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

International Duty: Club Group Banners At National Team Games #2 (Gallery)

In this series we take a look at the days when club colours were nearly more likely to adorn the stands than that of the country at some international games. For part the previous installment, click here.

Chile vs Brazil, World Cup Qualifier, 1989:
“Barra Juvenil” of Deportes Valdivia

Italy vs Wales, friendly, 1994:
“Freak Brothers”, “Fedayn”, “Brigate” and others of Ternana


Noteworthy: Like with Perugia as seen in International Duty #2, hammer and sickle and other left wing symbols appear at an Italy game:

Noteworthy 2: Apparently Italian TV decided that Wales flag was that of an inversed Scotland flag:

Poland vs Norway, World Cup Qualifier, 1993:
Banners of Bałtyk Gdynia, Lech Poznan and other Polish clubs

Germany vs Italy, friendly, 1995:
“Blue Boys” (club unknown), “Red Munichs” of Bayern Munich, “VfB Fans Gerlingen” of VfB Stuttgart, and others

Italy vs Croatia, European Championships Qualifier, 1994:
“Fossa”, club unknown (game in Palermo):

Cold War Classic #3

You now love Pyro On The Pitch as an international institution, but did you know that we also contribute to the wonderful MuseumOfJersey.com? The third 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.

*


Cold War Classic no. 3 – France v USSR, 1972

“A World Cup qualifier in Paris on October 10, 1972 between France and the Soviet Union was one of 12 meetings in total between the two before the latter would cease to exist. At a time when diplomatic relations were strained between east and west, such friendly sporting relationships must have only strengthened ties between peoples divided by competing political systems, with sport acting as a lingua franca to remind humanity of it’s common ground.

No matter your skin colour, religious background, social class or ideology, worldwide appreciation for a good old game of ball showed us that at the end of the day we were all the same (that is, a weird, mostly hairless, over-evolved primate thing with a universal fascination for this possibly esoteric activity)….”

Read on:
https://museumofjerseys.com/2017/12/07/cold-war-classic-no-3-france-v-ussr-1972/

 

Champagne Kit Campaigns #1: Norway 1992/93, World Cup ’94 Qualification

Continuing on from Retro Shirt Reviews, we have another new feature here for the “kit-interested” as we perform a detailed break down of what some selected nations wore for historic qualifying campaigns or tournaments.

Background:

Norway started 1992 in Hummel. The brand is usually more associated with neighbours Denmark, but they had also produced kits for the Norwegians since the early 80’s. Fittingly it was against Denmark in a friendly in April that Norway would last wear a Hummel kit, in this case an all-white away ensemble:

(They actually may have played one more time in Hummel, against the Faroe Islands the following month, but unfortunately no visual evidence appears to be available for this match.)

Soon the switch was made to Adidas, who had been the previous kit provider before Hummel took over. Norway adopted a template similar to what Arsenal would wear form 1992-94, but with the addition of stripes down the sleeves. Both a Norwegian flag crest and federation logo were on the chest, and interestingly a traditional Adidas trefoil  instead of the new Adidas Equipment logo, as seen against Sweden in August in the last friendly game before qualifying began:

The employment of the trefoil is an odd instance, since the Equipment logo had already been in use for a year with Liverpool being an early adopter in 1991, and Euro 1992 saw the participation of several nations featuring the new branding. Why then it was decided to go with the old logo for the new Norway contract  is anybody’s guess, especially since it was not the case on basically the same shirt with Arsenal and Germany. However, Norway were not alone in this feature for qualifying in Europe as both the Faroes and Portugal used a similar template with a trefoil (and in the case of Portugal would be worn all the way until late 1994).

Norway, 1994 FIFA World Cup qualification, UEFA Group 2

England
Netherlands
Poland
Norway
Turkey
San Marino

Match 1, at home to San Marino, Sep ’92:

Norway’s previous and only appearance at a World Cup before this was in 1938 where they played one, lost one. But in 1992 they were about to enter a golden age that would include two World Cup appearances in ’94 and ’98, a defeat to Brazil in the latter of these, and a spot at Euro 2000, as well as several high profile international stars. This road would so being with a 10-0 trouncing of San Marino in the traditional colours of red shirts, white shorts and navy socks:

The stripes on the sleeves that break through the red and navy flashes are what set this shirt apart from the other similar designs already mentioned and here we get a good look at it’s glory:

Another anomaly is the use of traditional Adidas striped numbering which had been introduced back in the 70’s, and like with the trefoil, had been mostly phased out in the rest of Europe including on the likes of Portugal’s kits. However, we are of course not complaining:

Match 2, at home to Netherlands, Sep ’92:

