What Football Is Supposed To Look Like #7: Belgian League Special 1988-1993 (Gallery)

This 7th installment of WFISTLL signals the start of a new phase for both it and our other gallery series, as we will begin to focus on such themes as specific leagues, stadiums, competitions and other aspects. But don’t fear, the original format of a “random” selection of classic scenes shall also continue.
We start this new era with a look at Belgium in the late 80s and early 90s, which it turns out was mostly a lot of riot police, police dogs, fences, pitch invasions, etc…

Scenes From The Gritty Belgian First Division, 1988-1993

Standard De Liege vs RSC Anderlecht, 05/01/1988:

K. Beerschot V.A.C. vs Royal Antwerp FC, 19/03/1988:

Royal Antwerp FC vs RSC Anderlecht, 19/08/1989:

KAA Gent  vs Club Brugge, 11/02/1990:

Club Brugge vs RSC Anderlecht, 1990/1991:

RSC Anderlecht vs Club Brugge, 1990/1991:

KAA Gent vs RSC Anderlecht, 1991:

RFC Liege vs Standard De Liege, 01/03/1991:

RSC Anderlecht vs Racing White Daring Molenbeek, 11/05/1991:

Eendracht Aalst vs KV Mechelen, 1991/1992:

KV Mechelen vs Royal Antwerp FC, 1991/1992:

Standard De Liege vs Club Brugge, 1992/1993:

Standard De Liege vs Royal Antwerp FC, 09/01/1993:

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Sources:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y8_KS4UwYPM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_QMUEimGtfw
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9vVs2QRUlBA
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xjv7DtFJfS8
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KjgV7g7V3L4
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xjv7DtFJfS8
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uTeYBmfTqXo
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3gH6nBz2DDk
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kfZciQ5_F5s
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4RDT06JZXyw
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yipbyy_7f9w
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wyjrW7HgNAo
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hdCeP9HPf_w

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Pyro On The Pitch #12: Real Madrid vs Athletic Club Bilbao, La Liga Primera División, 27/11/1983

After a brief mid-Summer break, we’re back and once again have rotated around to our original flagship series. In the last installment we checked out one of Romania’s unsung supporter communities of the early ’80s, in Universitatea Craiova and their fixture with Hajduk Split in 1983. Now we are going to revisit an encounter that we touched on back in Pyro On The Pitch #9: – Anderlecht vs Real Madrid 1984, while talking about the latter’s immediate prior history.

Background:

In 1920 Madrid FC were given the title “Real” by King Alfonso XIII of Spain, as an officially dubbed royal club of the kingdom. Having  been formed 18 years earlier after a split from a university team, they would go on to represent one of Europe’s great capital cities and become the favoured team of Spanish dictator Franco, who restored the “Real” title after it had been stripped during the years of the Second Spanish Republic, along with the crown on the club’s crest.

On the pitch Real were officially a continental powerhouse since the 1950s when the European Cup began. Success in this competition was appropriate, as the club’s president from 1943-1978, Santiago Bernabéu Yeste, was one of the three men to organise the start of the Cup for UEFA in 1955.

Considering all this, it is no wonder that the club became hugely supported and to house this support was also one of Europe’s biggest stadiums. In that same year of 1955, their Nuevo Estadio Chamartín was renamed to Santiago Bernabéu by the club’s board in honour of their chairman and was expanded from 75,000 capacity to a mammoth 125,000 (over-crowded to nearly 130,000 for a visit of Milan the following year, the ground’s record attendance).


Some of the record breaking 129,690 supporters in the freshly redeveloped Bernabéu, Real Madrid vs AC Milan, European Cup semi-final, 1956.

With their history of royalist-fasicst connections, it is also not surprising that the club’s support base swings to the right. In contrast, Madrid rivals Athletico were formed by Basque students as a feeder club for Athletic Bilbao, who’s Basque-only player policy marks them as a de-facto separatist Pays Basque team in the Spanish league, although there is a strong right-element in the Atheltico Madird support also.

By 1980, the movement of organised young supporter units that had been spreading in Europe reached Spain and Read Madrid’s Ultras Sur were formed. The group were based in the stadium’s South Stand terraces (sur of course meaning south), but rabid, colourful support was common on all sides of the massive ground. An especially large attendance was of course most guaranteed for big European ties.


