Cold War Classic no. 4 – Sweden v Austria, 1973

You now love Pyro On The Pitch as an international institution, but did you know that we also contribute to the wonderful MuseumOfJerseys.com? The fourth installment of our guest series over there, the Cold War Classic, is now up.

If you enjoy any combination of interesting retro football kits, beautifully vivid illustrations of said retro football kits (by main man Denis Hurley), a bit of sociopolitical history and classic cold war era match ups (with maybe a bit of trademark Pyro On The Pitch absurdity), then we think you’ll dig it. Preview and link to full article below.

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Cold War Classic no. 4 – Sweden v Austria, 1973

“On November 11, 1973, UEFA’s qualifying Group 1 for the 1974 World Cup came to a close as Sweden defeated Malta 2-1 away from home. As with most things in football, or society in general, things were done differently back then and, curiously, the last game in the group before this had been played in June.

In fact, the first game in qualifying had taken place way back in November 1971, when of course in a modern-day system the last round of qualifiers for the following year’s Euros would have only been taking place. In the Malta-Sweden game, the hosts had taken an unexpected 1-0 lead on the 20th minute before the visitors came back to win.

But this goal would throw up a wrench, as it meant Sweden would finish level on both points and goal difference with Austria at the top of the group. With only one qualifying spot up for grabs, a play-off at a neutral venue (Parkstadion, Gelsenkirchen, West Germany, so there’s your Cold War connection) was deemed to be the best option…”

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Pyro On The Pitch #8: Eintracht Braunschweig away to VfL Osnabrück, Regionalliga Nord, 05/02/1998

Eintracht Braunschweig (of course also known as Braunschweiger Turn- und Sportverein Eintracht von 1895 e.V.) are a club that have been tangentially mentioned here already through Retro Shirt Reviews #1, so it is truly a glorious occasion that they can now take pride of place as the featured side in this edition of Pyro On The Pitch.

The scene was February 1998 and the heroically unglamorous Regionalliga Nord, part of the third tier of German football at the time. Eventual league winners VfL Osnabrück played host to their biggest rivals for dominance, the aforementioned Eintracht Braunschweig.

Background:

Statistically, Eintracht were the best supported team in the Regionalliga Nord for six of the first eight seasons since the league began in 1994. For most of it’s existence, the club had been Bundesliga regulars with a national title win in 66/67, but a decline in the mid-80’s would see them bounce between the 2nd and 3rd tiers for the next couple of decades.


Eintracht Braunschweig supporters celebrating in 1967

While the Regionalliga Nord featured many smaller clubs and some B-teams, such as Hamburger SV II and Werder Bremen II, Braunschweig’s major rivals Hannover 96 were also present. As for Osnabrück, they too possessed one of the bigger support basses in the league, despite having never reached the top tier of German football. And so, combined with the fight for the league title, Eintracht’s visit to their Stadion an der Bremer Brücke was always going to be a big occasion.

The Match:

We join the action in the 89th minute with Osnabrück leading 1-0. Perhaps in an attempt at one last passionate push to motivate their players to pull a goal back, or more likely in a display of joyous abandon in the face of inevitable defeat (aka “fuck it”), the Braunschweig ultras have decided that it’s pyro show time:

You can’t blame them really as it would have been a waste to have come all that way with all that pyro and not use it just because the team hadn’t performed. A fabulous red glare can been seen in the sections of the ground close to the Eintracht end:

Some great banners are also on show such as the above “Braunschweig ‘Family'” and “Cor Leonis” (“Lion Hart” in Latin):

As Eintracht prepare for a free kick we can see that at least one flare has already been launched pitchward, of course amidst much booing and whistling from the home supporters. An as of now unidentified man casually tosses one off to the side (a flare that is, to the side of the pitch):

The classic 20th century football sound of police dogs barking can be heard as police keep a watchful eye on Eintracht supporters perched high atop the perimeter fence.

