Sunday, June 30, 2013

Rutgers' fixation with Temple

Hopefully, the Owls will be smiling like this after the RU game in November.
Photo by Patrick Rosenbaum

After the 2012 Temple spring game, I talked to a couple of Temple players in the parking lot at Lincoln Financial Field.
I asked the two guys to do me one favor.
"If you do anything this year, please beat Rutgers," I said. "I've never seen more obnoxious fans in my life."
This is how every RU-TU game should go. ....interesting use of the possessive in headline.
"Don't worry," one of the Owls' said, "we've got something special planned for them."
Their fans are at it again today, calling the Owls' recent recruiting surge into New Jersey "getting RU leftovers" and saying that the Owls' recruits are "RU Plan B" guys who Piscataway can pooch on signing day if needed.
I don't get this RU fixation with downplaying Temple's recruiting successes, but it does stir the rivalry juices.
I guess if Kent State didn't teach RU a lesson in humility, Temple is going to have to come the first Saturday in November.
Not all RU fans are like this, to be fair, but from the 54 plus replies to that thread, a good 50 of them give Temple no credit.
Last year, it was Temple's fault.
It's football, not rocket science, so:
On offense, look for the Owls to use guys like Khalif Herbin and Jalen Fitzpatrick on quick slants to open up the running game for, say, Zaire Williams, on wraparound draws.
On defense, use the Owls' speedy LBs to get in Nova's face one second after he snaps the ball.
After Temple blew a 10-0 halftime lead and went on to lose, 35-10, last year I could not blame the kids.
They could have not known that the "something special" their coach had planned for Rutgers was to run the ball up the middle all day against the then top-ranked run defense in the country.
Nor did they figure the Owls would play defense passively, dropping eight into coverage at times and allowing the Rutgers' QB all day to throw the ball in the second half.
As far as Temple games go, it was the worst game day strategy I've seen since Ron Dickerson and that's pretty bad.
Yesterday, the Owls spent all day helping build a house in Philadelphia as the Habitat for Humanity program.
I hope when they go to Piscataway in the fall they help tear down one.
Just judging by what new coach Matt Rhule wheeled out in this spring's game, I think Temple will have a much better plan of attack this fall.

A week later, Kent State showed Temple what should have been the blueprint for beating the Scarlet Knights _ use ultra-quick linebackers in blitzing situations and force Gary Nova, the QB with happy feet, into  six interceptions.
That should be the plan this year.
It's football, not rocket science, so:
On offense, look for the Owls to use guys like Khalif Herbin and Jalen Fitzpatrick on quick slants to open up the running game for, say, Zaire Williams, on wraparound draws.
On defense, use the Owls' speedy LBs to get in Nova's face one second after he snaps the ball on both gap and edge blitzes.
I'm looking forward to Notre Dame, like every other Owl fan, and I fully understand the "one game at a time" mentality in a 12-game season.
With apologies to Thomas Jefferson, though, not all wins in a 12-game season are created equally and the first Saturday in November certainly qualifies under that declaration of war, not independence.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Subbuteo catalogue, 1969

Chances are if you lay your hands on any Subbuteo catalogue or poster, its main feature will be the ever-satisfying gallery of team kits for you to ponder over. This booklet, however, took a broader view - to promote Subbuteo as a phenomenon and to inform the public on how Subbuteo football is played.

Inside, the text is as finely honed by marketing experts as anything you'll find today. "Why are Subbuteo Sports Games so successful and popular? The simple answer is that they have been invented to mirror the many-sided attractions of modern sport to perfection. On your table in your home. Competition, enjoyment, skill, thrills... they are all there in miniature."

And so it goes on, telling us how Subbuteo Sports Games have been crafted to perfection as "the result of much thought and experiment over the years" to "represent in a boy's mind his favourite sports stars" and "are not just splendid to look at." If you wonder why Subbuteo is still held in such high regard today, it's because Peter Adolph, the creator of Subbuteo and the man that gave us these quotes, knew it was good all along and was finally confident enough to shout it from the rooftops. In the years that followed, more and more of us bought into the beauty of the game and thus a legend was born - no question.

