Monday, 20 November 2017

1982 World Cup draw

The independent state of FIFA can be accused of a lot of things - probably best I don't expand on those for fear of legal action - but something that cannot be levelled at the governing body is that they don't know how to turn the World Cup draw into an event. Normally a very, very, very long event, that will probably last longer than England's three matches in Russia next year.

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

1986-87 Ashes: Botham's Brisbane brilliance

After losing to India and New Zealand during the summer of 1986, hopes were not high for England's Ashes tour to Australia. But inspired by the brilliance of Ian Botham, an unexpected win at the Gabba laid the foundations for a wonderful winter.

Even by his standards, Ian Botham had crammed a lot into the twelve months before the start of the 1986/87 Ashes tour. A charity walk from John O'Groats to Land's End; an eventful and harrowing trip to the Caribbean; a two month ban in the English summer after he had admitted smoking cannabis; and his resignation from Somerset, after he felt betrayed at the treatment of his close friends Viv Richards and Joel Garner, who had been sacked by the county.

Thursday, 9 November 2017

89 The Film

As a 13-year-old Arsenal fan watching the 1988/89 Liverpool-Arsenal title decider at home with my dad, I think I knew at the time that nothing would ever beat the explosion of elation and joy that I experienced when Michael Thomas calmly slotted home past Bruce Grobbelaar, on May 26, 1989.

So, when I first started writing this blog a little over five years ago, I made a pact with myself; Arsenal winning the title at Anfield would be the last ever piece I compiled before hanging my keyboard up.

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

1986 World Cup qualification: Northern Ireland

When the draw was made for the 1986 World Cup qualifying campaign, England manager Bobby Robson was taking nothing for granted. With two to qualify from England, Romania, Northern Ireland, Finland and Turkey, the press claimed it "easy pickings". But Robson urged caution.

Sunday, 29 October 2017

1984/85 UEFA Cup: Tottenham v Real Madrid

With Tottenham and Real Madrid going head-to-head in the 2017/18 Champions League, this week I am taking a look back to their 1985 UEFA Cup quarter final, and two particularly harrowing games for Steve Perryman.

It said a lot regarding the recent fortunes of Real Madrid that, in the eyes of many, they went into their 1985 UEFA Cup quarter final with Tottenham as underdogs. A recent run of just one win in ten matches had seen the club slip out of the race for La Liga, something not made easier by the fact that Terry Venables' Barcelona were on their way to the title. Manager Amancio Amaro was under heaps of pressure, especially with President Luis de Carlos standing down, and Ramon Mendoza expected to take his place in the summer of '85.

Monday, 23 October 2017

1983/84: Aston Villa v Birmingham City

The Second City derby is still a passionate affair, but it is unlikely that any fixture in the modern era can match the one contested between Aston Villa and Birmingham City in October 1983.

It was never likely to be a quiet affair. When ex-Aston Villa manager Ron Saunders took his Birmingham City team to Villa Park on October 15, 1983, he wasn't taking many shrinking violets with him. Tony Coton, Pat Van Den Hauwe, Noel Blake, Robert Hopkins, Howard Gayle, and Mick Harford are individuals that are often mentioned in a Who's Who of football's bad boys. But it wasn't all one way traffic. Colin Gibson and Steve McMahon would give as good as they got.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

1985-88 Rugby League World Cup

With the 2017 Rugby League World Cup about to start, this week I am taking a look back at the 1985-88 tournament, as Australia continued their domination of the sport.

Although the Rugby League World Cup had been running since 1954, the irregular staging of the tournament had not helped the event establish itself in the sporting calendar. Indeed, after the 1977 tournament, it would be another eight years before the International Board decided to resuscitate the concept. A Paris meeting in May 1985 saw the five member nations of Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain, France, and Papua New Guinea agree to take part in a ninth World Cup, although a change in format meant that it was now a three-year event.