Yes, I know it appears as if the man above is delivering a politically alarming salute. But don’t fret, through the power of gif we can see that he is actually in the midst of giving a friendly wave and maybe a misguided attempted at a “cool” hand gesture:

Nice man. If you thought we were done with pyro on the actual pitch here, you’ll be happy to hear that you are very wrong. As the game enters injury time and Eintracht attack again, we can see that a flare has now been launched into a very prominent position on pitch. A fine effort, but perhaps not ideal for the players to have to deal with as they attempt to find their way through the Osnabrück defence:

As we showed back in Pyro On The Pitch #5, a little bit of intensely burning flame on the playing surface wasn’t really a big deal back in the day. Here, the referee shows tremendous discretion as he at first appears to go to blow his whistle upon sight of the flare, but realising that the supporters cerebral placing of the flare is merely an extra-dimensional part of the game, he allows play to go on:

Sure enough the flare burns out with seconds as play goes on around it, proving the referee right for not holding play up. The ref probably had experience with such instances in the past and was more than likely able to identify the brand of flare and it’s specific characteristics from quite a distance away. Similarly the players must be commended for not being phased in the slightest, although as mentioned it really wasn’t that big a deal to these real 20th century pros, and it only goes to show the decline of the game that I would even feel the need to commend them for playing around such a natural element.

So Osnabrück don’t feel too left out, I will mention there is a nice terrace running all along the side of the pitch. The sight of people standing in a side-stand like this I’m sure is even more foreign to modern eyes than than standing in the ends:

Also a small mish-mash of their flags (of course there could be many more hung off camera):

The Braunschweig end is by now an impressive chaotic collage of blue, yellow and red, along with a lot of smoke:

More police can be seen tentatively keeping an eye on things as the pyro goes on til the final whistle, but the last of the main action is over:

With their side defeated, the Eintracht fans show themselves as jolly good sports and give their team a very positive reception despite the loss:

Ok, there may or may not have been one politically alarming salute in there.

Youtube link

Retro Shirt Reviews #2

I have fond memories of purchasing this shirt as it aligned with an “80’s/early 90’s athlete on coke” thing I had going on in terms of style early one summer. However,  I haven’t worn it in some time. Specifically since somebody made a particular negative remark, not regarding the artistic design but my perceived psychical form while wearing the garment.

This is because it is a very baggy, classic 90’s loose fit. Comparing it with last weeks breathtaking Erima number is a pretty interesting look at the change in direction of the cut of football shirts from the different eras. Both are mediums, but the Erima one from the 80’s is tight enough that it may as well be a small, while the Puma shirt from the 90’s might be considered a large by today’s standards. The Erima shirt fits me snugly but nice, so I was swimming in the Puma shirt.

When purchasing it I honestly, and naively, hadn’t really taken this into consideration. I had been wooed by the interesting diagonal bars coming from the bottom of the shirt and the white shape on the front left which reminded me of a part of the symbol for Pi. Although it was one of those things that after I had made the order I was like “did I really want that?” so I definitely do not rate it on the same level as the Erima. But the deed was done and now I own it.

Edit: As pointed out by friend of the site Denis Hurley, of MuseumOfJerseys.com, it appears the design is actually an enlarged section of the Tetra Pak logo, sponsors of Eintracht Frankfurt at the time who also wore this shirt. This makes it even more interesting than originally thought, as it suggest either the template was directly inspired by the Tetra Pak logo, or that the shirt was made bespoke for Eintracht and Tetra Pak before then being used as a general template. Either way, a nice sneaky bit of extra advertising. Thanks Denis!

A number on the back is always nice, and here we also have the presumable team name of Keune, as it was common for German clubs to have their name on the back of their shirts since the days before player names became the norm. The shocking lack of this knowledge among the the general population causes issues, as many who see the shirt being worn from behind assume it to be a player name which at first glance appears to be “Keane” rather than the unfamiliar Keune.

As already mentioned, this Puma template was also worn in the same colourway by Eintracht Frankfurt from 1993, with their version of course also including a crest and sponsor. I’m not really keen (or not really Keune?) on red and black together in general, so what’s even better than both my shirt and Frankfurt’s is actually their away shirt from that season which uses the same template but in gloriously satisfying yellow, blue and white, with a dash of red for good measure.

In conclusion, this shirt will not be getting my highest grade of seven and  a half thumbs up like Erima got last time. But I will be generous and award 3 silver stars, as like all shirts it has it’s place in football history. Thank you Puma for this very 1993 effort.

Bonus: International Selection

  • Country: Germany (away)
  • Year: 1994-1995
  • Make: Adidas

Continuing the German theme from last time (and both club shirts have been German… I like German things), three letters come to mind when I look at the above beauty: D.M.T. Which is most definitely a positive. Despite seeing some (frankly ludicrous) derision for it online, I personally love the bold, tribal-esq, in your face aesthetic of this shirt, which Germany wore in friendlies in 1994, and in Euro 96 qualifying, but not actually at the World Cup.

One interesting thing about the actual shirt itself is that it is composed of two pieces of material for the front and back, which are stitched along the top of the shoulder and down the sleaves. This is opposed to different pieces used for the torso and sleeves which is more usual for football jerseys, and this was also the case of for the 88-91 shirt featured last week.

I have a sort of long term goal to eventually own every West Germany/Germany shirt from 1986 to 1996, home and away, as they may well be the best run of kits of all time. It’s not really a serious goal, as I won’t be lamenting it on my deathbed if I don’t end up getting them all and to be honest I doubt I ever will (unless I somehow end up very wealthy which would be most worrisome), because now that I think of it I’m not really that bothered. But owning shirts like the above is very fun as it takes most people who see it slightly off guard, which to me is one of the best things about owning “obscure” jerseys and why I buy shirts to wear them rather than just sit there in a collection. But next time we’ll complete the trilogy with another German effort from the above referenced time period, or at least one that appears to be.

Aesthetically Pleasing Moments From Video Game Football History #5

We had originally planned on only including one picture from this episode’s featured video game, which we had screen grabbed a while back. But upon re-review of the YouTube video, it quickly became apparent this would have been very wrong.

That game is 1992’s Super Soccer for the Super Nintendo, which we did not own. But we did just realise that it’s been starring us in the face for months as it’s featured on an original SNES poster we have on the wall, having been part of Nintendo’s European SNES launch lineup in order to cash in on that soccer craze everybody was talking about.

The game intro starts with some delightfully classic and hectic SNES music which could have been straight from the Street Fighter 2 cutting room floor (if you could actually somehow psychically cut 16-bit music with a blade and leave some of it on a floor). As it starts we also get the following ominous message flashed on screen:

Who is this mysterious “He”? Is it God himself? Perhaps a critically acclaimed, multilayered, long-form career mode transcending clubs, countries and dimensions explains all.

Before we have time to think too hard though, a few cool images flash up recreating a scene from the 1990 World Cup final between West Germany (reunified by the time the game came out) and Argentina, but in dramatic darkness:

The German is of course a dashingly handsome, blonde man as you’d expect. His Argentinian opponent however, who is quite gangly and awkward, possess hair and skin colour suspiciously quite unlike any of his real world counterparts.

Upon closer inspection, the kits are fairly accurate albeit with 2 stripes instead of 3 on the shirts and Argentinian shorts, which is fair enough. The West German shirt “ribbon” is especially well done. However, for some reason the crest, “trefoil” and shoulder stripes came out blue giving the effect of some sort of West Germany-Olympique Marseille hybrid team, which I would now like to be called Western Olympic (Fr: Olympique Occidental ; Gr: Western Olympisch).

The other glaring issue is the blatant shirt, shorts AND sock clash that is going on here, which for one reason or another the ref has decided to allow happen. Surely a local strip could have been at least sourced at the last minute if no other option was available, ala France vs Hungary at World Cup ’78.

The German apparently rounds his inept opponent with ease and leaves him seething on the ground. At this point we get the first animation of the game as he strikes the ball and it comes directly towards the viewer, an effect which would have undoubtedly left ignorant 19th century folk clutching at their faces in a desperate act of defence. Luckily, now we know it’s just a game and so I was not shocked.

After the main menu there is another lovely graphic while selecting player mode; a Brazilian in action clearly decked in a Topper made kit, c.1986:

But the kit accuracies end here. The in-game kits are of course extremely simplified compared to the above static images, but in the team select preview we see that the developers have seemingly given Belgium new maroon shirts with sky blue vertical stripes on the torso. Red is retained for the shorts and socks though, creating a totally jarring look that will have no doubt been complained about by both fans and kit connoisseurs alike, virtually speaking.

The players stances indicate that they are ready for fighting in 1950’s America; that kind of thing always being always a plus and thankfully all of the national flags on show are relatively close to real life. The playable teams are basically the last 16 of the 1990 World Cup but with France, USA and Japan in place of Spain, Costa Rica and Czechoslovakia for obvious, but soul destroying, marketing reasons.

Back to the kits and the Belgium shirt change is tame in comparison to what was happening in the Balkans. Perhaps due to ethno-political conflicts in the region limiting supplies of material in the national colours of blue, white and red, Yugoslavia make an appearance eccentrically clad in electric green with black stripes, shorts and green socks. It’s like a forgettable Celtic third kit from 2013 or something.

Justifiable, spontaneous rioting would have surely broken out in several major cities upon the announcement of this kit, uniting broken communities and once again proving football as a vital catalyst for world peace. FIFA(TM) World Peace 2018(TM), sponsored by Kodak(TM).

Lastly for this entry, we see the stocky Italian number 10 Primo has scored for his country and is celebrating. But above him is an image of what appears to be the opposition’s supporters, because they are not looking like they are celebrating with him:

Some have their arms raised but I think it’s more in an angry, fist shaking way, directed squarely at the this flamboyant, Latin gentleman who has just ran past them in arrogant, continental jubilation.

On closer inspection the crowd is nearly entirely, young, smartly dressed men, stood on a terrace with not a team scarf or replica shirt in site and a sinister pitchside fence containing them. Yes, Primo is celebrating on front of a massive 1980’s casual firm.

There actually are a few grandmotherly types in among them, but fair dues they look as up for a row as anyone.

YouTube Link

What Football Is Supposed To Look Like #3 (Gallery)

Our now regular look back on the golden days of yore.

***Click here for Part 1 and here for Part 2***

“Hollywood”, Brazil vs Finland, Friendly, 1986:

Ireland away to Luxembourg, European Championships Qualifier, 1987:

Turkey kits, Turkey away to Italy, Friendly, 1994:

West German boys in green securing the tunnel for West Germany boys in green and Swedish boys in Yellow, West Germany vs Sweden, World Cup 1974:

Classic fencing and (possible grassy knoll) terracing, Austria Vienna vs Laval, UEFA Cup, 1983:

“AiR B’A’RON”, Germany vs Italy, Friendly, 1994:

Packed end and banners, Belgium vs Netherlands, World Cup Qualifier, 1985:

Ticker-tape and confetti pitch, Brazil vs Argentina, Copa America, 1983:

Classic graphics, Norway vs Netherlands, World Cup Qualifier, 1992:

Gargantuan Aztec Stadium, Mexico vs Belgium, World Cup, 1986:

White pitch, orange ball, blue vs red, Arminia Bielefeld vs Bayern Munich, Bundesliga,1981/82:

Supporters safely packed to the cage, Italy vs Malta, European Championships Qualifier, 1987:

People On The Pitch #4: Linfield vs Glentoran, Irish Cup Final, 30/04/1983

After two fairly innocent editions of People On The Pitch (a genteel, all-British affair from 1966 and a French rugby union final from 1979 for crying out loud) we thought it was time to turn sharply back around to a more sinister sort of slant. And where better place to turn than Windsor Park, Belfast in 1983.

While the serious issues of ethno-political tensions and conflict dominated the region, it is perhaps comforting to note that members of the same community also still had time to come together in violence, divided only by what football team they supported. This was particularly evident at the 1983 Irish Cup Final.

Background:

For the uninformed, the “Irish” part of “Irish Cup”, along with “Irish League” and “Irish Football Association”, refers to Northern Ireland. This is because these institutions were founded when the whole of Ireland was still under British rule. Four-fifths of the country broke away from the UK in 1922 to form what would eventually become known as the Republic of Ireland and they would create their own “Football Association of Ireland”, “League of Ireland” and “FAI Cup”.

In the North, which was dominated by those loyal to Britain (mostly of British roots), there continued to be “Irish” stuff, but it was more like “(British) Ireland”. See the “Irishman” Denis Taylor.


Snooker player Denis Taylor.