Home fans celebrate a goal in what would be a 3-0 victory, Real Madrid vs Glasgow Celtic, European Cup quarter final, 1980.0.

100,000 in the Bernabéu for the visit of Spartak Moscow, European Cup 80/81.

A respectable crowd of 65,000 even came to see Real effectively play themselves in the 1980 Cope Del Rey final, also in the Bernabéu, when amazingly they ended up against their B-team Real Madrid Castilla. Unsurprisingly the A-team won 6-1, but hopefully there were a handful of hipster types disgusted by Madrid’s success who staunchly supported Castilla only, akin to a modern wrestling fan preferring NXT over WWE.


Real Madrid vs Castilla, Copa Del Rey final, 1980.

There would be a crowd of nearly twice that of the cup final for the following seasons visit of Internazionale – a slightly more challenging European Cup semi. En route to a 2-0 victory that would help win the tie (ultimately followed by defeat to Liverpool in the final), the home players could be seen scaling the pitch-side fence and saluting the packed Ultras Sur enclosure.


Players celebrate a goal at the South Stand, Real Madrid vs Internazionale, European Cup semi final 1981.

As mentioned, other areas of the ground were also home to passionate supporters. A particular section at the opposite end to the ultras and to the left of a dividing fence in the terrace was often eye catching as a sea of waving flags. But Ultras Sur, with their overtly right-wing leanings, had arrived as the dominant group at the in the stadium and would soon make their presence felt on the pitch as well as in the stands.


Home support in the North Stand enclosure, Real Madrid vs Barcelona, Primera División 83/84.

The Match:

The apparent earliest evidence of Ultras Sur’s ire being directed towards the pitch would feature the visit of the aforementioned Basques of Athletic Bilbao, now long divorced from Real’s crosstown rivals. By the time the two were to meet in a November 1983 league encounter, the Bernabéu stadium had been redeveloped again for the 1982 World Cup and as a result had it’s capacity reduced to “only” 98,000, and then 85,000 for the 83/84 season.

Before the match report we see a cartoon image – accompanied by fantastic classic ’80s theme music which really is worth checking out at the end of the article – of what  appears to be an Athletic player with a flaming torch pulling back a Real player, who’s holding a sign containing the following cryptic message in Spanish:

Today we bore more than yesterday but less than tomorrow.

Unfortunately we only have black and white footage of the match, which makes it  look far older than it is. But as always, the Madridistas are unmistakable with their mostly white tifo material, which is the first sight we see from the stadium:

While we don’t have an attendance figure, the ground seems as packed as for any big game. Indeed Real had finished 2nd the previous year to Bilbao and the two were again main competitors for the title in 83/84. At the north end, the section to the left of the goal is even more densely flagged than as seen above against Bacrelona in the same season:

But of course the main action was to occur at the other “Sur” end of the ground, as while Real attack at some stage in the first half, at least one “Bengal” flare from the crowd lands near the penalty spot. The goalkeeper immediately points an accusatory figure towards the packed terraces behind him and the camera pans up following suit:

The black and white footage makes it hard to see what has happened at first, but the definite billowing of smoke from the pyro gives it away:

We have previously seen a situation at a Spanish home international fixture where a foreign referee happily allowed a match to go on around pyro on the pitch, but in this case the native official stops the game and runs to the touchline to alert the authorities that trouble is afoot:

The announcer of the footage possibly gives an explanation for the action as part of a protest of some sort, but unfortunately as we are not fluent in Spanish this is more of a guess. However if you do understand what is being said, please get in touch!

Back in the stand, fighting among the supporters has also broken out. Whether this is rival factions clashing over the flare being thrown, or something else, is again unclear. On the other side of the parameter fence below, the press quickly assemble to document  the unfolding drama:

Before long, a hand-full of local constabulary are on the scene. But displaying the obvious unreadiness for such an occurrence, they have to sprint from the main entrance to the pitch by the dugout – a common scenario in the era that we have seen several times before:

There may have in fact been more officers already on hand though, as quite quickly the first alleged perpetrator emerges and is forcibly escorted away from the mass of bodies at the front of the stand:

Even in black and white, the fashion of the time is evident by the supporter’s big hair, flared trousers and possibly heeled shoes. He is led away out of the stadium (presumably destined for a physical beating), swiftly followed by another captive who is more obviously a football fan due to his long scarf:

