Heroic Hang Jobs #1 (Gallery)

Welcome to the debut edition of our newest gallery series, where in a spin off of What Football Is Supposed To Look Like (and there may be a slight bit of overlap here or there but that’s ok) we celebrate the increasingly lost art of flag and banner hanging.

In modern stadiums, we regularly see soulless competition branding uniformly adorning any available space (well, “we” don’t), making every ground look the same in many tournaments. Even where this isn’t the case, there is often an uncomfortable slickness to the production and hanging techniques of banners by some big, modern day supporters groups, impressive though they still may be. Here we shall look back to a time when this wasn’t the case, when chaos and home-made were king, and the noun “smattering” was amongst the most apt to describe the banner-hanging glory of the era.

Young Boys Bern vs Den Haag, UEFA Cup, 04/11/1987:

Lithuania vs Ireland, World Cup Qualifier, 10/09/1997:

Poland vs Norway, World Cup Qualifier, 13/10/1993:

Getafe vs Real Avilés, Segunda División B, 08/04/1990:

Anderlecht vs Tottenham Hotspur, UEFA Cup Final, 09/05/1984:

CIS vs Germany, European Championships, 12/06/1992:

Luxembourg vs Greece, World Cup Qualifier, 12/10/1993:

Pyro On The Pitch #9: Anderlecht vs Real Madrid, UEFA Cup 3rd Round-1st Leg, 28/11/1984

We first came across Anderlecht back in People On The Pitch #1, with the infamous visit of Aston Villa to the then Emile Versé Stadium in 1982. Like with their Dutch, German and French neighbours, supporter mischief had no doubt been progressively observed through traveling British support at games such as this.

In a culture like Belgium’s, where not all was as innocent as it would seem, this influence would converge with growing youth cultures and continental Europe’s own unique supporter style to manifest in intimidating atmospheres that on their night could stand equal with their international equivalents, especially on big European occasions.

Background:

Just over a year after the Villa game (a European Cup semi-final defeat on aggregate), Anderlecht cemented their place as one of Europe’s top clubs by beating Benfica in the 1983 UEFA Cup final, graduating from Cup Winner’s Cup wins in ’76 and ’78. We shall take this moment to lament the loss of the Cup Winners Cup, which was a great competition in our eyes and can also be celebrated for having the word “cup” in it’s name twice (and also shares an acronym with another great institution of our time). On the other hand, it would obviously be ruined by now anyway so maybe it’s better off left in our memories.


Anderlecht supporters celebrate at the conclusion of the 1983 UEFA Cup Final.

En route to a second successive UEFA Cup final the following season, a third round fixture against RC Lens in November ’83 would prove that English teams needed not to be involved for trouble to spark at European games. First, in an incident which must again be covered if we ever follow through on a “Projectiles on the Pitch” series, a rock apparently thrown from the home Lens supporters caused a back-passed ball to bauble past Anderlecht goalkeeper Jacques Munaro and into the net:

This had come in the 89th minute, only two minutes after the Belgians themselves had scored to take the lead, and naturally chaotic scenes followed with Munaro clutching the offending rock and several beer cans also thrown from the terraces. After the final whistle the Anderlecht support retaliated, launching projectiles of their own at a home section resulting in riot police moving in:

As with Villa in Belgium in ’82, Anderlecht now knew what it was like to be antagonists faced with local constabulary on foreign soil. They were eventually defeated in the 1984 final by Tottenham Hotspur, where in the home leg at least one supporter had to be stretchered away. For the sake of narrative, we are going to assume this was a result of malicious actions:

This would prove the end of Anderlecht’s golden age on the pitch, as to date they have not reached another final in European competition. But supporter culture in Belgium was still on the rise, as would be evident in our featured match.

