Friday, September 28, 2012

Great Tracksuits of Our Time: No.1

Slovan Bratislava (1976):

Worn before a UEFA Cup tie against QPR at Loftus Road, this blue tracksuit top with white trim features the team name emblazoned across the back in a Basque-style font. Note how the printer failed to leave sufficient room to fit in the A and N - a sign of true quality befitting of a team capable of winning the Czechoslovakian First Division.

Seen any fine examples of retro tracksuit design? Tell us all about them by dropping us a line at admin [at] thefootballattic [dot] com.

Fast Forward: 5 TV games TU fans should watch

Whenever TU fans have to watch UConn football, they think of this.

Not that you could tell it by the last two games, but a Saturday without Temple football is a Saturday without sunshine.
Since there will be no sunshine tomorrow (literally, as well as figuratively), I will be out for a three-hour jog during most of the early football games.  I'll have the headset on set to scan to pick up whatever games I can get on the radio.
When I get home, I hope to check in on some games on TV.
These are five games Temple fans should care about tomorrow since they involve past and future foes (my picks are underlined):
Buffalo at UConn two years ago.
Buffalo at Connecticut (noon, 6ABC) _ Buffalo is pretty putrid this year, even more so than recent years, and this should be an easy UCONN win, something on the order of 36-7. Buffalo lost to a Kent State team that got blown out by Kentucky. UConn lost to a Western Michigan team that got hammered by Illinois, which lost by four touchdowns to Louisiana Tech. We're talking last-place Big East vs. last-place MAC and even though the top of the MAC has proven to be better than the top of the Big East this year, the BE bottom half is better than the bottom half of the MAC. Huskies should easily cover the 16 1/2.

Penn State at Illinois (noon, ESPN) _ Don't have the foggiest idea why the Lions are 1 1/2-point underdogs, but I think they should win the game outright. Louisiana Tech's passing game exposed the Illinois' defensive backs and I think PSU has enough of an improved quick-strike passing attack to do the same.

Stony Brook at Army (noon, CBS Sports Network) _ Stony Brook gave Syracuse a good game. If that was a one-time deal, I would pick Army but Stony Brook also took UTEP into overtime last year and UTEP took an unbeaten (at the time and for most of last year) Houston team into overtime as well. Army is the FBS program, but this is one time where the FCS program prevails. No line since this is a FCS/FBS matchup.

Virginia Tech at Cincinnati (3:30, ESPNU) _ I previously thought Cincinnati, not Louisville,  was the best team in the Big East and that was reinforced by a 34-10 win over Pitt. But Cincy struggled to a 23-7 team over a Delaware State team Delaware beat by 48-14. Virginia Tech lost to Pitt, but I think that was more an abberation than the Cincy struggle because of the Hokies' solid body of work elsewhere and I think Frank Beamer and company should have no problem with the touchdown cover.

Florida State at South Florida (6 p.m., ESPN) _ A must-see for all Owls, players and coaches.  Hopefully, the Seminoles running roughshod over the Bulls won't make the Owls overconfident because any team that loses to Maryland shouldn't be overconfident against anybody. Still, I'm a little concerned that Temple's coaches didn't follow Ohio's game plan to beat Penn State (short passing game) or William and Mary's game plan to stay in the game against Maryland (blitzing on defense) so I'm hoping Steve Addazio and Chuck Heater are using this telecast to take copious notes. Florida State should win this game easily, but I wouldn't bet the 17-point spead. This could be something in the order of 31-14, 37-23. This is a game to stay away from at all cost which, for me, is nothing. For TU's sake, I hope USF wins but I don't think that's possible.

Locks of the week: Ball State (giving 1) at Kent State and Toledo, a pick at Western Michigan.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Throwback Thursday

Thanks to Jeff Thomas for this video of a great day for Paul Palmer.

Temple football almost killed me.
I'm not talking about the last two games, either.
I'm talking about literally being dead.
Thanks to former great Temple Owl defensive back Jeffrey Thomas, this video brings back a lot of memories, some of them good, some bad.
The good part was a record-setting day by Paul Palmer who was a Heisman Trophy runner-up that year. A great day and I filed what my bosses thought was a terrific story in the Sunday papers.
Little did they know I was sick as a dog.
The bad part was going to the hospital for pneumonia the next day.
In those days, I covered Temple football for Calkins Newspapers, which are a string of papers surrounding Philadelphia, including the Bucks County Courier Times, Doylestown Intelligencer and Burlington County (N.J.) Times.
We went home and away with the team those days and, thanks to an offer from then Sports Information Director Al Shrier, I secured a seat on the football team's charter to the BYU game.
The plane's air conditioning unit failed and we sat in about a 100-degree airplane an hour before being cleared for takeoff. I knew this was a bad sign because I was beginning to catch a cold right about then.
Hopefully, the Let's Go Temple signs and cheers will be out in full force next week. 

When we landed in Utah some six hours, we deplaned and had to wait outside in 40-degree weather for an hour for our stuff.
I was wearing just a golf shirt and sweatpants. The team was in blazers.
The heat and cold combination turned out to be a double knockout punch.
For two weeks, the cold got worse, turned into pneumonia and the fluid surrounded my heart. I still blame myself for not going to the doctor earlier. When you are in your 20s, you think you are indestructible.
So I found myself in Doylestown hospital waiting for an operation.
The first call I got was from former coach Wayne Hardin wishing me well. Right after that, it was Bruce Arians. That meant a lot to me.
The doctors told my mom and dad that I was one of 5,000 people who had this condition and had to have this kind of operation. Lucky me.
Then a doctor with a thick Indian accent explained the risks of the operation.
"And in about 10 percent of the cases, this operation results in death," he said.
"What was that last word you said?" I stuttered.
"Go ahead, do it," I said.
I lived.
So that was the closest Temple football ever came to killing me. The second-closest was a 20-game losing streak and the 26-3 halftime deficit to Maryland cut about five years off my life expectancy, too.
After the way this season has gone so far, I just hope to be around in a few weeks should the Owls carry Montel Harris off the field after beating Cincy for the BE title and a trip to the Orange Bowl.
I might faint. You might faint. But, as I write this, it is still possible.
If they had to carry me out in a body bag after that, I couldn't think of a better way to go.

