What Football Is Supposed To Look Like #4 (Gallery)

This is the place where we look at stuff that for better or worse, we’ll never see in football again (the answer is worse).

Classic graphics, Italy vs Malta, World Cup Qualifier, 1993:

Malta tifosi, Malta vs Italy, World Cup Qualifier, 1992:

Herd of military personnel nonchalantly watching on as players celebrate, Chile vs Uruguay, Copa America, 1983:

Classic graphics and Hebrew hoardings, Isreal vs Australia, World Cup Qualifier, 1985:

Athleticism stadium, Denmark vs Norway, Friendly, 1992:

Exacerbated, bearded supporter, Netherlands vs Belgium, World Cup Qualifier, 1973:

Muddy pitch and shed end, St. Patrick’s Athletic vs Cork City, League of Ireland, 1987:

Coach smoking pipe in classic Diadora trainers, Italy vs West Germany, Friendly, 1985:

Checkered pitch, Tunisia vs Algeria, World Cup Qualifier, 1985:

“Give Drugs…the boot”, Ireland vs Finland, Friendly, 1990:

Snowy pitch and goal line wall, Glentoran vs Linfield, Irish League, 1995:

International Duty: Club Group Banners At National Team Games #3 (Gallery)

In this series, which to be fair wouldn’t exist without Italian games to carry it (I nearly called it “Italocentric” but there are a few other countries), we look back at a time where club banners were more prevalent at national team games. Click here for #1 and here for #2.

Italy vs Germany, friendly, 1986:
“Commando Green Stars Curva Sud” and “Bronx” of Avellino

Chile vs Yugoslavia, friendly, 1987:

Universidad de Chile

Italy vs Turkey, friendly, 1994:
“Rangers” (and “Rangers Visto”) and “Park Kaos” of Pescara

Germany vs Netherlands, friendly, 1998:

“Menden Sieg” of Schalke 04

Italy vs Northern Ireland, friendly, 1997:
“Brigate Rosanero” of Palermo

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:

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):

International Duty: Group Banners At National Team Games #1 (Gallery)

In YET ANOTHER new feature (We know, our work ethic and dedication to this site is baffling), we take a look back at the days when it was more likely for ultras and hooligan groups to show up to support their national team if they happened to be using their teams ground, or traveling overseas on tour. Note: The last entry listed here MAY be a tongue and cheek effort and was never an actual group.

Spain vs Greece, friendly, 1986:
“Norte Gijon” of Sporting Gijon

Italy vs Scotland, friendly, 1988:
“Covo Rosso”, “Alcool”, “Vecchia Guardia”, etc of Perugia
Noteworthy: With CCCP, hammer and sickle, and Che Guevara on display.

England away to Hungary, friendly, 1988:
“6.57 Crew” of Portsmouth FC

Italy vs Norway, friendly, 1988:
“Bad Boys” and “Park Kaos” of Pescara

Ireland away to Poland, European Championships Qualifier, 1991:
“Bray Seaside Firm” of Bray Wanderers
Noteworthy: Great “Dalkey” banner.

Pyro On The Pitch #6: Sweden vs Italy, European Championships Qualifier, 03/06/1987 (with Bonus)

The game featured in this edition of Pyro On The Pitch is noteworthy for the fact that this writer completed his very first full orbit around Earth’s sun on the day the match was played. I.e., first birthday. But this entry might have been more appropriate last week on Halloween, as this is somewhat of a ghost pyro on the pitch.

Here we have a very similar situation to that featured in Pyro On The Pitch #4, when Denmark showed their supporter pedigree against the highly feared English in 1982. This time it’s their Scandinavian brothers in Sweden welcoming another of Europe’s premier supporting class, Italy. The pyro for both games revolved around a possible foul by a goalkeeper on an attacker and whether it should have been a penalty.

Just over 40,000 were in attendance at the Råsunda Stadium, Stockholm, which was the home of the Swedish national team until it’s demolition in 2012. Anticipation was high for the big game with the crowd perhaps particularly buoyed on by the reputation of the visitors in the football supporting world and smoke can be seen rising from the terraces before kick off in pictures.

