Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Worst of Modern Football?

Here in the Attic, we love the "good old days"! This doesn't mean we don't like football now, but there are some things we just can't stand!

What with the growing Against Modern Football movement and a general sense of disenchantment about the game we all love, Chris and I were discussing what we despise most about the modern game.

My personal bugbear is one word..."Tekkers." Just hearing that word as I type it makes me want to punch a wall!!!

We started drawing up a list of anything we could think of... and it started growing rapidly. There's 22 things on there already!

With brains already ticking over, we thought it'd be nice to get all interactive again, given how much fun we had with the Greatest Shirt Sponsor Ever.

The plan is to get a list of all the things we hate about modern football, at which point we'll draw up a tournament to find out which is the worst of all.

So... what are all the things you despise?  Leave a comment here or get in touch via Twitter or Facebook!


P.S. For balance, we're also going to do a 'what's best about old football' too... :-)

Monday, April 29, 2013

Retro Random Video: Man United NOT appearing on Top of the Pops

We've seen it so often before, the sight of a football team appearing on Top of the Pops, singing (or rather 'miming') badly to their latest chart hit (if indeed 'hit' is the word we're looking for there).

But in 1983 there was one occasion when a football team were due to appear in the BBC studios to perform their song but didn't. This was because Manchester United, the team in question, were rendered unavailable on account of their participation in the 1983 FA Cup Final replay at Wembley against Brighton & Hove Albion.

What to do? The answer: Simply show a selection of recent Man United goals (and one Brighton one) with their song "Glory Glory Man United" playing in the background. This rendered the 21st May 1983 edition of Top of the Pops (already shortened because the match was shown directly afterwards) nothing more than a musical version of Football Focus. As for the song, it proved to be as unconvincing as Pat Sharp's presenting style, yet it still hauled its way up to number 13 in the charts. If anyone knows how that happened, please get in touch.

So here it is then - Manchester United's non-appearance on Top of the Pops, preceded as it is by Big Country's rendition of 'In a Big Country'.

If you want to get straight to the Man United bit, you'll need to fast forward to 05:06. If, on the other hand, you want to know when the Man United bit starts so you can avoid it, you'll need to hit the stop button at 05:06.

Warning: Video contains images of Pat Sharp pretending to be interested in the FA Cup Final replay.

World Cup - A Daily Mirror Special (1970)

It can never be underestimated just how much English football fans were looking forward to the 1970 World Cup. Having hosted and won the 1966 tournament, England were ready to take on anyone that dared snatch their title from them. With such self-confidence and excited anticipation, the entire country lapped up every bit of Mexico ‘70 ephemera they could find.

The Daily Mirror was not to be left out as it produced its special guide to the Finals. Calling on the talents of its writers, designers and photographers, the Mirror had all the ingredients required to inform and educate its readers.

Those self-same talents would be put to good use analysing the qualities of the England team and its likelihood to retain the Jules Rimet trophy. Undoubtedly one of the key elements for success would be the way Sir Alf’s squad adapted to the heat and altitude of the host nation. Ken Jones confirmed what we already knew from a recent Attic article:

“The planning began many months ago when the world’s greatest athletes were punishing their bodies in search of gold medals. Sir Alf Ramsey was there then, watching, probing, searching. He went to hotels, tasted food, explored training facilities and talked.”

Jones also correctly pre-empted the pace of the games in the searing heat of Mexico: “Running will have to be restricted and it will become a matter of precise judgement. If the ball is carelessly given away then England will find themselves in trouble. The order will be for no unnecessary effort and the tempo will be slowed down in an attempt to conserve energy.”

Harry Miller explored the rigorous preparations further still in his feature titled ‘Be Prepared’: “Players will be examined daily to see how much sun they have absorbed. There will also be regular checks on feet and a careful watch on diet.”

He went on: “Each player is being issued with two special pairs of sun-glasses [sic]. If you have colour television and expect to see England in a change strip of red - the colour worn when they beat West Germany in the 1966 World Cup Final - forget it! England will wear sky-blue when they are unable to play in traditional white. It has been found to absorb less heat.”

While there was ample pictorial evidence of the players receiving their inoculations, Harry Miller also discussed the important subject of how the squad would avoid boredom during their stay in Mexico: “A variety of indoor games, darts, draughts, feature films and the inevitable playing cards should help.” The Playstation Era this was not...

Further on, a brief description of each group in the tournament was provided although little was learned from each of these mini profiles. In the case of Group 2, a particularly bad prediction was made as the Italians, so it was said “will display the most brilliant football but their suspect temperament could well see the solid defensive play of the composed Swedes pipping them for the second qualifying place.” That’ll be the Italians that reached the Final, no doubt...

The Daily Mirror flooded each page of its guide to the World Cup with many photographs, all of them adding interest to the piece, with some having a curious novelty value. ‘The Magnificient Seven’ showed England’s Leeds United contingent wearing suits while ‘My World Cup’ looked like an easy excuse to show Bobby Moore’s then wife Tina in an England shirt. “Women’s rights are not part of the England soccer scene” said the caption, “but you have to admit Mrs Tina Moore shows pretty good form in Bobby’s international shirt.”

