The second in a series of old magazines looks at Shoot from 10th August 1991, building up to the start of the 1991-1992 season.
They didn’t know it at the time, but English football was about to change forever, the seeds of this change would be found in the magazine.
The cover star is Dean Saunders, who recently joined Liverpool from Derby County for a (meagre by today’s standards) British record £2.9m in a joint transfer with Mark Wright, who cost £2.3m
Saunders was signed by new Liverpool manager Graeme Souness with the aim of helping Liverpool win the league title for the first time since 1990, a phrase which has been used every summer since then, but didn’t sound so bad in 1991.
The previous most expensive footballer in Britain was Gary Pallister at £2.3m, but the record changed hands on an annual basis between 1991 and 1996 with Alan Shearer, Roy Keane, Duncan Ferguson, Chris Sutton, Andy Cole and Stan Collymore all holding the record, before Alan Shearer once again broke the record with his £15m transfer from Blackburn Rovers to Newcastle United in 1996.
Pages 4 and 5 had a preview of the forthcoming season in English football’s top two divisions (I’m guessing Divisions Three and Four were done the week previously, as well as Scotland) in a race horsing them, rather randomly.
They predicted that defending champions Arsenal would retain their trophy (They finished a distant 4th).
They did correctly predict that Manchester United would finish runners-up.
To their credit, they did predict that Leeds United, who won the league that season would be “In with a shout”
Of the three clubs who were promoted from Division Two, they predicted that Blackburn Rovers (No Kenny Dalglish or Jack Walker at the club at this point) and Middlesbrough would reach the play-offs but eventual champions Ipswich Town were “One paced to say the least”
An article on the following page titled “Soccer in The Dock” looks at a High Court appeal by the Football League against the FA’s plans to launch a breakaway Premier League in 1992.
As everybody knows, this breakaway league was launched in August 1992, and England is now home to the “Greatest League In The World” …….. albiet, a pop band from Sheffield.
Page 8 has a page dedicated to all the new transfers which had happened in the previous week (with a picture of Mark Wright in friendly action against Dundalk)
With two players out (including David Platt) and five players in (including Kevin Richardson, Ugo Ehiogu and Les Sealey), Aston Villa were the most active club in the transfer market, and this was featured in a double page spread later in the magazine, focusing on Villa, about to enter their first season under new manager Ron “Big Ron” Atkinson, just nine years after being European Champions.
In his second season at the club, Atkinson led Villa to 2nd in the inagural season of the Premier League, but did win the League Cup in his third season.
Atkinson didn’t get a fourth season, having found out why Doug Ellis was known as “Deadly Doug” in November 1994, just six months after the League Cup win at Wembley, Villa’s first trophy since winning the 1982 European Cup.
A youngish and relatively unknown Neil Warnock gets a double page spread, as he prepared for his first season as a top-flight manager, having led Notts County to promotion via the play-offs at Wembley.
In terms of bizarre adverts, Sondico deserve an award for getting Bryan Robson, Gary Lineker and Ian Rush to dress up as mafioso to pormote shinguards. As you do.
Meanwhile, Tottenham Hotspur took out a double page advert aimed at promoting their latest range of merchandise, including various “FA Cup Winners 1991” T-shirts.
Steve Bould appears in an advert endorsing Arrow boots with the headline “A BOULD DECISION”
In 1991, all the cool kids at school wore Steve Bould boots, except for me and my pair of Jeff Spiers Specials.
In house advertising for the following week’s publication focused on Team Tabs.
If you don’t know what Team Tabs are, you’ve never lived.
Basically, they were tabs representing each team in the top four divisions in England and top two in Scotland (No Irish League ones though, and the League Of Wales was yet to be formed) that you placed in their league position through a specially cut hole.
I was actually a reader of Match in my youth, and would have only ever bought Shoot whenever there was something free.
I would have usually bought it during the summer for Team Tabs, but after getting the clubs into their places on the first Saturday of the season, i’d usually just give up, mainly due to the thought of doing it every Saturday teatime for the next nine months.