International Duty – Club Banners At National Team Games #5 (Gallery)

In this series we look back to an era when supporters were often more likely to represent their local side on the terraces when the national team was in town (or abroad), rather than the national team itself.

Germany vs CIS, European Championships, 1992
KSC Fanclub
of Karlsruher SC:

Italy vs Slovenia, Euro ’96 qualifier, 1995
“Nord Kaos”, “Brigata”, “Arthur Zico Orsaria” and others of Udinese:

Netherlands vs Hungary, Euro ’88 qualifier, 1987
SC Heerenveen:

Finland vs England, World Cup ’86 qualifier, 1985
“Chelsea-Sutton”
of Chelsea FC:

Belgium vs Wales, Euro ’92 qualifier, 1991
CCFC and other banner of Cardiff City FC:

Netherlands vs Poland, World Cup ’94 qualifier, 1992
Lechia” with Celtic cross (far-right symbol) of Lechia Gdansk:

Italy vs Georgia, World Cup ’98 Qualifier, 1996
Vecchia Guardia“, “Brigata Ultra” and other groups of A.C. Perugia:

 

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Aesthetically Pleasing Moments From Video Game Football History #8

In our previous edition of the snappily titled APMFVGFH series, we saw a virtual naked pitch invader and accompaning copper that in our opinion was one of THE seminal moments in football video game history. But now we have a look at an absolute genuine classic, and for once recommend clicking here for the accompanying theme music to play along as you read; preferably on headphones after having just smoked, as it is one of the funkiest things of all time.

That’s right, the above multi-flagged “SOCCER” can only mean EA Sports’ FIFA International Soccer for the Super Nintendo, released in 1993.

After insertion of the game cartridge, and the unforgettable “E..A..Sports. It’s in the game” graphics and audio tag (mind-blowing for the time), the SOCCER text appears along with one of the smoothest jams ever heard in a video game (we get hints of The Stone Roses, Happy Mondays and some other “Madchester” influences). A collage of national flags – that contains a suspicious amount of Canadian ones – floats within the text, before the letters flash into solid gold pieces and are joined by the other details scrolling on front of an immaculate pitch:

With that theme music playing alongside, it is goosebump inducing.

The Canadian flags are not actually a coincidence, as the game was developed by EA Canada. The use of the word “soccer” is a further indicator of the game’s North American origin, however considering the vivid colours, beautiful graphics and iconic music, all is forgiven.

Throughout the screens that follow, a very pleasing blue-tone EA Sports and ball motif flows through the background:

After progressing through the main menu – with choices for Exhibition, Tournament, League, Playoffs, Options, and Restore – the team select screen is next. Only countries are available to play as, since this is “International” soccer after all. More lovely flags and colours are on show, and Germany are looking strong this year, eh?:

Via our Facebook page we recently pondered on the inclusion of Democratic Republic of Congo. At least that’s what we remembered. Upon review of a video of the available teams, it seems that DR Congo were not actually in the game, although this could have been a different port. Perhaps this has was a case of mixed-memory, but if anyone knows for sure, please get in touch.

Going to the in-game match itself, the lush perfectly mowed grass is a thing of beauty, along with the classic flag and score graphics. Appropriately we have Canada, playing here in an all-red strip against Germany in their usual white and black. All clear on the kit front anyway:

Of course our favourite thing is always the virtual crowd and this one is excellent, even if they’re sitting rather than standing in a terrace (although some do stand up). A German shot from outside the box gone wide gives us a good look at those behind the goal, with the overly-positive reaction to the missed effort suggesting they are Canadian fans:

A ball gone for a throw-in also gives us good vantage of all sorts of characters in attendance. Look out for the kids standing on their seats and the pensive guy in the white shirt in the first row. The stairs is also great:

Another of the game’s best moments is the Half Time Report, which takes place high in the back of the stadium and features plenty of vintage ’90s North American youth:

Lastly, we come to the goal celebration graphics. They appear after the goal scorer has ran to the touchline and vary for each goal scored, getting progressively rarer the more that go in. Also note the absolutely distraught German defender pounding the ground in the penalty box, and as with all in the game, the goalscorer John Logan is not a real player in case you were wondering:

And that’s it for this installment, where we have enjoyed looking back at what was one of the first true great football video games, both in aesthetic and in fact gameplay. Unfortunately not pictured is one of the best features, where one could score by blocking the goalkeeper’s kick-outs.

Youtube link

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Politics On The Pitch #3: World Cup 1950 Qualifying

To be honest, the following episode of Politics On The Pitch was originally intended as a Football Special Report. But as politics, war, and global history are so intertwined in the 1950 World Cup qualifiers, it seemed more than appropriate to transfer the post to Politics On The Pitch. One of the main tenants of this time was the inability of many teams to actually travel to the World Cup in Brazil, whether they had qualified of not. This was of course in large part due to the proximity of the World War 2, who’s shadow from 5 years before still loomed large and had left many nations in poverty.

Background:

One of the great things about mid-20th century tournaments was the random stuff like extra unscheduled play-off games as tie breakers; groups of four instead of a final game; and coin-tosses to decide things. But the first three FIFA World Cups were actually fairly straight forward affairs: four groups of 3 with the winners progressing to the semi-finals in 1930, and straight knock-out tournaments of 16 teams in ’34 and ’38 (eventually 15 in the latter after the the withdrawal of Austria due to the “Anschluss” with Germany).

Thankfully, the introduction of World Cup qualifiers for the ’34 edition onwards did provide some classic old-school chaos. As this was in the days before regional federations such as UEFA, all potential World Cup candidates were divided into 12 groups based on location. The pre-WW2 system was marked by:

  • The frequent withdrawal of participating nations.
  • Groups of mostly two or three teams, arranged by region rather than drawn.
  • Host nation Italy forced to qualify for their own tournament in 1934.
  • Automatic ’34 qualification for Czechoslovakia from a group of two as a result the Polish government’s denial of visas for their own team to travel.
  • ’38 qualifiers Group 1 containing four teams while the rest contained two or three.
  • The abandonment of games if teams had already mathematically qualified/could not qualify.
  • No British teams, who were currently on boycott of FIFA.
  • Egypt being the only African nation competing in either campaign, as most were not yet independent.
  • Participation of historical states such as pre-Soviet Lithuania, Estonia, and Latvia, the Irish Free State, the Second Spanish Republic (withdrawn by the ’38 qualifiers due to the Spanish Civil War), Palestine-British Mandate (made of Jewish and British players), Dutch Guiana and Dutch East Indies.

For no apparent reason, FIFA decided to take a break for the next two would-be tournaments. But with the World Cup set to return in 1950, new qualifiers were scheduled for ’49 and ’50. Some big countries would compete for the first time, while others disappeared. A world which had been ravaged and changed by World War 2 (economically and politically if not physically and emotionally) was entering a new era, and so with it came a new era for the tournament, and more importantly for us, it’s preliminary rounds.

***

The 1950 World Cup Qualifiers

Info:

  • The 12-Group system of the pre-WW2 years was reduced to 10.

  • Groups 1-6 were to be of (mostly) European composition, with Groups 7-9 for the Americas and Group 10 for Asia.

  • Groups were arranged roughly by region, not drawn, with mostly different qualifying rules for each.

  • Two points were awarded for a victory rather than three.