After the visual pleasantries that headed the feature, Frank McGhee took three pages to discuss pretty much every single decent team and player he’d ever seen in a World Cup. Throughout this huge indulgence, it was actually his opening gambit that was the most interesting to read. In it, he referred to Joao Saldanha, coach of the Brazilian team, whose views on the future of the tournament were somewhat gloomy in nature.

“He feels it will be killed eventually, maybe even during the coming decade, by the surfeit of national feelings and international troubles that affect it and which will in time sicken die hard fans and football associations of the competing nations” said McGhee. “And he insists that he won’t be sorry to see it disappear, to be replaced at the game’s grass roots by competition between clubs in which anthems and flags and patriotic drum-beating will be out of place.” Thought-provoking stuff.

At the back end of the Daily Mirror’s fine World Cup guide, Derek Wallis looked at ‘The Outsiders’ and wondered whether the likes of Israel, El Salvador or Morocco could repeat the achievements of North Korea four years earlier (they wouldn't), while Tony Cornell told us all about the efforts the BBC and ITV were making in preparing for the forthcoming televisual festival.

But this review ends with the back page feature focusing on the qualifying results that made up ‘The Road To Mexico.’ Before you ask, though, it wasn't the results that caught my eye - more the picture at the top of the page. It shows the draw being made for the 1970 World Cup Finals, and in particular one man holding aloft a piece of paper showing the name ‘Italy.’

Where these days team names are printed onto beautifully woven pieces of silk or elaborately decorated paper, back then the names of the teams were scrawled on by hand with a pen, and not particularly neatly either.

For that reason and that reason alone, we salute football’s ‘good old days’ and give thanks for this special Daily Mirror commemorative guide.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Attic Podcast 8 - Memorabilia Collecting

Once again we bring you two podcasts separated by a matter of days, although they were recorded a matter of minutes apart... who cares???

This time we discuss the exciting (stick with me!) topic of memorabilia collecting and cover everything from eBay buying tips to whatever's at the other end of that spectrum.

Also, Rich alienates all our Scottish listeners... and all our female one.

Oh, and if you can guess what the theme tune is (and moreover the specific variant), then well done! 

The curious case of Montel Harris

Somebody (Fran Duffy?) please send these Matt Brown highlights to Chip Kelly. (No truth to the rumor that Steve Addazio wrote these rap lyrics.)

Four Temple Owls signed NFL free agent contracts yesterday.
I thought two (Brandon McManus and Montel Harris) would be drafted.
I'm still surprised that Matty Brown is out there. I hope the Eagles pick him up as a kickoff returner.
(Heck, they had freaking Colt Anderson return a couple of kickoffs last year.)
Late Sunday night news: Matt Brown accepted an invite to work out with the Tampa Bay Bucs.
Still, the case of Montel Harris is the most curious to me.
He came back for his senior year, performed well on the field, put some great film numbers up and also did relatively well at the pro days and combines.
I think, given a chance, he has a chance to be a great pro.
At least I'm not alone in this thought.
Martin Freedman also felt the same way in this excellent treatise posted on Thursday.
It's worth a read. (I read it online yesterday and now only the first graph appears. If you have $1, it's worth a read.)
Basically, he says that in all of the "metrics"  Harris rates higher than Montee Ball and seven other "drafted" running backs and that for the value a NFL team cannot get a better back than Harris.
McManus is going to the Colts, where all he has to do is win either the punter or kicker jobs (not both).
John Youboty is going to Denver.
Harris is going to Tampa Bay (where I often wish I'm going) and Martin Wallace is going to Cleveland (where I hope I never have to go).
Good luck to all the Owls.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Retro Round-Up: 25 April 2013

As if to prove that The Football Attic can't keep the football memories of yesteryear alive on its own, we bring you our weekly selection of top posts and news items from around the globe...

When football kits go bad: Who Ate All The Pies tell us the sad tale of Kevin Pressman’s goalkeeper outfit from 2002/03...

A fine tribute to a great servant of Brighton & Hove Albion and the Republic of Ireland - Tony Grealish - over at The Goldstone Wrap...

Allez les autres verts! The Vintage Football Club provides a profile of once-great Paris club Red Star in 1970/71...

Got, Not Got are in Shoot magazine heaven - they've picked up a big box of old copies from a car boot sale...

Guus Hiddink with a big bushy moustache! That and other happy memories of PSV at Old School Panini...

A couple of nice commemorative stamps to celebrate moments in Lokomotive Sofia’s history at Footysphere...

EBay Item of the Week: A box of 100 unopened packets of Panini’s Argentina 78 stickers - yours for £5,500 pounds...

...and finally, the story behind the 1999-2000 shirt of Tirol Innsbruck, courtesy of When Saturday Comes...

And don’t forget...
The deadline for your League of Blogs entries is 25 May 2013, so you've got around four weeks left to get designing!

NFL draft day for Temple is Saturday this year

Liz Sim with the report from pro day. Great quote from Matt Brown.