This booklet helped to create an alluring image for the kids that wanted to play the game. Illustrations of Subbuteo figures standing shoulder to shoulder with smart-dressed smiling boys and their father reinforced the cheery vision of family fun that Adolph was keen to promote. Above them, the various boxed sets gave children something to crave the next time a birthday or Christmas came around. With words like 'Continental' and 'International' emblazoned in big red letters on the front, it was difficult for young kids not to get caught up in the excitement of it all.

For anyone still not aware of how the game was played some 23 years after it was first sold, a basic explanation was provided alongside quote after quote from satisfied customers the world over. "Vancouver Royals 6 Manchester United 2. Well, it looked pretty good on our table, anyway!" said P.N. Calder in Vancouver, Canada.

Although the wide range of team strips were not shown, several pages were dedicated to detailing many of the football accessories that were available to buy. Among them were a track-suited team "ready to run onto the field" but looking more like a band of onesie-wearing pitch invaders and a 'football statuette' on a plinth "in all club colours." As we've mentioned before, not all Subbuteo accessories had much of a purpose, but at least the sense of creativity behind them was never in doubt.

As if the world of Subbuteo soccer wasn't enough, there was also Table Cricket to master too. A picture showing a game in play provided ample proof that Peter Adolph had applied just as much attention to detail as with the football equivalent. Two groundsmen pulling a roller, sightscreens and a fully operational scoreboard were among many items on hand to complete the image of village green perfection in the juvenile mind.

With Rugby and 'Fivesides' (Subbuteo indoor soccer) also mentioned within the pages of this booklet, it seemed there was an entertaining world of sport to be enjoyed at your fingertips if you were a child of the Sixties. Little did anyone know that this was just the start of bigger things to come in the world of Subbuteo.

No. 2-rated player in state commits to Owls

One spring day in 1980, Wayne Hardin was standing on Geasey Field commenting about his strong stable of running backs at Temple University.
"And then we have Jim Brown at tailback," he said. "Jim Brown. I like that name."
That's the same way I felt this morning when I heard the news that Temple landed someone named Anthony Davis.
Anthony Davis' verbal to TU was all over the Pittsburgh papers.
The Anthony Davis I remember was robbed of a  Heisman Trophy at USC as a running back.
The Anthony Davis Temple got this morning is a cornerback at Gateway High in the WPIAL who is the No. 2-rated player in Pennsylvania, as determined by
When I walk into a room for a purpose, I sometimes don't remember what that purpose was but I have a pretty good long-term memory about Temple football recruiting and I don't ever remember Temple landing a top 1-2 player from Pennsylvania.
Temple has landed top players from New Jersey, like Kevin Harvey (Paulsboro) and P.J. Walker (Elizabeth), but never someone this high from its own state.
Hardin was a rookie coach at Navy when Jim Brown, the greatest ever to have a ball in his hands, was snubbed for the Heisman Trophy.
No. 2-ranked in Pennsylvania.

Someone named Paul Hornung won it instead for a LOSING Notre Dame team. Brown's omission will go down at the biggest Heisman snub ever.
Snubs apparently are a thing of the past for Temple, though. The recruits keep getting better.
The Owls currently have the No. 43-rated recruiting class in the country and Davis' verbal can only move that ranking up a notch or two in the upcoming days.
Davis plays a position the Owls sorely need to upgrade.
No cornerback has ever won the Heisman Trophy, but there's always a first for everything.
Who knows?
If the first Jim Brown and the first Anthony Davis can get snubbed for the Heisman, then maybe this Anthony   Davis can add one of those snubbed names to the trophy.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Retro Round-Up: 28 June 2013

What better way to end the week than to rummage around in the bran tub we call 'Football Nostalgia' and pull out a few choice items we've found on the web during the last seven days?

It's what we call The Football Attic 'Retro Round-Up' and it's a service we provide free of charge just because we love you in a very special way.

Two English teams playing each other on foreign soil. These days, we'd call it a 'Game 39' scenario, but Spirit of Mirko reminds us that this sort of thing has been going on for decades...

Southampton fans: What your club manager did before he got to St. Mary's - a story of lank hair and hilarious badges courtesy of Old School Panini...