Tomorrow: Fast Forward Friday

Panini: Got, Got, AAAARGH!

Panini is great, we all know this. What we also know is that Panini, especially in the football sticker world, have produced some truly bizarre moments. I recently purchased the World Cup & Euro Sticker Collections, which bring together all the Panini albums for the World Cup and Euro tournaments since 1970. This has given me a chance to not only relive some of the albums I collected at the time, but also to have an insight into albums I'd not seen before. And oh boy, what a treasure trove of weirdness and sheer crud they be!

So come with me now on a journey into Panini's dark side... and thanks to David Hill for the inspiration for the title.

Let's start with stickers that are just plain strange.

This is the Mexico 86 album. The team is Hungary (or as my 11-year-old head used to pronounce it, Meggazeggorzag).

This is the Hungarian keeper, Peter Disztl:

Hair up...
And this is defender Antal Roth:
...and down

Oh come on!
Now I'm not suggesting that the eastern side of the Iron Curtain was working on clones, but... y'know... CLONES!!!!

And in case you thought they might try to keep such genetic experimentation secret, look where they sat in relation to each other... it's like they wanted to be found out...

Next up is something I can't really blame Panini for, rather FIFA and their mascot obsession, but here I present the 2006 World Cup mascot who looks like ALF's cousin, the one who suffers from gigantism, inexplicably undergoing some kind of rectal examination by a far-too-happy football. What makes this image is the expressions on both their faces. The ball appears about to break into a Bo Selecta style 'chamon muthaf...' and the Lion seems halfway between angry and sedated. This sticker is all kinds of wrong and I still wake up screaming every night, fixed in the same half-assed Usain Bolt pose as Ol' Lenny here, terrified an unqualified sphere is about to 'glove up'.

Moving swiftly on and we're back firmly in a place where the blame lies 100% with Panini. As I mentioned on the first Attic podcast, the recent Euro 2012 album brought scorn from the Twitterverse for the shambolic nature of the England team stickers. Admittedly this is down to licensing so the actual England kit could not be used, but it did raise the ugly head of photoshopping heads onto shirts. Even with that abomination, it's nothing compared with what had gone before.

Here we have two perfect examples of 'floating head syndrome'. One isn't too bad, the other horrendous. It's like the people at Panini not only couldn't be bothered, but had actual contempt for either the players or team involved or you, the paying customer.

First up, we have a clearly three-dimensional head of Argentine World Cup winner Pedro Pasculli sitting atop a definitely flat-as-a-pancake shirt. Maybe he'd just been over-zealous with the iron that morning, though given the amount of time he'd spent sorting his hair, I can't see he'd have been able to fit it into his busy day. The real giveaway here is the neck just not quite lining up with the shirt. Remember that fact when you see the next one...

So then we have this. I'd say Robbie Fowler, but I'm not entirely sure all of him is actually there. Just take a moment to take it all in.

I'm almost speechless... I mean... the neck... zip... cropping... aaaaargh!!!

Finally, this has to be one of my favourite Panini stickers of all time. As demonstrated by the icy stares of Peter and Antal and the dead, severed head of Mr. Fowler, football mug shots are invariably sombre affairs. To counter this, one footballer makes up for all the pouting with what has to be the smiliest photo ever.

Step forward Mr. Mohammed Kaci Said of Algeria. With that epic tache and pearliest of white teeth, you are what football needs more of...

This is the greatest day of my life!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Daz hearing the call for a rolling pocket

By the time Homecoming comes, the Temple offense could be revamped.

On this website, I have a site meter installed at the bottom.
It helps me get a pulse of what posts people are reading and where they are reading them from. Not surprisingly, the No. 1 place where people read "Temple Football Forever" is from web addresses. Now this could be students from the tech center, professors in their offices, administrators, players and even coaches.
I don't care.
'Get the ball out of the quarterback's hand a little quicker so we are not sitting there in the pocket too long. Move the pocket. We are going to address those things.'
_ Steve Addazio
I think it's great that the Temple community is taking interest in the football team in general and in this website in particular.
That's one of the reasons why I found this quote to be particularly revealing by Temple head football coach Steve Addazio today from the Philadelphia Inquirer: "So we've got to grow there," Addazio said of the passing game. "Maybe more quick game. Get the ball out of the quarterback's hand a little quicker so we are not sitting there in the pocket too long. Move the pocket. We are going to address those things."
The three most important words there are "move the pocket" in my mind.
To me, the key message of my Monday post was "move the pocket."
The post about that very issue appeared here Monday. Addazio addressed it at the Tuesday media gathering.
Listen, I think there's a less than one percent chance Steve Addazio read my post and stole my idea, but I'm glad that he figured it out on his own, which I suspect.
Heck, even Stevie Wonder, let alone Stevie Addazio, could see how moving the pocket would help this Temple team as currently constituted.

Heck, even Stevie Wonder, let alone Stevie Addazio, could see how moving the pocket would help this Temple team as currently constituted
My only question is why the Owls didn't use this approach the first three games. It seemed like they were pounding their heads against a brick wall with this run-first approach.
No matter, the kind of head-pounding that resulted in so many headaches for Owl fans could be over if Daz is serious.
The Owls have a terrific weapon in New Mexico Bowl MVP Chris Coyer, who is a good pocket passer with protection, even under pressure in the pocket. The QB who runs like a tailback could be deadly, though, if you roll him out to his left where he could buy time to see the field and strike fear of his running the ball in the defense.
If DBs come up in run support, Coyer could dump the ball over their heads for big gains to guys like Jalen Fitzpatrick and Deon Miller, let alone an occasional safety valve pass to Montel Harris or Matty Brown.
If the defense blitzes, Coyer can direct Wyatt Benson as the protection. I have not seen a better blocking fullback at Temple since Shelley Poole led Heisman Trophy runner-up Paul Palmer through the hole.
Fitpatrick, Harris and Brown are terrific playmakers in space, as is Coyer.
Running Harris and Brown up the middle, where there's not much space, doesn't play to their strengths.
The best way for the Owls to move the sticks, maintain possession, turn the scoreboard into an adding machine and keep their defense off the field is to run the offense through Coyer. The beauty of this tweak is that it also plays to the strengths of backups Juice Granger and Kevin Newsome. Coyer rolls left, Juice and Kevin roll right.
Whatever, I'm glad the braintrust at the E-O recognizes this and are using these two weeks to work on it.
I can't wait until they, err, roll it out Oct. 6.