In a group that also featured England, 4th seed Norway confirmed themselves as serious challengers for a qualification with an unexpected 2-1 against the Dutch, who wore their change kit to avoid a clash of orange with Norway’s red:

Match 3, away to San Marino, Oct ’92:

A 2-0 win away to San Marinese was next in a tiny ground which looked like it was on the side of the road, and that you’d hardly believe was holding an international fixture. Heroic:

Match 4, away to England, Oct ’92:

The win streak came to an end away to England a few days later, but Norway earned an important draw to stay undefeated. Since goalkeeper shirts are harder to find evidence of, we won’t really be covering them as much in this series but here we can see a green ‘keeper top being used at the time:

Match 5, at home to Turkey, Apr ’93:

Norway returned to winning ways in 1993 with a 3-1 defeat to a white and red clad Turkey at home:

The striped numbers were still in use:

Match 6, at home to England, Jun ’93:

Another big step towards qualification came with a famous 2-0 win over the English in June as the kit saw it’s first alteration with block numbers now replacing the stripes:

Match 7, away to Netherlands, Jun ’93:

The first deviation from the red/white/navy would come a few days later as a change kit was now needed away to the Dutch. En route to an important 0-0 draw, a lovely white version of the shirt was used with red shorts along with the navy home socks:

After the change of numbering on the home shirt, the striped numbering was back:

We can also see here that the goalkeeper shirt had been updated to a design that at first glance you would not assume was made by Adidas (although higher res photos of the shirt show that it was):

Side note: This game was not actually the first appearance for the away shirt. It had been worn along with white shorts and socks in a friendly against Scotland back in June ’92 (side note to the side note: it was my 6th birthday the day that match was played) in what may have been Norway’s first appearance in this Adidas run, depending on that Faroe Islands game which preceded it. I hadn’t mentioned it earlier so I could save it as a little extra surprise for now:

Match 8, at home to Poland, Sep ’93:

A win 1-0 at home to Poland in September was enough to secure qualification against the odds. But the more important thing is that the striped numbers were back on the home shirt, showing the block numbers used against England was presumably a one off mix-up rather than a change of artistic direction:

Match 9, away to Poland, Oct ’93:

With qualification now in the bag, a win was still needed to secure top spot in the group. Norway comfortably achieved this with a 3-0 win away to Poland; comfortably due to their sweet kits that is (at least in the sense that they were comfortable with their outward appearance if not physically, although I’m sure this was fine also). With the two sides already having met in their regular attires in Oslo, one would have assumed the same situation here, but due to an over abundance of red and white Norway delightfully elected to don royal blue shorts instead of their normal white. This makes me very happy:

Yes, the numbers are stills striped:

Again the stadium is not exactly what you’d expect from a World Cup qualifier, which is a major plus to us:

Match 10, away to Turkey, Nov ’93:

The pressure was now off and Norway could afford to suffer their first and only loss of the campaign, away to Turkey in their last game. And in the rain, they would see one more different kit combination. Similar to the Poland games, presumably there had been too much red and white for comfort in the earlier tie and again Norway now used change shorts. This time navy to match the socks rather than royal blue:

And for completion, the famous striped numbering was of course still employed:

Breakdown:
Team: Norway
Kit Supplier: Adidas
Years: 1992, 1993
Competitive Games: 10
Combinations used: 4

Pyro On The Pitch #7: Brazil vs Chile, World Cup Qualifier, 03/09/1989

Over time, World Cup qualification in South America has been consolidated into a pretty cool and unique system that sees all countries play each other twice in a league format. The top four sides earn qualification and the fifth advances to an inter-continental play-off. Before this, for the ’94 campaign when the World Cup had less teams, it had been two groups of four and five teams with three automatic qualification spots along with the play-off for the next best side.

But before THAT, for 1990, it had been three groups of three with only two guaranteed qualifying places and the play-off for the worst group winner. It was this system that saw Brazil face Chile in the last game of qualification in Group 3 on 3rd September, 1989. With the sides even on points, a spot in the following year’s World Cup was on the line.

