THE MAGIC BOX

Well, that’s it. The end of an era, and the start of a new one.

I’m going to have to change my morning routine. Every morning when I wake up, I put on Ceefax – 101, 160, 501, 390, 302 – but not any more, as Northern Ireland’s analogue transmitters were switched off.

The last ever Pages From Ceefax (a curious watch when you had to be up early in the morning) ended with this self mocking message.

This was commemorated by a joint broadcast from BBCNI and UTV, the rather excellent ‘The Magic Box’ – a look back at television in Northern Ireland in the analogue era.

It was a star studded event (well, Frank Mitchell and Uncle Andy were there) but I got an e-mail a few weeks back offering me the opportunity to apply for tickets. I was tempted, but I thought this was a TV event best viewed, well, in front of a TV screen. I’m glad I did.

I was curious when reading the TV Guide on Saturday that the UTV show was scheduled to last for five minutes longer. That, was to become clear later on.

If you haven’t seen it, I seriously suggest you watch it. A link can be found here.

It began, being introduced with the classic BBC Globe Ident. Already, we’re off to a winner. I love it when the BBC does retro idents around themed events (Like when BBC 2 did 1970s Idents when introducing a season of programmes dedicated to the 1970s, fronted by Dominic Sandbrook)

From there, a comic turn, as continuity duties were handed to Julian Simmons, struggling to grasp that he was on the BBC (He has previously been on the BBC, playing himself in Give My Head Peace) and not being able to say “Simulcast” – a brilliant tribute to/gag at the expense of Ivan “Phenomenon” Little.

On a night dedicated to celebrating TV in Northern Ireland, it would have been criminal not to have Julian Simmons involved, although it was a man who has overtaken him as Northern Ireland’s most famous Continuity Announcer, Peter Dickson who introduced Eamonn Holmes in the studio.

Holmes was one of many stars we got to see in a younger day, as we were treated to a wide range of clips, in terms of subject matter, era and tone. Having looked back, and laughed at, some of life’s more light hearted moments, as well as looking back at news reports from the troubles, as well as Chris Moore talking about his expose of child abuse in the Catholic church

If you wish to see a young Eamonn Holmes, as a sports reporter for UTV (He looks like Dimitar Berbatov) – check out this excellent clip of ITV’s 1982 World Cup coverage where he interviews Sammy Mackie.

Another well known face who began his career as a sports reporter (for the BBC) was also in the audience.

The five minute time difference in the schedule was explained as BBC went off air just after 23:30, and that UTV would go off air just before 23:35.

The BBC ending was fantastic. Superbly scripted and filmed. Once the end credits finished, a quick announcement explaining the situation was read out, before cutting to the 70s Ident, before fading out to reveal a series of TVs showing past BBC Idents (and even the Ceefax home page)

Credit to Continuity Announcer Mark Simpson for an excellent read out.

That was it. Analogue BBC, and Ceefax, was no more.

UTV’s ending was rather disappointing in comparision to BBC, very matter of fact, moving on to the next programme.

It would have been brilliant if they could have used an ident or idents incorporating this logo in their final analogue moments

So, to end, here’s five (well, six really) classic Northern Ireland Youtube Clips that probably should have been mentioned on The Magic Box.

HONOURABLE MENTION – JIM ‘CRAZY PRICES’ MEGAW

5 – JULIAN SIMMONS

Not an exact moment, but a Julian Simmons Best Of would have been brilliant.

4 – NORTHERN IRELAND DISCO DANCING CHAMPIONSHIP 1981

3 – BELFAST MUSIC SCENE 1986

Technically, an RTE clip, but let’s not let that get in the way of how brilliant this clip is. It’s amazing how some parts of South Belfast have barely changed over the past 26 years.

2. CATS IN THE CRADLE

This advert scared the life out of me when I was wee. Everytime I hear the song (even if it’s the Ugly Kid Joe or Jason Downs cover) I always think of this ad

1. GOAL OF THE SEASON 94/95

So, Lionel Messi has spent his whole career paying tribute to Joey Cunningham.

The season I first started going to Linfield matches.

A different era back then. Linfield began the season as reigning Champions and Cup holders, before ending up languishing in 8th.

Oh.

Advertisements

YOOCHOOB VOLUME 3

Well, after posting up a slection of the best classic football clips and the best news coverage of historical events, this week’s Youtube round-up focuses on Irish League/Northern Ireland football related related video miscellany.

