Friday, June 30, 2017

World Cup - West Germany 1974



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. However, at a distance of over 40 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

Matches were played at 9 different venues but for the first time the on-field architecture was standardised - and box-nets were the standard chosen.



Cue the music to The Terminator. 

Sunday, June 18, 2017

World Cup - Mexico 1970



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!



17 if this one had gone in!




Sunday, June 11, 2017

World Cup - England 1966



Awarded the 1966 finals for forming the FA a hundred years prior,  England became champions with no-wingers, a formation that firmly turned its back on Hungary and the lessons of '53 and - with goalnets hung mostly on stanchions as English as World Cup Willie - the 1966 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 World Cup finals could as easily be seen as the first of the modern era.



Games for the 1966 finals were held at (among others) Wembley, Old Trafford and Hillsborough. White City Stadium and their temporary A-frames was used only because - get this - Wembley refused to cancel the scheduled greyhound racing for the same night as Uruguay v France.  Like I said, the empire's last hurrah.



My favourite hardware at the finals was the marvellous A-frames at Ayresome Park, Middlesborough, where North Korea famously knocked out Italy; what's yours?

Friday, June 9, 2017

World Cups - Chile 1962


Revisiting The History of Goal Nets series on World Cups - starting with Chile 1962

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

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Lovin' it: UEFA Champions League Final 2017


The European Cup final used to be an annual highlight for football fans watching on TV. Though the games themselves were sometimes boring, fans were treated to an unpredictable viewing experience featuring a crackly commentary and exotic goal nets.

But, sadly, no more. Better communications fixed the crackly commentary and the exotic goal nets were eliminated by the process of standardisation - or McDonaldisation - undergone by the game the last thirty years or so.

UEFA has used McDonalds standardised model to attract TV fans from all over the world. The same way McDonalds products and services are standardised to render the McDonalds experience placeless - it's always the same, anywhere in the world - so UEFA, through the Champions League, has done its best to eliminate any visual differentiators that signal actual places or particular stadia to those watching the games on TV. McDonalds theory dictates this standardisation makes the games accessible to the widest possible TV audience.

One visual differentiator that has been eliminated is the stadium goal nets or, rather, the method employed to suspend the nets. From Madrid to Turin, homogenous box nets are now everywhere. Real Madrid and Juventus play the 2017 Champions League final in Cardiff this saturday, 3 June. Spectators at the game will not suffer from the McDonaldisation sense of placelessness as they know they are at the National Stadium. However, fans watching on TV will have no visual on-field signifier to differentiate this Champions League final from any in the recent past.

Indeed, you could view the 2016 all-Madrid Champions League final in Milan side-by-side with the 2014 all-Madrid Champions League final in Lisbon and not be able to tell the difference. Sure, the games were exciting, with the penalties and late goals, however with nothing on-field to visually differentiate the 2016 final from the one two years earlier - or indeed, any final in the last 20 years - the TV viewing experience was utterly predictable.

2014



2016



This unsatisfactory experience can be contrasted with watching the European Cup finals of 1971-73. In each, the peerless Ajax side of Johan Cruyff could be safely predicted to win, however the experience of watching the games on TV - or at a distance of over 40 years on YouTube - is enhanced and made unpredictable by the different methods each of the three stadia employs to suspend the nets.

Not only are the majestic curved stanchions of old Wembley, the intense A-frames at Rotterdam's de Kuip and the outsized, Subbuteo-style Continental D's at Red Star Stadium instant identifiers of each respective stadium for fans watching on TV, the differing hardware suffuses each game with a distinct signifier. As importantly, each stadium's nets reacts differently when hit with the ball and a goal is scored, so injecting a dose of unpredictability into the viewing experience.

1971


1972


1973


Football has long been recognised as an important source of collective identification and expression of local identity. Place is one of the main ties that bind fans to the game. It is this same place that UEFA has stripped away in its McDonaldisation of the Champions League.

If you're watching Saturday night's match on TV and find yourself feeling bored or restless despite watching the best club football on the planet, you'll know who to blame.  With their homogenous goal nets, UEFA has rendered you placeless, effectively sat you in McDonalds for two hours. Lovin' it?












Friday, May 19, 2017

Sportscene - Celtic v Hearts


Up to Scotland for end-of-season celebrations at Celtic Park where unbeaten champions Celtic close out their league season against Hearts. To commence celebrations we preview the match by reviewing past match-ups and the History of Goal Nets in the fixture.

1967 - first, a match from 50 years ago, in Celtic's European Cup winning year 1967. The hardware at Parkhead was standard A-frames, the software ill-fitting nets that would have fitted - and wouldn't have looked out at place at - the European Cup final of 1960.


