Wednesday, 25 March 2009
The international break has me given ample time to escape from the cut and thrust of Premier League football. The scramble for points at this stage of the season encourages an insular view on the football world, with focus only really being on your team’s next game, plus the sides immediately above or below you. But with no fixtures for two weeks I took a step back from things to assess the state of the game.
And what do I think?
Well maybe I’ve reached the stage where reminiscing about times past is a common past-time and everything was better in the good old days, but I can’t help thinking that there is something missing in the modern game that was present in the decade I grew up and fell in love football: the 1990s.
Back then the game was in a state of tranquil equilibrium. The, crumbling stadia and crowd troubles of the eighties were far enough behind us, while the cash rich Premier League had not quite reached the obscene proportions that we have today - plus there was not a WAG in sight.
As my train of thought continued and the idea of this blog piece formed in my mind, I stumbled on a brilliant ( but not highly original) way of feeding my craving for 90s football nostalgia – a top ten!!!
So for you lucky people here is my top ten 90s football things (in no particualr order!)
Im sure there are million other memories that you have, so feel free to leave your comments below.
But for now....enjoy!
Ahh Saturday mornings were never complete without James Richardson’s witty review of the weeks news, sat sipping an expresso in a bustling Italian coffee shop. The football wasn’t bad either. Particular highlights include a certain Fabio Capello’s all conquering AC Milan side and Gabriel bati-gol Batistuta banging them in left, right and centre at Fiorentina.
For those, like me, who didn’t have the luxury of Sky tv and live Premier League footy, the live Italian game on a Sunday was the only way of getting your weekend football fix.
Altogether now...”ggggooooooaaaallllll Lazooooooooo!!!!!!!!”
I thought the 80s was the king of bad kits, but there were some howlers in the 90s. Highlights(or should that be lowlights) include the crazy zigzag Arsenal away kit, the Norwich home shirt that looked like several Canaries had literally exploded all over it, and the tasteful salmon pink striped Everton away shirt. Nice
Old school refs
The could be a huge pair of rose tinted specs slapped on my face for this one, but weren't 90s refs so much better than today's crop? Some of the decisions made by modren day refs are simply baffling and the chummy, pally act with the top 4 clubs' players is frankly sickening. That wouldn't have happened in Roger Milford's day. Perhaps.
The day I was introduced to Championship Manager (Christmas Day 1994 incidentally) was the day my childhood changed forever. The greatest football management game of all time, many an hour, day or weekend was spent enjoying it’s true-to-life delights. With each new edition came new features and new favourite players to buy. My Favourite version of the game was probably the 1997/98 edition. For anyone who is with me on this one I have three words for you –
Tommy Svindal Larsen
The rise of Sky Sports
Back in the day Sky Sports was the bright eyed-bushy eyed new kid on the football broadcasting block. Their new modern, innovative approach transformed the footballing landscape and truly changed the way we watched football. There have, of course, been mistakes, one of them being Richard Key's frankly disturbing array of brightly coloured jackets, which he wore in his early Super Sunday days. Anything to distract you from staring at his hairy werewolf like hands I guess........
The greatest football programme on tv. Period.
Never has two blokes sat on a couch talking about football been so entertaining. Don't forget statto of course, as well as the weekly re-creation of a famous footballing moment in 'Phoenix From the Flames'. As the series progressed the actual fantasy football element of the show - in which celebrities pick a fantasy football team and compete in a min-league - took a backseat and the comedy element, including short sketches, took centre stage. The show perhaps reached it's peak when Baddiel and Skinner were asked to co-write the offcial England song for EURO 96. I remember wacthing the 'premiere' of the Three Lions video on the show. I had a feeling then it would be a massive hit, but not as big as it turned out to be.
The show was suprsingly ended soon after, though it did return for a live World Cup/Euro Championship editions in 1998 and 2004, but it failed to re-caputre it's former glories. I perosnally felt the shows strength was the fact it was once a week and pre-recorded, allowing a weeks worth of footballing news to be used as material.
I still hold hope that the show will return, but even if it does, I doubt it will be able to re-create it's past success.
Maybe some things are best left alone.
Bulgaria and Romania in USA 94
One of the things about England not qualifiying for the World Cup in 94 was that I had to choose another team to support. Well I got a bit greedy and supported two. Bulgaria and Romania were still emerging nations in terms of world football, but they announced their arrival in this tournament, shaking up the football establishment. The Bulgarians knocking out Germany was my particular highlight. While Hristo Stoichkov and Georghie Hagi will go down as two of the most talented players of all time.
Before the turn of the millenium the Premier League wasn't considered the best league in the world. Entertaining yes, but in a kind of clumsy, talentless way. Therefore the world's best players still resided in Spain or Italy. But with newly found millions in their pockets, Premier Legaue chairman seemed to determined to add some contiental flavour to their ranks and so the door opened to a raft of exoctically named, but ulitmately bad footballers.
To name a few:
Andrea Silenzi - Lanky Forest stirker - think an Italian Jason lee.
Ali Dia - Signed by Graeme Souness at Southampton after recommendation by someone posing as George Weah, seen as one of the worst players of all time.
Torben Piechnik - another Souness classic, this time for Liverpool.
I could go on (in fact, that gives me an idea for another list....)
World In Motion
The greatest football song of all time (in my honest opinion). The song provided the musical backdrop for England's most successful World Cup since 1966. A tournament which provided many memorable moments and images that are still fresh in the mind today. As a young child, just new into the big bad world of football, it was a thrilling but ulitmately heartbreaking introduction to life as a football fan.
If I mentioned Italia 90, it's only fair I mention EURO 96. I was a little bit older, and a little bit wiser to the nuiances of the football world. But still I found myself getting carried away with the tide of national euphoria as the team stormed towards the final. I truly believed that we were destined to win it, and the disappoinment of that penalty shoot-out still hurts. The one by-product of the tournament was the intorduction of football to the middle classes. It was no longer rough and tough working-class fare.
The prawn sandwich brigade were now football fans and they have been tightening their grip on the game, squeezing out the poorer supporters, ever since.
But that's for another time, I'll end with my moment of the tournament: Gazza flicking the ball over Colin Hendry and, as the big haired one fell on the floor, volleying the ball first time past Andy Goram to seal the points and finally get England moving in the tournament.
Agree? Disagree? got any more 90s moments? Feel free to leave a comment or send me a message. If I get enough suggestions I may compile another list of 90s classics.