Monday, 16 April 2018

1982/83: Fulham despair

Sometimes it can be a struggle to explain to an outsider just how hard it is to be a supporter of a football club. The emotional roller coaster we all board when we nail our specific colours to the mast can leave you drained. We all love the highs, but the crushing lows often take a long time to flush out the system. Indeed, they sometimes never leave us.

Take the example of Fulham in the 1982/83 season. Promoted to the Second Division during the previous campaign, the club were flying under the management of Malcolm Macdonald. A team full of quality – keeper Gerry Payton, defenders Tony Gale, Roger Brown, Jeff Hopkins, midfielders Ray Houghton, Robert Wilson, Sean O’Driscoll, and Ray Lewington, along with strikers Gordon Davies and Dean Coney – it appeared as if back-to-back promotions was a serious possibility.

Friday, 6 April 2018

1988 World Snooker Championship

Snooker seemingly stood at a crossroads as the 1988 World Championship tournament neared. With less coverage of the sport on our television screens, and viewing figures declining, the glory days of the sport appeared to be fading into the distance.

It probably didn’t help that a major crisis was hovering over snooker. During the 1987 World Championships, a number of stories had broken in relation to drug usage, both recreational and performance enabling/enhancing. The next year would be dominated with front page news involving snooker players, rehab, drugs tests, and beta-blockers.

Monday, 26 March 2018

Dad and Masters Sunday

As a golf fan, there are not many occasions that compare to Masters Sunday. There are a number of aspects that make it what it is: the beautiful Augusta National course; the first major of the season; a signal of winter turning to spring in Britain; and the fact that when I was a child, that I could stay up and watch the drama unfold with my dad.

Monday, 19 March 2018

1985/86: West Bromwich Albion

On the whole, the 1985/86 football season was a pretty sorry affair for clubs in the Midlands. Aston Villa, Coventry, and Leicester hovered dangerously close to the Division One drop zone throughout the campaign, but nothing could prevent Birmingham City from the fate of relegation. The demise of Wolves continued, as they fell into the league basement. Although fans of rivals West Bromwich Albion may have found this amusing, they had enough of their own problems to consider.

Thursday, 8 March 2018

1982 FA Cup Sixth Round: Leicester v Shrewsbury

The last time Leicester City won an FA Cup Sixth round match, they had to do it the hard way, using three different keepers on an afternoon of gripping drama.

After suffering relegation to Division Two at the end of the 1980/81 season, Leicester City initially struggled for consistency at the start of the next campaign. But come the start of a very wintry 1982, the team turned the corner. The combination of a memorable FA Cup run, and an upturn in league form, made for exciting times.

Friday, 2 March 2018

1986: The Miracle of the Grotenburg

Basel, Porto, and Besiktas will have their work cut out to overturn first leg deficits in the Champions League. If they need inspiration, they should take a look at the Miracle of the Grotenburg in 1986.

With just 32 minutes remaining in the second leg of their 1985/86 European Cup Winners’ Cup quarter final match, you could have forgiven many Bayer Uerdingen fans for taking a glance towards the exits. Losing 5-1 on aggregate to East German rivals Dynamo Dresden, Uerdingen needed a miracle to score the five goals required to make it through to the last four of the competition. They needed the Miracle of the Grotenburg.

Monday, 26 February 2018

1983/84: England's cricket tour of New Zealand

There can be something almost enjoyable about a cricketing tour that slowly comes off the rails. As the injuries mount, the defeats follow, and off-field allegations begin, you can develop a gallows humour towards your team, as you ponder whether new levels of rock bottom can be reached. England’s tour of Australia in 1994/95 is one of my personal favourites of this genre. But the 1983/84 ‘Sex, drugs and rock n’ roll’ tour to New Zealand takes some beating.