  • 14 qualifying spots were available, with both Brazil (upcoming hosts) and Italy (champions in 1938) qualifying automatically to make 16.

  • West Germany, East Germay and Japan – still occupied after World War 2 – were not permitted to take part.

  • Eastern Block states such Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia and Hungary refused to take part.

  • No African teams were participating; the only currently independent African states were Egypt, Ethiopia, South Africa, and Liberia.

  • Other notable countries to not take part included Canada, Australia, New Zealand and China.

  • The first game of qualifying (Sweden vs Ireland) was played on 02/06/1949, and the last game (Scotland vs England) on 15/04/1950, just over two months before the World Cup kicked-off.

*

Group 1

England
Scotland
Wales
Ireland-UK

***For the purposes of continuity, we shall refer to the team now known as Northern Ireland as “Ireland-UK”, but at the time of 1950 qualifiers it was just “Ireland”. We will come back to this later, but for some in-depth information regarding why, check back to the Northern Ireland section of Politics On The Pitch #2.***

This campaign was the first that saw the appearance of the the UK sides in FIFA competition. All had been members of FIFA since near the beginning of the century (England-1905, Scotland and Wales-1910, Ireland-UK-1911), but tension was already evident following a brief period of withdrawal (1920-1924) in protest at the continued inclusion of the Central Powers following World War 1.

A “permanent” split from FIFA was to come for the four federations in 1928, as a result of the new FIFA law requiring football associations to pay compensation to their athletes who played at the upcoming Olympics football tournament. But time heals all wounds, rules change and stubborn people die. Some combination of these meant that the UK nations rejoined FIFA in 1946, perhaps now craving more global competition in the absence of the recently completed World War 2.

Two qualification spots were up for grabs, and since the groups weren’t randomly selected, Group 1 could also double as the 1949/50 British Home Nations tournament; an ingenious practice that would return for the 1954 qualifiers. The combination was dropped following the introduction of non-local qualifying groups for 1958, but it was delightfully revived for Euro 1968 when that competition went to a group based qualification system, incorporating both the 66/67 and 67/68 Home Nations tournaments.

With each team to play each other once, Ireland-UK vs Scotland kicked off the group in Belfast on October 1st with a classic old school scoreline of 2-8 to the visitors. This would have been the highest scoring game in the entire global qualifiers, except for the fact that England then beat Ireland-UK 9-2 at home the following month on front of nearly 70,000 fans in Manchester. Crowd shots displayed the alarmingly dangerous density of the audience, doubtless desperate for any entertainment in this post-War rebuilding era.


Disturbingly packed terrace at Maine Road for England vs Ireland-UK, November 1949.

As Wales didn’t fare much better than Ireland-UK – only scoring one goal in their three games – England traveled to Scotland on April 15th, 1950 with both sides assured of qualification following two wins each,  but with top-spot and the Home Nations championship yet to decide. A nauseating 133,300 spectators compressed into Glasgow’s Hampden Park, with footage showing one of (presumably) many fans who had to be stretchered away from the crush. Men in traditional dress playing saxophones, along with dancing girls (reminiscent of a Nazi Youth rally) also entertained the masses.


One fan is stretched away from the Hampden crush at Scotland vs England, April 1950..

Pre-match entertainment.

A 1-0 away win secured the honours for England, now destined for their first ever World Cup appearance. Scotland in the second qualifying position could have joined them, but declined the opportunity, apparently as they had vowed only to travel if they had won the Home Nations. As we shall see, it would be a reoccurring theme.

ENGLAND QUALIFY

***

Group 2

Turkey
Syria
Austria

Now you can see why we said Groups 1-6 were “mostly” European, as here we have what is basically the Middle Eastern qualifying section, plus Austria of course. The rules of this group, as well as Groups 3 and 4, were that the lesser two sides would play each other home and away in a First Round, before the winner would play the seeded team in the same way with a qualifying spot up for grabs.

Both Turkey and Syria were competing for the first time. Turkey had been set to take part in the 1934 qualifiers in Group 12, along with Egypt and Palestine-British Mandate, but had withdrawn before playing a game. Syria, meanwhile, had itself been a French Mandate until 1946 and were set to play their debut match as an independent state in the qualifiers.

In the first of many vintage Cold War black-ops moves, an American led military coup had overthrown the democratically elected Syrian government in  March, 1949. But eight months later, the country’s new authoritarian overlords will have been disappointed as their nation’s footballing representatives slumped to a 7-0 debut defeat at the hands of their Turkish neighbours to the north. Perhaps because the result was now a foregone conclusion – or due to the utter shame doubtlessly emanating from the generals – Syria withdrew before the return leg could be played, leaving Turkey to advance.


Players and officials at the end of Turkey's 7-0 defeat of Syria.

Turkey and Austria shared a history of their own, as the Ottoman Turks had been at the gates of Vienna more than once in the post-Middle Ages. This was probably not on the mind’s of their country’s footballers hundreds of years later, but even still the Austrians also withdrew before the games could be played.

Turkey thus qualified automatically for their first World Cup. Or that is they would have, if not for the fact that they TOO then withdraw. The Syrians were no doubt asking why the Turks couldn’t have just done this in the first place before humiliating them out of the competition.

NO QUALIFIER

***

Group 3

Yugoslavia
Israel
France

Here we have a group that doesn’t even pretend to be geographically logical, but would actually perhaps look like the beginning of a modern UEFA qualifying group if not for the fact that Yugoslavia doesn’t exist any more. France were World Cup veterans having competed at all three previous tournaments, with Yugoslavia also making an appearance as one of the few other European representatives at Uruguay 1930, and now becoming the first Socialist state in the continent to take part.

Like Syria, Israel was a newly sovereign post-WW2 nation having been created in 1948. The Israeli  national team debuted against the USA later that year, but can trace it’s footballing lineage back to the aforementioned Palestine-British Mandate who competed in the ’34 and ’38 qualifiers. Like in later years, it maybe made more sense not to place the Irealis in a group with some of their more hostile neighbors, with this perhaps explaining why Austria were in Group 2 instead of this group, and vice-versa for Israel.

The first round took place over August and September, 1949, and the obvious gulf in quality seen in Group 1 and 2 continued as Yugoslavia beat Israel 6-0 in Belgrade and 5-2 in Tel-Aviv. The Yugoslav’s following games against France in October would prove more evenly balanced as both games ended 1-1, and since this was not a modern two-legged affair (sensible tie-breaking mini-games such as extra-time and penalties were distant future dreams at this point, and players in the ’40s would have undoubtedly been too unfit to play another half an hour anyway), the only solution was for the two sides to play each other yet again in a play-off on neutral ground.


Unique stadium, Israel vs Yugoslavia.

Italian news reel reviewing France vs Yugoslavia with crowd in the background.

The deciding game took place in Florence in December, with Yugoslavia finally running out 3-2 winners and qualifying for their second World Cup. Classically, after all that, France were also offered a place in the finals but declined, rendering the previous 270 minutes of football utterly pointless.

YUGOSLAVIA QUALIFY

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Group 4

Switzerland
Luxembourg
Belgium

Group 4 makes a little more sense geographically speaking, with the epic clash of central-west Europe’s richest, smallest, neutralist countries with long names in the first round. Compared to Groups 1-3 we finally get a bit of normality here, as all three countries had existed for some time before the qualifiers and would continue to exist to the present day.