Background:

The previous meeting in the group between the two sides had taken place less than a month earlier in Santiago and had been marred by a controversial Chilean equaliser in the 81st minute. After the Brazilian goalkeeper apparently holds on to the ball for too long, an indirect free kick is awarded inside the box and Chile quickly take advantage of the confusion to score:

In a classic, old school South American scene, pandemonium reigns on the touchline with a heard of generals (I’m just going to say they were all generals) and of course journalists surrounding an incensed Brazilian management team, and I think there’s a FIFA official in there somewhere:

The last competitive game between the two nations before that was also an embarrassment for Bazil, with a 4-0 Chilean victory in the 1987 Copa America:

The Match:

So all this made for an extra spicy occasion for that crucial last game of Group 3 in ’89, as a nauseating 141,072 spectators filled (well, not even filled) the world famous Estádio do Maracanã:

As was more common in those days, supporters of local sides proudly display their clubs colours rather than Brazilians flags in a move that would absolutely baffle some modern football fans:

Due to superior goal difference, a draw would do Brazil to go through and they increase the likelihood of this by going 1-0 up on the 49th minute to much jubilation:

With time running out for Chile, a commotion can suddenly be heard from the crowd in the 67th minute as the ball is being played around the Chilean half. The camera cuts and we see that Chilean goalkeeper Roberto Rojas is writhing on the ground clutching his face with smoke billowing around him like a literal smoking gun. It seems apparent that some pyro has indeed been thrown on the Maracanã pitch:

Roajas teammates surround him in concern and gesture in dismay at no one in particular:

As the Chilean physio tends to the injured party, one of the other players performs a staple of the classic, angry athlete with an “up yours” gesture towards the offending supporter, or maybe at Brazil in general:

An action replay (in this case a supporter action) shows the offending flare, whitish green in colour, fizzing away. Unfortunately they weren’t quick enough to catch the actual moment of impact but this is good enough for me:

After some moments of deliberation, the referee makes the decision to abandon the match as Rojas is carried off with a bloody face. As this was in the days before stretchers were invented, his team mates carry him in a huddled mass as if he was a martyred comrade in a depressing Middle Eastern conflict:

Naturally the crowd are not at all happy and quickly become pensive, as the implication is that the game will now be awarded to Chile, meaning qualification for them and an unthinkable elimination for Brazil. The Chilean team disappear down the tunnel (which is actually more like a big hole at the side of the pitch) surrounded by the press, apparently on their way to the World Cup in Italy:

But something clearly wasn’t right. Any logical thinking person will have wondered why an attack would have occurred by a Brazilian, knowing it may well disrupt the match and Brazil’s qualification hopes, when Chile would have needed two unlikely goals at the time to knock Brazil out. And lo and behold, shock horror, after an investigation it turns out the whole thing was a ruse. Through video evidence it was revealed that the flare never actually hit Rojas, who feigned injury and cut himself with a razorblade hidden under his glove in a move straight out of a worked professional wrestling match.

A treacherous Brazilian named Rosemary had been had been hired by Chilean manager Orlando Aravena and team doctor Daniel Rodriguez to participate in the cunning scheme. How she was acquisitioned is not known (well, I mean by me, somebody knows), but she was perhaps chosen on the basis of her excellent throwing skills, as despite not exactly hitting her target it was one hell of a shot. So maybe there was some sort of trial under the guise a free public flare throwing exhibition, used as a recruiting scheme by Chileans who had infiltrated Brazilian society.

With the brazen plan having backfired embarrassingly, the game was forfeited as a 2-0 victory to Brazil while Chile were punished with expulsion from the next World Cup qualifying campaign, along with lifetime bans for Rojas, Aravena, and Rodriguez. But the incident shows that by the late 1980’s, the social phenomenon of football crowd trouble was so fully woven into the fabric of society where the game was popular, that it would inevitably be subverted and used as a tool by some within football themselves. Corruption like this is of course usually the result of a hideous lust for profit, which would have been plentiful if the desired goal of World Cup Qualification had been achieved.

Youtube Link 1
Youtube Link 2
Youtube Link 3

Aesthetically Pleasing Moments From Video Game Football History #4

In a slight twist to this edition of APMFVGFH, we take a look at one of everyone’s favourite football games, the godly Championship Manager 01/02. But it gets even twistier as here we have a save game from the distant, dystopian hell-age of 2027.

This particular game, or rather career, started hilariously. I took over the reigns of Dover to begin with and within two seasons had them finishing 21st in the Conference, meaning relegation. But I was then somehow hired by by Dagenham and Redbridge who, to my surprise and delighted, had actually been promoted to the Football League. This of course was insanely undeserved and the people of Dover were not too pleased with the whole situation as I shrugged and legged it, leaving their club to die.

We’re going to take a look at who’s been winning some of the more interesting leagues and competitions up to 2027, but first briefly a stop back in the hazy, distant, vague past of 2012 and this fantastic anomalous, asymmetrical Northern Ireland formation that does not feature anyone on the left of midfield which makes my heart sing. The team had made the quarter finals of both the 2008 Euros and 2010 World Cup but after one more World Cup group stage appearance in 2014, their stock seemed to dry up.