The first video is from a show called ‘Super 8 Stories’ which was broadcast on BBC Northern Ireland between 2005 and 2006.

The show is a compilation of videos filmed on Super 8 and the person who filmed it narrates the story.

One such feature was filmed by a Linfield fan during the 1960s, with unlimited access on matchday and training sessions.

Players from that era then spoke over the clips of their memories from that era, including Tommy Stewart (no relation to, and not to be confused with the current Shamrock Rovers player of the same name, who played for Linfield from 2006-2008), who sadly died soon after the show was broadcast.

It’s amazing how little the street leading up to Windsor Park has changed (For shame, I don’t actually know what it’s called)

The next clip is from ‘Sportsnight’ in 1989, a network BBC production broadcast on Wednesday nights (Like a Midweek version of Grandstand, for those who don’t know) previewing Derry City’s European Cup tie against Benfica, managed by Sven Goran Eriksson (Making his second visit to Northern Ireland as a manager, his third would prove to be memorable), who went on to reach the final that season.

Keep an eye out 2 minutes in for Felix Healy singing. I won’t spoil it, but his singing is as good as his punditry.

The next video is the greatest end to a league season in British football history, far more dramatic than Liverpool-Arsenal in 1989.

Portadown top, level on points with Glenavon and Linfield, with Portadown and Glenavon playing each other.

The ultimate winner takes all showdown, with a draw doing neither side a favour.

I was at Windsor Park that day, and it was a day i’ll never forget, the intense atmosphere, and the tension of waiting for the score from Mourneview Park.

If it happened this season, i’d have spent those agonising 6 minutes on Twitter, hitting refresh and possibly breaking my phone.

No matter how many times I watch this, I still think Portadown are going to score a last-minute winner.

With all the recent chat about Matty Burrows becoming an internet sensation, though not as sensational as the Leave Britney Alone Guy and Tron Guy, enjoy this far superior goal by Lee Feeney against Crusaders in 1998, stealing the headlines of Irish League record signing Glenn Ferguson, who made his Linfield debut that day.

Talking of spectacular goals, enjoy this compilation from a show broadcast on UTV reviewing the 94/95 Irish League season (Champions Crusaders, Cup Winners Linfield)

Prefer not to dwell too much on the Zeke Rowe in Bangor’s 5-0 win at Windsor Park. I turned down the chance to go to that match, instead going to see the Lion King, which turned out to be a good choice. Hakuna Matata.

I can vaguely remember that goal by Judas Bastard Haylock, even though I wasn’t at that match. There was a brief time in the 90s when Linfield would face Portadown as underdogs, and turn them over.

Now we face them as favourites, and turn them over.

Fucking hell, they even got Sir Stanley Matthews to choose the winner, proper footballing royalty.

The video is also notable for two things, Stephen Watson with hair, and Stephen Watson giving a shit about football.

Whatever happened to Joey Cunningham?

No Irish League Youtube compilation would be complete without this. No words are needed.

As classic Boxing Days go, 1995 takes some beating. Snow, White Ball, the stuff of legend.

The next league fixture between the two took place at Windsor Park in February. I remember this game as it was a few days after my 13th birthday, on which Take That had split up.

Linfield won the match 2-0 with two goals from Paul Millar.

Ten years exactly to the day, Paul Millar would be taking charge of his first game as Glentoran manager, and Take That would be three months into their reformation. It’s a funny old life.

One more video, a reminder of how depressing European Football has become for Irish League Clubs in recent years.

Nowadays, the likes of Dynamo Borat, Bjorksportacus and BK Morten Harket visit our shores during July, but there was once a time, when big-name and exotic opposition used to come and play our teams.

Well, Tottenham Hotspur, but it’s all relative (Talking of which, it was a game against Coleraine, in the European Cup Winners Cup)

See Also

Coleraine Specific Account

Linfield Sepcific Account 1

Linfield Specific Account 2

1997 Irish Cup Final

Glenavon v Ballymena Unied, 1992 Irish Cup Semi-Final

There’s a fucking pig on the pitch

Northern Ireland, Road to Mexico 1986 (Four parter)

England v Northern Ireland 1985

(PS: If there are any videos i’ve missed, or if you want to suggest a ‘theme’ for Yoochoob, comment on this, or via Twitter – see right hand side of homepage)