On the pitch there was nothing too surprising either, as the Swiss picked up a 5-2 result at home in Zurich in June, 1949. Their advancement was sealed with a 3-2 win in Luxembourg, capital city of Luxembourg, in October. A nice, solid and dependable group so far, very relaxing compared to earlier. I have a good feeling that nothing can possibly go wrong.

But of course things would not be complete without a good-old withdrawal, and we get just that before another ball can be touched. Belgium had taken part in the first three World Cups, but the streak was broken through this self-imposed expulsion, graciously leaving Switzerland to qualify for their third successive tournament.

SWITZERLAND QUALIFY

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Group 5

Sweden
Ireland
Finland

Group 5 was set to be a refreshingly straight-forward affair, comprising of a straight round robin of home and away matches between the three teams and the resulting top side qualifying for the World Cup. While Norway had competed in the 1938 qualifiers, there was no sign of them here, leaving Ireland to take what presumably would have been their spot in the token Nordic group (Denmark and Iceland had yet to take part).

“But wait” you exclaim, “another Ireland!?” Yes, here we have our second Ireland of the qualifying system. Of course this team is now referred to as the Republic of Ireland, but at this stage they were just known as “Ireland”, same as Ireland-UK  from Group 1. Ireland-UK – as the successor team of the “original Ireland” that had competed while Ireland was still fully under British rule – were still calling themselves “Ireland”, and in-fact selected players from all over the island, despite only claiming league jurisdiction over Northern Ireland.

Amazingly, some players who represented Ireland in Group 5 ALSO played for Ireland-UK in Group 1 (Ireland had also previously capped Ireland-UK capped players). Both teams also wore green shirts with near identical shamrock themed crests, adding to the uniquely confusing situation.

Anyway, back to the group, and as mentioned earlier Sweden defeated Ireland in the first game of the entire qualifying system with a 3-1 win in Stockholm in June. They followed this up with an 8-1 trouncing of Finland in October, this time in Malmö to shake things up. Ireland had also beaten the Finns 3-0 in Dublin in September, and the return fixture, eight days after the 8-1 game, saw a 1-1 draw in Helsinki.

At this point, the poor old Finns (for whom we harbour a particular affinity) saw the writing on the wall and in typically logical fashion withdrew from the group instead of facing their final, meaningless group game (and in doing so conserved energy as well as avoiding another possible thrashing on home soil). This left Ireland’s home game against Sweden in November as a virtual play-off to get to the World Cup, even though Finland’s premature exit meant Ireland would have played an extra game than Sweden. The Swedes ran out 3-1 winners, qualifying for their third successive World Cup having finished fourth at France ’38.


More pack terraces at Ireland vs Sweden in Dalymount Park.

Ireland would have to wait another 40 years to make it to the finals but this need not have been the case as, in the wake of all the withdrawals, they were in fact invited to take part anyway by FIFA. But off course money doesn’t grow on trees, especially in economically struggling, post-“Emergency” Ireland (as WW2 was known there) and the offer was turned down due to the traveling costs. This really raises the question: what was point in attempting to qualify in the first place, or were they just not thinking that far ahead?

SWEDEN QUALIFY

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Group 6

Spain
Portugal

With their internal political issues well and truly resolved, a new Spain returned following their absence for 1938. Like the ’34 qualifiers they were placed in the “Iberian Group” with Portugal, with FIFA clearly deeming that one of the two simply needed to be at the World Cup.

In the previous version, Spain had breezed through with a 9-0 win at home propelling victory. This time Franco’s men didn’t score quite as many, but a 5-1 win in Madrid in April 1950 did basically the same job. Portugal at the time were in the midst of their own fascist dictatorship, or “corporatist authoritarian regime”, and they welcomed their peninsular pals to Lisbon eight days later. A 2-2 draw was played out allowing Spain to reach the finals as expected with little fuss.


Spain score the first of 5 goals against Portugal, on front of  a huge crowd.

Spain score the first in the 2-2 draw away to Portugal, in a ground devoid of side stand.

That is except for the fact that Portugal, of course, were then also invited to play at the World Cup, as a replacement for Turkey. And of course they declined, meaning all six European groups contained some sort of withdrawal or declination to play. This left FIFA throwing their hands up and shouting “Why do I even bother!” before bursting into tears, and then finally saying “fine then”, deciding to just leave the World Cup short of teams instead of inviting anyone else, dashing any last Luxembourgian hopes in the process.

SPAIN QUALIFY

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Group 7

Bolivia
  Chile
Argentina

After the mess that was Europe, we now come to the Americas where things are always calmer and more settled. The three teams were set to play home and away, with the top two progressing to the final. Would a nice competitive group, played to completion with the winners going through and the losers definitively not going through, be too much to ask?

The answer is yes, as 1930 finalists Argentina withdrew leaving Bolivia and Chile (also both present in 1930) free to qualify automatically without a single second of football being played. Obviously their scheduled games to be played against each other were cancelled, as they would have been utterly fucking pointless.

BOLIVIA AND CHILE QUALIFY

***

Group 8

Uruguay
Paraguay
Ecuador
Peru

The intuitive among you (as well as those who look at nature and society in a deeper way and notice patterns) may well have already guessed the outcome of this group. And sure enough, Ecuador and Peru withdrew from the group faster than you can say “unstable puppet government propped up by the CIA”. They really could not wait to withdraw.

1930 champions Uruguay had boycotted the previous two tournaments, first in 1934 as an act of retribution against the European teams who had refused to travel to their home tournament in 1930, then along with Argentina in anger at FIFA’s decision to stage World Cup 1938 again in Europe rather then a return to South America. Paraguay had also made their only previous appearance in 1930. Both qualified again without a ball being kicked.

URUGUAY AND PARAGUAY QUALIFY

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Group 9

USA
Mexico
Cuba

As with the British Home Nations tournament of Group 1, Group 9 also doubled as the 1949 North American Football Confederation Championship; the last time that competition would be played until 1990. However, unlike the Home Nations, all the matches would be played in a host nation – in this case Mexico – and all take place over the month of September 1949, more in lieu with a traditional tournament. The teams would play each other twice with the top two advancing to the World Cup, as well of course as North American Football Confederation Championship glory to the country on top.

The group was like the ill-fated Group 7 in that all teams had previously played at World Cups. Mexico had been statistically the worst team in their only appearance to date in 1930. The US had also taken part, both then and in ’34 where they replaced Mexico as poorest performing participant.

A pre-Castro Cuba can boast not just a finals appearance, but an oft-forgotten World Cup quarter final to their name in 1938. This is slightly less impressive when you remember that they only had to win one game to make the quater-finals, but slightly more impressive again by the fact that they drew 3-3 with Romania after extra time and then beat them 2-0 in a replay. However, the 8-0 drubbing received at the hands of Sweden in the quarter final itself does slightly take the shine off things.

Things didn’t go so well for Cuba this time though, as their only point of the Group came from a 1-1 draw with the US. The return game saw the Americans run out 5-2 winners. But the top side had not been in doubt since day one when hosts Mexico had destroyed the USA 6-0, and proceeded to put the same number past them when the sides would meet again while conceding their only two goals of the campaign. Comfortable 2-0 and 3-0 wins against Cuba, including on the last day of the group, gave Mexico the NAFC crown and qualification, along with the USA in second.