Now to the leagues and first to Spain. Unsurprisingly Barcelona and Real Madrid dominate…

…until the duopoly is broken for an interesting few years in 2016 onwards by Levante, Recreativo and deservedly Malaga who had finished 2nd for three of the previous four seasons. After this it was back to the big two again:

Grim. In the Netherlands the situation was even more grim with PSV Eindhoven running roughshod, aside from an isolated title win here and there from Ajax and Feyenoord:

But eventually the tables are turned on PSV as Feyenoord emerge as the new top dogs securing an incredible 10 league titles in 11 years. After finishing runners up nine times in the preceding years, this must have been a bitter sweet period of success as it would have gotten quite boring after a while and made their supporters question what was the point in even supporting a team if they were just going to go ahead and win all the time. Aside from the big three, Utrecht, De Graafschap and Vitesse also provided some unexpected but ultimately unfruitful, token challenges:

In England, a similar situation seemed to be developing as Manchester United also scooped 10 championships in 11 years. Arsenal were their main titles rivals during this time and were the team to finally end 5-in-a-row title win streaks in both in 2004 and 2010, but it would be the Leeds who would emerge to take the next three.

Another hat-trick of league wins was to come next, this time from Wolves, but the era of single teams dominating for years suddenly ends here. Perhaps this was due to some sort of economic collapse and/or disease outbreak. Man Utd and Leeds disappear as title contenders, as do Arsenal apart from a brief flirtation back at the top with a title win in 2020. After Wolves period of success, the league is blown wide open with clubs now finding it impossible to win two or more in a row. The supporters of Ipswich, Coventry, Birmingham, Middlesbrough, and Crystal Palace will have no doubt moaned bitterly about this only 12 months after celebrating manically as their sides took up unexpected league wins. And as of the “present day” you will see that a Dag&Red side, amazingly still managed by an apparently ageless yours truly 25 years after being hired, has risen up the ranks from Conference wastemen to lords of the manor.

We now jump across to Italy and Roma were able to take 6 league titles in a row, with the runners-up of the latter four being their fierce rivals Lazio. But the next four years would see Lazio take the scudeto and revenge over Roma who would be runners up for the first three of these. But again they would come back and pip Lazio in 2011 before another Lazio win in 2012 to finish off a crazy era. The following season saw Juventus finally became the first side from outside the capital to pick up a championship in 13 years.

Inter, Parma, Fiorentina and Napoli would steal championships in the following seasons, while the aforementioned three also remained strong. What is most noteworthy from these later years is that Parma could just never again capture the form that led to their title win and went through an agonising period of 7 second place finishes in 9 years.

The European Championships would see a couple of somewhat surprise runners-ups, first with Turkey suffering defeat to Italy in 2004, followed in 2008 by what must have been a tasty affair as Ireland were beaten by England in Scotland. France and the Netherlands would trade championships and 2nd place for the next two tournaments before Sweden would emerge as back to back winners, somewhat reliving their national golden age of 1611-1648 (in war and such, this was before football).

The Swedes though could not translate this form to the global stage. The World Cup would become as boring as most leagues as 2014 saw France claim their fifth bloody title in a row, and would return to champion status in the latest edition after a restbite period which saw first Argentina as champions, and then, delightfully, Croatia. Also worth mentioning that Canada as World Cup 2018 hosts was a selection which took many observers by surprise.

Well that about covers it. To be fair when I said we would be looking at some interesting leagues earlier, it probably would have been more accurate if I had said “some very lopsided and boring one horse (or two horse or three horse) leagues in a theoretical video game universe which is utterly pointless except to point out that the game mechanics may have been slightly flawed when played out over a long period of time”. But then again that exact statement can also be applied to the actual “reality” that we are living in right now, so I don’t know.

Before signing out for this longer than usual APMFVGFH, I am happy to let you know that Dag&Red still sit proudly atop the Premier League and yours truly has just received yet another accolade, hopefully en route to picking up a second league title in a row.

But my greatest accomplishment had come the season before as I guided the team to victory in what was undoubtedly the greatest UEFA Cup Final the world would ever know, beating Gillingham:

(To be honest it’s been a couple years since I played this save and don’t remember alot about it, apart from A: That it was the first time ever playing a Championship Manager or Football Manager that I actually really looked up the best ways to do tactics and training and such after having been infamously bad for years at these games. And B: I was playing just before, during and after a break up and may have been using my career as a coping mechanism which probably explains my long tenure. Surely not the first or last to use football to stave off existential dread.)