Panini: Espana 82

Of all the Panini World Cup albums, this one will always have a special place in my heart because it was the first one I ever collected as a child. Chances are I got my album as a free giveaway with Shoot! magazine (so many Panini albums were back then), after which the lure of the accompanying green sticker packets became too much for me to bear. So what was Panini’s Espana 82 sticker album like?

Front cover

It was often thought that nothing could beat the image of a football player on the front of a book or magazine to truly encapsulate the exciting nature of the thing. That was certainly the case here and an artist was commissioned to paint just such a player, but to ensure neutrality the he was shown wearing a kit of yellow and red because, let’s face it, no-one in their right mind plays in yellow and red.

Dribbling across the mainland of host nation Spain like a giant, it’s pleasing to observe the English flag featuring among those of all the participating nations rather than the flag of Great Britain which was so often used in lazy fashion by graphic designers for years and years. Aside from the multitude of national identities, the logo and mascot of the 1982 World Cup flanked the left margin below the album’s title, proudly displayed in white on that vivid pine green background.

Page 2 and 3

Turn the front cover and the first thing you see is not the list of world nations translated into six languages or even the page of foils showing the trophy, mascot, logo and poster. Instead, you’re immediately distracted by an insert promoting a competition where you could win a wide range of sporting equipment from Lillywhites. All you had to do was predict the best four teams in the tournament, and a quick glance at my album shows I actually filled in my application form without entering it. Sadly my guesses of Argentina, Brazil, England and West Germany wasn’t ever going to win me anything, so it’s just as well I didn’t waste money on a stamp with that one.

Stadia and Posters

Previous Panini sticker books for major competitions often featured stickers showing the cities where games were being played, but Espana 82 focused squarely on the stadia and provided artistic relief by showcasing the posters commissioned to represent each location. In many ways, these posters were the high point of the album and it’s only a shame we couldn’t get a better view of them on the rather small stickers.

As it is, the posters were beautifully designed by a wide range of artists and each one had a distinctive look that undoubtedly added something to the album if not the competition as a whole. One of the posters has since taken on a special significance for me as in 2007 I visited the museum in Bilbao dedicated to the work of Eduardo Chillida, the Basque sculptor and artist. Having spent the day wandering around the beautiful gardens where much of of his work was on show, I visited the gift shop on my way out and there hanging on the wall was the poster I remembered from my Panini Espana 82 album - Chillida’s design representing Bilbao in the World Cup that year.

Team pages

In common with many of Panini’s early albums (domestic and international), Espana 82 used a two-tier system which seemed a little prejudiced towards those teams seen to be making up the numbers. For the footballing heavyweights of World Cup '82, a two-page spread was provided across which 13 player stickers could be seen accompanying a team picture and silver foil badge. Sadly Panini felt at the time that some teams, such as Cameroon and Kuwait, were only worthy of a single page onto which were crammed 16 players on eight half-and-half stickers (plus badge and team pic). All a little unsatisfactory, but it does at least provide a different page layout for those wanting more variety.

As ever, a welter of useful and occasionally superfluous data was provided on each of the teams including recent match results, player birthdates and places, but if anything it was the player stickers that themselves blurred the distinction between good and not-so-good. Having gone into production well before the tournament started, it must have been the devils own job to include players that would eventually take part in Spain that summer and predictably some failed to materialise (Alvin Martin, I’m looking at you).

For those that were correctly included in the album, much confusion was caused in many a juvenile mind by the number of unfamiliar team shirts displayed on stickers (let alone tracksuits) because kit manufacturers, of course, used the World Cup to launch new kits. This, though, was the price we were willing to pay back then as, if nothing else, we got to see what sort of shirts a team was wearing before the World Cup began.

Back cover

To round off this decent, if unspectacular sticker collection, we were treated to an advert giving Panini collectors the chance to snap up a surely irresistible bit of footy kit. Yes, by sending off a cheque or postal order for £5.99, you too could own a Subbuteo holdall and a Kikari Soccer Trainer!

(What’s that? You don’t know what a Kikari Soccer Trainer is? Oh alright, if you must know, it’s a net that fits round a football on the end of a long piece of elastic so you don’t have to keep chasing after it all day every time you re-enact Terry McDermott hitting a 30-yard-volley. Satisfied now?)

Monday, September 24, 2012

Eagles and Owls: Birds of a different feather

"Let's face it, you want to run the ball all the time and I want to pass it all the time."

Watching Andy Reid and Steve Addazio the last two days, it suddenly occurred to me that this is a tale of two coaches, same city, two different philosophies.
Reid wants to throw the ball all the time.
Addazio wants to run it all the time.
Well, not all, but you get what I mean.
Have to give it up to Nate Bauer of BWI for this correct prediction.