And there it is, finally after nine groups we have found one that was actually played to completion, and with the agreed upon rules adhered to through to the end. The real miracle here is the the Cuban revolution thankfully held off for a few years, for if it had happened in 1949 it would have undoubtedly disrupted the group.

MEXICO AND USA QUALIFY

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Group 10

Burma
Indonesia
Philippines
India

Group 10 contained the only Asian side to have previously made a World Cup appearance in Indonesia, who played at the 1938 finals in their previous form of the Dutch East Indies. This feat is again made less impressive by the fact that they only reached said finals due the withdrawal (surprise, surprise) of their one opponent Japan. Tragically, after coming all the way to Europe for the World Cup, they were promptly beaten 6-0 by Hungary and sent straight home. Still, their name is in the history books. Well, their name when it was a different name.

India, meanwhile, had played their first game while still a British possession in 1938, and in 1948 had made their first appearance as an independent state. The Philippines had been around a surprisingly long time in comparison, with their first international dating back to 1913, but had not previously had the chance to qualify for a World Cup. Burma went into the qualifiers yet to take part in an international fixture of any sort.

And unfortunately this would remain the case, as wouldn’t you just know it, Burma, Indonesia and the Philippines all withdrew before the group drew could even take place. This left India to qualify by default in the one available spot, and you wouldn’t have it any other way, would you?

Except there is one last twist in the tale as India, true to these qualifiers to the very end, gave one final withdrawal. They powerfully withdrew from their default position of World Cup qualifier, amazingly with a view to prepare for the next Olympic games instead, proving that the World Cup was not exactly the global phenomenon it is today.

The infamous rumored reason had been that FIFA would not allow India to play barefoot at the World Cup, which seems too “sexy” of a story to be true and with more than a hint of racism. But while it apparently did not have a baring on their decision to pull out, they had in fact played barefoot to great effect at the 1948 Olympics, and would do so again at the 1952 edition.

NO QUALIFIER

***

Total Qualified Teams (13):

Bolivia

Brazil

Chile

England

Italy

Mexico

Paraguay

Spain

Sweden

Switzerland

United States

Uruguay

Yugoslavia

*

And there we have it, qualifying done and dusted. Out of the 32 teams that entered, 11 out of the originally intended 14 qualified to join the hosts and champions, 15 either withdrew during qualifying or declined an invitation to the finals, and 9 didn’t play a game at all. Fair to say a roaring success as far as this time period goes. As for the actual 1950 World Cup, well you’ll just have to Google that for now, as it’s a story for another day (we mean that rhetorically, there are currently no plans for us to cover the 1950 World Cup).

*****

 

What Football Is Supposed To Look Like #6 (Gallery)

In this series we’re not really suggesting that football go back to looking like any of the pictures below, since the world they are from is gone forever and there’s nothing you can do about it. But we can at least bask in rays of nostalgic wonder by looking at the variety of features that made old school football magical, and sometimes hilarious.

Cold War-era stadium with built-in administrative building and running track, Yugoslavia vs Denmark, World Cup qualifier, 1980:

Slightly wet pitch, Derry City vs Shamrock Rovers, League of Ireland, 1989:

Classic kits, Romania vs Azerbaijan, European Championships qualifier, 1994:

Marching band and giant scary rabbit, Netherlands vs Austria, friendly, 1974:

Ticker-tape pitch, Argentina vs Colombia, Copa America, 1993:

Classic graphics and Cold War-era stadium with massive tunnel, Poland vs Greece, friendly, 1978:

Tracksuit and sweat tops, Preston North End vs Swansea City, Division Two, 1981:

Wonderfully muddy pitch, Everton vs Liverpool, FA Cup, 1981:

Concerned young supporter/style icon with camera at terrace fence, FC Schalke 04 vs Borussia Dortmund, Bundesliga, 1993:

A stadium at what appears to be some sort of holiday resort, Australia vs Taiwan, World Cup qualifier, 1985:

A stadium at what appears to be some sort of holiday resort,  Canada vs Honduras, World Cup qualifier, 1985:

 

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People On The Pitch #7: Everton vs Southampton, FA Cup Semi-Final, 14/04/1984

Last time out, for People On The Picth #6, we went back to 1981 and took a look at the “self-destruction” of Stadion Galgenwaard, carried out by it’s own home supporters of FC Utrecht. Now we’re skipping ahead a few years and heading across the Channel for a classic English FA cup-tie on supposedly “neutral” ground.

Intro:

The 1982 children’s book “Vlad the Drac”, by Ann Jungman – in which two young siblings befriend a miniature vampire whilst on holiday in Romania and smuggle him back to England – contains a chapter where the dad of the family brings son Paul to a football match. When they return home, Dad is furious and Paul is bloody and beaten. It turns out that Vlad snuck along too and had incited a terrace riot; first by using racist language directed at a bunch of Scotsmen, then with provocative chants such as “Up The Arsenal” and “Chelsea Forever” (we can only assume they were at White Heart Lane), before knocking a coppers hat off in the resulting fracas, for which Paul was nearly arrested.

All is eventually forgiven. But the point is that hooliganism and general crowd trouble were such common facets of life by the early ’80s that they had made their way into children’s literature. Of course this manifested at the stadiums with the erection of often ineffectual containment fences in most grounds, to keep the action from spilling onto the pitch as it so often did. But as we hinted back in People On The Pitch #5, there was a notable exception to this as one big club refused to compromise the integrity of their ground with the unsightly railings.

The club in question was Arsenal and their stadium Highbury, the venue for a 1984 FA Cup semi-final between Everton and Southampton.

Background:

Highbury was a regular host of FA Cup semi-finals in the late ’70s and early ’80s, along most regularly with Villa Park and of course Hillsborogh. While Highbury’s pitch was vulnerable to encroachment from the stands, the lack of fencing did prove beneficial for the safety of the supporting body as a whole.

This was particularly evident at the 1981 semi-final between Tottenham Hotspur and Wolverhampton Wanderers at Hillsborough, at which overcrowding caused a near-fatal crush in the Leppings Lane end.


The dangerously full Lepping's Lane end at Hillsborough during the 1981 FA Cup semi-final between Tottenham and Wolves.

As the 1981 FA Cup semi-final went on, the uncomfortable tightness of the supporters in the packed terrace could be seen in the background.

Supporters were forced to scale the parameter fence to safety, and at half time many were moved to another section of the ground.


Spurs supporters forced to escape the crowd crush during the first half of the 1981 FA Cup semi-final.

Catastrophe was avoided for now and the game ended 2-2. The replay was moved to Highbury which negated this element of danger, as even if overcrowding had been an issue there was no such risk of the supporters being caged in to a confined space.


The 1981 semi-final replay at Highbury, showing a packed stand but a lack of fences.

During the following two seasons, Highbury hosted an ’82 semi-final between Queens Park Rangers and West Bromwich Albion, and Brighton & Hove Albion vs Sheffield Wednesday in ’83. Both were of course festive occasions with classic cup atmospheres and included minor pitch invasions for the victorious fans both years in QPR and Brighton, two sides with relatively small support bases.


QPR fans celebrate reaching the 1982 FA Cup final with a handful of supporters on the Highbury pitch.

