Saturday, 17 December 2016

Great sports photos of the 1980s (Part I)

Something slightly different for my final blog before Christmas, as I take a look back at some great sporting photos of the 1980s. This may be something I come back to in the future, so any suggestions for Part II are very welcome.

Please note: I have stated the photo source where this has been possible.

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

1980s sporting retirements

Nico Rosberg recently made the shock decision to retire from Formula One after winning the World Championship title. So this week I am taking a look back at some sporting retirements of the 1980s, including an England rugby union captain forced to quit the sport, a triple blow for the Australian cricket team, and a future England manager saying his goodbyes before leaving the scene Anneka Rice style.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

SPOTY: Unlucky losers in the 1980s

There were many great winners of the BBC Sports Personality of the Year (SPOTY) award in the 1980s, but also a few sporting figures who never had their names engraved on the shields housed on the famous old trophy.

This week I am taking a look back at some of the unlucky SPOTY losers, including a couple of snooker stars, a Grand Slam winning captain, and a golden boot winner who would probably be a cert for the SPOTY trophy in the current age.

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Goal nets, posts, and stanchions of the 1980s

Is it just me, or do all goal nets pretty much look the same in every stadium nowadays? You know, the bog standard square shaped net that you see at Wembley, the Emirates, Old Trafford, Anfield et al. Yet it hasn't always been like this. Way back in the 1980s, the small band of football lovers who actually care about this sort of thing were spoilt for choice when it came to the variety of goal nets available for us to enjoy, and you can call me a geek if you like, but I kind of miss this.

So this week I have decided to take a look back at some of my favourite football goals and nets of the 1980s. You may think this is a bit sad - in truth, it probably is - and you might not enjoy a supposedly grown man describing net tension, stanchions, and the shape of goal posts, but just let me get this out of my system. Forget porn on the net; this is goal net porn.

Monday, 21 November 2016

1982/83 UEFA Cup: Arsenal v Spartak Moscow

This article first appeared in issue 261 of The Gooner

There are times in the life of a football fan when you have to simply take defeat on the chin. You can't always blame the referee, manager, board, players, or the fact that you didn't have your lucky pants on, for your team being on the receiving end of a tonking. Sometimes the adage of being beaten by the better team on the day rings true, and although disappointing, at least you can accept the loss by compartmentalising it in this way.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

1980s cricket: Australia lose six in a row

Australia recently suffered their fifth Test defeat in a row, the innings and 80 run loss against South Africa the latest in a series of embarrassing reverses. But in the 1980s the team managed to go one better (or worse), losing six on the bounce, and in the process, reducing their skipper to an emotional wreck.

The post of national captain had been far from kind to Kimberly John Hughes. After winning his first Test in charge in 1979 against Pakistan, things always seemed to conspire against the Western Australian. On the brink of taking a 2-0 series lead in the 1981 Ashes series, Hughes saw victory, and most probably the urn itself, snatched from his hands, as an inspired Ian Botham and Bob Willis combined to pull off the miracle of Headingley.

When Botham's 5-1 in 28 balls sealed another unlikely win at Edgbaston, and Beefy bludgeoned a marvellous century at Old Trafford, Hughes had gone from possible hero to absolute zero in the space of a few dizzying months.

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Jahangir Khan 555: The Untold Story Behind Squash's Invincible Champion and Sport's Greatest Unbeaten Run

There have been a few times in the past four years or so when I have considered writing a piece on Jahangir Khan and his domination of squash in the 1980s. But something always seemed to stop me for some reason. In truth, my lack of knowledge on the sport probably held me back; a feeling that I might not be able to do justice to squash, and one of the the greatest athletes, not only of the 1980s, but perhaps of all time.

Luckily for me, a book has been produced that in my mind has fully justified my hesitation. A publication that proves to me that I would have only been scratching the surface if I had tried to write something insightful and knowledgeable about Jahangir and squash in the 1980s. Jahangir Khan 555: The Untold Story Behind Squash's Invincible Champion and Sport's Greatest Unbeaten Run by Rod Gilmour and Alan Thatcher, is a dream for a 1980s sports geek like myself.