Ah, how we long for the good old days when 5,000 visiting hooligans wearing the colours of their favourite team were gently escorted by steam locomotive to Hull City's ground... It really did happen (sort of), according to Footysphere...

Long before the Masters series, inter-club five-a-side football meant only one thing - the annual Wembley Arena tournament which Brighton almost won in 1979, according to The Seagull Wrap...

Anyone remember Flik-Shot?  Old Football Games and Got, Not Got need your help to find information on this obscure game given away with Trebor sweets...

Football's a funny old game. One man's downfall can mean another man's triumph, as is capably explained by Soccer Nostalgia...

Rangers return to the world of Subbuteo... what do you mean you didn't know they'd gone? The Scottish Sun explains all...

eBay Auction of the Week: It's Ray Wilkins' number 6 shirt from the friendly match against Argentina in 1980 - the first time Admiral's 'World Cup 82' England kit was worn... and it could be yours for £5,000...

And that reminds us...'ve got until midnight on Sunday 30 June 2013 to vote for your favourite England home kit since 1965. Does the Italia '90 kit light your candle or is it outshone by Alf Ramsey's simple '66 classic? If you haven't already done so, vote now before it's too late!

And if you're in the mood for making your opinion known, why not also vote for the worst thing about modern football? We've finally reached the Final of our competition and we want to know which is worse - 'Greed In General' or 'Rebranding / Ignoring club History'? Visit our Worst of Modern Football page now and tell us what you think!

The Big Match - Opening Titles (Part 1)

Time for another guest post now as David Poza, creator of the epic 'On This Day' series on YouTube that showcases historical football matches for every day of the year, takes us through the ever-changing opening titles from ITV's classic football highlights programme. Here's Part 1...

The Big Match was the famous rival of Match of The Day and during 15 years it featured some of the best opening titles that I have ever seen. The music changed during the years and probably followed the changing times.


The first opening titles are very basic; without much fuss or effort. Just some goals and actions from the last season of the old ATV ‘Star Soccer’ show in London. Very nice to see Leeds United’s goal in the League Cup Final against Arsenal. The longest action shown is the magnificent goal of Bobby Charlton against Spurs, which ends with the commentary of Hugh Johns’ “Oh, a fine goal!”

The music during the next four seasons will be the famous song by Keith Mansfield ‘Young Scene,’ a very catchy song that takes us to the sofa to see… West Ham v QPR for example.


We find the first versions of the opening titles, and these will be a constant in almost every season.

Up to October or November, The Big Match had a very simple intro; some goals from the past season including Neil Young’s goal at the FA Cup Final, Bobby Gould celebrating in the League Cup or a very long individual play that ends in a corner at Stamford Bridge (notice the lack of hoardings at the time).

The transformation is complete when colour arrives at LWT. The problem arrives when the archive team doesn’t have any colour pictures from games covered by ITV. The troubles have a very easy answer: take a bit from World Cup ’66, a bit from PathĂ© recordings of Chelsea v Arsenal and the European Cup of ’68, and everything will be clear!


Up to three changes to the opening line-up in the first season of the 70’s.

1. From the early season: First color pictures in the archive! It was just like a review of the late season: Rivelino scoring against Uruguay, George Best sent off for Northern Ireland or the Goal of the Season 1970 (George Graham against Palace) are featured.

2. From December to the end of the season: A random selection of bits and pieces from the early season including Jimmy Greaves at West Ham, Rodney Marsh’s magnificent goal against Birmingham, and the banner of THE BIG MATCH showing Gary Sprake in disbelief after another mistake. At the end, another Golden Goal: Johnny Hollins against Arsenal in September.

3. 24 April1971: A one-off title made to celebrate Frank McLintock’s Footballer of The Year Award. He’s seen at Stamford Bridge talking to his team-mates.


The last one to feature Keith Mansfield’s song. It was unaltered until the end of the season except from one fact I will mention later. The titles include some of the most striking pictures so far. Starting with a wrestle at Hull, a Derby player attacking Paddy Crerand (imagine this going backwards and forwards and you get what was funny in those days), George Best humiliating Gordon Banks and finishing with the three winners of the cups making the banner. The variation is the ending, changing Tottenham’s League Cup celebration and Charlie George’s goal at the FA Cup Final the previous year for Stoke’s League Cup final bath and the goal by ’The Old Man,’ George Eastham.