The first round of the NFL draft is today.
The second and third are tomorrow.
For Temple, though, the draft starts at noon on Saturday.
I don't expect any of the Owls to go in the fourth and fifth rounds, but I do expect kicker Brandon McManus to go in the sixth to the Green Bay Packers.
I told him that Saturday.
I hope it comes true.
Montel Harris should be drafted as well.
Based on his 351-yard, seven-touchdown, game against Army, I do expect him to get drafted.
We'll call it the seventh round.
The scouts always say that film and game production is more important than pro days or combines so we'll see if they are telling the truth.
Harris' film was outstanding.
So was Matt Brown's.
Brown said something in the above video from Temple's pro day that I agree with:
"I'm the hardest-working player in the country," Brown said.
That said, I don't think Matt will be drafted on Saturday but he will catch on with someone as an undrafted free agent (UDA).
Once he gets in a camp, I think he will do there what he did for Temple the last four years and that will be enough to get on an NFL roster as a kick returner.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Attic Podcast 7 - FA Cup Memories

As it's nearly time for another FA Cup Final, we thought we'd wander down memory lane and ramble all about our own FA Cup memories from hours of match build up to why it's all gone wrong nowadays!

Listen to Rich go for an hour without really mentioning Coventry in 87 or Sutton Utd in 89...useless!

Subscribe on iTunes or download here

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Highlights from the Cherry and White game 2013

Liz Sim sent over this video by email that she did for Owls Update. Great job by Temple-made Liz, a journalism major.

Sorry to see that a guy named Justin Klugh lists "Temple University" as the only school on his resume.
Klugh is a sports producer at Philly.com and, according to his LinkedIn file is responsible for "organizing content on Philly.com Sports. Making editorial decisions about the placement of stories." 
Make that "non-stories."
Great ESPN story on Connor Reilly:
Here's an example of the kind of stories worth publishing. While ESPN is the worldwide leader in sports,  Justin Klugh and Philly.com are way at the back of that line.
 Today on Philly.com might have been one of the biggest "non-stories" in the history of journalism, the "fact" that Matt Rhule is listed in the low-90s among head coaches in the FBS football.
 Klugh, linking a Sporting News.com story, makes the Grand Canyon-sized leap in logic by saying Temple coaching is in a downward spiral, writing that Al Golden is No. 32 and Steve Addazio is No. 85.
 Nowhere does he point out that Golden might have been 120 when he was hired by Temple.
How did Golden rise up the ranks?
Largely by his work AT Temple.
I'm kind of shocked that Lewis Katz, the Temple-made CEO at Philly.com, hasn't fired this guy by now.
 Matt Rhule is a huge upgrade on Steve Addazio. Ask any of Rhule's players and they will tell you that.
I fully expect Rhule to flip Addazio's 4-7 record into something similar on the other side, say 7-5 or better.
When it is, I'd like to see Justin Klugh post a story on Philly.com about the upward trend in coaching hires at Temple.
 I won't hold my breath.
Don't feel sorry for Klugh, though. He can always go back to making coffee at the Barista Cafe in Lancaster, his last job.

Super Action Soccer, 1984

The Colecovision games console was much prized for its near-perfect arcade titles back in the early-1980s. With games like Donkey Kong Jr, Zaxxon and Q*Bert, you could be entertained by great graphics and top sounds in your own home just like the coin-operated classics.

Unfortunately when Super Action Soccer was published in 1984, little of that quality seemed to remain. Oh sure, the graphics were better than we’d seen in other games on other consoles... but only just.

Having booted up your Super Action Soccer cartridge (I wonder why it was never known as ‘SAS’, by the way?) you were quickly greeted by the sight of two teams lined up and ready to play. The players, for their part, looked like the symbols off a Gents toilet door - one team coloured light blue, the other in a shade of yellow we shall henceforth refer to as ‘Smoker’s handkerchief.’

As a quirky, digitised version of ‘March of the Toreadors’ from Bizet’s ‘Carmen’ plays out, our competitors take their positions and stand, frankly, like a bunch of camp convicts ligging around a prison courtyard. Luckily one isn't too distracted by that when play gets underway and we get to see the player animations which are quite smooth for their age. Even the ball has a shadow when it rises into the air - a nice touch, even if the bounce of the ball is a little unnatural.

From time to time, when the game deems fit, we're treated to a close-up of the action involving the player on the ball and his opposite number. These little cameos appear on the left of the screen and reveal a little more detail about the kits of the two teams. Sadly the white/yellow and blue/white teams were the only ones seen during every game, but it was reassuring to know that they were wearing contrasting coloured shorts when you saw them close up.

In a future echo of games such as Kick Off and Sensible Soccer, Super Action Soccer also offers a top-down map of the pitch showing where your players were during ‘close-up’ mode. There's also a basic clock that twitches nervously along with the match score to keep you fully briefed too.

Looking back at the left of the screen, however, there are good points and bad points to observe. On the plus side, we see tufts of grass rushing past while the players are running which helps to emphasise the feeling of movement. On the downside, our players seem to run with their shoulders hunched up around their ears as if they've left the coat-hangers in the back of their shirts.