1972 - four years later Celtic had installed the Continental D supports that would instantly identify games at Celtic Park on TV throughout the 1970's and 1980's, while Hearts were identifying with the legendary Ajax - then in the midst of their three European Cups in a row - with their shirt design



1988 - flag day at Celtic Park as Paul McStay, Frank McAvennie and pristine, opening day goal nets team up to down the Jambos.



1992 - four years later Hearts enjoyed a rare triumph in Glasgow after Celtic had replaced the organic Continental D's - where the hardware (supports) was separate from the software (the nets) - with a green supports and nets combo, complete with ground supports that did for the aesthetics.


I've looked everywhere but can't find it - can anyone supply footage of the goal at Parkhead when the ball went in off Henry Smith's head?




Thursday, May 18, 2017

Match of the Day - Week 38



This week's Match of the Day previews the end of season clash between Southampton and Stoke City by looking back at the same fixture from 1982.

Then the sides played out a ding-dong 4-3 classic, featuring a Dave Watson rocket (at 5:30) and the unique, much-missed A-frames / Continental D's combo at the old Dell.




Friday, May 5, 2017

Match of the Day 3 - Week 36



The last Match of the Day of this weekend's matches is the once-were-giants clash at the Emirates between Arsenal and Manchester United.

While so much has changed in the 20 years Arsene Wenger has been Arsenal manager that he may no longer be Arsenal manager come the summer, we can look back at two games, 20 years apart and seeing how little changed in that time.

Check out the two clips below - between 1973 and 1994, all that changed in the old Highbury rigging was someone painted the hardware red.

1973 (check out Ray Kennedy's opener rebounding off the stanchions!)


1994

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Match of the Day 2 - Week 36



Another top Match of the Day this forthcoming weekend - the clash of managerial styles that is Manchester City v Crystal Palace!

We preview the game by first looking back at the 1970 fixture between the sides, when the wide white A-frames of old Maine Road were so Big Sam Allardyce yet the nets hung loose, Continental-Pep Guardiola-style.




Next we look at the FA Cup tie from 1981, where the City nets are now blue Continental D's, but lurking in the Palace dugout is old-style Malcolm Allison, minus hat, pulling on a cigarette.





Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Match of the Day - Week 36



An early Match of the Day, previewing the West Ham v Tottenham derby this forthcoming weekend.

This season West ham have sucked almost as badly as their new lifeless new stadium and it's reported that manager Slaven Bilic will struggle to retain his job should things go awry against high-flying Spurs on Saturday.

How Bilic could do with a Tony Cottee! Cottee scored 92 goals in 212 games for the Hammers, the first coming in the New Year's derby of 1983, below.

Goal nets aficionados can marvel at how the old Boleyn Ground's nets retain the ball, despite their notorious shallowness.


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

More FA Cup Semi Finals and Goalnets


Make no mistake - being able to identify a football ground (by any means) while watching on TV gives the viewer a sense of place and more fully engages them with the match being played.

It has been argued that so much of that which is boring about football today is due to the McDonaldisation of the sport and its rendering of the game as a placeless spectacle for those watching on TV.

The goal nets - or more accurately, the hardware clubs formerly employed to support their goal nets - were a major on-field differentiator for those watching football on TV.

FA Cup Semi Finals played on neutral club grounds were at once a novelty and TV quiz - a novelty to see two sides playing between hardware neither employed to suspend their goal nets at home; a quiz of venue that could be solved only when the TV cameras panned to the goals.

Can you guess where this Semi Final (third replay!) was played?




Tuesday, April 18, 2017

FA Cup Semi Finals and Goalnets



Though the FA Cup Semi Finals of today are played at Wembley, they used to be played at a neutral club ground.

Before the mid-nineties and the takeover of the homogenous box-nets, the FA Cup Semis made for perfect petri dishes in experimenting with identifying a ground by the goal nets.

Watching on TV - or on YouTube at a distance of nearly 50 years - you may recognise the teams playing but the part of your brain acquiring and processing that information suddenly scrambles when trying to place the game.

Try these two - can you recognise the venue by the goal nets?





Thursday, March 23, 2017

Match of the Day - Week 30



Match of the Day this weekend is the Championship clash between Derby County and QPR.

To preview the game, we look back at the same fixture from February 1973, a period obviously prior to the pitch at Derby's old Baseball Ground becoming a sandpit.

Highlights to look out for - Kevin Hector scoring a workmanlike hat-trick and the epic A-frames!

Commentary by David Coleman...


Friday, March 10, 2017

Match of the Day - FA Cup Quarter Finals



On the weekend of the FA Cup quarter finals, Match of the Day comes from the old Valley Parade, Bradford.