There are three versions of the opening credits during this season. The biggest change was the theme tune. Mansfield was retired and The Big Match saluted a piece made by The Don Harper Orchestra called ‘Cheekybird.’ For most, it was a big change (including me) and more changes happened in the presentation of the opening credits.

During the early season, we saw one of the most bizarre titles of the 70’s. This contained superimposed pictures from various Finals and games, so we can see a vicious foul at the FA Cup Final in 1972 and Denis Law celebrating a goal, all superimposed at the same time.

Then a revamp was needed. Maybe the first set of titles didn’t catch the attention of the audience, so a radical change appeared. With THE BIG MATCH title in front, the two teams that were playing the main match were seen leaving the tunnel behind, and that was during a 2-3 month period. And again there was a need for change… so what better than to go back to the classics: pictures of goals and saves.

In January 1973 we were delighted to see… Gordon Banks’ underwear. Probably not the best beginning for an opening credit, but in my opinion, the song and the pictures chosen were appropriate and caught my attention as soon as I saw them. That included among others, Cyril Knowles’ own goal against Crystal Palace, Peter Lorimer’s screamer at Selhurst Park or Jimmy Hill acting as linesman. Great opening credits indeed.

But things were to change again the following season…

Our thanks go to Jamie Pollob for his guest post. Part 2 of his series 'The Big Match - Opening Titles' will feature here on The Football Attic soon.

If you'd like to share your nostalgia memories with us, why not send your words to us like David did? Just drop us a line to admin [at] thefootballattic [dot] com and we'll do the rest!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Worst of Modern Football - The Final!

Modern Football? It's terrible, isn't it? Like, really bad! OK, it's not all wrong, but there's a hell of a lot NOT right with it!  But just exactly which part of modern football is the worst, the absolute barrel scraper, the Justin Bieber of football? The Andy Townsend...

And as comedy legend Harry Hill would say, there's only one way to find out!!!

At this point, he'd shout 'Fiiiiiiiiight!' and some low paid TV monkeys would come in dressed as anything from a badger to a hot dog to a pot of Danone yoghurt. But we hold no truck with such fripperies here!

You'll get a sombre looking poll and be done with it! After all, you don't like all the razzmatazz that surrounds modern football, so a sombre looking poll is what you want, isn't it? I thought so... good boy!

Following your suggestions, we started with 64 separate entries, though once voting was underway we had around another 64 we could have added!

After several rounds of voting, we're here! The final two! And I'm sure no-one will disagree with either of the entries being here... Maybe one of them is a little too generic, but hey, we never said democracy works did we?

So... the final vote is up to you.

Will you the 'Greed in General' or would you 'Rebranding / Ignoring Club History'?

Voting closes at 23:59 on Sunday 7th July!  


Monday, June 24, 2013

Football and Comedy: The Goodies (1982)

Football and comedy: two worlds that only usually collide whenever someone employs Joe Kinnear, yet hidden away in the depths of our psyche are images and memories we've harvested from decades spent watching the television.

Though we may have forgotten by now, the world of football has featured in many of our favourite comedy TV programmes. Sometimes a mere passing reference (no pun intended) is all we've needed while at other times nothing less than a full blown tribute to the beautiful game was provided for our viewing pleasure.

And that's why The Football Attic feels it necessary to begin this new series where we highlight these funny football memories from the past, no matter how slight or unfunny they may be. To start off, we bring you a bumper post highlighting an entire episode of The Goodies which is jam-packed full of football references from start to finish.

You can watch the video below, and if you'd like your experience enhanced further still, we've provided a few things to look out for in the listing further down this page. (Oh, and a warning: Some of the language used during this episode is a little... how shall we say... 'of its era'?)

The opening titles beckon the start of series 9, episode 3 of The Goodies. This series was the only one to be shown on ITV (London Weekend Television specifically) and our featured episode was originally broadcast on 16 January 1982.

During its 12-year run on British TV, The Goodies had several different variations on their theme tune, and if I'm honest this is probably my favourite. Not that you needed to know that or anything.

Our first sight of football and, if we're not mistaken, it's some grainy stock footage of the 1976 FA Cup Final between Southampton and Manchester United.