Atmosphere-wise, there’s a constant hum from the crowd to accompany the gameplay and though it sounds like the interference you’d get on an old radio, it works well enough along with the other token blips and bleeps.

And it’s those basic sound effects that come into their own when some goalmouth action occurs. Here we get a full screen experience without twitching clocks or scoreboards. We get to see the goalkeeper shuffling around nervously in his goalmouth and, if you’re lucky, a striker ambling into the penalty area to unleash a shot. Once the ball’s left the striker’s foot and heading goalwards, there are a few breathless moments when the goalkeeper’s reaction is anticipated... but sadly it often ends with the goalie diving too early and allowing the ball to breeze past him.

If it’s any consolation, at least you get to see the net rippling when a goal’s scored. It’s just a shame there weren't a few more of those charming little effects in this game as it probably could have done with them. Super Action Soccer (renamed ‘Super Action Football’ for the European market) might have looked an exciting proposition back in the mid-80’s, but in reality it lacked any real zip or excitement. And all that on the console that brought us Donkey Kong Jr too. What a shame...

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Observations from the Cherry and White game

Matt Rhule's observations after the Cherry and White game.

Long day in the sun at the Cherry and White game.
I left the sunblock home and got sunburned.
When I left for the E-O, it was chilly and cloudy.
Who would have figured?
Live and learn.
These passing stats would not have been possible in Daz's offense.

I was talking to a couple of good friends in the second row of the end zone stands and mentioned that we have no placekickers.
Then I said we are going to go from zero placekickers to two real quick.
This is what Nick Visco looked like to me before yesterday.

"Jim Cooper Jr. is coming in July but, watch out, this Nick Visco kid is really good," I said.
Just then, a kid sitting in front of me turns around and says, "I'm Nick Visco" and shakes my hand and says thanks.
His mom and dad were sitting to his right and left.
"Geez, I'm now glad I didn't say Nick Visco sucks," I said.
Now I didn't know what Nick Visco looks like, but I saw Nick Visco kick for Archbishop Wood in his full uniform and he's got a big-time leg.
Now I know what Nick Visco looks like.
Also saw the two Jim Coopers (father and son), but I knew what they looked like beforehand.

Other observations:
  •  Matt Rhule went around Lot 10 and glad handed everyone. He's very genuine and not at all a phony. If he's as good a coach as he is a person, Temple has a shot against Notre Dame.
  •  Paul Layton is a great punter, the Montel Harris of punting. That said, I hope we don't have to use him.
  • Connor Reilly is the real deal. He reminds me of the Cincinnati quarterback who was so accurate against Temple last year. 
  •  Zaire Williams better get on the field. Don't think any of the current running backs are on the talent level of Harris/Brown/Pierce. Williams might be.
  •  I had the White as a 3 1/2-point favorite and they covered easily, 34-28. Not impressed with Phil Snow's defense. He held the White to 34 points, four below his average last year with Eastern Michigan. It STILL scares me to have him as DC. I hope he proves me wrong. Make that, I PRAY he proves me wrong. Signs that could happen: An improved pass rush.
  • Seemed odd watching the best blocking fullback in Temple history, Wyatt Benson, starting at middle linebacker. Maybe he can be Temple's first two-way player since the 1950s. If Owls run a sweep on goal-line offense, I hope he's in there leading the way.
  • The Chris Coyer fullback experiment is going to work. He's in a spot where it is conceivable  he gets 5-10 carries a game and throws 5-10 passes a game and catches 5-10 passes a game, but three of each would suffice. I smell a Jalen Fitzpatrick reverse, a throw across the field to Coyer and a Coyer pass for six to Ryan Alderman or Khalif Herbin. I hope for at least one to two trick plays a game. Heck, Toledo made Chuck Heater look silly in 2011 by hitting on three trick plays against an over pursuing defense. 
  • Averee Robinson had four sacks and helped control the Cherry running game from his defensive tackle position. He's only a freshman. He's probably better suited as a nose guard in a 5-2.
  • Speaking of Herbin, I really feel he'd help Temple more at running back than as a slot receiver. He's got to get the ball more than the five times a slot receiver gets it during the game. At the very least, I'd use him as a Matty Brown-type third-down back in addition to his first- and second-down slot responsibilities. If he works as a third-down back, use him as an RB on other downs as well. Herbin is just as fast as Sweet Feet Lucear, Keith Gloster and Travis Sheldon and that's some pretty fast company plus he's got stop and start instincts at the line of scrimmage those guys never had. Think a slightly taller, slightly faster and slightly heavier Matt Brown describes Herbin's game perfectly.

The Hotspur Handy Book of Football Club Colours, 1969

There are so many great football nostalgia images around that it would be easy for us to upload one after the other and say "Wow - check these out!"

We wouldn't need to do much more because a picture, as Telly Salavas once implied, paints a thousand words. On this occasion, however, we came very close to doing just that, for this post takes The Hotspur Handy Book of Football Club Colours as its subject.