What Football Is Supposed To Look Like (Gallery) #2

The second installment of this HOT new series where we get straight to the aesthetics of real football! (For #1, click here)

Unorthodox stadium layout and muddy box, Hungary vs Cyprus, European Championships Qualifier, 1987:

Classic keeper, Austria away to Sweden, World Cup Qualifier, 1973:

Band, teams, press and officials, Sweden vs West Germany, World Cup, 1974:

Packed Cold War era bowl, Bulgaria vs Belgium, European Championships Qualifier, 1987:

Insanely packed terrace and classic replay “R”, Scotland away to Wales, European Championships Qualfier, 1977:

Dutch flags, Netherlands vs Hungary, European Championships Qualifier, 1987:

Quintessential old school score board, Romania vs Austria, European Championships Qualifier, 1986:

Birmingham hooligans pose mid-riot to have picture take, Birmingham City vs Stoke City, Third Division, 1992:

People On The Pitch #3: RC Narbonne vs Stade Bagnérais, French Rugby Union Championship Final, 27/05/1979

After some rather quaint and joyous pitch invasions in People On The Pitch #2, we are going in an even more innocent and novel direction here as for the first time on this site we are bending the rules to feature a sport which is not association football. Sorry for this, but it does a good job of highlighting the state of supporter culture in general in France heading towards the 1980’s, which was undoubtedly spearheaded by the football scene.

Some great footage exists of the ’79 French rugby union final, and it’s proceeding festivities. Founded in 1907, eventual champions RC Narbonne had only won the trophy once before, in 1936, but had recently been knocking on the heavy oak door of success again as defeated finalists in 1974. Their opponents, Stade Bagnérais, will probably cease to be mentioned from this point on, so my apologies to any of their supporters who may be reading but I’m already pushing it by including rugby at all so be grateful you even received a mention.

Narbonne is in the Occitanie region of France and a large contingent of their orange and black clad supporters (reminiscent of my old primary school’s sports colours) had traveled up the length of the country to Paris from their Mediterranean base. The Champs-Élysées was a natural gathering point and with the Arc de Triomphe standing prophetically in the background, some supporters are in bloody fine spirits:

Amidst much flag waving and general boisterousness one of the novel objects brought to support the team is a creepy baby doll, and one man has apparently gone to the effort of constructing and transporting a painting easel in the club colours:

Upon closer inspection, it appears as if the device has wheels and is possibly a bike or wheelbarrow, although the up-right “RCN” suggests that held in it’s intended position for use:

Some pyro in the form of a flare is released, it’s flames presumably emulating the supporters intense burning desire for victory here. As we saw way back in the bonus section of Pyro On The Pitch #2, French football was already familiar with pyro by this era and it had clearly even been adopted by supporters of clubs in other codes.

Well, I said Stade Bagnérais weren’t going to get another mention but this heroic chap has melted my heart, proudly risking his life by waving his team’s white and black isolated in the middle of a Narbonne ocean:

The next important thing to know is that some people from a running club were out running that day. Classic Paris:

Their sweet Adidas singlets with stripes running down the sides are actually well worth a closer look. And that dude just seems like a cool guy, I genuinely hope he’s doing well these days wherever he is:

Next up, in what is clearly a display of flagrant public corruption, some police officers casually receive a bribe in the form of alcoholic beverages for God only knows why:

Back to the supporters, a corteo forms and it’s off to Parc des Princes:

Now to inside the stadium, and among what appears to be mostly Narbonne supporters, we can see from a Stade Bagnérais flag here or there meaning some of them have indeed survived the Narbonne firm. With Bagnères-de-Bigorre’s population of only around 8,000 compared to over 50,000 in Nabonne, it is natural that they are vastly outnumbered. Hopefully our friend from earlier is among them:

Unfortunately for him, his team do not manage a single point on their big day in the city. Meanwhile, the Nabonne faithful savored the occasion as their side knocked 10 in on the way to victory.

And yes, the final whistle, they’ve done it! The gods of victory have smiled on the Narbonnese this day and in a moment of spontaneous group ecstasy, many of their fans cannot help but to storm the playing field. Complete with flags and banners, it makes for an impressive visual:

The heroes of the day are swamped and suffocated beneath a loving swarm of orange and black:

To top off the afternoon, the “trophy” (which is mostly a wooden board, but a handsome, presumably sacred wood) is presented and paraded around with every fan trying to get at least one scintillating touch:

And soon after, large mobs begin to quietly and politely leave the field:

And there we have it, people on the pitch at a rugby match. The end? Yes, it is most likely we will never feature rugby again. And we definitely will never feature Stade Bagnérais again, although they/he have undoubtedly earned a place in the Pyro On The Pitch Hall of Heroes if ever such an institution should exist.

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