A mass of Brighton & Hove fans in jubilant spirits at Highbury ahead of their 1983 FA Cup semi-final with Sheffield Wednesday.

Supporters on the pitch celebrate Brighton and Hove Albion's victory with players and the manager.

But the 1984 edition saw the arrival of one of the Football League’s biggest clubs in Everton, who were to take on Southampton for a second consecutive north vs south semi-final clash in the capital.

In what was an age of increasing mayhem, Southampton came into the game as one club not so famous for a hooligan problem, generally overlooked for their larger, more violent southern coastal neighbours, and bitter rivals, Portsmouth. Everton, on the other hand, were known for their County Road Cutters firm, who were among the most prominent in the country and had helped ushered in the casual era, which was at it’s peak.

Incidentally, the Cup semi was not the only neutral game played in the ground that year. QPR would again be present to host Partizan Belgrade in a UEFA Cup encounter in November, at which the near empty terraces provide another good look at the fenceless ground in it’s natural state, filled only with endless crush barriers (although a fence does the divide the stand within the terrace).


No fear of crushing at QPR and Partizan Belgrade's UEFA Cup second round game at HIghbury, 1984.

The Match:

With a festive Cup atmosphere and attendance of 46,587, we see that blue and white hats are the order of the day for many Everton fans, followed by a classic swaying mass of Southampton supporters:

The majority of Evertonians are crammed into the end behind the goal to the left, Highbury’s North Bank:

As the bigger club, there are many more Everton fans around the ground as well:

In between the blue and white caps, it is clear that we are smack-bang in the middle of the casual golden age here:

After 90 mins the score is still 0-0 and with no semi-final replays in this edition of the tournament, the game goes to extra time.

Everton manager Howard Kendall is angsty as he displays a sort of chopping motion, unlike his colleague in the powder-blue suit who seems in buoyant mood. From this we also get a look at some beautiful Le Coq Sportiff tracksuits on the Everton “bench”, which is itself a class piece of architecture:

Finally, after 117 minutes, Everton’s Adrian Heath puts the ball in the net with an awkward header. Just watch that terrace pop:

Looking closely at the above, you can see a leg coming over the advertisements, just behind and slightly to the right of the frame, kicking off the first pitch invasion of the day. Through the action replay we seem to catch the same supporter, well on his way:

Within seconds Heath is surrounded by fans and team mates alike, as off-camera many more fans enter the field:

We get another good look at the casual fashion on show with this gentleman’s fetching yellow garment:

There is also a very nice maroon/white/gray tracksuit top on one supporter, while the unabated joy on the hat-wearer’s face sums up the moment:

The celebrations continue as the commentator factually states “And the Everton fans are on the field…”, as some policemen saunter over to try and curtail the maniacal Merseysiders:

But the chaotic jubilation continues as more and more enthusiastic Evertonians rush to congratulate their hero Heath:

As the replay of the goal is shown, we get the line from commentary:

“And it’s going to take a minute or two to clear Highbury from the Everton fans who have invaded in strength.”

Even after the replay we can see that there are still supporters on the pitch. Similarly to Ion Geolgău in Pyro On The Pitch #11, goalscorer Heath now is now trying to usher fans away, understandably eager to finish the game:

From this we get a touching moment where Heath doesn’t exactly seem thrilled to have a stranger tenderly holding him by the neck, with his face millimeters away:

Again, his agitation at this is quite understandable. Speaking of understanding, the commentator then justifies the pitch invasion while simultaneously giving a green light to anyone watching at home to perform a similar action, with the line:

Well the Everton fans are now getting back behind the barriers, and in a way you can understand their jubilation when you consider how they’ve played second fiddle up on Merseyside so long.

With mere minutes to go, the Everton faithful continue to celebrate as chants of “We’re all going to Wembley!” ring out while the clock counts down:

Meanwhile all is quiet at the Clock End where the Southampton supporters are based, but a row of Police guard the pitch just in case:

At the other end the Police line up also, but ultimately helpless as many fans are just standing on the grass behind the touchline rather than back in the actual stand:

We can see one roguish young chap scurry back over the hoardings, away from the clutches of the Old Bill after an aborted attempt at standing on the field:

He’s not the only with the idea, as off camera another fan goes for a casual stroll across the pitch causing the referee to pause the game again. The commentator gives us another great line:

And there’s one fella who’s come on the field to hold things up, the Everton fans are giving him a right roasting you can be sure.

From the wide shot that follows we can see the culprit and he really looks like he’s just going down to the shops for the paper. Another fan in a classic denim jacket/jeans combo rushes on too, presumably to try to get to his colleague (or enemy, it could be a Southampton fan), but he is expertly shepherded by Everton players while the original invader struts off aimlessly with the help of a Southampton player:

The game is restarted as the commentator lets us know that the Everton fans are “are all ranked up behind Peter Shilton’s goal”. Only seconds later the final whistle blows to an all-mighty roar, queuing the inevitable mass invasion. As Southampton were about to have a thrown-in at the corner flag, we first get a marvelous close up shot as the crowd ejaculates from their tribune and onto the grass:

Note the classic casual jumper/hair cut/jeans/trainers ensemble on one fan, while the supporter beside him appears to be the same fan who was jumping joyously over Adrian Heath earlier. Also a classic advert for Bangkok:

As is common in this kind of situation, some players run for their lives but the commentator informs us that the Everton players are dancing with joy, which is nice. A wideshot shows us the tsunami of supporters and some classic graphics:

The last shots from the broadcast show the Everton fans raucously cheering their team off the pitch and surging in alarming density:

But this was of course not the end. From a news report later, we learn that Southampton fans had come on to the pitch as well and apparently about 1000 fans charged at each other with the police “hopelessly outnumbered”, as the report states:

Chaos reigned as the Police played cat and mouse with supporters where they could. Below is an admirable escape attempt:

Extra police were brought on to the pitch in an attempt to retain order:

As well as a horse-mounted unit, which eventually did force people back into the stands:

One long haired fan appeared to be wearing a flag, or piece of clothing, featuring a cannabis plant, for which he must be commended:

We learn that more than 80 were arrested and several injured. The news report ends with an acknowledgment of Highbury’s lack of fencing and Arsenal’s intention to discuss the incidents the following week, as we see more footage of roving gangs charging around the field:

Aftermath:

Arsenal’s stadium did in fact remain fence-free after this, as you will know if you remember the photo of the QPR-Partizan Belgrade game, which came later in the year. But the repercussions of what happened were felt as Highbury was not awarded another FA Cup semi final until 1992.

By that time it made no difference, as the fences were coming down in all other Football League grounds in England due to the events of another semi-final. As while Highbury had been shunned for it’s lack of human cages, another ground was rewarded for their continued use. That is of course Hillsborough, scene of the 1989 crowd cursh disaster, where cup semi’s had continued to be played despite the clear warnings we talked about above at the 1981 semi final there.

Oh, and Vlad ended going back to Romania and became a cheesy tourist attraction.

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Youtube link 1
Youtube link 2
Youtube link 3

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Retro Shirt Reviews #5

This time on Retro Shirt Reviews we have a sort of a “youth special”, with what is also the first fully identifiable club featured so far in the series, as well as TWO bonus shirts in International Selection at the end. Click here for all entries.

