Monday, December 21, 2009
Extra time in the 1978 World Cup Final. Amidst a series of Argentine attacks that had begun to resemble cavalry charges, Mario Kempes slalomed through the Netherlands defence for 2-1. But the goalkeeper Jan Jongbloed blocked the shot. The ball ricocheted off Kempes, arced into the air and for a moment the watching world held its breath...
Argentina were awarded the tournament in 1964 but by the time 1978 came round the country was ruled by a ferocious military junta that had disappeared 30,000 of its own citizens and were desperate for the World Cup victory that would lend a legitimacy to their regime. As such, the 1978 World Cup became the most politicised sporting event since the Berlin Olympics of 1936.
The on-field architecture designed for the tournament were goalnets supported by fancy L's and posts with distinctive black bands round the base. For the second successive tournament they were newly installed and uniform across all 6 stadia .
On a carpet of bogroll and shredded newspaper the generals got their victory but at what price to the game? The new world champions stood accused of gamesmanship, intimidation and bribery. For the future of football the world held its breath.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Before the violence and negativity of the 1986 and 1990 tournaments plunged the game to new depths of despair, the 1974 World Cup with its miserly 2.55 goals per game was considered the nadir of football history. At a distance of 35 years it can now be seen as the apotheosis of European football. Holland destroyed Uruguay, Argentina and Brazil. West Germany became champions and the pace and tempo demonstrated by each became the new standard in world football
Saturday, December 12, 2009
The 1970 finals were the first to be broadcast live in colour and they're rightfully remembered for the champions Brazil's kaleidoscope of 19 goals from 6 games - including the four in the final against Italy, into the L supports at the Estadio Azteca in Mexico City -
and 15 goals in their five games at the Estadio Jalisco in Guadalajara - 16 if this one had gone in!
(spy those Stamford Bridge lookalikes. And while you're at it, (see the influence of colour TV at Manchester City).
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Considering England were awarded the 1966 finals for forming the FA a hundred years before, that their side became champions with no-wingers and a formation that firmly turned its back on Hungary and the lessons of '53 and that the goalnets were hung mostly on stanchions as English as World Cup Willie then those finals could be seen as the empire's last hurrah.
But with journalists from a greater diversity of countries than ever before attending the tournament, the matches broadcast live to the world for the first time and these Continental D's supporting the nets at Hillsborough, Sheffield -
the 1966 finals could as easily be seen as the first of the modern tournaments.
Games for the 1966 finals were held at Wembley, Old Trafford, Hillsborough and 5 other stadia including White City Stadium, London - used only because Wembley refused to cancel the scheduled greyhound racing for the same night as Uruguay v France, hence the temporary look of the goalposts.
Monday, December 7, 2009
The Chilean FA told FIFA they had to give Chile the World Cup "because we have nothing else." So Chile won the rights to host the 1962 tournament and they got plenty in return: Garrincha in his prime, the Italy v Chile Battle of Santiago and these stanchions of almost perfect quarter circumference on which to hang the tournament's nets.
Though football on TV was in its infancy and the matches at the '62 finals were not broadcast live, the influence of the tournament could be seen in the stanchions installed at stadia as diverse as Estadio Bernabeu, Madrid -
and Tynecastle Park, Edinburgh
Friday, November 27, 2009
Full support stanchion. Still does what it says on the tin.
Free-hanging hybrids. Someone should get arrested.
Your continental D support. Your 70's icons.
Your Latin American L supports, still popular today.
The - sigh - free-hanging box-net.
Which is your favourite?
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
The Continental D supports erected at Parkhead in the early 1970's speak of the club's glory days, of the second half of 9-in-a-row and the time the club from the poorest suburb in Europe made such stats a nonsense by appearing in 5 European Cup semi-finals in 8 years.
The big nights in Europe continued till about 1980 -
when common sense re-cohered and, as the glory faded the old D supports were supplanted in 1990 with a bland new set that made cutting the grass easier. The D's were consigned to history altogether - along with the high of the glory days and the biggest of European nights - when the new Celtic Park was built in the 1990's, complete with trendy box-nets.
Whisper it - one of my favourite goals scored in the old nets was this one -
Monday, November 23, 2009
Then, as the team's performances dipped in the 1980's, so did the goalnets. They sagged as if struggling under the weight of expectation until the old square 4 x 4's and stanchions were retired in 1988 and replaced by a set of Continental D supports so random and out-of-place in the vast bowl of a stadium that they must have fallen off the back of a lorry.
The best goal ever scored at Hampden?
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Since then they've sucked more than anyone in the history of Liverpool FC and though the box nets of today were introduced in 1996, there've been no more league titles.
Monday, November 9, 2009
Then along came Alex Ferguson. He'd enjoyed great success at his previous club, Aberdeen nets hung on Continental D supports. Fergie swapped the Old Trafford stanchions for a groovy set of D's. United went from zeros to heroes.
The rest is history in the making.
Sunday, November 8, 2009
Hip and angular. Sexy with an extra kink if surprisingly difficult to love. The old Bridge nets were framed by icons of a swinging west London when glamour wasn't a galacticos squad but the length of your sideburns, how fast you could drive your Ford Capri and meeting Steve McQueen in the dressing room.
The stanchions were sadly scrapped mid-90's for the free-hanging box-nets of today.
What's your favourite goal scored in the old Bridge nets?
Saturday, November 7, 2009
Okay, you want to look like Wembley / Cameron Diaz? You swim, you cycle, you sweat it on the Stairmaster and so what you live in Brussels / Fulham / Norwich / Stockholm (or you're Subbuteo)? You want to look like her!
Who's your favourite Wembley lookalike?
When the English FA were considering designs for the new Wembley Stadium, it was considered imperative that the famous old Twin Towers be somehow incorporated into the drawings. When it was decided the towers would not be part of the new stadium, there was a public outcry. How could these world football landmarks be scrapped?
Yet the irony of the twin-towers-as-landmarks idea was that for most people round the world who watched the famous matches from Wembley on TV, the landmarks of the old stadium weren't the towers. But for a brief tracking shot at the beginning of the game, the towers were mostly hidden from the view of those who hadn't walked up Wembley Way to watch it. Yet those millions watching on TV knew instantly they were watching a match at Wembley.
How? The goalnets.
Supported and shaped by stanchions so curvaceous and sexy that if they were legs they'd be attached to Cameron Diaz they were the bees-knees of goalnets.
They were removed silently one summer's night in 1996, some time between Eric Cantona's last minute cup final goal and the beginning of the Euro '96 tournament, 28 days later. There was no public outcry.
They were much loved. They are sorely missed.
Who scored your favourite goal in the old Cameron Diaz's?
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Framed by stanchions as English as Dame Judi Dench and as sturdy and reliable as Dixon-Bould-Adams-Winterburn.
Though the nets were changed to a free-hanging hybrid after the 1990 World Cup -
the stolid stanchions remained till the 1996-97 season when, in the aftermath of the Euro '96 tournament, they were lost forever.
Whats your favourite scored in the old Highbury goals?
But the box goalnet was different. The box goalnet was smart, so smart that 35 years later it's taken over the first-class football world.