If you could put Steve Addazio's head in Andy Reid's body and Reid's head in Addazio's body, probably both teams would be better off.
For purposes of argument, the words never and all mean most.
Reid has a guy, Shady McCoy (almost went to Temple, by the way, but that's a story for another day), who ran for 1,300 yards and 20 touchdowns last year and he never gives the ball to him.
Instead, he leaves his fate in the hands of a turnover-prone quarterback.
Addazio has an offensive line incapable of opening up holes up the middle, but he forces that square peg into the round hole with a stubborn trait of relying on runs up the middle.
Yet Addazio has a quarterback who never turns it over and throws nice balls, most of which are dropped.
Roll Coyer out to the left with the option of passing or throwing. If the pass is there, take it. If the run is there, take it. The fear of what Coyer can do with his feet will open up things for the Temple offense
Chris Coyer is not perfect, but he's missed only two vital throws in this season in my mind and both were in the Penn State game. Even those might have been timing patterns that were the fault of the receivers.
He's a kid you can win with if you put the offense in his hands.
Roll Coyer out to the left with the option of passing or throwing. If the pass is there, take it. If the run is there, take it. The fear of what Coyer can do with his feet will open up things for the Temple offense. Have Matt Brown and Montel Harris in space as dump-off options. Put Ryan Alderman near the first-down sticks as a target. Have 4.3 sprinters Jalen Fitzpatrick, Romond Deloatch and Khalif Herbin go deep.  Coyer in the straight dropback should only be a change of pace for Temple. The guys who have been dropping passes for Temple should sit on the bench.
Temple's spread passing attack should open up lanes for the running game, not the only way around.
Just as importantly, moving those sticks will give the beleaguered defense a needed rest.
Same with Shady McCoy of the Eagles.
Establishing his running should keep the pass rush off Michael Vick and mitigate that team's recurrent turnover problems.
Andy Reid and Steve Addazio. Both guys are pretty stubborn and I guess that's one of the reasons why they got to where they are.
Something tells me, though, the first guy who recognizes the need for change will be the most successful this season.
I'm hoping it is both.
I'm praying it's Addazio.

Match Magazine - August 30th 1997

1997 might not seem all that distant (to some of us anyway), but as you'll see in this excellent guest article from Luke constable of the awesomely named Ruud Gullit Sitting On A Shed (@RGSOAS), going back just 15 years, football still looks very different...

p.s. I've just found out where the name comes from... 

In August 1997 I was just starting secondary school. I would spend that summer mourning the loss of my junior school life, trying on ill-fitting blazers, and buying Match magazine every week.

A recent spring-clean unearthed a copy of the magazine dated August 30, 1997, and I have since been transfixed by its pages. Littered with nostalgic references, each turned page wafted the smell of pubescent hormones as it seized me with the inverse effect of Marty McFly's Gray's Sports Almanac from Back To The Future 2.

Hundreds of pounds' worth of hard-earned pocket money was spent on this magazine by my 9-14-year-old self, but every penny was worth it. I would read each one cover to cover, even forcing my impressionable eyes through the rigours of such dull features as 'Chris Armstrong's Secret Diary'.

Share my experience as the memories dazzle my retinas and scorch my fingertips. Come sit awhile as I read to you, and laugh at pictures that have dated horribly, much like Premiership footballers have after first discovering what Rohypnol is…

Look at this cover: Ryan Giggs innocently grinning before his stunning reinvention as a pilates-fuelled sex maniac. Appreciate the irony of a caption for a ‘LEEDS UNITED MEGA POSTER' directly above 'ESCAPE FROM DIVISION 1'.  Gasp at Dennis Bergkamp correctly predicting a league title win for Arsenal.  Marvel at Gianfranco Zola’s formerly bouffant hair.

Inside, I'm welcomed by the familiar visage of 'Matchman', spokesgit for a generation of youngsters raised on Britpop and incongruous references to Peter Fear. After Match, the imaginatively-titled mascot would later carve out a successful acting career under the name Joel McKinnon Miller.

There is also this image of a certain someone to inform me that this very article is the culmination of a destiny some 15 years in the making. It bought to mind the moment in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, when a time-travelling Ted urges himself to “remember a trashcan” to scupper his Dad's meddling. Ruud Gullit, my spiritual father, there to welcome me home, after so long.

The fun begins with Route One, a loose form introduction consisting of mostly ridiculous garbage, which was always hugely entertaining nonetheless. Even now, as a man that has read more than 12 (twelve) books, I can appreciate just how much fun this section was. With its combination of musical references (Kula Shaker! Way Out West! Sneaker Pimps!), puerile comedy features (Giggsy's Gig Guide! The Flash-o-Meter! Strange But False!) and colloquial anarchy, it is to the shame of many that the pages read like some vague blueprint for Soccer AM. But I digress, and to keep doing so would be to detract from the surreal comic devices that would make perfectly retweetable Tumblr pages today - 'Wot if Peter Fear was...(SOMETHING RANDOM)','Collyoaks', 'Broken Nose Corner'

A small boy is pictured with Arsenal's David Platt, who talks of his aborted summer move to Middlesbrough. Absolutely no explanation is offered for this, but paedophilia had not yet been invented anyway, so no problem there. ARE YOU THIS SMALL BOY? Can you find him? Why did you have your picture taken with David Platt? Please help.

Here is a review of the Bolton Wanderers website, from way back when Twitter was but a mere figment in the twee eye of Stephen Fry. “It looks a bit bland when you log-on” is something nobody ever says now, and probably didn’t say then, even if it was true. “Blimey, get a load of that browser!” < That’s how people talk about the internet. The article proffers the bored suggestion that you might want to design your own Bolton Wanderers website, when more truthful padding would’ve been a picture of the editor’s yawning face.

'10 Brain-Bustin' facts about Chelsea' mentions how Graeme Le Saux is the club's record signing at £5million. Unfortunately I've been too busy to check whether or not this is still the case. If anyone can inform me of the answer, I will pick a lucky winner at random to win a very special prize - a lock of Gianluca Vialli's scalp!

I’m sure I’m not the only misguided kid that ever convinced himself he could draw because he could copy Russ Carvell’s football caricatures. This was always on the first page of the Match Stats pull-out. Here, then-Leeds manager George Graham mocks Carlton Palmer for being tall and rubbish, a comic staple that survives to this day. According to his website ( Russ now lives in Italy and I was genuinely delighted to check out some artwork of contemporary footballers, in that style of his I remember so well. He can be found on Twitter too (@Russ_Carvell),if people who post three times then disappear forever is your sort of thing.

