Thursday, 25 February 2021

West Ham: The Boys of '86

West Ham are currently chasing a place in the Champions League. But they have a long way to go to match the excitement of their 1985/86 season.

It may have settled many a pub argument amongst players and supporters alike, but surely there is more to football than purely "medals on the table". As Rob Smyth points out in this brilliant article on the Danish national team of the 1980s: "Winning is for losers. Many of life's more interesting stories focus on those who didn't quite make it."

West Ham United may not have won any trophies in 1985/86. But the achievements of John Lyall's squad are still rightly celebrated at the club. No other West Ham league season has touched the heights of the 1985/86 campaign; the Boys of '86 were this close to lifting the Division One title.

Thursday, 18 February 2021

1988/89: Doug Mountjoy and his Indian Summer

How a former fishmonger rejuvenated the career of 46-year-old Doug Mountjoy at the start of the 1988/89 snooker season.

April 1988: As Doug Mountjoy shook hands with Neal Foulds at the Crucible, reality struck. The 13-1 defeat in the second round of the World Championship in Sheffield was bad enough, yet it was an appropriate end to a disastrous season that would see the Welshman slip outside of the top 16 for the first time in 11 years.

"I didn't have a game," Mountjoy revealed after the 1988 UK Championship. "It's difficult to find out what you're doing wrong." For a man about to turn 46, it appeared that he was past the point of no return. "I understood there was nowhere else to go unless it was surviving down the bottom end of the ladder."

Monday, 15 February 2021

1987/88: Arsenal win 14 in a row

When Manchester City recently defeated Swansea in the FA Cup fifth round they became record breakers into the bargain. A 15th straight win for a top flight club edged Pep Guardiola's side past the previous mark set by Preston and Arsenal. With power to add, City's new record may stand for a long time.

Inevitably the focus of this piece takes us back to Arsenal and the start of the 1987/88 season and not Preston in 1891/92; apologies, I haven't started That 1890s Sports Blog yet. Ultimately it would be a frustrating campaign for George Graham and his developing team. However, as summer turned to autumn it promised so much.

Friday, 5 February 2021

FA Cup: Manchester United and West Ham clashes

The forthcoming FA Cup fifth round match between Manchester United and West Ham is the latest chapter of a story that has seen the two clubs face each other in the competition. From the first instalment in 1911 - won 2-1 by West Ham - to Manchester United's third round replay win in 2013, the ties involving both clubs have provided many talking points.

West Ham's 1-0 win at Old Trafford in 2001 is often remembered for Paolo Di Canio outwitting Fabien Barthez, although some West Ham fans may wistfully recall how their midfield trio of Lampard, Carrick and Joe Cole shone. Two years later, there was no such joy in Manchester; current Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer scoring the last goal in a 6-0 hammering.