ONE WEEKEND IN 1994

At the end of last year, there wasn’t very much to do in Belfast, mainly due to “The Water Crisis”, and being unable to get washed enough to leave the house.

So, I sat in front of the TV, channelhopping. Something that caught my was ESPN Classic’s series “30 For 30”, of 30 original sports movies.

One of the movies I most enjoyed was one titled “17th June 1994

It was a simple concept, an edited looked at the chronological happenings of that date, a rather dramatic day in US sporting history, as OJ Simpson was chased by police looking to question him in relation to his wife’s murder, the opening match of the 1994 World Cup, as well as other dramatic happenings in the major US sports.

But it is another sporting weekend that year, which sticks in my mind, the 17th anniversary of it happens this weekend, even down to the days being the same.

On Saturday 30th April 1994, I was an 11 year old, looking forward to my last two months at primary school, going to a football match at Windsor Park, between Linfield and Glentoran.

Of course, being so young, going to a football match was a bit of a luxury not being able to drive, so I had to rely on older relatives to take me.

It all really dependent on what was happening and more often than not, there was always something else on, meaning I was unable to be taken.

But when Linfield play Glentoran, it is such a special fixture, that I would always get taken to it, no matter what else was on.

As well as bragging rights, the Gibson Cup was up for grabs in this game as Linfield started the day 3rd, level on points but behind on goal difference behind Portadown (1st) and Glenavon (2nd), who just happened to be playing each other that day.

In Lurgan, there was a winner takes all clash, but with a twist. A lot of games at the end of the season often get billed as “winner takes all”, but realistically, a draw will suit one of the two teams.

Not on this occasion, as a draw could allow Linfield to sneak in and claim the title.

I remember Richard Keys speaking on Sky’s “Football Years” series bemoaning the fact that Sky Sports have never had a last day title showdown like Anfield 1989 to broadcast. In truth, he wishes Sky had a last day title showdown like Mourneview/Windsor 1994.

My and my older brother arrived at Windsor Park, with not a cloud in the sky, a beautiful sunny day, perfect for a game of football.

Bizarrely, one of the things I can remember vividly, is that there was an ice mint company having a promotional push outside Windsor Park prior to kick-off, giving out free samples.

For whatever reason, the product they were handing out never went into public distribution.

There was a danger, we might not get in due to overcrowding, as the RUC told us when we were queuing up to get in. The female colleague of the officer relaying the information to us did helpfully point out that there was plenty of room in the North Stand.

She have have been incredibly stupid, but at least she was polite, which is what neighbourhood policing is all about.

Eventually, we got in, and headed for the terracing in The Kop.

The first-half, was non eventful, and the score from Lurgan didn’t help the atmosphere as Glenavon raced into an almost surely uncatchable 2-0 lead.

Eventually, Linfield went into a 2-0 lead, but it didn’t matter, as Glenavon still led 2-0. Suddenly, Portadown pulled it back to 2-2.

This was the magic score, the result that would give Linfield the title. A goal for Portadown or Glenavon would give them the title. What we needed was for nothing to happen for the rest of the game.

1994 was primitive in terms of communication technology. If this scenario happened today, supporters could keep up to date with the other game on their mobile internet, possibly on Twitter, following Glenavon or Portadown’s accounts, and hitting refresh every 5 seconds, in the hope that there would be a tweet saying “Full-Time, Glenavon 2-2 Portadown”

Against an awful Glentoran team, 2-0 was going to be enough, the game was over. The only match that mattered now was the one in Lurgan.

Anyone who had a radio, was now surrounded by people, eager for news of no news from Lurgan.

People who had a portable radio with speakers were the most popular, but even people listening through their headphones had people around them shouting “What’s happening” at various inter4vals.

The thing with words is, they can only tell part of a story, but you need to see the story to believe it.

As anyone who has listened to a football match can testify, when the commentator says a player crosses the half-way line, you start to fear the worst that a goal is seconds away. That’s just the way football fans are.

Eventually, the final whistle blew at Mourneview Park, it finished 2-2, and Linfield were Champions.

A week later, they beat Bangor 2-0 to win the Irish Cup.

In their infinite wisdom, the IFA decided to take the Gibson Cup to Mourneview Park. It was the only trophy they had, so Linfield fans had to wait for the trophy to arrive at Windsor Park.

The wait was too long for my brother, as I had to back home before my mum and dad started to worry. No mobile phones in them days that my brother could have just called them to say we were being late.

To give an impression of what it was like in The Kop that day, this picture, by Stuart Roy Clarke should give you just an inkling.

The following day, me and a friend went to a local park to play football, with his dad standing on the touchline, keeping us to date with the happenings at Portman Road, as Ipswich Town faced Manchester United in a Premier League game.

But suddenly, he came towards us, not with football news, but news that Ayrton Senna was dead. He’d been killed in a crash at the San Marino Grand Prix.

We’d refused to believe it at first, for two reasons. The first, was that Senna felt immortal to us.

The second, was that on the Friday, i’d come home from school and saw on Teletext news that Roland Ratzenberger had been killed in practice. Surely two drivers couldn’t be killed in the same race weekend.

But it was true. The game was abandoned there and then, and we headed back to his house to wait for the BBC News (Neither of us had Sky News)

For the record, United won 2-1 at Portman Road, meaning Blackburn had to beat Coventry in the Monday night game to keep the title race alive.

On the Bank Holiday Monday, i’d went to Newcastle with my parents, and I remember listening to the car radio, urging Coventry to win.

They did, 2-1, and United were champions for a second successive season.

Two title wins, one of them the most dramatic in British football history, and the death of a World Champion.

The Bank Holiday Weekend of April/May 1994 turned out to be one of the most dramatic series of sporting events from my youth.

YOOCHOOB VOLUME TWO

After last week’s sackload of great football clips from history currently on Youtube, this week’s Youtube round-up concerns news coverage of historical events and how news coverage has changed during this time.

I’m a complete history geek, and not ashamed of it. One of my favourite books is ‘Chronicle Of The 20th Century’ and I love reading about historical events from the second half of the 20th Century onwards.

Youtube is a fantastic resource for such information, containing vast amounts of news coverage of many events from both American and British channels.

The most fascinating thing about this is the BBC’s shift in their breaking news policy now that they have BBC News 24.

These days, only the death of a member of the Royal Family, announcement of a General Election, a major terrorist attack in Britain or America or a British Prime Minister would merit interrupting programming on BBC1 or BBC2, because there is already a channel at people’s fingertips to provide a news service.

I remember when I was young and a major story broke, there was a brief period of ‘Dead Air’ before cutting to the newsroom. It felt very dramatic, and the tension could be quite scary.

It is perhaps because of this, that when people are watching the current 24 hour news channels and the ‘Breaking News’ caption flashes across the screen, you can’t help but feel a bit underwhelmed when it isn’t a major earth-shattering event.

This first video is the BBC News coverage of the death of Ayrton Senna in 1994.

I remember playing football at Cherryvale with a friend when his dad came over to break to us, having heard it on the radio.

We didn’t believe him, as Ayrton Senna felt like the sort of person who was immortal. Watching this news bulletin, it really sank home that he wasn’t.

This news report was of the death of Princess Diana in 1997, when ITV interrupted a repeat of The Chart Show to announce that she had been in a car crash. The band whose video was interrupted was Catch, who were tipped for big thins but vanished from trace, possibly because they were shite. I actually do remember them as well.

I was still at school, but two years later, I started my first ever job, lifting glasses in The Bot, and if this this had happened during this period, I probably would have been up all night watching the news coverage.

My memories of it, are of waking up that day early, not through choice, I just happened to wake up at that time, and switching it on and seeing the shock news.

That day was surreal, as all programming on BBC and ITV was suspended, with the only programming on the BBC being a pre-prepared obituary show, and a repeat of her interview with Martin Bashir.

What also was strange when channel-hopping, was that the non-news channels were running with it, having a caption urging across the bottom of the screen urging people to change to BBC1 or Sky News to keep up to date with the story.

It seemed to be the benchmark for Royal news coverage. By comparison, the coverage of the deaths of Princess Margaret and the Queen Mother seemed a bit low-key.

The last major news event was the death of Michael Jackson last year. It’s a very modern phenomenon, that the news broke for me whilst I was browsing on Twitter.

Due to the varying accounts I follow, in the space of three tweets by three different news accounts, he was dead, then he was rushed to hospital, before finally being recovering after collapsing.

It was the first major news event since “Social Media” became mainstream, and such was the volume of people wanting to chat, blog and find out about it, it caused Twitter and Google to crash.

Despite the fact that i’m not really that massive a Michael Jackson, I still stayed up for most of the night to watch the coverage. I suppose it shows how major news stories grab people’s attentions.

This final clip is of Sky News coverage of the 9/11 Terror Attacks on America, as newscasters had to constantly react to and commentate on what was happening.

On that day, I was in class at Bangor Tec until 5pm, and headed straight home, had my dinner without watching the news, and didn’t actually find out about it until about 7pm/8pm that night.

If it happened today, it would have been hard to avoid such is the use of Social Media that people would have been tweeting about it and commenting on it for their Facebook profiles.

Compare it to this BBC coverage of the President Kennedy assasination where they “Hoped” to bring reaction to you. If it happened today, the coverage would be instant across varying media forms.

Sit back and enjoy the vast archive videos of how history has been shaped and reported.

9/11

CNN Coverage

American TV

NBC Coverage

ITV Coverage

Queen Mother Death

BBC2 Coverage

BBC1 Coverage

Channel Hopping (UK)

Princess Diana Death

BBC Coverage

Sky News Coverage

Lockerbie
ITN Newsflash

BBC Breakfast

BBC Newsflash

Elvis Death

American TV Coverage

John Lennon Death

ABC Coverage

BBC Coverage

Live Announcment On US TV

Hong Kong Handover

Sky News Coverage

Challenger Disaster

ABC Report

ABC Breaking News

Live CNN Coverage

Berlin Wall

ABC Coverage

BBC Coverage

Anne Diamond On Sunday

Moon Landing

CBS Coverage

ABC Coverage

Thatcher Resignation

BBC Coverage