Early in the first half, Roberto Tricella breaks free down the left for Italy and into the Swedish box. Famous Swdeish goalkeeper Thomas Ravelli comes out to challenge and his outstretched right leg appears to take down Tricella:

Immediately after the foul we can just about see a dangerous/exciting crowd heave (or avalanche) in the terrace behind the incident, typical of the time:

The penalty is given much to chagrin of the home supporters triggering a wave of protests in the form of projectiles on the pitch (Note to self: Possible future series “Projectiles On The Pitch”), and of course booing and jeering. Initially ticker tape/til roll is thrown into the box:

As paper rains down from the surly Swedish supporters, who can be seen packed to the fence in the background, referee Dieter Pauly notices and picks up an altogether more serious foreign object:

Pauly, in nice Ermia ref shirt it must be said, sternly displays a golf ball which has just come from the packed terrace behind the goal. Now, either the golf ball was brought preemptively with a view for malicious activity at such an occasion in the match, or one supporter had simply come straight from the golf course and had merely let one of his/her balls slip from his/her pocket on to the pitch:

Pauly is not impressed at all and tosses the golf ball to a Swedish official with somewhat of a disgusted sneer, but with form as to suggest that this is not the first golf ball that he has had to remove from a field of play that wasn’t a golf course:

What happens next is extremely unfortunate for the interests of this website as another replay of the foul/maybe dive is played in slow motion and when we return to live-time it is clear we have JUST missed some pyro being thrown on the pitch. What remains is a plume of smoke from a flare which has just gone out, or else the smoke is from it’s own weak smoke bomb:

As the players pick up more objects from the ground, a large cloud can be see coming from more pyro out of view to the left of the goal and a steward removes what may or may not have once been the flare. Unfortunately this is as close as we come to seeing any real pyro, but a bit of smoke, eh? Not bad. Or is it a cop out to include this?

All this combined to create quite a beautifully chaotic scene to be fair. But wait, that’s not all! Just when it seemed order is restored, more projectiles come hailing down including something that is a direct shot on the head of poor, young 27 year old Ravelli, basically exploding off his crown and rolling to another Swedish player:

The keeper reels in shock at this apparent betrayal by his countrymen, although also comically puts out his hand in a sort of “is it raining here or what guys, eh??” gesture:

The fans behind the goal watch on, with the younger, more rebellious sorts no doubt caught up in the exhilarating, tense atmosphere:

Although more than a bit miffed, Ravelli in his beautiful green kit is fine and returns to his goal ready for the penalty, removing another projectile from the goalmouth as he goes:

But the supporters have one last laugh, as one more roll is thrown into the box delaying things slightly longer:

Pauly makes a hilariously slow and deliberate walk over which just screams “…sigh” and takes so long to remove the paper that it has to be divided in to two gifs:

After all this, Ravelli saves the penalty with a nice one handed save to the left onto the post and the rebound is driven over the bar. Cue ecstatic jubilation from the terraces as the entire previous five minutes is forgotten:

Sweden would go on to win 1-0 for a famous victory, but Italy would ultimate pip the Swedes for top spot and qualification (not that that part is relevant but just thought I’d throw it in there to sound professional).

Youtube Link

Bonus: Greece vs Cyprus, European Championships Qualifier, 14/01/1987:

Even though we think the incidents covered above are a stellar example of a classic 80’s atmosphere, we do hold our heads out for the chopping block for not being able to produce any physical pyro on the pitch in this edition. So for this sin, here is a special extra bonus…where unfortunately once again we cannot actually see pyro on the pitch. Sorry about this.

Unlike with Sweden-Italy though, here we actually do see some flames. As Greece go 1-0 up en route to a 3-1 win against their Mediterranean rivals Cyrpus, what some would call an orgy of joy can be seen erupting in the crowd. Among this nearly cinematic scene of gay abandon, we catch a flare ignition, which is no sooner let off before the handler is launching it pitch-ward. It is nearly in his/her blood to do so:

Unfortunately, in an inverse to the Sweden incident, the director cuts off to a replay just before we get to see if the flare actually reaches the pitch or just lands on the running track. We would like to say that we will make it our mission for the next several years to gain a categorical confirmation of this. But instead, we will just say that yes, it did reach the pitch.