The tie is the 1976 FA Cup quarter final between Bradford City and Southampton and it's extra special for two reasons:

1 - The Peter Osgood / Jim McCalliog free kick routine - pure class

2 - The wonderful, arched A-frames of Valley Parade - pure magic


Monday, March 6, 2017

The Big Match - Week 28



The Big Match from the past weekend is Chelsea v Blackpool, from the first week in March, 1977.

Check out the ball hitting the much-loved and much-missed Bridge stanchions at the two Chelsea goals, and the remarkable ball retention of the nets at Blackpool's opener - scored today, it'd have rebounded to the halfway line!


Saturday, March 4, 2017

Match of the Day - Week 28


Match of the Day is the heavyweight championship clash between Birmingham City and Leeds United, with three clips below showing the marvellous history of goal nets at St Andrews.

1973

Classic muddy winter pitch and classic blue A-frames - check out the ball hitting the stanchion at Bob Latchford's opener.



1979

The pitch is still muddy but the sensational saggy goal nets are now hanging off Continental D's.



1996

By the mid-1990's pitches were no longer muddy and goal nets were beginning to be pulled back tight, even if they were still supported by Continental D's. Check out Kevin Francis terrific opener about 3:00 in.





Monday, February 27, 2017

The Big Match - Week 27


This week's Big Match is the League Cup final between Manchester City and Newcastle United played the last weekend of February 1976.

The mid-70's Wembley goals were history of goal nets gold;

Beautifully curved stanchions (which had an almost magnetic draw for the ball, as per Dennis Tueart's overhead kick) ;

And slightly saggy goal nets which maximised ball retention while bulging beautifully when a low shot was swept in (as per Alan Gowling's equaliser for Newcastle).



Friday, February 24, 2017

Match of the Day - Week 27


Match of the Day for this weekend is the Championship derby, Wolverhampton Wanderers v Birmingham City.

Until the recent box net era, Wolves had always supported the Molineux goal nets with Continental D's. As such, highlights of the 1996 match below are a Steve Bull late show, two crazy penalties and the classic Continental D's.


Monday, February 20, 2017

The Big Match - Week 26




This week's Big Match is the FA Cup 5th Round tie between Luton Town and Leicester City on 16 February 1974.

While a star-studded line-up for Leicester (including Peter Shilton and Frank Worthington) won through to the quarter finals, the winners on the day were the remarkable Continental D-A-frames holding up the goal nets at either end of Kenilworth Road.

Has anyone seen their like before - or since?




Friday, February 17, 2017

Match of the Day - Week 26



This week's Match of the Day is the Championship clash between Ipswich Town and Leeds United.

In season 1973/74, Leeds were the mighty Leeds and were on their way to becoming league Champions in Don Revie's last season

At the same time, Ipswich were four years into what would become known as the Bobby Robson era and matches at Portman Road were played out between marvellous A-frames that would see Town through their platinum, late 1970's peak.




Nearly 20 years later, Leeds were again league Champions and Ipswich had jkust been promoted to the new Premier League. Matches at Portman Road were now played between Continental D' and blue nets.



Of course, for nets aficionados, no feature of Ipswich Town would be complete without reference to the bizarre and unnecessary (yet still unique) low net supports installed later that 1992/93 season.








Friday, February 3, 2017

Match of the Day - Week 24



Southampton v West Ham is this week's Match of the Day.

Two great clips below featuring these sides and the History of Goal Nets at the old Dell.

1971


Despite being 0-3 down to a superb West Ham, the Saints with Mick Channon pulled back to 3-3. Check out the old black nets and (what I think are) Continental D's.




1988


By the time Southampton were beating the Hammers 4-0 in 1988, the tight white nets and the narrow, claustrophobic stanchions we love to love had been installed at the Dell.


Friday, January 27, 2017

Match of the Day - Week 23



Our Week 23 fixture is Middlesbrough v West Brom.

Match of the Day comes from Ayresome Park in February 1991, when both sides were languishing in League Division 2.

Yes, it's a five-goal thriller, the winner is an 87th minute howler from the West Brom goalie and where, in this era of compulsory under-soil heating do you ever see snow piled behind the goals?

But our eyes are drawn inexorably to the narrow, cool-as, stanchions holding up the goal nets. Guys on Twitter told me the stanchions at one end of the ground are narrower than at the other; check them out.


Friday, January 13, 2017

Match of the Day - Week 21



This week's Match of the Day is Watford v Middlesbrough at Vicarage Road from late 1999.

Middlesbrough ran out 1-3 winners and, though there is no sound on the clip, what you may find most remarkable is the Vicarage Road nets still hanging off Continental D's for a Premier League game in 1999.