The next arrest is not so easy for the police. It appears an entire regiment have surrounded the Sur-suspect and are leading him away, when a Christ-like fall occurs, quite possibly resulting in some harsh treatment to get him back on his feet:

The football has been continuing as this is going down, but after a half-hearted scan back to the game the cameraman shows that the action off the field is far more captivating, much like the ethos of this very blog. Well done, sir (or should I say, sur):

Also ignoring the match – and in a scene you would be unlikely to see today (partly because most supporters would be taking their own videos and pictures anyway) – the press form a neat phalanx to get the best shot for Monday’s papers:

Having been sufficiently subdued and back on his feet, the supporter is finally led away as the journalist jackals scurry to get one last vantage point of the pathetic, defeated face of football crime:

This was the end of the off-field story, but the remnants of the situation can still be seen later in the game as a slight gap in the crowd is visible in the same section of otherwise congested terrace:

Those of you paying attention earlier will have noticed that the report opened with a spoiler that the match ended 0-0. It would be one of many instances of dropped points for Real Madrid that season that would ultimately cost them cruelly, as Athletic Bilbao took their second consecutive championship only by goal difference. But what may have hurt most for the capital city club was that including Real Sociedad’s two title wins at the start of the decade, it was the fourth year in a row that the title went to a Basque side since Real Madrid themselves had last won it in 1980.

Youtube link.

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Heroic Hang Jobs (Gallery) #3

We now take another enjoyable look at a selection of classic flag and banner hanging efforts from days gone by, highlighting both clubs and countries with arrays big and small, but always heroic.

FC Carl Zeiss Jena vs Sparta Rotterdam, UEFA Cup 83/84, 02/11/1983:




FC Carl Zeiss Jena vs Sparta Rotterdam, UEFA Cup 83/84, 02/11/1983:

Belgium vs Netherlands, World Cup ’86 qualifier, 16/10/1985:

Shamrock Rovers vs Dundalk FC, FAI Cup Final 1987, 26/04/1987:

Spain vs Greece, friendly, 24/09/1986:

Kispest Honvéd vs Nîmes Olympique, Cup Winners Cup 96/97, 26/09/1996:

Kispest Honvéd vs Nîmes Olympique, Cup Winners Cup 96/97, 26/09/1996:

Finland vs England, World Cup ’86 qualifier, 22/05/1985:

Slovenia vs Italy, Euro ’96 qualifier,  07/09/1994:

Universitatea Craiova vs Dacia Unirea Brăila, Romanian Cup Final 1993, 26/06/1993:

 

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Football Special Report #3: Falkirk vs Glasgow Celtic, Scottish Division One, 19/09/1992

Last time on the Football Special Report we looked at a heated clash in Derry from 1994 and some preceding League of Ireland supporter history. We now take a quick hop through time and space across to their celtic (pronounced “keltic”) cousins in the Scotland of 1992, for the quite appropriately named Celtic (pronounced “seltick”) of Glasgow and their hosts Falkirk (proncouned “falkirk”) of Falkirk.

Background:

There are several things of note about today’s featured match that collectively exemplify association football in the era. Besides kit fashion and ground configuration, this included the reality of potential crowd trouble at basically any given game, even if a general downturn had occurred down in England at the end of the ’80s.

But Scotland of course had their own fan culture scene, in which besides the obvious Old Firm and everything that went with it, Aberdeen can claim status as among the godfathers of the casual movement. There is also the anomaly of Dundee and Dundee United Sharing a firm, the excellently named Love Street Division of St. Mirren, and Aberdeen again being able to claim the earliest UK ultras group in the Red Ultras (slightly unimaginatively named in retrospect, but revolutionary for the time).


A display from Aberdeen's Red Ultras from a 2006 game vs Rangers.

Crowd trouble and supporter mischief were already marked issues at Scottish league games by the early 1970s, and this was particularly evident on a day in 1973 when the managers of the two big Glasgow clubs felt compelled to get involved. A newspaper reported that Celtic manager Jock Stein had entered his away fans enclosure at Sterling Albion to lambast young supporters who had been waving an Irish tri-colour and singing Irish rebel songs. At the same time back in Glasgow, Rangers manager Willie Waddell had addressed the Ibrox stadium before their game, including the following as reported by the newspaper:

“It is to the tykes, hooligans, touts and drunkards that I now pin point my message. This is no appeal to their better selves – this is a declaration of war. So you are warned – do not bring alcohol. Do not throw cans. Do not use obscene language. Do not sing provocative songs.”