  • Club: Lørenskog IF (Norway)
  • Year: Circa 2001
  • Make: Umbro
  • Sponsor: COOP/Comet Sport
  • Number: 7
  • Similarly Worn By: n/a

Today’s shirt is the first long sleeve to feature in Retro Shirt Reviews and originally caught our eye last year due to the blue/red/white colourway, which we are a major fan of on kits. As with all in our collection, the shirts are purchased with the intention of being worn, but when this jersey arrived at POTP offices we discovered that it was in fact a youth team shirt which had not been evident online. It is quite a large youth shirt though and nearly did in fact fit, but not quite. Never the less we held on to it, since it is quite an interesting top and well worth discussing.

It is hard to make out the crest in the above picture due to the nature of dark red over blue and how the crest was printed on, but it is indeed that of Norway’s Lørenskog Idrettsforening. At the time of writing, Lørenskog are a member of the Norwegian “2. divisjon”, which of course like in many countries is in fact the 3rd tier.

On closer inspection of the crest below, an “LIF” is visible inside an odd curvy shape within a circle, strangely along with the date 19/11/1933; strange because the club was founded on April 17th, 1929, through the merger of Lørenskogkameratene and Solheim IF. The delightful word “FOTBALL” sits underneath (we are also big fans of very similar translations of the word “football” in non-English languages).

The mysteriously mismatched dates theme continues with the fact that the year “1924” is also patterned into the fabric – visible above to the bottom left and right of the crest – along with a 3D “UMBRO” motif – also visible above beneath the crest. 1924 is of course the year that Umbro were founded, at least explaining this one.

But as for 1933, could this have been when the team were first entered into the Norwegian league, or when the crest itself was designed? We don’t know, but as always please get in touch if you do and we will fill in the explanation here.

The modern iteration of the crest, incidentally, also contains white and blue making it far more legible, and some versions do actually include the 1929 date:

Going back to the shirt itself, and through a post on OldFootballShirts.com we can see that the senior team used the same template and that the shirt is apparently from the 2001 season, so that is what we are going with for the year of shirt.

Our original guess had been circa 1998, as this was when Umbro were reintroducing the double diamond logo to their shirts, albiet more usually in miniature beside the wordmark. The diamond taping, originally seen in the ’70s, had also made a return, also seen on the likes of the Manchester United jersey. But unlike United, here we have the addition of dual diagonal bars – in our eyes a welcome interruption to the taping, limiting it to the shoulders rather than full sleeve.

The red collar and cuffs with white trim are a sheer delight, and the collar itself employs a smart one button system to fasten (from the below shot we can also see that there is no label on the shirt). This use of white, as well as on the shoulders, gives the jersey some much needed “pop”.

It is unfortunate that a similar thought process regarding the white trim hadn’t go into the crest, although it was most likely far cheaper to have it printed on monochromatically. The rich red of the Umbro logo – felt, of course, rather than the printed crest and sponsor of choice which came later- displays a similar issue as it is not wholly legible to the untrained eye from a distance. It’s chunky, furry goodness, however, is extremely satisfying.

Adding more white, though, is the main sponsor: COOP, presumably as in “Cooperative”, which appears to be a supermarket chain. The fact that it is kind of reminiscent of a “CCCP” across the shirt gives it extra point from us.

While COOP was replaced on senior team shirts with another sponsor, the secondary sponsor did appear on both: Comet Sport. Comet are a Norwegian sportswear chain, as their athletic stick figures represent, one of which seems to be diving desperately for a dramatic table tennis shot.

The placement of this logo centrally in the chest, above the other sponsor, is a bit jarring and out of place in our opinion, and would have been better left free for potential cup final details, which admittedly would have been extremely optimistic and a huge loss of revenue.

Finally we come to the back of the shirt and Comet make another appearance here, inside the number, which for the second time in this series is a “boxed” 7. With the white again balancing out the red stripes, it is a nice size and not much else needs to be said. Nice.

Overall, the shirt has a lot of taking points and some nice features. As mentioned earlier, blue/red/white will always be a POTP favourite, and the cuffs, collar, felt Umbro, long sleeves, and number on the back are all major pluses. The main drawbacks are of course the fact that the shirt is too small to wear (at least for this writer), meaning it is merely a “collectable”, along with the slightly illegible crest and irksome second sponsor. As always, these are not major critiques, and like all shirts in football it is what it is, you can’t change it, and it is a part of history.

International Selection:

For this episode’s International Selection, it just seemed right to pair these two shirts together due to colour, style, year and country. They seemed especially appropriate to include with the above youth jersey, as both shirts are child sizes from the ’90s and were recently rediscovered in the POTP attic.

1st Half:

  • Country: Republic of Ireland
  • H/A: Away
  • Year: 1994
  • Make: Adidas

Here we have the marvelous Irish away shirt used at World Cup ’94 (admittedly not so marvelous to some prudish purists, but we’re the bold and brave type of purists), featuring three giant bars “disintegrating” down the shirt and a nice mix of white, green and orange – easily the most usage of orange on an Ireland shirt, home or away, until this point. The crest is probably the 2nd best Irish crest of all time, behind the one which preceded it at Euro ’88 and World Cup ’90 (for more info on said crest’s even longer history, click here), although purists would again probably argue that the original shield and shamrocks Irish badge tops both.

This is also of course a replica version, hence the inclusion of the OPEL sponsor. From a purely aesthetical point of view, and just accepting it for it is, this adds to the shirt in our opinion (we like to imagine it as a hypothetical club jersey) and while the orange employed does clash slightly with the orange outlines of the large vertical stripes, there wasn’t really any other option given the nature of the design.

A diagonal shadow stripe goes runs across the shirt, along with a faint but complex FAI pattern which can just about be seen (if not “made out”) in the image below. The Irish flag adorning the sleeve is a fun addition. Why not?

Somewhat strangely, due to circumstance, the shirt was debuted and used in three consecutive games during the 1994 World Cup (a loss to Mexcio, a draw with Norway and a loss to Netherlands), before never being seen again. It was the only one of it’s kind for this template at the tournament, although a similar design was also later used by the likes of Turkey, Stockport County, and Karlsruhe SC, all in 1996.

2nd Half:

  • Country: Republic of Ireland (away)
  • H/W: Away
  • Year: 94/95-95/96
  • Make: Umbro

Of course the reason that the above shirt was never to be seen again for Ireland was because after the World Cup the team’s kit deal switched to Umbro, meaning that it had been destined only to be worn at the World Cup. Ireland used their new Umbro home kits for the next two games, Euro qualifiers against Latvia and Lichtenstein. But an away tie to Northern Ireland in the next game presented the first need for the new away kit, with the shirt featuring strange, navy-trimmed orange and green bars emanating for the collar and widening as they go down, filling out the sides of the shirt.

Orange was clearly employed even more liberally that on the predecessor, comprising nearly a third of the shirt, and this trend would continue as the next Ireland away shirt would in fact be orange, and much maligned. As for this one, the positioning of the orange on the left is also quite strange as the bottom half of the shirt hence makes out the flag of the Ivory Coast. The out of place orange section in the middle of the green bar was apparently included so that the OPEL, now in green, would not clash where the L partially covered it.

On the back of course, the “flag” is reversed giving us an actual Irish tri-colour. The orange section on the green bar remains for continuity with the front.