This simple booklet of sixteen pages measuring just over 15 centimetres by 25 contains nothing but hand-drawn illustrations - 141 in all - showing the football kits worn by league clubs throughout the United Kingdom.

I never bought The Hotspur comic. I was more of a Whizzer and Chips man myself (sorry - 'boy'), but had I known it was prone to giving away free gifts like this back in the day, I'd have quickly turned my back on Sid's Snake, Shiner and Mustapha Million.

Inside the booklet, each double page spread showcased the home kits for a specific division of the English or Scottish Leagues. As is always the case when looking at old football kit designs, you find yourself spotting details that delight with their quirkiness. In the Division 1 of 1969, we see Arsenal wearing blue socks, Wolves wearing a kit devoid of black and Sheffield Wednesday in their blue shirts with white sleeves.

Football League Division 1

In Division 2, Norwich look very natty in their white and yellow hooped socks while Millwall were still in the early days of their seven year stretch wearing all white.

Football League Division 2

Division 3 shows how Reading were taking the hoop motif to dazzling new levels, while Plymouth Argyle had dusted off their nice white kit with a green and black hoop, a review of which written by John Devlin can be found in  this month's Backpass magazine. There's also an appearance by Barrow and Southport, both of whom dropped out of the Football League within ten years of this booklet being printed, and Bournemouth and Boscombe Athletic before they changed their name to AFC Bournemouth.

Football League Division 3

In Division 4 you'll find one of the best kits I've discovered in recent years, namely that belonging to Darlington. For some reason those three horizontal black stripes across the middle of the shirt really do look the business to me, and were it not for the likelihood of a sponsor's logo obscuring it, I'm sure it would have already made a comeback in the modern era.

Other curiosities in Division 4 were the inclusion of Workington (who dropped out of the league in 1977), Swansea Town (in their final season before changing name to Swansea City) and Southend United wearing blue and white striped shirts for the only season of their history.

Football League Division 4

Back in 1969, the Scottish League still comprised of two divisions and both are featured here in similar detail. In Division 1, note Raith Rovers having a brief flirtation with a double hoop on an all white strip...

Scottish League Division 1

In Scottish Division 2, meanwhile, Clydebank were trialling a red shirt with white diagonal sash that would change to white with a red sash for the 1969/70 season. Montrose were also depicted in a soon-to-be-gone kit that included a shirt design not dissimilar to that of Raith Rovers.

Scottish League Division 2

As if that wasn't enough, the back cover featured a 'team photo'-style illustration showing the twelve kits from the Irish League. Though the name suggests a competition featuring teams from the Republic of Ireland in the modern sense, this was in essence the 'League of Northern Ireland'.

And my favourite kit from this batch? It would have to be the one worn by Glentoran. You don't see the red, green and black in those hoops coming together very often, but it's certainly a nice combination.

The Irish League

With that, this lovely little book is rendered complete, but in a revolutionary move that won't be repeated on this website (not if I've got anything to do with it at least), we must pay lip service to a double page spread featuring the 'Top Rugby League Teams.'

'Top Rugby League Teams'

Quite honestly I know nothing about Rugby so here I am forced to retain a dignified silence while you look at the image above. As for the rest of the booklet, I could talk for hours about all those wonderful drawings. They're absolutely fantastic.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Retro Round-Up - 18 April 2013

Our weekly buffet of football nostalgia from which we invite you to try an appetising mouthful of the following:

The Goldstone Wrap brings us the larger than life Brighton & Hove Albion team photo from 1979, which includes everyone at the club - even Hilda the tea lady...

An excellent assessment of the 1977 League Cup Final over at Got, Not Got - probably the longest Cup Final England's ever known...

In all their pinstriped brilliance, the 1983/84 Bordeaux team containing what looks like the entire French national squad, courtesy of The Vintage Football Club...

These funky Mexico 70 postcards over at Footysphere certainly get our (postage) stamp of approval...

The Subbuteo revolution finally begins in Japan, as reported by Tom Bayly for the BBC News website...

Finally, give in to temptation and snap up a Botafogo shirt worn by the great Garrincha on eBay - and all for the low, low price of £16,000...

Seen any retro football stuff on the web that we should include in our Retro Round-Up? If so, drop us a line to admin [at] thefootballattic [com] now!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The best thing about Cherry and White Day

Notice there is no '][' on the helmets... could that mean TEMPLE makes its return tomorrow? We can only hope. Great job by Kevin Newsome in this video.