A sizeable minority of the population in Northern Ireland however were still Irish nationalists who desired a united Ireland. In a sporting context, these folks would have been more likely to have followed the traditional Irish sports of Gaelic football or hurling. And in fact, the infamous, old “rule 27” of the Gaelic Athletic Association stated that members were forbidden from playing or watching “foreign” sports such as association football.

Despite this, there existed football clubs with strong nationalist traditions, such as the lower-league Donegal Celtic, Derry City (who would eventually be forced out of Irish League due to sectarian reasons and join the League of Ireland in 1985) and Cliftonville, who still compete in what is now known as the Northern Ireland Football League Premiership.


Cliftonville supporters in 2016.

Two clubs from a very much British tradition though are Belfast’s Glentoran and Linfield, the top two clubs from Northern Ireland, who were to meet each other in the “Irish Cup Final” of 1983. Both side’s supporters have seen trouble against “Irish identifying” clubs from both sides of the border throughout the years, but games against each other provide the opportunity to imagine a wonderful, Protestant utopia where Northern Ireland was free of the ethnic Irish and the sons of Britannia could just go back to beating the tea out of each other instead.

Indeed there had already been reports of trouble between the two at a game earlier in the season, and a fan had gotten on the pitch at a Northern Ireland vs Albania game a few days before the cup final, also at Linfield’s Windsor Park where the final was to be played.

Most information on our featured incidents comes from a news report the following night, hosted by a Northern Irish newsman (apologies sir, I do not know your name) with guests, and some of their comments are very interesting, but we will come back to that shortly.

The Match:

We learn from the report that the first spark of trouble at the cup final was just after half time when Glentoran’s goalkeeper was subject to a hail of coins, bottles and other projectiles from Linfield’s “spion kop” end.

But it’s two minutes after the game ends (a 1-1 draw demanding a replay in Gelntoran’s ground the following week) that business really picks up, as “groups of youths” (at least they weren’t gangs) invade the field from the Linfield end and rush towards their counterparts:

(Apologies for the poor video quality, turning down screen contrast helped for me)

Anything available to hand is of course thrown (quite possibly objects already launched from their rivals), but the Glentoran fans mobilise quickly and themselves have little issue getting over, or through, the pitchside fence. Engagements of combat are shortly thereafter the order of the day:

Below we see a “Glenman” (in white top) attempt a good, old kick up the arse, but it’s a swing and a miss. However, his colleague swiftly rectifies matters with an unorthodox but fine kick to the inner thigh of the same Linfield target. Sure whatever works, and yes, it is effective as the “kickee” goes down to be feasted on by the vultures:

The kicking continues for some time. But what’s also important to note here is the appearance of several pairs of black and white Adidas trainers, suggesting that casual culture had arrived in Belfast by this point although supporter scarves still seem more prevalent than in England:

Interestingly, the cornerflag is also utilised to great effect as a weapon (although it couln’t hurt THAT much), before a Glentoran fan who is wearing a scarf and hat in club colours (it’s May…), adorned in what maybe an unintentional rasta flag, and moving so slowly to suggest mental anomalies if not sloshed drunk, gets in a cowardly kick for good measure:

Aside from the aforementioned obvious casual influence on the style, the main fashion of the day was of course the skinhead-bootboy look and there are several instances on show from both sides:

But a Linfield skinhead is on the receiving end of what can only be described as an excellent double-team attack. The Glentoran supporter in white top and jeans travels an insane distance with a chair raised above his head, apparently in vein, until his colleague performs a rugby tackle (albeit maybe a foul in rugby, not sure) on the Linfield fan in suspenders who had been running for his life. At this point, the chair-man can strike in a WWF-like attack as if he always knew this was going to happen:

Again a Linfield fan is left helpless to a mass attack, but as the original protagonists in this affair they can’t really complain and they know this.