Meanwhile, for their part, supporters of Real Madrid were also already known to be no angels. The foundation of Ultras Sur had come in 1980 and disturbances at games such as against Athletic Bilbao on November 26th, 1983, (which we will revisit at a later date) resulted in police intervention in the Bernabeu:

The Game:

If this was an actual football website, I’d probably say something about how Anderlecht were unlucky to come up against eventual winners Real Madrid in the third round of the ’84/’85 UEFA Cup, perhaps prematurely preventing the expected progress of the previous few seasons. But I wouldn’t know about that. What is true is that the visit of the Spanish giants (ugh, what a cliché, sorry), a year and 5 days after the toxic game in Lens, provided the perfect scene for a hot atmosphere (perhaps hot like a pyronical device) in what would be a famous European night for the Belgian giants.

By this time, the Emile Versé had been revamped and renamed as the Constant Vandan Stock Stadium, which would be more heroic if it wasn’t named after the reigning club chairman of the time, although I’m just going to assume he was a lovely man (I guess I’m also assuming he must be dead by now). Whatever the name, 41,000 were packed into the beautifully classic, compact ground on November 28th, 1984, eager to witness the first leg battle of what may well have been Europe’s top two white and purple clad sides.

The home team went 1-0 up on the 65th minute through Vandenbergh, cueing great noise from the Constant Vandan Stock Stadium faithful. A mere minute later, Czerniatynski (yes, the names are irrelevant, but they’re good names) doubled the Belgian’s lead with a nice header, causing a jubilant, ecstatic orgy of denim in the terrace behind the goal to which he ran, with at least one supporter making it out of the enclosure:

With a big victory now in their sights, the density of the passionate home support could be seen even at the halfway line of the pitch. Flags flew from within an uncomfortably tight mass of bodies as police kept a watchful eye:

In the 85th minute, a penalty converted by Vercauteren made it 3-0 to Anderlecht, putting them in an excellent position going into the away leg in Madrid a fortnight later (I mean I would say that if this was a football site). One Real Madrid player displayed extreme petulance in response to this by crankily slamming the football to the ground:

With the win on the night now all but secured, it would be only fitting that pyro should make it’s way on to the pitch, perhaps as a beacon representing the historical magnitude of the game.

And this is exactly what happened as a flare swiftly appeared in the Anderlecht box, with a “smoking gun” effect from the section of support parallel to the box seeming the suggest the origin:

Contrary to being phased (of course, since he was an 80’s footballer), an Anderlecht player nearly appeared to halfheartedly perform some soccer skills on the the flaming phallice before it naturally reached the end of it’s life and burned out, content in death having fulfilled it’s ultimate destiny:

But as the flare burned out, so too would Anderlecht’s European hopes that season as they would lose the tie after a dismal 6-1 defeat in the return leg. At least that’s the kind of crappy metaphor I would probably use if this was an actual football website. Instead, their inclusion here has earned them a sort of intangible, metaphysical, hyper-dimensional honour, greater than could ever hope to be achieved through sport.

Youtube link 1
Youtube link 2
Youtube link 3
Youtube link 4

Aesthetically Pleasing Moments From Video Game Football History #6

Welcome to episode 6 of the series now known colloquially as APMFVGFH (Pyro On The Pitch is not hashtag friendly). Today we shall be casting an eye back to 1993 and the Acclaim title Champions World Class Soccer for the Sega Genesis (released on Super Nintendo the following year).

After giving a quick, respectful nod to the nice intro screen above, we are immediately turning our attention to the team select screen. Here I want to exclaim “The colours! The lush, beautiful colours!” for that’s what is in my heart. I love screens like this with a collage of national team flags and general blocky, chunky goodness:

Now several things may have jumped out to the eagle eyed among us, such as the marvelously lavish coat of arms on the Austrian flag. But first we will start with the fact that the two Ireland kits seem to be reversed, as you would imagine the home green shirt would be on the left. Going to Sweden we can indeed see that their yellow and blue home kit is on the left, meaning that white must be Ireland’s nominated home shirt:

France are in a similar position to Ireland with their traditional home shirts of blue reversed with the white usually used for aways, but red shorts have been allocated to both:

Things only become more confusing when some other big guns of European football are consulted. At least with Ireland, the kits are technically correct in terms of colours, just designated wrong. This is not the case for the likes of Germany and Spain, who’s traditional white/black/white and red/blue/black are both replaced with yellow/red/yellow (inversed for the aways). The only difference is that the stripes on the shoulders of the German shirt are black, while they are red on the Spanish equivalent:

Clutching at straws here, but again at least the Spanish away shirt resembles the real life home one, and Germany have used red shirts for both home and away in the past. But the situation over at Italy is inexcusable as they have been given a white and red home kit, and even more jarringly, green and white for the away kit:

Despite the fact that green, white and red are the colours of the Italian flag (and honestly anyone who didn’t already know that can get out right now) this does not sit well with us. For some reason green on an Italy kit is even worse than yellow on Germany and Spain. But it’s becoming clear that the game was designed for folks who weren’t too well up on European kit traditions and indeed probably would have been confused as to why Italy would be wearing blue, or why Germany would be wearing white when their national colours are black, red and yellow. However, this doesn’t explain why Spain should have their primary flag colour of red relegated to their away shirt, and the same goes for the green that is most associated with Ireland.

The developers probably did not imagine such a harsh critique of their creative liberties 25 years after the game came out and you would think nothing more needs be said on the matter, yet on we go. By the above logic regarding uneducated gamers, it is to be expected that Australia don’t have their usual sporting yellow and green. The white and red theme used instead is in a way an even worse offense than Italy, for at least there the combined colourways are reminiscent of the Italian flag. But I think it’s safe to say that nobody would ever associate white and red, or red and white, with an Australian team:

One of the more humerous cases is that of Russia, where the only difference in their home and away kits is the shade of blue on the shirt and socks. Utterly useless in the event of a clash:

But most curious is the situation with the UK countries. You may have noticed earlier that the main thing of note regarding the flags, besides Austria’s marvelously lavish coat of arms, is the lightened, reversed Scotland flag that now resembles some sort conceptual, diagonal Finnish design (similar to how Italian TV redesigned the Welsh flag in real life 1994). Even stranger is their kit selection of white and orange for the home, while orange and black for the away is actually true enough to something Scotland would wear:

As you can see from the flags, a “close enough” flag for Wales is present indicating their inclusion, but no England or Northern Ireland. Instead there is a Union Jack, which at first you assume is being mistakenly used for just England. But when selected, although the kits do suggest England, we can see from the “GBR” abbreviation that this is Great Britain herself:

There is only one answer to what is happening here and for this we must once again delve into an alternative timeline. Clearly, the United Kingdom has broken up and the monarchy fallen. Wales is a fully independent state, while civil war in Scotland has caused a partition of the country. Half has become a new independent Scotland, as represented by the flag and team above, while the other half has been amalgamated with England and Northern Ireland into the new Orwellian rump state of Great Britain.

Moving on (don’t worry, we’re nearly finished) from the team select we briefly get a really nice, atmospheric, black and white image of a packed stadium, which has been underlaying the team select screen the whole time:

After this we get an extremely handsome and charming French man giving us the run down on today’s featured encounter between Bolivia and Israel, a main event anywhere in the world. I will do my best translation attempt below:

“Welcome to the first match of the preliminaries. Fresh from their recent dance tour, the Bolivians face the Israelites. The participation of the Bolivians…”

There our text cuts off but I’m going to assume that the rest of that sentence ran something like “…had been in doubt due to several serious dancing injuries.”

Finally, we shall take one look at the actual match itself, and like some of the above mentioned teams we can see that Bolivia are also in an unfamiliar white and red strip. On the off chance you were wondering, this proves that the kits on the left in the team select screen were the home ones as this was the case for Bolivia (not pictured). We have chosen two images to display the cool clock system used for timing the match, as well images close to the sideline to show the most important thing: the virtual crowd: