MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : SHOOT – 23.1.1993

There’s a Welsh theme to this week’s cover of Shoot, as Gary Speed and Dean Saunders, battling for possession are the cover stars.

The editorial for this edition looks at recent postponements, and dismisses the idea that English football should have a Winter break. Seems some debates never die.

Posters included in this week’s edition are a random bunch : Don Hutchinson, Lawrie Sanchez, Dundee United team, Martin Keown and Jorginho.

It’s the weekend of the FA Cup 4th Round, and Manchester United take on Brighton at Old Trafford, in a repeat of the 1983 Final. Steve Foster, in a second spell at Brighton, played in the replay (He was banned from the final) and was interviewed about the game, and his memories of 1983.

In Jimmy Greaves Letters Page, a reader from Corby writes in to question QPR’s 5 million pound valuation of Les Ferdinand. In 1995, Les Ferdinand left QPR for Newcastle for a fee of 6 million pounds.

Shoot dedicates a double page spread to reviewing the standard of punditry on BBC, ITV and Sky Sports.

Gary Lineker is described as “His attempts at humour are like Ian Botham on A Question Of Sport (ie – not funnny at all)” – I could not possibly comment.

Shoot also mocked Andy Gray for his frequent use of the term “That’s a great example for all the kids watching”

Meanwhile, Kevin Keegan is given a platform to showcase his four point plan for the future of English football, which includes reducing the Premier League to 18 teams (It was reduced to 20 teams in 1995), Professional referees, five subs (This was introduced to the Premier League in 1996) and games being split into four periods of 25 minutes.

Oh well, three good ideas out of four aren’t bad.

Neil Webb, having rejoined Nottingham Forest from Manchester United gets a double page profile about the move.

Shoot did a series during this season where they visited clubs to see who could win a 100m Sprint, Hardest Shot, Long throw.

There was a shock at Dundee as goalkeeper Paul Mathers had the hardest shot. Unfortunately, his score for Longest Throw and Hardest Shot weren’t enough to get him in the overall Top Three, taken from all the clubs who had participated so far.

Maybe it was that article which convinced David Jeffrey to sign him for Linfield in 1999?

Harvey Lim of Gillingham (Longest Throw) and Neil Masters of Bournemouth (Hardest Shot) were the leaders, since you ask.

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EUROBOLLOCKS – WEEK 2

The second week of Euro 2012 began in Donetsk, then stopped for an hour, then started again, with the farcical Ukraine v France game.

With live coverage of the Ukraine v France game getting in the way of their preview of England v Sweden, it was almost as if ITV prayed for an abandonment, and God replied “You want to talk about England for three hours? FINE! You bloody well talk about England for three hours”

I’d like to think if ITV did do a deal with God, it would involve them begging for forgiveness for Andy Townsend’s Tactics Truck, and just Andy Townsend in general.

With airtime now needing to be filled, ITV had the right man in their presenting chair, as all ten of Daybreak’s viewers can testify, Adrian Chiles is an expert at inane chatter and utter bollocks.

You can’t help but imagine what it would have been like if this game was being used as the punchline in a French version of The Likely Lads where they try to avoid the score in a football match that they have recorded.

UEFA’s rules state that any abandoned or postponed match must be replayed the following day. This would have been problematic for England if their match was abandoned or postponed with them due to fly to Krakow after the game, meaning they would all need to find a hotel for the night at short notice.

I’m kind of imagining it being like The Jolly Boy’s Outing episode of Only Fools and Horses where they all split up into different groups to try and find a hotel bed for the night. You could possibly write a sitcom about it. I’m already imagining John Terry in the Trigger role, standing alone, wearing a sombrero and carrying a toy donkey, saying “Alright Dave” everytime he sees James Milner.

England began with a 1-1 draw against France, despite one of their most high profile performers being unfairly banned by UEFA. Not Wayne Rooney, but the England Supporters Band. They were back with avengance against Sweden, managing to do an even worse version of Seven Nation Army than Marcus Collins.

With an hour gone in the Friday night game, Sweden led England 2-1, with the most unlikeliest of names on the scoresheet. Andy Carroll.

With England in trouble and facing elimination, Theo Walcott is brought on off the bench, but Mark Lawrenson was even more unenthused than usual with the change.

“Walcott’s been living off one good performance four years ago” said Mark Lawrenson, living off winning a few trophies with Liverpool in the 1980s

One goal and one assist later, we clearly see why Roy Hodgson is an international manager and Mark Lawrenson isn’t.

The following night, Greece shock Russia 1-0 to go through to the Quarter-Finals. As the Greek players celebrated at the full-time whistle, Mark Bright remarks “That it’s a case of Deja Vu from Euro 2004”

Hmm, Greece beat Portugal, drew with Spain, then lost to Russia in 2004 to reach the Quarter-Finals. In 2012, they drew with Poland, lost to Czech Republic then beat Russia to reach the Quarter-Finals.