A nice use of some replica Admiral Southampton away kits on the actors there. Of course there's no disguising the fact that this spliced into the original stock footage, but hey ho...

Our first sight of The Goodies' flat, and there's Tim Brooke-Taylor showing support for his favourite club in real life, Derby County. Then we catch sight of the opening titles to The Big Match, such as they were at the time, but connoisseurs will note that the music doesn't match up to the graphics. The reason for that, we suppose, is that this footage is taken from a 1986 VHS release featuring this episode and one other from series 9. Presumably Jeff Wayne wouldn't allow his excellent theme tune to be used at the time, but at least we can confirm the issue was put right on subsequent DVD releases of this episode.

Yes, it's the warmest of welcomes to Fred Dinenage, occasional understudy for Dickie Davies on World of Sport and here a more than capable stand-in for Brian Moore. To his credit, Dinenage plays it absolutely straight, telling it like it is - or at least how it was back in the early 1980's. References to Manchester United's entire supporters club being arrested and Chelsea 'hitting six, punching twelve and strangling four' were funny yet satirically reflected the poor state of football in Britain at the time, as the episode goes on to explain...

Fans of The Goodies will know that their favourite show has a rich tradition of sending up TV commercials that stretches way back to the early 1970's. This time the target was a commercial for Barbican alcohol-free beer, one of several fronted by former Southampton manager Lawrie McMenemy (and here's another). Graeme Garden does an excellent impersonation of Gateshead-born McMenemy, finishing off with a wonderful punchline and comedy pass-out that was so good it made its way into the show's opening titles.

Who better to report on the growing violent tendencies among football's elite supporters than mild-mannered Kenneth Wolstenholme. Here he is talking to 'Twerp of the Month' Bill Oddie who brilliantly adopts the phraseology of the modern footballer to great effect ("I dunno, I just seem to be getting them right at the moment, Ken...")

A lovely bit of interplay between Tim Brooke-Taylor and himself on the TV screen where his alter ego appears as a Chief of Police, intent on ridding football of its hooliganism...

...and to that end Tim removes his football supporter's gear to reveal his Chief of Police uniform. Frustratingly for Brooke-Taylor, his outer garb is taking a long time to remove, so Tim ad libs his way through the sequence with the occasional "Hang on" and "Wait for it" to keep the audience amused.

A nice reference to the football kit designs of the early 80's. "Look at those shirts" says Tim. "In the old days they didn't have silk shirts. No, they had rough hessian shirts - with collars. Yes, I said collars, but they don't have collars nowadays, oh no. They have plunging necklines..." I'm not sure collars actually had died out by that stage, but the observations made in the dialogue are nonetheless delightfully written.

Once again we see some location footage taken at a football ground somewhere... but exactly where is it? The answer: Selhurst Park, home of Crystal Palace. There are the terraces upon which Bill stands in his thug persona, and onto the pitch run our traditionally dressed players. Tim Brooke-Taylor provides the commentary, perfectly mimicking the newsreel films of the wartime era.

Part Two of the show begins with Graeme Garden in traditional 'mad scientist' mode using Subbuteo to test the effects of watching football on some unsuspecting mice in the stands. A great setup you've got there, Graham - not sure about that playing technique though...

Having converted to the supposedly safe pastime of watching ballet, we're treated to new opening titles for The Big Match complete with David Ordini's theme tune, 'La Soiree', and updated logo. Graeme Garden this time impersonates Brian Moore ('- or Less')

Over at Covent Garden, the match is about to begin between Aston Villa (featuring Wayne Sleep) and Cricklewood, the latter featuring Garden, Oddie and three men bearing a striking resemblance to Kevin Keegan, Pele and Johann Cruyff.

A Big Match-style caption provides us with the half-time score, then it's Graeme Garden x 3 thanks to some split-screen jiggery-pokery. Having already given us his Moore-than-capable depiction of the Big Match presenter, we then see him impersonating pundits Brian Clough and Tommy Docherty with some aplomb.

A small detail it might be, but why is the old guy in the ballet crowd wearing an Ipswich Town rosette?

