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.