Friday, 27 November 2020

Diego Maradona

Part of me wondered whether this was worth it. So many words have been written in tribute to Diego Armando Maradona since the announcement of his death, and these pieces have been created by writers with a lot more talent than me. But I simply had to pen something about the greatest footballer I have ever seen.

Naturally my mind immediately rewinds back to 1986. When a man at the peak of his powers completely shapes a World Cup finals tournament in his image then it is hard not to start at this point. Undoubtedly the greatest player in the world at the time, Maradona decided to confirm this status at Mexico '86.

Monday, 23 November 2020

1987: Arsenal win four times at White Hart Lane

This is an edited version of my original article that appeared in issue 283 of The Gooner.

Arsenal played their first match at the new White Hart Lane during Project Restart, losing 2-1 to a late Toby Alderweireld header, continuing a poor run of league form at the home of their rivals. Without a league win in N17 since 2014 – Tomas Rosicky’s screamer separating the teams – at least Arsenal fans have the consolation of winning three trophies in that period.

You can’t beat the feeling of winning at the home of your rivals. Therefore, you can understand just how high Arsenal fans must have felt in 1987. In the space of ten months during this memorable year, Arsenal left White Hart Lane with four 2-1 wins, each demonstrating the newfound spirit sweeping through the club.

Tuesday, 17 November 2020

1980 US Masters: Tom Weiskopf's 13

It is reassuring to occasionally catch a glimpse of the human side of sporting superstars. When Tiger Woods carded a septuple-bogey 10 on the par 3 12th hole at Augusta in the final round of the rescheduled 2020 US Masters, thousands of golfers throughout the world could immediately relate to the 15-time major winner.

"This sport is awfully lonely sometimes," Woods revealed after his abberation. "You have to fight through it. That’s what makes this game so unique and so difficult mentally. We’ve all been there, unfortunately. Unfortunately I’ve been there and you just have to turn around and figure out the next shot and I was able to do that coming home."

Sunday, 15 November 2020

1980/81: Leicester end Liverpool's run

Liverpool's recent 2-1 win over West Ham extended their unbeaten league run at Anfield to 63 matches, consisting of 52 wins and 11 draws. Jurgen Klopp's men have a long way to go to surpass Chelsea's top flight record of 86 league matches undefeated at home between March 2004-October 2008. But avoid defeat against Leicester on November 22, and the German will have broken a 40-year old club record in the league.

Between January 1978 and January 1981, Bob Paisley's Liverpool went 85 matches in all competitions without tasting defeat at Anfield. 63 league matches (W50 D13), six FA Cup, nine League Cup, six European Cup fixtures and a solitary European Super Cup match had seen teams from England, Scotland, Portugal, West Germany, Belgium and the USSR attempt and fail to win at Fortress Anfield.

Monday, 9 November 2020

Golden goals: Gary Mackay (1987)

As the tributes flooded in for Jack Charlton after the recent news of his death, his achievements as Republic of Ireland manager were rightly lauded. Prior to his appointment, Ireland's national team had never qualified for a major tournament. Under Charlton, that situation was about to change.

Charlton's reign of almost ten years saw him lead Ireland to the finals of Euro 88 and two World Cups, and narrowly miss out on qualification for two European Championships tournaments. Creating memories for supporters, boosting the national economy, and becoming a national hero in the process, Charlton squeezed in a lot during his tenure.

Monday, 2 November 2020

1984/85: Everton v Manchester United

October 1984 were exciting times for Everton fans. Having beaten Liverpool at Anfield for the first time in 14 years, the momentum behind Howard Kendall's team rolled on as they went to Czechoslovakia and defeated Inter Bratislava 1-0 in the first leg of the European Cup Winners' Cup second round. 

Many felt that the win across Stanley Park was confirmation that Everton were bona fide title contenders. But another examination of their credentials was just around the corner. Manchester United had only conceded nine goals in their eleven league matches before arriving at Goodison Park, and with Liverpool struggling, Ron Atkinson's outfit were seen as title favourites.