Except for the one year I was sports editor at the Norwich (N.Y.) Evening Sun, I don't think I've missed a Cherry and White game in the past 35 years.
So I consider myself somewhat of an expert on the subject.
Coaches come and go, players come and go, parents come and go, even school presidents come and go, but I'm always here.
Complete Cherry and White rosters:
TFF has installed the White squad as 3 1/2-point favorites (we have our reasons).
Click over the red type for the squads as complete rosters are here:
Or there.
Me and Al Shrier and Doc and a few precious others.
Despite how out of control our society is getting these days, I always will be.
You have to live your life, not a life the bad guys dictate you live.
I'm going and, as always, I'm planning on having fun.
The game itself is secondary.
Make that tertiary.
My Al Golden sweatshirt on the day he allegedly wore it.
On the field, it's the good guys vs. the good guys and I don't get a whole lot of satisfaction out of that.
I need a protagonist and an antagonist in my stories.
I will get that starting Aug. 31, not before.
Any other Temple game day, the game is the thing and all the rest is a distant second.
People ask me what the best thing about Cherry and White day is and I always answer one word:
Yeah, stuff.
You can get the best Temple stuff (by that I mean shirts, sweatshirts, even helmets) on Cherry and White Day than any other day of the year anyplace in the world.
I get frustrated when I walk into a PHILADELPHIA Wal-Mart's and Kohl's and see Virginia Tech and Boston College stuff, but no Temple stuff.
Some day that will change but, for now, the best place to get Temple stuff is 10th and Diamond on Cherry and White Day.
I got a sweet No. 69 game worn Temple jersey on Cherry and White Day for $20.
I purchased some great Temple football hats. I had my eye on an old-time Temple football helmet, but it was a little above my pay scale.
I got a "Papreps" custom-made black "Cherry Crusade" T-Shirt delivered to me on Cherry and White Day.
I rock Temple stuff in the gym or at the mall 365 days a year and, out of those 365, I'd say 353 days are stuff I've purchased at Cherry and White Day. (The other dozen or so days I wear my Al Golden sweatshirt that I purchased for $55 from Patti on the fourth floor at Vivacqua Hall a few years ago. She said Al actually wore it during the 2007 Penn State game, but I have my doubts.)
At the gym, I invariably get people (mostly guys, unfortunately) coming up to me and saying, "Cool Temple shirt, where did you get that?"
"Cherry and White Day," I say.
"How much did you pay?"
"Twenty bucks."
"No way! Man, I can't find Temple stuff anywhere."
"Come down to Cherry and White Day, then."
That's how those conversations usually go.
You can't get Temple stuff in Wal-Mart, K-Mart or Sears but you can get plenty of good Temple stuff on Cherry and White Day.
So stuff is the primary reason to get out to Cherry and White Day, with tailgating and seeing old Temple football friends secondary and the game tertiary.
After watching Ventres Stevenson and Myron Myles look like O.J. Simpson on a couple of Cherry and White Days, I'm not taking much home from the game itself.
Since the temperatures are going to dip into the 60s, I think I'll wear my Al Golden sweatshirt.

Cherry and White
1 p.m. (Gates to E-O open at noon)
Edberg-Olson Complex, 10th and Diamond
Free in LC parking lot, $10 in Lot 10 (11th and Norris, where most of the tailgating will be held)
Free, plus each fan will also receive a free raffle ticket for free tickets to a future home game
Allowed in all lots, but most fans will be in Lot 10, which should fill up by 9 a.m.
Prohibited inside E-O
Smoking, alcohol, bags, umbrellas, thermoses, coolers, fireworks, weapons

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Subbuteo catalogue, 1988

When you come to appraise Subbuteo football kit designs as a fully grown adult, you accept the fact that some of them won’t look quite right. This isn't a problem most of the time because we understand that Subbuteo’s charm comes from the way it simplifies the real world in miniature form.

Unfortunately, there’s an exception to every rule and in the case of Subbuteo’s 1988 catalogue, it’s the Tottenham team shown on the front cover. Ignore for a moment the not-so-subtle use of Umbro product placement worn by the six boys and instead focus your attention on the white-shirted players on the Subbuteo pitch. According to the kit listing inside the catalogue, this is Tottenham Hotspur but I ask you, kit aficionados of the world - when have you ever seen Tottenham wear a kit like that?

The answer is ‘you haven’t’ but we won’t dwell on such things because this turns out to be merely a momentary distraction in an otherwise fabulous document. Each double-page spread shows off the full range of teams and accessories in a way that allows the young enthusiast to dream that one day they too could own such an amazing array of stuff.

Pages 1 and 2 provide a pleasing introduction with a lovely picture showing an evening kick-off in the ‘Subbuteo League’ between Coventry City and Liverpool under floodlights. As we've mentioned all too often before, this is an entirely impossible scenario due to the weakness of the Subbuteo floodlights. Eagle-eyed Attic fanatics will notice the players’ shadows pointing the wrong way, but we wouldn't have spotted that in our mid-teens and just as well, really.

We may, however, have marvelled at the new grey grandstand sections or the vibrant crowd scenes. Failing that, we might have been distracted by ‘The Subbuteo Story’ - two short paragraphs explaining how Subbuteo came into being back in 1947, translated into various languages along the top of both pages. Oh look - Umbro adverts on the grandstand sections...

Pages 3 and 4 introduced us to the trusty kit graphics that adorned every Subbuteo wallchart and catalogue, and here they appear on each double-page spread along the bottom. Along the top edge, more reading matter was provided with some bog standard text explaining how realistic Subbuteo was - all standard fare to the 'flick-to-kick' enthusiast.