Behold! The original Adidas Predator boot! For men of a certain age, this is like seeing the pictures that prompted the first awkward fumblings in the discipline of onanism. Ah, what a boot! Those leathery fins genuinely made the ball defy gravity, as I’m sure we all remember. During a school football match I recall seeing someone wearing Predators hit the ball with such force that they recreated precisely the same geothermic dynamics in order to create gems. The game was postponed while the referee swept opals from the six-yard box. I’m sure we all have similar stories.

These boots, however, are not so magical. Sportswear firm Apta bravely commissioned these boots, which were designed by a tab of LSD. To think that manufacturers were allowed to do this in the 1990s! Crazy times.

This advert showcases Ronaldo, back in the days when we didn't have to specify which one we were talking about. "The athlete and the shirt are made of the same stuff" proudly claims Nike. Of course, by next summer's World Cup, the only thing the two would have in common is their shared dislike of uncomfortable fits.

Colin Hendry takes us on a visit to his house. The highlight is the picture of him wearing a hat, looking very much like a man that has never worn a hat before. He also reveals a shocking secret: "When I get the chance I like to sit on one of the sofas in the archway above the front door and have a think." I do hope today's generation of children are provided with a similar level of insight in their football magazines.

Finding this magazine reminded me of the innocent pleasure of cutting posters out to hang on my wall. I'm sure everyone remembers their first ever football posters. When I was roughly seven years old and had no team to call my own, I adorned my wall with the first posters available in the first football magazine I ever bought. This would explain why the first posters I would ever hang on my wall would be of Eddie Newton and Jan-Aage Fjortoft. I have kept up this fine tradition for uninspiring decor with this thrilling image of Arsenal’s Gilles Grimandi, which I'm clearly enjoying.

The last page would always be the Ultimate Challenge, which would pit two Premiership players against each other in a trivia quiz. Get a load of this scintillating 10-10 draw between Liverpool's Dominic Matteo and Wimbledon's Dean Holdsworth, both experiencing perhaps the most exciting game they'd ever been involved in.

I leave you with the familiar sense of a magazine well read, that peculiar blend of satisfaction and disappointment that it's all over. That bereft sense that there is only one thing to do - reluctantly go back and read Chris Armstrong's Secret Diary.

Our sincere thanks go to Luke for this. If you'd like to write something for the Attic, please get in touch at admin [at] thefootballattic [dot] com or find us on twitter or facebook.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Penny Football

The great thing about football is that it can be played in so many different forms. Purists will always enjoy the traditional approach of physically kicking a ball around while the more technologically-minded among us might prefer moving computerised competitors around on a TV screen. For a truly pared-down version of the game, however, nothing appeals quite like Penny Football.

I’d be lying if I said it was the most portable version of football around as, strictly speaking, you need a decent sized table to play it on. Apart from that, though, all you need are three coins (preferably of a single denomination) and two players. It’s also easy to play – you simply shuffle one coin between the other two with your finger, moving from one end of the table to the other until you score a goal.

Think of it like Subbuteo without the players. Or the floodlights. Or anything else, for that matter. Penny Football is simply a game of skill where the ability to control the slide of a coin is virtually everything. I played it a lot when I was 13-years-old or so, usually during wet break-times at school when I was holed up in a soulless classroom looking for a way to kill time. It’s fiendishly addictive and anyone can play it, so long as they have two fully functioning hands.

Like any simple game, you’ll find variations here and there offering different interpretations of the spartan rules. When I played it at school, my friends and I developed a set way to shoot at goal. This involved laying your hands flat on the table with both thumbs and index fingers touching. The ‘ball’ coin was then placed on its edge between the thumbs, at which point an upward push would propel it goalwards.

And then there’s the goalmouth itself. The Wikipedia page on Penny Football suggests the opposing goalmouth be made by splaying the index finger and little finger on the table surface. We had a different approach. We’d make the shape of a goal frame by pointing our index fingers downwards (touching the table) with our thumbs touching, and much better we thought it was too.

I will admit we were playing our own specific version of the game, but therein you have the versatility of the thing. If you’re not happy playing the rudimentary form, you can embellish it here and there with your own personal adjustments. Some people, for example, make use of a fourth coin to act as a goalkeeper when the attacking player tries to shuffle their shot in. The range of ‘improvements’ you can make are endless.

And as if to prove that there’s nothing new under the sun, a computer game version duly arrived in time for Euro 2008 thanks to JVC. As one of the corporate sponsors, they chose Euroball as their way of getting fans to play football online with a beautifully designed and executed take on the old Penny Football game.

JVC's EuroBall game: Great gameplay, nice graphics

So there it is: three coins, a table and a whole lot of fun. Penny Football – simple, but super to play.

No anger, just disappointment

Close-but-no-cigar was typified by how close TU got to sacking McGloin on a 4th and 5 TD pass.

I thought the coaches had a great gameplan. My only question was punting on 4th and 4 late in the third quarter, down 14-3. Kick it into the end zone and you gain only 20  yards of field position. To  me, the correct call was to get a swing pass out there on the sideline near the sticks for four yards and keep the drive going. That's the logical call and I don't see giving up that down in exchange for 20 yards of field position. I didn't see it when the call was made and I didn't see it after PSU went 80 yards for a 21-3 lead. That's being Temple Timid, not Temple TUFF.

