Tuesday, 17 October 2017

1985-88 Rugby League World Cup

With the 2017 Rugby League World Cup about to start, this week I am taking a look back at the 1985-88 tournament, as Australia continued their domination of the sport.

Although the Rugby League World Cup had been running since 1954, the irregular staging of the tournament had not helped the event establish itself in the sporting calendar. Indeed, after the 1977 tournament, it would be another eight years before the International Board decided to resuscitate the concept. A Paris meeting in May 1985 saw the five member nations of Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain, France, and Papua New Guinea agree to take part in a ninth World Cup, although a change in format meant that it was now a three-year event.

Friday, 6 October 2017

1986: Arsenal lose to Watford on consecutive days

Arsenal have suffered at the hands of Watford in recent seasons, but at least they didn’t lose twice to the same club on consecutive days.

In this modern world of ours, it seems that Arsenal are only ever a couple of defeats away from a full-blown crisis. An unwanted reverse can now lead to torn badges appearing in newspapers, as the cracks in the Arsenal fan base expand, Twitter explodes, and even fans of other teams reach for the popcorn and turn to AFTV for some entertainment.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

1985: Wales v Scotland (Football)

Wales failing to qualify for the 1986 World Cup was a devastating blow to their supporters. But the tragic death of Scotland manager Jock Stein put everything into perspective.

Although many would say Scotland have had a monopoly on footballing tales of so near and yet so far, surely no one could digest as much disappointment as Welsh football fans in the 1980s. Missing out on World Cup qualification in 1982 on goal difference, and a minute away from Euro 84, the last thing the Welsh nation needed was another agonising near miss during their 1986 World Cup qualification campaign. But the pain of September 10, 1985, would soon be a new chapter of Welsh woe.

Thursday, 21 September 2017

1986: Full Members' Cup

Chelsea and Manchester City are now contesting for major honours domestically and in Europe, but in 1986 things were a lot different.

English football in 1985 was constantly hitting new levels of rock bottom. Violence and decaying stadia combined to make the match day experience an often unpleasant occasion, and with deaths at Birmingham, Bradford, and Brussels in May, the sport had seemingly reached the point of no return. It was little wonder that attendances were dropping across the country, and you didn't need to be Bergerac to deduce that Margaret Thatcher and her Government would have been quite happy if the problem child faded into obscurity.

Monday, 18 September 2017

1984: County Championship drama

Essex recently won their first County Championship in 25 years. But for sheer drama, surely nothing could match their 1984 triumph.

As far as I know, no one has ever written a film based on the County Championship. But if a budding writer wanted to take a step into uncharted territory, and pen the first Hollywood blockbuster on this subject, then the person involved would do themselves a big favour by taking a look at the events of the 1984 season. A campaign running from April to September, came down to the penultimate ball of a match in Somerset, with the fate of two counties hanging in the Taunton air.

Monday, 11 September 2017

1984: Dave Bassett at Crystal Palace

Frank de Boer may have only lasted 77 days at Crystal Palace before parting company with the club. But in 1984, Dave Bassett only just managed to make it past the 77 hour mark at Selhurst Park.

Friday, 8 September 2017

April 25, 1984: Britain's night of misery

After the night of April 11, 1984, there remained a strong possibility that all three European club finals would be the exclusive property of Great Britain; an exciting prospect, especially for anyone who had taken the 50/1 odds at offer for all six British teams to progress from their semi-finals. It wasn’t meant to be, though.

The story of how six became two involves a complex web of intimidation, corruption, disgraceful behaviour, violence, bribery, and heartbreak, an evening that the Daily Express described as Britain's night of misery. Yet this mini drama series was not only restricted to 1984; years later there would be anger, disgust, and tragedy added to the plot line.