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

1980s television adverts

A look back this week at some television adverts featuring some sporting stars of the 1980s. Including a lot of milk, Ian Botham and Daley Thompson demonstrating their all-round manliness, and an insight into the eating habits of Frank Bruno and Steve Davis.

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Ian Botham: John O'Groats to Land's End

Looking back this week at Ian Botham's 1985 charity walk from John O'Groats to Land's End, in aid of Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research. If you would like to donate to this great cause then please visit the following link:

I'm not sure the Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu ever knew that a journey of a thousand miles could begin with a single step on a cricket ball. When Ian Botham decided to use one of his size 10½ boots to prevent a boundary in the fourth Ashes Test at Headingley in August 1977, little did he know that it would change his life forever. Had he fielded it in the modern era, Botham may have employed a sliding stop. In 1977, it was more of a Sliding Doors moment.

Friday, 28 October 2016

1984/85: England in India

This piece is a shortened version of my previous blogs on England's tour to India in 1984/85, which can be found here and here.

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Lawrie McMenemy at Sunderland

Jimmy Tarbuck joked that the Titanic and Lawrie McMenemy had one thing in common - both should never have left Southampton. After a turbulent time at Sunderland, McMenemy probably agreed.

It looked like a marriage made in heaven. A sleeping giant in the North East of England, combined with a manager who had achieved great things at his previous club. In July 1985, a Messiah rode into Sunderland promising to bring the good times back, to restore some pride to an area that definitely needed a boost.

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

1980s: League Cup Fourth Round shocks

Three years ago I wrote about some League Cup Third Round memories from the 1980s.  So it is probably about time that I moved on to the Fourth Round of the competition. 

This time I am taking a look at some shocks from this stage of the League Cup, including a double dose of despair for Arsenal, the rise of Watford and Oxford, and a rare defeat for Everton in an otherwise fantastic season.

Thursday, 6 October 2016

1986: Hockey World Cup

Hockey was hardly a popular sport in UK during the 1980s, but for a couple of weeks in October 1986, all this changed.

I have to admit that the sport of hockey had not registered much on my radar during my formative years. There were the occasional matches played at Wembley on ITV's World of Sport, but these were of little interest to me. Generally, the sport was perceived very much as a jolly pastime, a female activity lumped into the same category as netball, and certainly not part of PE at my local school.

Sunday, 18 September 2016

1980: Clive Allen and Arsenal

This article first appeared in issue 260 of The Gooner

It was a transfer that appeared to make sense at the time. After the gruelling and heart breaking 70-match season in 1979/80, it was clear that Arsenal needed reinforcements if they wanted to progress to the next level, and it was essential that the money earned from their cup runs should be invested in the squad. With the impending departure of Liam Brady, Arsenal fans were in need of some positives, so the signing of Clive Allen at least provided a glimmer of hope.

Thursday, 15 September 2016

1980s: Goalkeeping gaffs

Claudio Bravo made a much publicised error on his recent Man City debut, but I'm not sure if his cock up matched any of the following goalkeeping bloopers from the 1980s.

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

1980s: Ryder Cup moments

There are 28 points up for grabs in a Ryder Cup, so this week I thought I would take a look back at the same number of talking points related to the event in the 1980s. A decade that would see the contest begin to evolve into what we witness today; Jacklin and Seve steering the European juggernaut; Concorde; Irish heroes; a tie; and a putt that a certain American probably wishes that everyone would forget.

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

1984/85: Stoke City

The Holocaust Season; three words that will send a chill down the spine of any Stoke City fans who are old enough to remember the 1984/85 First Division campaign. A record breaking season so bad that it would take 21 years for Stoke's exploits to be beaten, and a year so stressful that Stoke's manager and chairman paid a heavy price; the latter the heaviest price of all.

Friday, 22 July 2016

1989 US PGA: Mike Reid

The 1989 US PGA Championship was going so well for Mike Reid, but with just three holes to go things started to go downhill fast.

Golf, perhaps more than any other sport, has seen its fair share of famous collapses. Indeed, if sport is often played in the head, then it can come as no surprise that many a golfer has succumbed to the pressures of trying to close out a major during the inward half of the final round. The list is long and exhaustive: Adam Scott (2012 Open); Jordan Spieth (2016 US Masters); Rory McIlroy (2011 US Masters); Jean van de Velde (1999 Open); Arnold Palmer (1966 US Open); T.C. Chen (1985 US Open). These are just a few examples of someone getting a severe case of the final round heebie-jeebies.

Friday, 15 July 2016

Olympic Collision: The Story of Mary Decker and Zola Budd

August 10, 1984: after 1,700 metres of the women's 3,000m Olympic final, four runners are out in front. We didn't know it at the time, but we were just seconds away from one of the most memorable moments of the 1984 Summer Olympics, indeed of the whole sporting decade.

A race that had been so eagerly anticipated appeared to be living up to the hype. Yet for two of the athletes involved, there would be no fairy tale ending, more like a nightmare. It is a story that needs to be told and, luckily for a sports addict like me, it has. This unfortunate coming together has been brilliantly covered in Kyle Keiderling's new book: Olympic Collision - The story of Mary Decker and Zola Budd.

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

1980s Open Championships

This week I am taking a look back on the Open Championships of the 1980s. A decade that was initially dominated by Tom Watson, saw Britain enjoy success, involved the joy of Seve, and witnessed record attendances, and high and low scores. Plus a few dodgy number ones....

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

1985 US Open: Denis Watson

A one-shot penalty fortunately did not derail Dustin Johnson's US Open hopes in 2016, but 31 years earlier, a Zimbabwean did pay the price for an indiscretion on a green.

Monday, 13 June 2016

1984: Wales v England (Football)

England meet Wales at the 2016 European Championships, with Welsh fans hoping for a first win over their rivals since May 1984.

Thursday, 2 June 2016

1980s: European Championships A to Z

This week I am attempting to compile my own A to Z of the European Championships in the 1980s, from Arconada to Zenga, taking in mascots, balls and lippy Maltese goalkeepers along the way.

Friday, 27 May 2016

1984 European Championships

Looking back on the 1984 European Championships, which despite the lack of British and Irish representation, managed to limp on nonetheless. A tournament involving French flair, an early exit for the holders, penalty anguish for one of the stars of the championships, and tragedy. Just a shame we didn't get to see more of it. 

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

1984: England v Sri Lanka

It was supposed to be a consolation victory coming at the end of a demoralising summer for England in 1984. A single crumb of comfort to digest before David Gower's physically and mentally damaged team departed for a tour of India in the winter. Yet the famine stretched on. The one-off Test against Sri Lanka at Lord's ended up leaving more questions than answers.

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

1984/85: Coventry City's great escape

1985 had been a fun time to be a Norwich City supporter. Victory in the Milk Cup final had seen the club qualify for the UEFA Cup, the run to the final including a delicious semi-final win over local rivals Ipswich, and a win over Coventry the week after Wembley saw the team move up to 13th in the table and seemingly moving towards a solid mid-table finish. But sometimes it's funny how quick the milk can turn sour. Come May, these canaries would fall from their perch with a bump.

Monday, 9 May 2016

1982 European Cup: Aston Villa

Winning the European Cup, or the Champions League as it is somewhat inappropriately called today, has never been easy. Take the example of Aston Villa in the 1981/82 season. Riding high on their title win achieved under Ron Saunders, the club cleared a number of imposing obstacles along their way to the ultimate European glory. A journey across the continent that involved rotten fish, sand, ice, violence, a shock resignation, and two unknown English heroes that would write their names in the Villa Park hall of fame. Villa's story that season was rarely dull.

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

1985 US Masters: Curtis Strange

Bernhard Langer may well have won his first major at the 1985 US Masters, but he had to share a lot of the headlines with the man who finished joint runner-up. For Curtis Strange, April 11-14, 1985 was quite an experience.

Monday, 21 March 2016

Euro 88 England squad: All The Way

In 1988 you were never more than six minutes away from hearing a Stock, Aitken and Waterman record. So it was no surprise when the trio teamed up with England's European Championship squad to produce All The Way, the title of the song indicating just how confident SAW and the rest of the football following nation were before the tournament. Oh dear.

Monday, 7 March 2016

1987 FA Cup Sixth Round: Arsenal v Watford

If Arsenal manage to beat Hull City in their FA Cup fifth round replay then it will set up a quarter final clash with Watford. For some Arsenal fans, this will bring back painful memories of a Sixth round match at Highbury in 1987 that still rankles.

Monday, 29 February 2016

1983/84: Aberdeen

Aberdeen may fall short in their bid for Scottish Premiership success in 2015/16, but in the 1983/84 season it was a very different tale.

As an Aberdeen fan you may have been forgiven for thinking that things could not get any better than the night of Wednesday May 11, 1983. For the thousands who had made their way to Gothenburg on fishing boats and for those who had slept rough in the streets, the trip was most definitely worth it. Winning the European Cup Winners' Cup was an outstanding achievement, even more so when you consider that Aberdeen defeated Bayern Munich in the quarter final, and the mighty Real Madrid on that unforgettable wet Wednesday in Sweden. How could you better that?

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

1988 FA Cup Fifth Round: Arsenal v Manchester United

Since being ever so slightly pushed towards supporting Arsenal by my dad in the summer of 1983, the FA Cup had not been very kind to me. Embarrassment at Middlesbrough; total humiliation at York; rolling over at Luton; and anger against Watford. Not the smoothest introduction to the greatest cup competition in the world.

For a while it looked as if 1988 would be different. Leading Manchester United 2-1 at Highbury with the minutes ticking away, Arsenal had one foot in the sixth round. But no sooner had my thoughts turned to possible opponents in the last eight, than that sinking feeling returned once more.

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Sending offs in the 1980s

Whilst watching Per Mertesacker being dismissed against Chelsea recently, I realised that a red card is hardly a surprise occurrence in a match during the modern era. But rewind back to the 1980s and it was a different experience.

A red card - or a finger pointing the way to the dressing room - was often a genuine wow moment, partly due to the relative rarity of the event. This week I am looking back on ten dismissals during the 1980s, involving confusion, accusations, frustration, agony, and refereeing incompetence. Perhaps things don't change after all.

Thursday, 28 January 2016

1986: Mike Gatting and his broken nose

Mike Gatting was in a confident frame of mind at the start of England's tour to the Caribbean in 1986, but one ball from Malcolm Marshall changed everything.

Mike Gatting faced his fair share of famous deliveries during his career. Many will remember that reverse sweep he attempted off Allan Border's bowling in the 1987 World Cup final, a shot that was accompanied with derision and disappointment in England. And naturally the role played by Gatting in the Ball of the Century is still discussed, his confused expression after Shane Warne had fizzed a leg break past his outside edge all part of the theatre that surrounds that moment in cricketing history.

Friday, 22 January 2016

1981 FA Cup Fourth Round: Everton v Liverpool

This week I am looking back at the 1981 FA Cup fourth round clash between Merseyside rivals Everton and Liverpool, as the home team get one over their neighbours, and Imre Varadi gets to experience football cuisine 1980s style.

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

1982: England v India - Ian Botham 208

Ben Stokes recently set a new English record for the fastest double century in Test cricket, so this week I am taking a look back at the previous record set in 1982 by Ian Botham.  

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

1980 FA Cup Third Round: Halifax Town v Man City

A look back this week at a genuine shock in the 1980 FA Cup third round, as big spending Manchester City suffered at the hands of lowly Halifax Town, and City boss Malcolm Allison shared the limelight with a hypnotist from his past.