On the backs of the actual player’s shirts, green numbers were used which fit nicely in the white middle, but the inevitable clash of the naturally wider double digits was remedied with a white border on the numbers.

There was little need for the shirt after this, although it did make a reappearance against Bolivia in the 1996 US Cup. Although slightly ludicrous, we loved it at that time of childish, blissful ignorance, and so it takes it’s place here in the hallowed halls of Retro Shirt Reviews.

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Supporter Snap Back #1: Vitesse vs Parma, UEFA Cup, 13/09/1994

In this feature we will take a quick look at individual games from the past in mostly pic+gif form, highlighting supporter actions and flags along with anything else that is noteworthy – as always. We start with Parma’s first tie in their ultimately glorious UEFA Cup campaign of 94/95.

Match File:

  • Vitesse Arnhem vs Parma FC,
  • UEFA CUP 94/95
  • First Round-First Leg
  • 13/09/1994
  • GelreDome, Arnhem, Netherlands
  • 9000 spectators

Before getting to the supporters, the fantastic pink/purple ref’s shirt and the tunnel – or rather the totally safe for studs, steep concrete stairs down from a secondary school – must be noted:

Just as amazing is the actual entrance to the pitch, which looks like something from a detention centre:

And we also must appreciate this beautiful Parma jersey, with full kit seen above; one of many classics in both white and yellow and blue from them in the era:

With a slightly out of place USA flag on the fence referencing someone named Glenn, the home support display a long “Vitesse” crowd cover at the back of their stand, as well as an odd bit of pyro (which may well just be an electrical fault in the ground) as the players line up:

The small but conspicuous traveling support occupy a section of unsegregated terrace behind the goal the the right, including “BOYS” banner in view at the front. Exemplary Italian flag waving continues throughout the match:

The other side of the same terrace, with home supporters:

Another quite populated triangular terrace also lays between it and the main stand:

Parma’s goalkeeper top is also a classic as it turns out:

Vitesse score late in the game to send the home support into raptures of delight, and we learn that apparently Martijn ❤ Vitesse:

The final whistle goes securing a 1-0 win for the Ducth side. Ignorant to the fact that their team would in fact be defeated by Parma over the two legs, the youth of Vitesse could celebrate long into the night:

Youtube link

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Heroic Hang Jobs #2 (Gallery)

It’s high time for another edition of this new series where we look at classic flag and banner hanging, great and small. Throw in some of the best sinister old school railings and fences for a winning formula.

Austria Vienna vs Zalgiris Vilnius, UEFA Cup, 07/10/1988:

Netherlands vs Greece, Euro ’88 qualifier, 25/03/1987:

West Germany vs Argentina, friendly, 12/09/1984:

Slovakia vs Romania, Euro ’96 qualifier, 15/11/1995:

FC Den Bosch vs Feyenoord, Eredivisie, 14/09/1986:

Hamburger SV vs Nottingham Forrest, European Cup Final, 28/05/1980:

Northern Ireland vs Republic of Ireland, World Cup ’94 qualifier, 17/10/1993:

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Pyro On The Pitch #11: CS Universitatea Craiova vs Hajduk Split, UEFA Cup 1st Round-1st Leg, 14/09/1983

In the previous episode of Pyro On The Pitch, we went all “Pyro On The Print” with a special Shelbourne FC fanzine-exclusive to celebrate the 10th edition of the series, as well as our 50th article overall (including the Cold War Classic series produced in conjunction with Museum of Jerseys.com). You can see a preview and some of the pictures used here in the corresponding blog post, and perhaps in the future we will upload the post in full as a special treat. MAYBE.

But so as not to deprive you fine folks who aren’t lucky enough to frequent Tolka Park – and especially considering it’s been quite a while since Pryo On The Pitch #9 – we are rushing out a second consecutive episode in an unprecedented move not seen since the early days of the site when it was our only feature (a simpler time). And as one of our Cold War Classic posts linking to the full articles on Museum of Jerseys.com contained two instead of one, this is in fact the actual 50th post to appear on PyroOnThePitch.com, so it is still a sort of special occasion (not that any of this matters in the least).

Today’s featured game takes us to Romania for the first time, having already seen hints of the country’s pedigree through the national side’s ability to casually thrive in the face of pyro on the pitch away from home back in episode #5.

Background:

In the early ’80s, Clubul Sportiv Universitatea Craiova were one of Romania’s top sides. The club was originally founded in 1948 following an initiative by a group of students and professors from city’s first university-level institution, and upon dissolution of the area’s previous club – FC Craivoa – the team were quickly entered into the national league. Demonstrating the profound difference in which post-War communist Romanian football was run compared to that of a modern league, the entry of the team was coordination by the Ministry of Public Education and the National Union of Students under the mouthful team name “Uniunea Națională a Studenților din România Craiova”.

The new club proved popular among locals and those in the surrounding area, and after several name changes “CS Universitatea Craiova” was settled on in 1966. The following decade saw title challenges for the first time, with a 2nd place finish on goal difference to Dinamo București in the 72/73 season. But this moral victory was important for resulting in the creation of one of the greatest club nicknames in football history, and one that couldn’t have been more fitting for the decade: “The Champions of a Great Love”.

Coined by poet and supporter Adrian Păunescu, the name indicates Craiova’s status as a people’s champion in the face of the state-supported Dinamo side who dominated the league for much of the 20th century. A real league victory did indeed come the following year, cementing the Champions of a Great Love as champions of Romania as well.


Classic, grainy Iron Curtain footage of Craiova supporters celebrating the 73/74 Romanian league title win.

The 73/74 season was also notable for the club’s first continental involvement, with an impressive debut victory against Fiorentina in the 1st round of the UEFA Cup. Domestic cup wins in ’77 and ’78 kept the team in Europe before a return to league success saw back-to-back championships in 79/80 and 80/81, the latter of which was a league and cup double. This golden age demanded it’s own snazzy new moniker, totally apt for the dynamic ’80s: Craiova Maxima (“The Maximum Craiova”).

The league title brought a return to the European Cup, with the 80/81 edition seeing the visit of the club’s most distinguished foreign opposition to date: Internazionale. In a game that brought 35,000 supporters to the Stadionul Central, Craiova admirably held the Italians to a 1-1 draw. Despite this they were eliminated on aggregate, but the following year saw the greatest continental performance of any Romanian club up to that point with an advance to the quarter finals, before elimination at the hands of Bayern Munich.


The Stadionul Central crowd for the visit of Inter, UEFA Cup 80/81, 1980. Note the fans perched above the tunnel.

The distraction of these tournaments possibly helped contribute to 2nd place league finishes both of these years, but an 82/83 UEFA Cup run – only cut short by defeat to Benfica in the semi-finals – along with another Romanian cup win the same season, kept the Craiova Maxima’s momentum going. The period had seen victorious cup ties against significant opposition such as Dynamo Moscow, Monaco, Leeds United, Bordeaux, Kaiserslautern, and even Shamrock Rovers.


Craiova vs Bordeaux, UEFA Cup 82/83, 1982

Pyro emanating from off screen at Craiova vs Kaiserslautern UEFA Cup 82/83, 1983

On the back of this growing pedigree, confidence was no doubt high in progressing one step further the following season and reaching the final as Craivoa were drawn in the 83/84 UEFA Cup first round against Yugoslavian league runners-up Hajduk Split. The all Balkan battle would not be the club’s first European tie against a club from the Slavic super-state as they had been knocked out of the 75/76 UEFA Cup by Red Star Belgrade.