Youtube Link



What Football Is Supposed To Look Like (Gallery) #1

Some classic grounds, shirts and general aesthetics of what football used to be.

Sand dunes, a car park, unorthodox ground sectioning, other random stuff laying around (handy for a riot) and a beautifully filthy pitch at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea vs West Ham, Division 1, 1986:

Away shirt of vintage post-Cold War side Representation of Czechs and Slovaks vs Wales, World Cup Qualifier, 1993:

Ireland away to Northern Ireland, World Cup Qualifier, 1988:

Classic advertisements, Brazil vs Chile, Friendly, 1985:

Brentford FC vs Blackburn Rovers, FA Cup, 1989:

Malta score away to Hungary, World Cup Qualifier, 1989:

“English Supporters Please Remain In This Stand”, England away to Luxembourg, European Championships Qualifier, 1983:

(Taken from Pyro On The Pitch #4)

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

“HOOLIGANS”, Italy vs Scotland, Friendly, 1988:

Armed guards behind the goal, Ecuador vs Romania, Friendly, 1984:

Pyro On The Pitch #3: Serbia away to Italy, European Championships Qualifier, 12/10/2010

The incidents featured in today’s bumper edition of Pyro On The Pitch are not exactly retro at the time of writing having only occurred in 2010 (7 years ago), but certainly by the time the majority of people will read this after the author dies in 29 years time, it will be looked back on as a classic crowd trouble episode.

The scene was the Stadio Luigi Ferreris in Genoa for a Euro qualifier between Italy and Serbia, two nations who’s proud supporter heritage goes without saying. Trouble outside the ground preceded affairs inside and allegedly included Serbian supporters of Red Star Belgrade storming their own national team’s bus and attempting to assault goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic, who’s crime was recently joining rivals Partisan Belgrade (on loan from Sporting Lisbon) having previously been a Red Star favourite. A shaken Stojkovic withdrew from the squad.

Once inside their section of the ground, the real “fun” could start for the Serbs. What happened would result in kick-off being delayed for 36 minutes, and as there is a lot to cover here we might not get the order exactly right. But first of all, a professional hooligan (who shall be henceforth referred to by the code-name “HOOL”, with all due respect sir) takes up a position of command, perching high atop the plexiglass barrier. With flares already igniting below him, HOOL first savours the moment…

…before he lights his own flare, gives it a good old swing around, and, to the sound of rapturous cheers from his fellow countrymen, launches it effortlessly in the direction of Italian supporters in the neighbouring stand:

Naturally, this occurs much to the chagrin of the Italians, many of whom feel compelled to rush towards the Serbian section, perhaps with the intention of physical retribution. Some of the Serbian supporters welcome this reaction and indeed appear to goad their harrowed hosts with the raising of arms and such:

The miracle of television was to pick up the professional’s best work. Always the consummate professional, HOOl had done his homework and produced a pair of wire cutters brought from home in order to break through the protective netting which hung down to the top of the barrier. Whether this was a trusted tool used in many such actions, or a shiny new pair bought specially for this occasion remains unclear:

A hooded accomplice of HOOL appears to assure the concerned stewards and stadium officials of his colleague’s expertise in the field. “Don’t worry, lads, he’s a safe pair of hands”:

With a large opening now produced in the netting, Serbian supporters are free to fulfill the pitch-bound destiny of a few flares, as HOOL dutifully holds the portal open for tossing:

While the majority of the unfolding chaos is occurring on the lower tier of the Serbian section with more flares, the upper tier also helps contribute. From up here, some pyro inadvertently creates a sort of “waterfall” effect of smoke which I have no problem describing as beautiful:

Quite a humerous episode is next captured by videographer “Lider”, as some Serbians attempt to antagonise a steward in an adjoining sector. One has just revealed his buttocks to the steward, who is looking quite unimpressed. The bare-all bully then turns around while apparently forgetting to re-fasten his lower garment, as a couple of seconds later his arse is again hanging out and the angle suggests that perhaps his male sexual organs were also making an appearance:

The steward’s reaction seems to confirm the inadvertent full-frontal reveal as he turns away embarrassed, no doubt dismayed at the state of society these days, or perhaps uncomfortable in his own sexuality and therefore unable to consume the male form in a healthy way. The Serbian supporter hastily attempts to make himself respectable again and in the process comically stumbles backwards through the admittedly cumbersome terrace steps. He and the steward had shared a moment that neither would forget for years to come:

Eagle-eyed Lider next spots (presumably) Serbian supporters who have infiltrated deep within the Goldeneye-esque complex of the stadium and are unsuccessfully attempting to break through a locked door. The intentions of the would be intruders once on the other side may have been unknown even to them, but perhaps deep-seeded “holes” within their psyche brought about by socioeconomic and/or environmental issues during their upbringing contributed to this manifestation of rage here in Genoa years later:

At this point, our old friend HOOL makes an executive decision that it is time to send more heat the way of some innocent Italians, and lets fly with a direct hit. Objectively speaking, it’s a fine throw. A steward is immediately on hand with a fire extinguisher:

This latest display of aerial aggravation was just too much for one blue-jacketed Italian fan, who perhaps in a display of “classic Mediterranean passion” rushes to the Serb sector and earnestly climbs the dividing barriers. He at first appears to symbolically throw his own “projectile”, before switching tack and making a passionate (but frankly useless) plea to end the aggressive behaviour. The Serbians eagerly welcome their new friend and urge him to come closer in a similar way to how a scorpion might, before officials are able to remove the have-a-go hero:

An at least partial motivation for all the trouble is revealed when HOOL produces the flag of Albania to burn and later a “Kosovo is Serbia”-related banner is displayed. The political status of Kosovo, which had declared independence from Serbia in 2008 (and who’s population comprises an ethnic Albanian majority), was and continues to be a commonly referred to topic of supporter actions in Eastern Europe. Here we have another example of sport being used as a tool for the expression of a “greater” cause:

Eventually, a crack team of Carabinieri arrive on the scene in a somewhat disorganised fashion before standing around for a while trying to figure out what’s to be done. Naturally, the Serbian supporters use this as a cue to launch more flares:

Lider again catches a novel incident on camera as a Serbian supporter manages to scale quite a height in order to whip a dividing glass barrier with his belt, while seething Italians swarm around the other side. As reader “One Of The Lads Said” upon seeing this (he requested to be referred to that way) “You’d have to wonder what he was hoping to achieve there, he doesn’t even seem angry…He’s like a dog pawing a door to get back in the house.” Too true. This is a scene you are unlikely to see anywhere else in life, cherish it:

The two teams had at some stage come out and then been brought back to the dressing rooms by the referee upon review of the chaotic situation. Shots from around the ground show sinister hooded and masked figures on both sides preparing for further escalations…

…and from a wide shot of the Serbian sector we see some commendable banner-hanging:

Going back once more to de facto leader of the Serbian actions HOOL, we see him descend from his perch, but first he displays what can only be described as a primate-like feat of strength as he hangs down from the top of the barrier by his arms and repeatedly propels himself with force, feet first into the glass. This was clearly a symbolic gesture of alpha male dominance, as a seasoned vet’ like HOOL will have likely known that there was little chance of the barrier giving way. Duly, the Carabinieri looked on like captivated school children:

The game eventually did start, but amid more flares and more chaos the game was swiftly called off after about 7 minutes. A 3-0 victory would be declared for Italy:

It’s been a long and emotional journey in this edition of Pyro On The Pitch. Frankly, we had not foreseen it being this long, but you have to admit it had a bit of everything. Of course HOOL was arrested and spent months in Italian prison before doing more time at home for other offenses. Sources later revealed that he and other supporters had always intended on having the game called off, perhaps for awareness of their political cause, or in protest of the president of Serbian football association (among other theories).

But throughout those long, endless days behind bars, we are sure that his heart will have been warmed by the enduring memory of the Serbian players that night, who before being forced to originally leave the field had made sure to show their respect for their supporter’s efforts, as a chorus of boos rained down from the rest of the stadium:

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