The innocence of it. On the same day, there had also been trouble at Dumarton FC’s fixture against  Hearts, when visiting supporters were changing ends at half time. Several arrests were made to cheers from the “normal” fans.

At a national level, those down south would quiver in fear at the regular visits of Scottish hordes for British Home Championship games and club encounters alike, with a reputation for drunk and disorderly behavior. Statistically, alcoholism was five times more likely for a Scot than an Englishman as of 1967, and the stereotype was not helped by the likes of a Newcastle vs Rangers Fairs Cup semi-final in 1969 that had to be held up for 20 minutes due to rioting Rangers fans, and a friendly between Aston Villa and Rangers in 1976 that was called off for the same reason (games themselves both worthy of an article, but unfortunately footage does not seem to exist of either).

One of the most famous mass pitch invasions of all time occurred the following year at Wembley, after Scotland secured the Home Championship with a 2-1 victory over England in June 1977. During the celebrations – the highlight of which revolved around the destruction of the Wembley goalposts – commentator John Motson remarked how there had been a pitch invasion of the same sort from the Scots ten years earlier, and while fences were popping up at grounds around the country due to the general increase in crowd trouble, Wembley had yet to install their’s so the visiting supporters were free to encroach again here. He also mentions how these scenes of chaotic jubilation are “so typically Scottish”.


The goals come down as Scotland celebrate the 1977 British Home Nations championship victory in Wembley.

A few months later and the Tartan Army would be on English soil again, this time for a crucial World Cup qualifier away to Wales that was actually played at Liverpool’s Anfield Stadium. Wales had seen crowd trouble of their own when Yugoslavia were the opponents in Cardiff’s Ninian Park in 1976, and as a result the potentially volatile visit of the Scots was moved out of the usual national team home ground. The Welsh FA chose revenue over home-advantage by selecting to play the game across the border at the larger Anfield in order to sell more tickets, rather than Wrexham’s smaller Racecourse Ground.

Unlike Wembley, Anfield was in fact equipped with fences, which was a good thing for those intending to maintain order on the pitch, but in the terraces it was a different matter. The many thousands who had made their way down south for the game erupted into an epic sea of ecstatic chaos on the huge terrace behind the goal for Scotland’s two strikes late in the game, which secured World Cup qualification. Doubtlessly this would have spilled onto the pitch if not for the fences (as we have seen before at the same fixture 11 years earlier in People On The Pitch #2) and the amazing pandemonium demonstrated that a football match was certainly not a “family environment” at this time.


Scotland fans erupt as their side go 1-0 up "away" to Wales at Anfield in October 1977.

But it would be three years later back in Glasgow that Scottish football mayhem would reach it’s nadir, with the 1980 cup final riot between Celtic and Rangers fans. The conflict in Northern Ireland – to which the two clubs were inexorably linked due to their historical community affiliations – was at it’s height, doubtlessly spurring on the already existing tensions between the two huge rivals. After a Celtic victory, things would boiled over on that hot May day in Hampden Park, but as we definitely will be covering this game in full later, we won’t say more until then.


Scenes from 1980 Scottish Cup final riot between Celtic and Rangers supporters.

Throughout the following decade, more ogranised hooligan elements would spring up at Scottish clubs as they were doing throughout Britain, but good old spontaneous break-outs of trouble were still always a possibility. Celtic were again involved in another infamous incident at a UEFA Cup game in the mid-’80s that resulted in their following European fixture being played behind closed doors (again, we will come back to this later).


An empty Celtic Park as Celtic are forced to play Atletico Madrid behind closed doors in the 85/86 Cup Winners Cup.

That bring us up the dawn of the ’90s, and Celtic’s visit to Falkirk FC during the ’92/’93 season. Falkirk were a smaller team (although notably their foundation date of 1876 predates Celtic’s by 12 years) not as well known for violence, and today Wikipedia lists their two modern firms as the Falkirk Fear and Falkirk Yoof; names which ironically don’t really instill much fear at all. But while we’re not going to see any mass chaos at Falkirk here, we however will see how even a single individual can sometimes be enough to stop a match in it’s tracks.

