be a nightmare.

It can quite a nice feeling when on the odd occasion the bookmakers get things spectacularly wrong, but if you were an England rugby union fan in 1983 then you probably would not quite agree with this sentiment. Installed as the Five Nations favourites before the tournament kicked off, the 9/4 odds offered on England were looking more and more inaccurate as the weeks progressed. As Ireland (5/2) and France (9/2) battled their way to a shared championship, England were left with only the wooden spoon and plenty of time to have a sit down and think about what they had just done.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

1983/84 FA Cup: Fourth round

This piece follows on from my previous blogs on the first, second and third rounds of the 1983/84 FA Cup, which you can view here, here and here.

The fourth round of the 1984 FA Cup provided talking points aplenty. From the exit of the favourites, to another lifeline for Howard Kendall, a frenetic south coast derby, and the blossoming relationship of Watford's very own Little and Large, the fourth round gave us enough entertainment to make this blog as lengthy as the Everton-Gillingham trilogy.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

1984 Australian Open Tennis

This week I am reviewing the 1984 Australian Open; a tournament that ended the Grand Slam hopes of Martina Navratilova, saw another chapter written in the success story of Sweden and Mats Wilander, at a location which was nearing the end of its time as a major championship venue.

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Wimbledon: The Crazy Gang

I always knew that the story of Wimbledon's rise to fame in the 1980s was entertaining and unusual, but the recent documentary on BT Sport was a real eye opener. Knowing who to believe is always difficult, and Dave Bassett, Terry Gibson and John Scales have been quick to dismiss some of the yarns trotted out by the likes of John Fashanu, Vinnie Jones and Wally Downes, but if you have 78 minutes to spare, then you could do a lot worse things with your time than spend it watching the programme here.

Thursday, 1 January 2015

1983/84 FA Cup: Third round

This piece follows on from my previous blogs on the first and second rounds of the 1983/84 FA Cup, which you can view here and here.

The 1984 FA Cup third round was anything but dull. From an early and embarrassing exit for the holders, to a dramatic Herts/Beds derby, via the threat of a players strike, to numerous shocks, the combined events of third round weekend emphasised just how big a part the competition played in the domestic football calendar back in the 1980s. It can make one quite nostalgic for what seems like a bygone era.