 UNIVERSITY PARK _ After Temple's 36-27 loss to Maryland, the predominant feeling from this corner was anger.
Anger, as in, "How can you not blitz the crap out of a true freshman QB who threw three blitz-induced picks against William and Mary?"
That loss was on the coaches.
Now, sitting here getting free wifi in McDonald's after a 24-13 loss to Penn State, the overwhelming emotion is disappointment.
This one is on the players.
I thought the coaches had a great game plan. My only question was punting on 4th and 4 late in the third quarter, down 14-3. Kick it into the end zone and you gain only 20  yards of field position. To  me, the correct call was to get a swing pass out there on the sideline near the sticks for four yards and keep the drive going. That's the logical call and I don't see giving up that down in exchange for 20 yards of field position. I didn't see it when the call was made and I didn't see it after PSU went 80 yards for a 21-3 lead. That's being Temple Timid, not Temple TUFF.
But the plays left on the field before that were the game-changers.
As the only Temple fan sitting in my section (thanks to a free ticket from a PSU supporter and friend) from near the top row of Beaver Stadium, I could see both Cody Booth and Jalen Fitzpatrick CLEARLY being missed on sure-fire touchdown passes.
Had the Owls hit those seemingly easy pitch and catches, the game might have been different. No bigger Chris Coyer supporter than I, but it looked like he missed the Fitzpatrick pass altogether.
On the other one, it looked as if Cody Booth stopped in the pass pattern did not go where the ball was designed to be thrown.'s take on the game plan.

Since Jalen complained to the ref about being held, I think that might have been the case on his play, too.
 Still, I think Chris could have adjusted those throws for two scores.
Adam DiMichele makes both of those throws for scores. He didn't care about timing patterns. Of course, on the other hand, Chester Stewart throws both balls into the first row, so I guess everything is relative.
That's easy for me to say because I wasn't being rushed by 6-foot-5, 300-pound linemen, but those are plays a big-time team makes in a big-time setting.
Temple isn't a big-time team. At least not yet.
 It really ticks me off that the first Temple win over Penn State will come with an asterisk, but it's going to happen in Philadelphia on Aug. 30, 2014.
The asterisk, of course, will be Temple having 10 more scholarships than Penn State in each of the next two seasons leading up to that game.
Temple will have a talent and depth edge so pronounced that I would be surprised Penn State gives Temple the kind of game the Owls have given PSU the last three years.
 On Saturday, though, it was just another case of close, but no cigar against PSU.
 I like cigars.
Temple could have given their fans a puff of a primo Havana cigar on Saturday.
Instead, we'll have to settle for one of those cheap 7-11 cigars in 2014 and that's a long way away.
That's the bad news out of Saturday.
Other bad news came from our former MAC brethren against Big 10 teams. While Temple was losing at Penn State, Central Michigan was getting it done at Iowa and lowly Eastern Michigan was throwing a scare into Michigan State.
If them, why not Temple?
 The good news is that these are fixable problems. The defense is not a SEC-level defense, but it certainly is good enough to excel in the Big East.
Here's the offensive fix: Have Romond Deloatch, Jalen Fitzpatrick, Deon Miller and Ryan Alderman in the receiving rotation. Forget everybody else for now. Get those guys up to speed. I know Deloatch stepped out of bounds on his great catch, but that is a minor problem that's fixable in practice for a true freshman. He fights for the ball and catches it. I like that. I know Alderman had a drop, but that was his only drop in a three-year career at Temple that I can recall. He's a great third-and-eight option. Fitzpatrick can make explosive plays downfield and he won't drop the ball, either.
 Get the ball "in space" to Montel Harris and Matty Brown more. Shovel passes, screens, pitchouts. Those guys are deadly in space, not so much between the tackles.
If you want to run it up the middle, give it to fullback Wyatt Benson.
I think Penn State will prove to be the best team on the Temple schedule not named Louisville and the Lions might even be better than Louisville.
 More good news came from the mighty Big East on Saturday:
South Florida lost at Ball State (in the same stadium Temple beat Ball State, 42-0, last year).
"That's the kind of team we'd like to be in four years," Ball State coach Dave Lembo said of Temple after that loss last year. Since then, Ball State has beaten a Big 10 team and South Florida.
Heck, Ball State is the kind of team I'd like Temple to be in two weeks, too. Temple hasn't fallen that fast in a year, has it? I don't think so but they'll have to prove it to me on Oct. 6.
Also, Western Michigan beat UConn.
Yeah, that transition from the MAC is really going to be tough for the Owls.
They have the blueprint for the fixes and two weeks to do it against South Florida. If Ball State can do it, so can they. There can be no excuses next time. Get 'er done.
Now for the long ride home for both me and them.

The Football Attic: Post 100

Allow us, if you will, a brief moment of joyousness, for what you are reading is the 100th post here on The Football Attic.

We wouldn't ordinarily take up your time in this way with such self-regarding nonsense, but it has to be said we're incredibly proud of the fact that we've done so much in such a short space of time.

Creating a blog about football nostalgia was an idea we had towards the end of 2011 and quite honestly we weren't really sure anyone would find it interesting. The fact that you've not only embraced the subject matter with your incredible support but also contributed greatly to the writing that appears here vindicates our belief in the project completely and totally.

So this 100th post is essentially the biggest 'thank you' we could possibly make to you, our wonderful Attic friends and followers. Without you, we wouldn't feel so much pride in what we do, nor would we have made quite so many friends that are happy to talk about the innocent pleasures of Subbuteo, retro football kit design, Panini stickers and much, much more.

With humble gratitude for making The Football Attic our favourite place -

Chris O and Rich J.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Penn State fans taking smug attitude again

Temple will be seen on ABC TV in all of the blue areas.

For about 20 years, I've had a neighbor who was a Penn State fan.
I always envied him because his football program won all the time and my football program, except for the last few years of those two decades, lost all the time.
The relationship worked this way.
He felt sorry for me.
I envied him.
Then it changed a little bit over the last few months.
I felt sorry for him over the Jerry Sandusky thing.
He envied me because Temple didn't have to deal with all that crap.
Before all that went down, we tailgated together at last year's Temple game, his group welcoming me even though I wore my Temple jersey.
I then extolled the virtues of my favorite player, Bernard Pierce, telling them how good he was, that he was a football player who happened to become the Pennsylvania schoolboy 100-meter track champion while messing around with that sport his senior year.
"The great thing about him," I said, "is that he's got moves like Barry Sanders, but he's not afraid of contact. He runs like a fullback. He can go 70 yards on any given play."
One of the group then said something that pissed me off.
"No, offense, but if he's so good, why is he playing at Temple?" in a matter-of-fact way and not kiddingly.
I just shook my head. Offense taken.

'Temple won't score a touchdown. They'll get two field goals.'
_Philly sports talk radio host
I said there were a lot of guys who played at Temple who were really good, mentioning All-American and All-Pro Joe Klecko, former Heisman Trophy runner-up Paul Palmer, Big East offensive and defensive players of the year Dan Klecko and Walter Washington, former Redskins' Tre Johnson and Leslie Shepard, Jets' first-round draft choice Mo Wilkerson, etc., etc..
Then the game began and it was evident Temple had just as many good players as Penn State and played with a passion and pride Penn State didn't display except for the final drive. When it was over, most of the Penn State fans in the group showed a lot of class.
"You guys deserved to win," one of them said.
"One of these days we will," I replied.
I'm heading up to Penn State with the same group tomorrow. I will bring my laptop and try to find a place to file a post-game report late Saturday night.
There's a lot of that familiar swag among Penn State fans this year, that Temple can't possibly win. Mike Missenelli, the sports talk host in town and a Penn State alum, said today on the radio, "Temple won't score a touchdown. They'll get two field goals. The score will be 20-6." I hope Missenelli gets a lot of calls from Temple fans on his show Monday.
Pretty smug attitude about a Penn State team that lost to Virginia and Ohio. Virginia got smoked by Georgia Tech, 56-20, and Ohio struggled to beat Marshall, 27-24.
I know Temple will score a touchdown and I suspect the Owls will score several.
If that happens, and the Owls win, forgive me for not feeling sorry for Penn State.

Rich J's Top 5...World Cup Posters

Following on from Chris' Favourite 5 Tournament Logos article, I was going to do my usual thing and follow it up with my own top five, but then I decided to go off at a slight tangent and instead go for my Top 5 Official World Cup Posters.

I've often found with World Cups that the official posters tend to disappear into the background and usually ones featuring the mascot or variations on the logo tend to take prominence. An example of this would be Italia 90. We all remember the blocky stick man logo and he was all over the posters, but does anyone remember this?

Well I didn't...
If you want to see the full range of posters, you can view them here where you can marvel at just how crappy they've become in recent years. Seriously, anything since 1990 is watered down, focus grouped, corporate bilge.

So, for the first time in any article I've written about the World Cup, I'll not be including anything from any tournaments I actually watched at the time... yep, not even Mexico 86 gets a look in.

1.  Mexico 70

We really hit the ground running here! Minimal design but oozing cool, the sheer confidence and arrogance of this poster just smacks you upside the head and makes you its bitch.

Following the timeline of WC posters, there's a clear shift in direction with this one as all previous posters had been very business like and conveyed the seriousness of the occasion. Mexico 70 kicks down the door, traces of white powder gracing its upper lip, gun hanging loosely by its side, flanked by groupies and just dares you to question its pink attire.

I'm Mexico 70, I'm wearing pink. Now you're all gonna wear pink. And we do...

Oh yeah... and that font. That font is the Mac Daddy!

2. Argentina 78

If Mexico 70 was the dealer, Argentina 78 has clearly been enjoying the fruits of its produce.

Here we meet Argentina 78 at a club in New York just approaching closing time. The DJ has just started spinning Gloria Gaynor and it's happy hour all over again!

Following the new arty direction provided by Mexico 70 and West Germany 74 (despite its sombre appearance, there's definite free-form art at play), Argentina 78 perfectly captures the explosion and batshit insane atmosphere of that tournament. The sensible font stands aside to let the joyous, moustachioed protagonists take centre stage. Even the logo appears to be a wallflower at this dance, confined like a shy teen to the dark corners of the dance floor.

It'd be nice to think this level of joy was real and not in any way Junta induced, but one can't help think the smile of no.8 disappeared once his back was to camera.

3. Uruguay 1930 

From the ridiculous to the... slightly less trippy. The first World Cup was held in 1930 and this fantastic Art Deco number couldn't capture that era more perfectly if it tried.

One can't look at this poster without hearing the Charleston, a dance which even the arrow on the left appears to be getting down to. In fact, what is that arrow even doing there? Who cares? The Great Depression has just started and we just wanna dance our worries away!

From the elongated, hex-headed keeper, caught here mid-save (ah, but is that Uruguay's or Argentina's ball?) to the dynamic font, this is a classy piece of work and provides a bucket load of excitement for a brand new football tournament! Perfecto!

4. France 1938

This is the most serious looking of my top five, but also the most elegant.

What looks like a munitions factory worker from a WWII poster (foreshadowing?) standing atop the world, foot resting on the ball, confident in the bagginess of his shorts (foreshadowing Euro 2012 this time!) this poster is all about serenity and occasion.

This is the 1938 World Cup and this is big. And that's all you need to know. Whereas the first two posters felt inclined to impart secondary information (start date, final host city etc), this one just tells you what you need to know. Time and Place. Be there, or be... well, England?

One interesting point to note... despite the tournament being held in France, the globe doesn't seem to want to show you where that is. One could imagine this point being raised at some point followed by the inevitable Gallic shrug before the proof went off to the printers.

Ah, you know what, I've just looked again and of course, the ball is sitting in France...
Poster Designers 1 - 0 Idiot Blogger.

5. Spain 1982


This is like one of those psychiatric ink blot tests. What can you see? I can see what seems to be a snail, balanced on the head of an unhappy dog, who appears to be sniffing the behind of a Toucan being attacked by a fish. Am I sane doc? Am I SANE???? I don't think I can make sense of anything anymore.

The best part of this poster is the designer appears to have been given the brief, "Drop acid and just paint whatever you see... oh and I think it's about a World Cup or something... probably mention it somewhere on there, but mostly just get ripped to the tits!'

