Saturday, 19 April 2014

1983 World Snooker Championships

Snooker was still very much on the ascendancy as the 1983 World Championships approached. Television viewing figures were healthy, Riley Leisure had made a £1.4 million profit for the 17 months up to December 1982, and now had 51 clubs open in the UK due to the growth of snooker. According to newspaper reports, Steve Davis had recently become the first man to earn £1 million from playing the sport, which was all well and good, yet what Davis really wanted more than anything was to add a second world title to his CV.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

1986-87 FA Cup: Semi-finals

This piece follows on from my previous blogs on the first, second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth rounds of the 1986/87 FA Cup, which you can view here, here, here, here, here and here.

It seems that even back in 1987 there was a lot of conjecture about the location and scheduling of the FA Cup semi-finals. Finding a neutral venue for the Watford-Tottenham fixture proved troublesome. Due to Highbury being blacklisted by the FA because of Arsenal's reluctance to fence fans in - the 1984 FA Cup semi had seen pitch invasions by jubilant Everton fans - and Stamford Bridge ruled out with Fulham and QPR both at home on Saturday April 11, fans of both clubs faced the prospect of travelling up the M1/M6 to Villa Park, hardly ideal, but in the circumstances the inevitable solution. Thankfully the FA rejected an approach from Wembley to host the match; an FA Cup semi-final at the same location as the final would obviously be wrong, wouldn't it?

Sunday, 16 March 2014

1980s: Test match 99s

For my 99th blog this week, I thought I would analyse the number 99 in the 1980s. No, this is not a blog on Nena's Red Balloons, or my constant quest for ice cream as a child, but a look back on the eight men who made Test match 99s during this decade. For some, the mere act of scoring one more run for the treasured Test landmark gave us an insight into the psychological barrier that exists between 99 and 100. For one unlucky man, it was as good as it got.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

1985: World Championship of Cricket

The Greatest Show on Turf. In truth, the 1985 World Championships of Cricket failed to live up to its billing - The Wettest of Damp Squibs may have been a better tag line - the unofficial World Cup contested in Australia between the seven Test playing nations failing to catch the imagination of the public. In fact, the tournament raised many concerns about the direction cricket was taking, as journalists and players alike voiced their opinions on a variety of matters, from player burn out to the flogging of the one day game. The greatest show on turf it wasn't.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

1986-87 FA Cup: Sixth round

This piece follows on from my previous blogs on the first, second, third, fourth and fifth rounds of the 1986/87 FA Cup, which you can view here, here, here, here and here.

"It's at about this stage when you start thinking of Wembley". So said Tottenham keeper Ray Clemence as the FA Cup Sixth round weekend neared in 1987, the eight teams remaining just two matches away from walking out at Wembley in front of the watching millions across the world. For four teams though, their road to Wembley would be blocked at this stage, some in slightly more controversial circumstances than others.

Sunday, 23 February 2014

1988: Suntory World Matchplay

Come the end of the 1980s, British wins at the World Matchplay golf were very much like buses. After a 23 year drought, Ian Woosnam had finally ended the British wait for a winner of the autumnal tournament played at Wentworth, by winning the 1987 event, and in 1988 another Brit was about to see his name join an illustrious set of winners such as Palmer, Nicklaus, Player, Ballesteros and Norman. For Sandy Lyle, his win at the 1988 World Matchplay capped off a fine year, and put an end to his frustration in the tournament.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

1980-81 European Cup Winners' Cup: Newport County

As I watched Swansea progress in the Europa League before Christmas, my mind inescapably rewound to the 1980s, recalling similar such adventures for the Welsh club. Four times Swansea would participate in the old European Cup Winners' Cup, but nothing they did in the eighties would match the exploits of Newport County in the 1980/81 competition. For Newport's tale is one of triumph and despair, little hope but then great expectations, and above all, a sad conclusion containing massive slices of ill fortune. Not bad for a club that years previously had struggled for mere existence.