The pictures, however, showed more exciting shots of a Subbuteo match in action (nice Umbro Everton away shirt, by the way) and on the right, examples of how throw-ins, corner kicks, passes and shots were executed for those people that had never clapped eyes on the game before.

Upon opening page 5 and 6, one is greeted with a multitude of national flags. That’s because “many countries have their own Subbuteo clubs and associations”, according to the translated text in the top-left corner. Extra photos show people playing football, people playing Subbuteo and various unnamed trophies that, we can only assume, include the Subbuteo World Cup. I think it's the one in the middle, but I could be wrong...

Page 7 and page 8 feature the three main boxed sets one could buy back in 1988. The basic Club Edition looked barely changed from the one I owned ten years previously, while the World Cup Edition looked altogether more appealing with its scoreboard, fence surround and the two teams from the 1986 World Cup Final - Argentina and West Germany. It would have been a nice touch to include the West German team in their green and white away strip for accuracy’s sake, but the traditional black and white kit did little to take away from a fine boxed set.

Last but not least was the Grandstand Edition - essentially a bumper collection of items for the junior player with world domination in mind. This had a section of grandstand included for instant atmosphere, plus three teams, a TV crew, throw-in takers, corner kickers and plenty more besides. The very stuff that juvenile dreams are made of.

Over the page were many of the accessories previously mentioned, plus five different sets of footballs, four different goal nets and the famous Subbuteo Astropitch. One personal regret of mine is the fact that I gave up playing Subbuteo around 1986, and that’s because I missed out on playing with the beautifully made Adidas Tango footballs. They look utterly amazing in white and yellow, but I'm struggling to figure out when you’d play with the orange ones. Given that in real life they were only used in snowy conditions, how would you replicate that in Subbuteo? Would your Dad’s shaving foam be secretly removed from the bathroom cabinet on such occasions?

On pages 11 and 12 were the final selection of accessories including trophies, trainers, adhesive shirt number stickers and crowd figures. Below those were the tail end of the Subbuteo kit range and here we got the chance to see some of the newer designs on sale. These included the Leeds United kit with the ‘V’ motif on the shirt (hello Umbro!), and that pesky Tottenham kit (654) we mentioned earlier. Really - how early did the designer knock off for lunch on the day he created that?

The final double-page was reserved for the essential indexed lists of all the teams displayed. Here we’re told that the range now included over 650 teams after some 40 years of development.

An impressive note on which to end, and a reminder of what truly made Subbuteo the great game that it was.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Explosive plays in the passing game (for real)

Good video on how Connor Reilly budgets his limited time (ignore Ryan Day's appearance).

Excuse me for bringing up a sore subject, but one of the promises Steve Addazio made all last spring and last summer in alumni gatherings from New York City to Los Angeles was "explosive plays downfield in the passing game."
We all know how that turned out.
The explosive plays downfield in the passing game were made AGAINST the Owls, not for the Owls a season ago.
I attended last year's Cherry and White game, heard the comment after seeing zero explosive plays downfield and had my doubts about Daz delivering on the said plays in the fall. The Cherry and White game featured what seemed like 34 carries by Spencer Reid for what seemed like minus 17 yards.
The offensive season itself wasn't that bad, but was bad enough.
Unfortunately, when it came to Daz and empty promises, I was right.
Now we're hearing that from a number of football alumni who attended Alumni Day that several explosive plays were made downfield at Saturday's all-out scrimmage.
Poland checking in (thanks, Poland).

That scrimmage was the most important one of the season, even more important than Saturday's Cherry and White game (1 p.m. kickoff) because new coach Matt Rhule is not likely to tip his hand to any Notre Dame scouts in attendance.
First-team quarterback Connor Reilly, poised and confident, delivered both the deep and intermediate ball effectively to a variety of receivers who made defenders miss. Reilly looked off defenders to deliver the ball. We all know that both Khalif Herbin and Jalen Fitzpatrick have the ability to make that first tackler miss and gain numerous yards after catch.
Hopefully, Notre Dame (see countdown count to the right) finds that out the hard way on August 31.
There are two ways to look at this:
The defensive backs who gave the Owls so much trouble last year are still on the field or that a commitment to the passing game also makes it harder for a defense to find out where the ball is going.
I hope it's the latter.
After all, when you run all the time on first and second down like the Owls did last year (75.1 percent), defending the pass on third down is easy.
When you offer the THREAT to throw the ball on first and second down, defending the pass (and the run) is not so easy.
That, in a nutshell, is how the Matt Rhule offensive philosophy differs from the Steve Addazio one.
I don't expect him to promise "explosive plays downfield in the passing game" after Saturday's Cherry and White game.
Just delivering them in the fall would suffice.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Merlin World Cup 90 Sticker Collection

As we've already seen, I'm not averse to treading a non-Panini sticker book path and here again, we take a look at someone other than the mighty P attempting a sticker collection of their own.

This time it's Merlin, who had only come into existence the year before, with only their 2nd attempt - the first was Team 90, which I'll review another time. While Team 90 covered the domestic league, for their second outing, they went international with their first World Cup collection.