SPAIN 82! F*** YEAH!!!!

Al Gordon's Top 5 Patrick Kits

Regular Football Attic contributor Al Gordon of God, Charlton & Punk Rock has come up with another cracking article on French kit manufacturers...this time it's Patrick in the spotlight...

Those purveyors of nostalgic footballing memories, Got Not Got, posted an article recently about another French kit manufacturer from the 1980’s, Patrick. With imported French kit design still at the forefront of my mind after my Le Coq Sportif piece, I thought I’d ‘treat’ you all to my five favourite Patrick kits.

I’ve avoided one common template used by the likes of Derby County, Birmingham, Wrexham, Rotherham and Newport County although with its use of fine pinstriping it’s very elegant in its own right. Instead I’ve chosen not just from that golden period, but from designs across the years.

1. Swansea City, 1981-84

It’s not hard to see where the inspiration for this kit came from, fellow French firm Le Coq were already making something similar for Spurs. A classic plain white affair, it shared both manufacturers motif positioning on the sleeve and a central club crest with their counterparts. The difference between the two designs came in the style of the collar. Patrick used a round neck with a slight overlap at the front, very much in a style Adidas used in the Eighties with the likes of Arsenal and QPR.

As wonderful as the shirt is, what really sets this kit apart from the competition is the two black stripes on the bottom right corner of the shorts, a feature Patrick used for many clubs. The two lines were very much a Patrick logo borrowed directly from the boots they were famous for during the period. It was very understated yet just enough to give the whole ensemble a touch of class.

I always remember this as Swansea’s heyday kit from the old Division One, worn by the likes of Bob Latchford and Alan Curtis. Ironically, modern day Swansea back in the top flight of English football once again can lay claim to being the best dressed team in the land with wonderfully  simple centenary designs both home and away supplied by Adidas.

Sandwiched between classically simple designs by other favourite sportswear firms of mine, Bukta, Hummel and Admiral, fans of The Swans really were spoilt for over a decade with some of the cleanest football kits on the market.

2. Southampton, 1980-85

Kevin Keegan. We all remember being surprised by news that the European Footballer of the Year was returning from West Germany to ply his trade on the south coast with Southampton.

The pictures of that pristine perm in a red and white Patrick shirt were beamed around the world ensuring a kit some Saints fans weren’t too keen on would become iconic. In contrast it’s the bald head of David Armstrong that I always recall wearing it.

Deviating from the traditional stripes seems to anger all fans whose sides play in a shirt of that configuration. Patrick went for an ‘Ajax negative’ idea with the bold white panel down the chest and red sides, separated by fine black pinstripes. They were always going to be facing the pressure trying to follow Admirals previous shirt worn through the end of the seventies. In fact Patrick failed to take on board any concerns of the fans as after five years they followed this design with a predominantly red shirt with white and black shoulders (a template which Birmingham City also adopted).

There are many different versions of this shirt as the design ran for far longer than sponsor’s contracts and both Rank Xerox and Draper Tools, the two names you associate the most with the club, can both lay a claim to this famous design.

3. Wimbledon, 2002-04

With striking yellow sides which continued down the shorts, a bold yellow V-neck and simple sock detailing, you’d think there is nothing particularly astonishing about this tasteful Wimbledon kit. Two things draw me to it though, first, it’s the last kit worn under the old Wimbledon name, and second just look at the sponsors logo!

AFC Wimbledon had already been formed at this point and Wimbledon the league club were planning the logistics of migrating north to Milton Keynes. This strip was worn in the last season at Selhurst Park and was retained for the first year (the clubs final season) at the hockey stadium.
With the GO-MK logo in black white and red, the colours of the rebranding, this really is in my opinion one of the saddest football kits ever worn.

The likes of Warren Barton and Dean Holdsworth were among the final Wimbledon squad to wear this shirt although they were sold by the clubs administrator before the name change. A young Dean Lewington, son of Fulham legend Ray, also wore it and still wears the white shirt of MK Dons today.

4. Stockport County, 1999-2001

Stockport County are a club that have never been afraid to boldly try something different. If a kits good enough for the world champions, then it’s good enough for them. Following Argentina’s success on home soil in 1978, County adopted the light blue and white stripes with black shorts for three seasons, right up to the outbreak of war in the Falklands. They finished the last couple of months of that campaign in a black and white number straight out of the Adidas (or perhaps Kay’s) catalogue.

County were market leaders in some of the horror stories from the early Nineties, before getting a little too carried away with shadow striping by 1995 on a predominantly white kit. Adidas brought a short interlude of sanity back to the club for three years before Patrick embarked on resuming normal service with this delight.

Taking its roots from the Southampton kit of fifteen years earlier, the winged collar and a bold white chest panel are delightful, yet Patrick weren’t content with the tried-and-tested formula and had to add symmetrical pinstriping, very reminiscent of my own ‘telephone doodling’.

5. Port Vale, 2001-03

Number five was a hard choice. Patrick produced a fine quartered shirt for Cambridge United but that missed out as it looked a little too much like a rugby design. There was also a white number made for Plymouth Argyle with fine green pinstripes that was definitely in the mix, but I’ve plumped for a bizarre design that I believe could be unique. If you know of other clubs with these unmistakeable sleeves then please send pictures!

What is in essence, a simple design with its neat v-neck collar and famous sponsor logo, Patrick went one step further than Hummel did with the chevrons and put a whole pedestrian crossing up the sleeve. The availability of a flashing orange light epaulette would have made those who like to accessorize very happy! This design also continued up the side of the shirts, my ‘telephone doodling’ here would probably consist of a famous pop group crossing Abbey Road.

My memories of the shirt are a little thin on the ground nearly a decade on, but judging by the picture, Patrick only made them in a very limited range of sizes! A very distinctive and dynamic design to end on.

Once again, our thanks go to Al for this great post. If you'd like to write an article for The Football Attic, contact us at admin [at] thefootballattic [dot] com or catch us on Twitter or Facebook.