Somewhat interestingly, Craiova were not the only Romanian team with links to education in that year’s competition either, as FC Sportul Studențesc București – another club formed under the initiative of students and professors, established in 1916 – were taking part in one of six UEFA Cup campaigns for them in the era. But for comparison in status between the clubs, Sportul’s current ground only holds 1000 spectators.

As for Hajduk, it goes without saying that the Croatian side boast one of Europe’s most enviable supporter culture histories, with their “Torcida group having formed way back in 1950; the first of it’s kind in Europe. After some quarter final appearances, the club were of average European quality at the time with their most recent big tie a 3rd round defeat to Valencia in the 81/82 UEFA Cup, despite a 4-1 win in the home leg. This was followed in 83/83 with victory against Zurrieq of Malta before elimination to Bordeaux.


Hajduk Split fans celebrating a goal against Valencia, UEFA Cup 81/82, 1981

The Match:

We join the action late in the game on that beautiful, sunny September 14th of 1983, along with 40,000 fans in the stadium. The figure shows the increase in popularity of the club since the Inter game, who in theory should have been a bigger draw than Hajduk. With the score at 0-0 in the 86th minute, midfielder Ion Geolgău breaks into to the box and strikes the ball in to the net for the hosts, queuing a pitch invasion from the ball boys. Through the resulting celebration we also get a nice look the Craiova kit, which had changed from Adidas the previous year (any ideas on the brand, get in touch!).

This triggers jubilation from the stands the the likes of which could maybe only be seen in a country suffering through an authoritarian regime, with the ecstasy of football providing a release valve for real world problems as it does on some level for supporters in stadiums all over the world. First we see two smoke bombs coming from the grass behind the running track (extra points for athletics stadium, which we love) before another explodes in the middle, as the perpetrator appears to retreat into the mass other of cheerful Craiovans:

These are proper, old “bombs” rather than the modern colourful kind, with an aurally satisfying bang like a distant gun shot accompanying each one, as well as the defining noise coming from the supporters themselves. A wider shot reveals several more going off around the ground along with many flags, as the players continue to celebrate:

As many other plumes of grey smoke billow, it is important to recognise that this is coming from all around the ground rather a single, dedicated ultras section as you might expect in western stadiums, demonstrating the immense supporter culture at the club:

The Hajduk players prepare to kick-off but the bombardment goes on:

Oddly for the era, experienced French referee Michel Vautrot is reluctant to restart the game while this is happening. Ion and co. must continue to wait as the stadium continues to erupt, giving us another look at the unusual jersey which appears to have branding on the sleeve:

But instead of subsiding to allow the game to finish, the rapturous display only gets closer. As you can see below, one bomb lands right at the border where the track meets the field, which for our purposes we are happy to acknowledge as pyro on the pitch. A Craiova player can be seen reaching the end of his patience and appeals to the crowd with arm gestures, as the flash of yet another bomb lights up the running track itself:

It turns out is the player in question is the hero of the hour himself, Ion, who is now clearly lamenting his sporting achievement due to the fact it has caused this evidently distressing display of positive emotion which is preventing the sport itself from reaching it’s conclusion. You could call it the ultimate “Ion-y”.

The irritable Ion had need not fret, as the game is eventually restarted and the last few mins played out, his goal enough to secure the win on the night. We leave with with one last scan around the packed Stadionul Central, as grey of clouds of Maximum Love still hang in the air:

Despite those scenes, it was not to be a happy ending for Craiova in that year’s competition. The return leg in Split saw the hosts win 1-0 to draw level on aggregate before securing the tie on penalties, which set them on their way to what would turn out to be the greatest continental run of all time for a Croatian side in reaching the semi-finals before defeat to eventual winners Tottenham Hotspur. Unsurprisingly for Hajduk, the game saw plenty of it’s own pyro action:

While we say goodbye to Craiova, who’s fans we can thank for the amazing images above, we will leave you with some more scenes from the second leg as a reminder of Hajduk’s own supporter heritage, as we are definitely not saying goodbye to them. Look out for their return in the not too distant future, on another episode of Pyro On The Pitch.



Youtube link 1

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Pyro On The Pitch #10: Shelbourne FC Fanzine Special

Well, it’s been a while since the previous edition of the feature that originally gave this blog it’s name. We last checked out a hot atmosphere at Anderlecht vs Real Madrid, 1984, but unfortunately for those of you online (and if you’re reading this then you obviously are online), the wait for a new full article will have to go on for a little bit longer. That is because to mark the 10th episode of the series, as well as our 50th article overall, “Pryo On The Pitch” is going “Pyro On The Print” with a special edition that is for now exclusive to the Shelbourne FC fanzine “Red Inc.”.

Red Inc. is produced several times a season by the supporter group Reds Independent (RI) who formed in 1998, and is now the longest running fanzine in the League of Ireland. We were kindly invited by RI to produce a piece for their latest issue and we were happy to oblige, focusing on a pyro on the pitch incident when Shelbourne visited near-by rivals Bohemians in 1994, and some of the club’s preceding supporter culture history. This of course also follows up nicely with our recent League of Ireland themed Football Special Report #2.

The Red Inc. in question went on sale for Shelbourne’s home game against Wexford Youths yesterday (01/06/2018) and thankfully early reactions have been positive:

So if you are desperate to get your hands on a copy of this historic issue, then do order one over at RedsIndependent.com. For the rest of you, below are some shots of the fanzine and a preview, along with some of the photos used in the piece. Peace!

“…Although a health and safety aficionado’s nightmare, the practice of pyrotechnics emanating from the stands and ending up on the playing surface at football matches has a proud, mischievous tradition that goes back decades and can represent several profound meanings. Sometimes it’s appearance acts as a symbol of euphoria upon a goal or team victory, while on other occasions flares and smoke bombs have been used as a tool by disaffected supporters in “political” fan actions. Random pyro on the pitch was somewhat of a regular occurrence in the ’80s and ’90s in certain European grounds, with players and referees alike often happy to play on around the flaming phallus on the grass, contently accepting an intimidating and difficult atmosphere as simply part of the magic of the game back then. Of course on other occasions, it was a straight forward act of belligerent “hooliganism”.

The League of Ireland is no exception to any of these tropes, with it’s own unique supporter culture added into the mix. Indeed the use of pyro in Irish football has a far longer heritage than one might imagine, with a Dublin newspaper reporting in 1905: “Tar Barrels and bonfires were blazing across Ringsend and Sandymount that night as the Irish Cup was paraded around the district”. The team responsible for such celebrations were local side Shelbourne FC, the Reds; the first winners of the IFA Cup not to have come from present day Northern Ireland…”

Shelbourne away to Dundalk, 1992:

Shelbourne vs Bohemians, 1992:

Shelbourne vs Bohemians, 1993:

Shelbourne vs Karpaty Lviv , Cup Winner’s Cup 93/94:

Panathinaikos away to Shelbourne, Cup Winner’s Cup 93/94:

Shelbourne away to Bohemians, 1993:

Shelbourne away to Bohemians, 1994:

Shelbourne away to Bohemains, 1994:

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