The Match:

The first thing to highlight, as we often like to do, is the kits. Celtic’s Packie Bonner (“Packie” being a colloquial Irish shortening of Patrick) can be seen in a classic early ’90s Umbro goalkeepr strip in delicious yellow and dark green-tones that just hits the spot:

Visible in the above shot is also the fact that supporters in wheelchairs were positioned right beside the grass of the pitch, behind and to the sides of the goal. This seems heartwarming, but then again also indicates a lack of actual facilitates for such fans, as well as the proximity to goal creating a potentially uncomfortable situation if a particularly ferocious shot were to miss the target but connect with a vulnerable fanatic’s face, nearly surely knocking them clean out of their wheelchair if hit sweetly enough.

But anyway, continuing with the visitor’s attire, this was when Celtic were still maintaining the integrity of their sacred green and white hoops by uniquely not allowing numbers on the back of their shirts. Instead, the player’s number appeared on the front and back of their shorts. And despite having them since ’84/’85 season, Celtic were also devoid of a shirt sponsor for some reason in ’92’/93 (in the otherwise same kit as ’91/’92), delightfully making this strip feel even more minimal and retro for the era (retro-within-retro so to speak, and we’re sure someone knows the reason for the lack of sponsor, do get in touch if so!):

The hosts meanwhile were wearing an interesting Hummel kit, the make of which was not immediately obvious, although their recognisable arrows did feature on the sleeves and shorts. It seems Hummel were enthusiastically indulging as much as anyone in the increasingly outlandish nature of early-mid ’90s kits, leaving their sleek, stylish and iconic ’80s catalogue behind. It is perhaps no surprise then that the ’90s would not be a kind decade for them, but never the less the navy/white/red configuration of the Falkirk kit is a winner (and anyway, we like outlandish kits, and Hummel):

So that’s our early ’90s gear covered. As far as the ground itself – that being Falkirk’s old Brockville Park – the home fan’s main standing element were located on the small terrace behind the goal of the left, and a portion of the stand under the camera where police kept a watchful eye:

The sizable visiting support occupied terrace at the other end of the ground, and were also packed right around into the other end of the camera-side stand:

It would be at the away end that the first drama of the game would occur, when in the 27th minute Celtic defender Tony Mowbray used his hand to prevent the ball going into an empty net while Bonner was in no-mans-land. The future manager of Celtic among other clubs, Mowbray was promptly sent-off and the resulting spot-kick was converted much to the glee of the home support:

But it was extremely short lived joy, as only a minute later Celtic broke through the Falkirk defence and goalkeeper Gordon McDougall brought down attacker Andy Peyton in the box for another penalty. From this stemmed our main issue of the day, as while a Falkirk player tried to argue in vein with veteran referee Martin Clark, a small missile (perhaps a coin) was launched from the home end and connected with Clark right on the head:

As you can see, the player didn’t even seem to notice that anything was wrong at first, even as the ref was doubled over in pain, and acted like an awkward child around a parent who has just injured themselves doing DIY. Finally some linesmen and a slightly more concerned Celtic player come over and signal that assistance is needed for the distressed Clark:

The game was held up for a few minutes while medical treatment was given, and the veteran  ref – who doubtlessly had already experienced his fair share of football “rowdies” – was eventually able to continue. But as we mentioned earlier, here was an example of a “random” lower-key match (albeit massive for Falkirk due the visit  of one of the country’s biggest clubs) that had to be delayed due to the crowd; or in this case, a singe member of the crowd.

Celtic’s penalty was converted successfully, and as a result we can see thrugh the fan reaction that were was a decent percentage of those behind the goal who were in fact away fans:

Early in he second half, goals form both sides made it 2-2, before a frantic few minutes had the score at 4-3 going in to the last twenty minutes of the game (including an assist by a Falkirk player who had just lost his boot). After a sending off for the home side and another goal for Celtic to make things even once again (in both number of players and scoreline), a last minute goal from captain John Collins made it 5-4 to the Glasgow outfit, sparking an epic eruption from the away terrace:

As the players celebrated, we see that plenty of Celtic fans were also lactated in the main stand opposite the camera, meaning their huge traveling support were inhabiting at least parts of all four sides of the ground. The final whistle blew shortly afterwards to end the crazy game, which had seen it all:

Through a trouble lens, there was not outright chaos as in days gone by (although clearly a good atmosphere), but like with the Football Special Report #2 in Ireland, it was obvious that football in the early ’90s didn’t need oragnised gangs or per-ordained violence for incidents to still occur.

Youtube link

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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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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.

Bonus: 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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