It’s not really a case of Deja Vu is it?

The only real Deja Vu with Euro 2004 and Euro 2012 was that Mark Bright as probably talking bollocks in Portugal as well.

In the other game that night, Poland were eliminated with a 1-0 defeat to Czech Republic. In the post-match analysis, the BBC did a live OB with Damien Johnson, at a rather glum fanpark in Gdansk.

When handing over, Gary Lineker remarks “It was …… murder on Gdansk floor”, a joke that was trending on Twitter in reference to Republic of Ireland getting passacred by Spain. It wasn’t funny then, and it wasn’t funny when out of context two days later.

In Lineker’s defence, it is the second best Sophie Ellis-Bextor related football gag after the one about her being found dead at the home of a French footballer. Police said it was ………. Murder On Zidane’s Floor.

That’s the level of shit PUN-ditry you should be aiming for Gary.

Meanwhile, the fate of Group C went right down into injury time, or should that be injurytime.com?

Yes, Mark Bright managed to stoop to a new low towards the end of the Spain-Croatia game by saying “The game is going into the lastminute.com” and a nation collectively screamed FUCKOFF.COM!!! at their TV screeens.

I’m not a fan of product placement, so I won’t be using this blog to plug employment agencies that Mark Bright can use for work seeing as he won’t be commentating on football matches any more.

That match was on BBC 1, with Republic of Ireland v Italy moved to BBC 3 in another sickening act of British opression over Ireland, which somehow passed as a story in the Belfast Telegraph.

This is the last European Championship with 16 teams, as the competition expands to 24 teams from 2016 onwards.

Pundits and journalists have been quick to complain about this, that the quality of the competition will decline, if teams who finish 3rd in their qualifying group reach the finals. They’ve got a point. Just imagine how rubbish Euro 2008 would have been if England were in it.

The most bizarre incident of the tournament came when Niklas Bendnter was banned and fined for exposing his underpants with the brand name of a bookmaker after scoring a goal.

I watched the incident and was shocked at what I saw ……. Niklas Bendtner scored a goal.

On Tuesday, England faced a vital game with Ukraine where they needed to avoid defeat to ensure reaching the Quarter-Finals.

In the first-half, England were struggling and lucky to be drawing 0-0, with Wayne Rooney looking lethargic and off the pace after his suspension.

Early in the second-half, England get the vital goal through Wayne Rooney, looking refreshed and rejuvinated after his enforced break.

This set up a Quarter-Final with Italy. Italy shouldn’t even bother turning up if the pundits are to be believed, as they appear to have taken on the Germany role of being “In decline” with “Their worst ever team”

Quite what Emiliano from Milano, ITV’s star of Week 1 would make of that, is anyone’s guess.

Next week’s Eurobollocks will be fun, focusing on the fallout of Italy’s dramatic 1-0 win with a 93rd minute handball goal from Mario Balotelli, stood in an offside position.

Wonder will ITV’s panel be quick to describe it as “A bit of luck they deserve” and that “These things even themselves out” as they were when briefly discussing Ukraine’s wrongly disallowed goal on Tuesday night?

EUROBOLLOCKS – WEEK 1

We are now one week into this “Festival of football” which is harder to win than the World Cup, and always guarantees heavyweight clashes in the group stages.

Not only that, it guarantees bullshit punditry. I haven’t watched every game of the competition, but what I have watched hasn’t failed to see me bang my head against the wall at some of the punditry.

In the opening game between Greece and Poland, Mark Bright commented that neither side should provide too much concern to the players of Russia and Czech Republic “Sat in their hotel rooms with their feet up watching this” – Despite the fact that there was less than an hour before kick-off in that game.

As the game meandered to a draw, both commentators spoke about how “The opening games in tournaments are always draws” without any statistical analysis to back it up, suggesting that they were just spouting off cliches as the game entered the stage “When it is all about who wants to win it” and “Both teams will settle for a draw”

During the Poland-Greece game “Sir Chesney” trended on Twitter, in reference to Mark Bright’s pronounciation of Poland’s goalkeeper rather than Chesney Hawkes getting an overdue knighthood. At the end of the game Gary Lineker joked about it. It’s enough to make you want all analysis to be a blank screen with a compilation of tweets appearing on the screen.

The following day was Group B, taking on the role of “The Group Of Death”, though not literally.

BBC’s intro to coverage of Holland v Denmark began with a montage of previous “Groups of Death” which was hopelessly flawed. The montage included England’s Euro 88 group, though possibly because they were shite and lost all three games, and ignored the fact that the other Euro 88 group (Spain, Italy, West Germany, Denmark) was actually tougher.

Other “Groups of Death” ignored were the Euro 92 group with both Euro 88 finalists and the 1990 World Cup winners, and the Euro 2000 group with the Euro 96 finalists competing against the winners of 84, 88 and 92.

If you’re going to do a montage, at least do it right.

The Holland v Denmark game took place in Kharkiv at a stadium, which according to Jonathan Pearce, “Cost 50m Pound Euro to build” – I literally have no fucking idea what that means. Is it some sort of supercurrency he has created?

Denmark ended up getting a surprise 1-0 win, which some commentators seemed to equate with a non-league side winning at Old Trafford in the FA Cup 3rd Round.

Denmark, currently 9th in the FIFA Rankings, have reached the European Championships 7 out of the last 8 times, won it in 1992 and reached the Quarter-Finals as recently as 2004 ……. and yet BBC’s pundits and commentators viewed their win over Holland as a massive shock.

ITV have taken the step of hosting their coverage in the middle of Warsaw, doing their pre-match analysis of Spain v Italy in a cafe. You were kinda hoping the guy in the table behind them would be looking at porn on his laptop. Instead, we got Emiliano from Milano to give his opinions.

When talking about Italy, we are informed that “This is not a great Italian side” and “Italian football in decline” as Italy now appear to take on the Germany role of the footballing giant that pundits lazily declare as in decline with their worst ever team.

Meanwhile, Gordon Strachan’s analysis of Croatia v Republic of Ireland suggested that Republic’s players would be more hungry for this game, having not been in a tournament for ten years, and that Croatia players might be blase at always reaching tournemants. Croatia failed to qualify for the most recent international tournament.

Meanwhile, on Monday night, co-hosts Ukraine beat Sweden 2-1 in a game which, according to Lee Dixon “Had everything – two World Class players on the scoresheet”

Yes, the game that “Had everything” had two players scoring. That was it.

The “Had everything” is of course, a classic Shearerism, and not to be outdone, our hero reeled it out after a timefilling montage of Holland v Germany matches.

According to Shearer, Marco Van Basten “Had everything – pace and power”

Yes, according to Shearer, the player who ‘had everything’ only had two skills, basically running very fast and charging past people.

ITV, based in the centre of Warsaw, quite literally in the thick of the action as Polish and Russian hooligans beat seven bells out of each other nearby meant everytime Gordon Strachan opened his mouth, he was immediately drowned out by police sirens.

Last time there was that number of police sirens blasting out on ITV in the evening was in the glory days of The Bill.

Talking of grudge matches, the BBC weren’t slow in hyping up Holland v Germany. Somehow, nobody told Mark Lawrenson who sounded underwhelmed throughout.

Arjen Robben’s reaction to being subbed brought Lawrenson to life as he managed to fit in a bad pun that doesn’t really work that “There’s no Arjen team” – Geddit?

Amazingly, it got worse, as he morphed into full David Brent mode, proclaiming that TEAM means “Together Everyone Achieves More”

If the match lasted ten minutes longer, he would have started dancing to Disco Inferno and started singing ‘If You Don’t Know Me By Now’ by Harold Melvin

Mark Lawrenson : Friend first, Entertainer second, probably a Football Commentator third

Talking of bad puns, Tuesday’s Daily Mirror (There was a copy lying about in the cafe I was having my lunch) backpage headline led with “KINGS OF JOLOEN” in reference to England’s draw with France.

I’m just as confused as you are

Talking of bollocks in the written press, today’s Belfast Telegraph led with a story about shameless bandwagon jumper Gary Lightbody being “attacked online” for cheering on the Republic of Ireland in Euro 2012.

The report had no examples of this ‘Abuse’ nor did they quote any of this ‘Abuse’

Typing ‘Gary Lightbody’ and ‘@garysnowpatrol’ into Twitter doesn’t bring up any abuse. Strange that.

It’s almost as if they pre-empted a story which didn’t happen. Pretty fucking pathetic if you ask me.

MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : MATCH – FEBRUARY 15th 1992

In this edition, it’s a special edition ahead of the 5th Round of the FA Cup, with Chelsea’s Paul Elliott the cover star.

On page 3, Gary Lineker is declared “Britain’s best striker” winning a vote against Ally McCoist by 64% to 36%

Though, as the poll didn’t include Martin McGaughey, I declare it to be flawed.

A double page spread is dedicated to asking top flight right-backs who is better, Lee Sharpe or Ryan Giggs?

The result is a draw, with Norwich City’s Welsh international Dave Philips unsurprisingly voting for his fellow countryman Giggs.

In rumours which look silly now : Blackburn Rovers want to sign Danny Wallace, Sampdoria want to sign Paul McStay, Crystal Palace want to sign Teddy Sheringham, and Torino want to sign Niall Quinn.

In actual news, unknown Frenchman Eric Cantona rejects the offer of an extended trial at Sheffield Wednesday to sign for Leeds United instead. He didn’t stay at Elland Road for very long.

There’s an exclusive interview with Thomas Berthold, whose 5 match ban for violent conduct against Wales would see him miss out on the whole of Euro 92.

MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : SHOOT – 10th AUGUST 1991

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.