Menacing reinforcements arrive to save the day, one carrying a 2×4; perhaps the original inspiration for Haksaw Jim Duggan’s WWF character several years later to continue the wrestling theme (or the British Bulldog, considering his fetching, sleeveless, Union Jack muscle top). Humorously, among the many bootboys, the slow Glentoran fan nonchalantly walks into frame again creating a scene like an oblivious time traveler from 1973 has been transported to a futuristic, dystopian wargame, which is basically what it was:

Below we see that a Linfield man, in a suit no less, also has the cornerflag idea (perhaps cornerflags are commonly used in such instances throughout Europe, please send examples), but before he can use it to inflict pain and suffering on his fellow Ulstermen the police are on the scene to start rounding people up and give them a good tongue lashing (not in that way you filthy animal):

Finally things settle down, leaving several bodies strewn across the pitch:

Ok, maybe just the one body, but he is certainly strewn. Lastly, the police arrest some people who aren’t necessarily skinheads, but definitely some very 1980’s Northern Irish men as the pitch is finally cleared:

Back to the studio and our host makes the mandatory “they were not football supporters” statement despite later referring to them as “the fans”, before moving on to the head of the IFA Billy Drennan, who sheepishly explains that his organisation cannot make any comments because the game only finished at 5 o’clock the previous day. Perhaps this implies that he cannot condemn the violence just yet in case it is decided that it was a justifiable action, Billy boys will be Billy boys and all that.

The host next asks about the obviously inadequate fencing at Windsor Park, to which Billy responds after a pause:

“Well….You say it’s inadequate, the fencing at Windsor Park is there as a deterrent for people to come on the playing pitch. But the people get over the fence at Wembley, they get over the fence at Old Trafford…”

Basically admitting that the fence is there for show and can’t actually stop anyone getting over and there’s nothing in the world that can possibly be done about this so fuck it. Billy goes on to lament the fact that the game had been built up as a big occasion between Northern Ireland’s top two only to be marred by the trouble, and that:

“..these two clubs, they both have the same affiliations mainly, and yet a small section of each of these spectators from both clubs had to have a confrontation after the match was finished.”

So now the issue for Billy is that both club’s supporters stem from largely Loyalist backgrounds. Obviously it wouldn’t be so upsetting if one side came from the opposite side of the societal divide. He goes on:

“If that confrontation hadn’t happened at Windsor Park, it would have probably happened down the road or down the street on their way home.”

Billy actually does make sense, as if it’s going to happen (and it is), may as well let it happen on the pitch. Those who want to be involved can easily get over the “deterrent fence”, and those who don’t can safely watch from the comfort of the stands. But if only it was those damn Taigs who were getting the beating, isn’t that right Billy?

Lastly on Billy, when pressed about what can be done to prevent this in the future he basically throws up his hands and asks “What would YOU suggest?”, in a defeated manor. The hosts suggestion of “a higher fence” leaves Billy in silent bafflement:

We now turn to the stern Chief Superintendent of the then Northern Irish police, the “Royal Ulster Constabulary”, Ivan Sterritt. He states that it took his men three minutes to get to the scene after the fracas had begun and in fact praises this response time. Anyone who has been in a fight will know that three minutes is an extremely long time in that environment, but as Ivan states, the police could not have foreseen this event occurring. This displays the innocence of the time even in the midst of an explosive society.

The host in fact asks if it is policy to allow the hooligans to fight it out among themselves on the pitch away from the the general public, but Ivan of course denies this and on the subject of security arrangements for the replay in Glentoran’s Oval ground, with the hint of a smug grin states:

“Next Saturday’s replay will not be at Windsor Park and will not be my responsibility…”

Extra:

Before we leave the topic, it is slightly interesting to note the national designation of some of Northern Ireland’s clubs on Wikipedia and see how they align to their perceived political leaning. And of course, from football clubs to Wikipedia, nearly everything is political.

Starting with Linfield, the club is not listed as being Northern Irish, but based in Northern Ireland:

Looking at another Belfast club with strong British unionist links, Cursaders, “Northern Irish” is in fact used:

Some variation of the above two is used for all members of the NIFL with two exceptions. First, unsurprisingly Clifonville are deliberately classed as an Irish club, not Northern Irish:

But what is slightly surprising is that Glentoran are the other exception, steering clear of the issue altogether:

Lastly, we look at a club mentioned earlier, Derry City. Derry are the one team from across the border to play in the League of the Republic and their ground is quite close to the infamous Bogside, an area synonymous with Irish nationalism. Despite this, and actually having their team name listed in Irish as well as English, they are surprisingly described as a Northern Ireland based club. Particularly odd considering Cliftonville’s Irishness and Glentoran’s ambiguity:

Youtube Link