Wednesday, 15 October 2014

1981: Suntory World Matchplay

1981 had been a challenging year for Seve Ballesteros. Throughout the season, the Spaniard had been embroiled in a row with the European Tournament Players' Division (ETPD) over appearance money on the European Tour, so much so that Ballesteros left the Tour and refused to play events in Britain that didn't pay him the money he felt he was rightfully entitled to.

To many, Ballesteros was seen as a greedy, a man too big for his boots, someone who needed a return to reality. But others saw the debate from Seve's perspective. After all, he was Europe's finest player, a winner of two majors, and why was it acceptable to pay a non-European Tour member an appearance fee (such as Lee Trevino or Arnold Palmer), but not Europe's star attraction?

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

1980s: Football debuts

Throughout the years, football debuts have come in many shapes and sizes. From the sublime (Wayne Rooney against Fenerbahce) to the ridiculous (Jonathan Woodgate for Real Madrid), a footballer is often remembered by their first appearance for club or country. This week I'm taking a look back on some footballing debuts of the 1980s. Some memorable for all the wrong reasons, others the stuff of dreams.

As ever, this is not a definitive list. So please feel free to contribute your own ideas in the comments section.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

1983/84: Cambridge United

It is often stated that losing, as well as winning, can become a habit. Just ask the players and supporters of Cambridge United during the 1983/84 league season. For seven long months the team embarked on an unwanted record breaking run consisting of 31 matches without victory. A run involving three managers, 32 players, thrashings, near-things, Nick Hornby, and no airing of I've Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts (I'll explain later) for far too long. A regrettable season maybe, but in many ways an unforgettable one too.

Friday, 19 September 2014

1985 Ryder Cup: Craig Stadler

Eighteen inches. Just eighteen inches. So close, that even asking a former US Masters champion to play the shot seemed questionable, almost a waste of time. You or I might miss the occasional one from this length, but not a professional playing in the Ryder Cup. Surely not. Back went the putter and.....

Monday, 15 September 2014

1989 Ryder Cup: Christy O'Connor Jnr

Before 1989, Christy O'Connor Jnr had a strained relationship with the Ryder Cup. Winless in his one previous appearance and then rejected in 1985, he must have felt that his chances of taking part in the ever popular event had long gone. But just when it looked as if the two would go their separate ways, fate decided to play a part in giving O'Connor and the Ryder Cup one last chance at patching up their differences. Beautiful fate.

Monday, 8 September 2014

1989: The decline of Sandy Lyle

February 1989: the start of Sandy Lyle's season on the US tour has continued where he left off in 1988. Two second-place finishes and another in third gives the impression that all is well with Lyle's game, and that he is set for another prosperous year on both sides of the Atlantic. Whether he can repeat his marvellous feats of 1988 is questionable, after all Lyle won the Greater Greensboro Open and then the US Masters, as well as the Dunhill Masters and World Matchplay in a never to be forgotten year. But the early signs are promising.

Fast forward just six months. Lyle is unrecognisable from the man who was ranked world number two and sat third in the US PGA money list. In a relatively short space of time, Lyle's game has dissolved completely, so much so that when Tony Jacklin offers him a place on Europe's Ryder Cup team, Lyle has no other option but to turn it down. How did it come to this?

Thursday, 4 September 2014

1980s: Match of the Day Goal of the Season

Whilst watching the recent 50 years celebration programme about Match of the Day it struck me how big a deal the Goal of the Season award was during my formative years. So this week I am taking a look back on the ten winning goals during the 1980s, a collection of volleys, headers and screamers that I could watch again and again and again.