As with Team 90, which featured flip-book style goal animations on the corners of each page, 'The World Cup Sticker Collection - Italia 90' featured its own little extra hook to reel you in. This idea was fully integrated not only with the album, but the stickers themselves.

So long as the value of...ah whatever!
The gimmick, for that's what it was, known as 'Merlin's World Super League Soccer Game', or MWSLSG for short, was a full on game you and your friends could play, complete with game board (centre pages pull-out) and money a la Monopoly.

The inside cover details the (very lengthy) rules, which basically amount to...you know what, I've tried to get the gist of the thing, but trying to wade through that lot is like slow death.

Money, Money, Money!
A neat feature and one that shows the thought that went into the album, is the sticker backs. Rather than being the usual disposable sheets that Panini would have you throw in the bin, Merlin had the clever idea of using them as extra currency for the MWSLSG game, so each sticker back is a note of a certain denomination...I'd like to be able to confirm that this matched the player value of the sticker, but alas, I don't have any unused stickers to check and I also can't remember.

Bored game?

£3m? That's a lot of crisps Mr. L!
One thing I love about the game rules is the little disclaimer at the end, which informs us that the value shown against each player is ONLY for the purposes of MWSLSG and is in no way intended to represent the true value of the player in any real currency... Just as well as Mr. Lineker would appear to be rather overvalued given his then-recent £1.2m transfer from Barcelona to Spurs.

Anyway, enough of the sideline, let's get down to business - the business of stickerage!

The 1st page in the book shows the venues that were to be used for Italia 90, many of them still under construction at the time the photos were taken. Genoa, built in 2 halves as it was, looks like some five-a-side ground as one half was demolished and the angle of the shot occludes any of the completed side.

The first sticker in the book is reserved for...a sticker! Despite having 2 albums, neither of them has the first sticker in, though I'm going to take a leap of faith and assume it's the World Cup trophy...anyone that can confirm this for me, I'd be very grateful.

The following pages detail the history of the World Cup from 1930-1986, each one granted a neat little summary of the tournament and a sticker featuring a photo of the winning team.

While this sort of thing is standard fare in World Cup albums, the execution from Merlin is first class and is so much more than the usual "Team Photo + Final Result" that goes in these things.

After the history, comes the present and so we move into the team pages. First up we find the teams from Group A, starting with England...wait a minute, they weren't in Group A...of course, this album isn't being produced for a worldwide audience so there's no need to do things in the official tournament order. As it is, the 3 home teams are included - we're including Eire here because...well they were all English anyway ;-)

There's the usual team shot and foil badge, though they've opted to only show the nation's flags, possibly down to the copyright issues that now blight all Panini albums. Alongside the stickers, there's also the familiar 'Past Performances' and 'How They Qualified' sections showing the results from previous world cups and the current tournament's qualification scores.

It's also here we first properly appreciate the shape of the stickers. While Panini has their standard portrait / landscape format, while also utilising the not-always-successful multi-sticker picture, here, Merlin have opted for one format only - a surprisingly prescient widescreen style.

While this lends itself rather well to team photos, as demonstrated here by Scotland (in a World Cup? I know!), it naturally doesn't quite work so well for player head shots. But wait, what's that there on the right of the players' mug-shots? Why it's all the info you need to play MWSLSG! Genius!

Camer-who? Nah, they'll do nothing...
The rest of the teams are then shown in alphabetical order, barring what were obviously deemed the lesser nations, who only get a foil and team sticker. There's only 6 teams given this treatment and ironically, given the impact they had at Italia 90, the first of these is Cameroon! The others are pretty much fair play, consisting of USA, Costa Rica, UAE, South Korea and Egypt.

Looking through the team stickers, it's obvious this album suffers from the same problem that all non-Panini ones seem to...the player shots are not staged photos and so we're treated to a variety of backgrounds and kits. While this isn't a huge issue, it just adds to that slightly cheaper feel, like getting your favourite band's calendar from a market stall rather than an established retailer.

The final page of the album is the standard 'How To Complete' your collection. Interestingly, unlike the usual Panini 50 stickers, here, you can only order up to 30 and no more than 5 of those can be foil ones. Each sticker is a mere 4p and they don't even charge for postage! Just do NOT send stamps or cash!

Bum bags and turquoise...Hello The 90s!
The back cover is a huge advert featuring "Wizard Offers From Merlin" (see what they did there?), which is actually a bunch of stuff from Quaser, a sports company once fronted by Mr Lineker. Apart from some boots and trainers, the remaining items for sale take me right back to my school days. Bum bags, giant "sac" bags (coffin bags as my house-head used to call them) and pencil case sized mini replicas of them.

I had a 'Head' one of the latter and usually a Puma one of the midi size for my school bag. They lasted barely a term, but they were freaking awesome! I always wanted an electric blue one with green piping, but they weren't cheap, unlike the navy n red one you could get from Argos. Er...where was I?

Finally, from the back cover shot, you can see the album cost 40p...though mine was free with the Sunday Post newspaper and I can still remember it making the perfect start to my easter hol as it flopped through the door on the first day. Ah memories!