Listen out for some fruity narration from Garden: "Are we going to see Sleep's famous banana as he tries to bend it round the wall?"

A lovely little sequence here as Garden plays the dying swan, and a dying swan with a floppy arm and an itch, at that...

The game ends as a draw, so penalties are required. But what's this? The players themselves are being thrown into the net starting with Pele, but not before some more fruity narration from Garden who tells us that the Brazilian legend "usually goes to the left."

Unfortunately for Cricklewood, Pele's body crosses the line but his head doesn't, so it's no goal. (A case for goal-line technology if ever we saw one...?)

Wayne Sleep in goal deals capably with Cruyff but he's unable to stop Bill Oddie who fully crosses the line and claims a moral victory for Cricklewood.

Funny game, ballet...

TU recruiting ranked ahead of USC, Stanford

Another great Temple football trailer by the TU video staff. Fran Duffy's legacy lives.

In football recruiting, it's one thing to say you are recruiting with the big boys and another thing to be actually doing it.

Judging by the company first-year Temple head coach Matt Rhule keeps, he's doing it.
According to the latest recruiting rankings posted by, Temple is in the middle of a very impressive list of schools.
The Owls' 2014 recruiting class is about half finished and they rank ahead of USC and Stanford and just behind Wisconsin and Arizona, currently ranked No. 43 in the country.
That's about as impressive as these things get at Temple.
The hat is worth $150 alone. If it was a Temple '][' hat, it would
be worth $200.
In all of my years of covering the Owls, I don't remember them ever recruiting at that level.

Sure, Bruce Arians was a great recruiter and, on the day he was fired in 1988, defensive end Alonzo Spellman (Rancocas Valley) and quarterback Glenn Foley (Cherry Hill East) de-committed from the Owls to sign with Ohio State and Boston College, respectively. Both became NFL players.
Who knows what would have happened to Temple football had Arians been retained, but my guess is that the Owls would not have entered a 20-year black hole.
Now, thanks to Al Golden, Rhule and, even Steve Addazio, the Owls have climbed out of that hole and show no signs of going back into it.

Addazio got up in front of the assembled press on Feb. 4, 2012 and said that the Owls' No. 54 class was the highest-ranked ever.
France checking in. Thanks, France.
He was right.
For all of Al Golden's No. 1 MAC recruiting classes, he never had a class rated as high as No. 54 nationally.
If Rhule keeps up at this present pace, the Owls could move up a tick or two or down a tick or two but I don't see him falling as low as 54.
There are a couple of reasons for this.
Rhule had a month to recruit his first class.
He's had a few months to recruit this one.
He's a dynamic, young guy who the kids relate to well.
In assistant Terry Smith, he's got a guy plugged into the fertile Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League (WPIAL).
The next step for Rhule is to sign one of these superstar Philadelphia kids who keep getting away. One of these days a Sharif Floyd won't feel the need to go to Florida or David Williams would rather play in South Philadelphia instead of South Carolina or a Matt Ryan clone would like to chuck it around the pitch at LFF, rather than hand it off to a running back in Boston.
That'll happen, too.
It's just a matter of time.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Time marches on

Neil Young's Heart of Gold (original studio verson).

Time marches on and, for me, I got another year older on Wednesday.
I must admit, I don't feel any different.
Age is just a number until you find yourself in a wheelchair and, fortunately, that hasn't happened for me.

I keep active.
I jog every day and, this time of year, three hours a day, always rocking some sort of a Temple T-Shirt.
Heck, I even ran into a young Temple assistant when he was jogging the other way one spring afternoon at Mondauk Commons in Upper Dublin Township.
That assistant was a guy named Matt Rhule.
We were two Temple football T-Shirts passing in the middle of the afternoon, a couple of days before I thought Bruce Francis was going to get drafted.
I don't think Matt does the Mondauk Commons trail anymore but, then again, neither do I.
He's come a long way since then.
I've just gotten older.
Sometimes, though, things happen that make you wonder if someone is trying to send you a message.
True story: Jogging Wednesday around 5:45 listening to 98.1 (WOGL) and, out of nowhere, the second song comes on by the Beatles (or was it Paul by himself?), "I hear it's your birthday."
Usually when you hear that song, it's preceded by an explanation about someone's birthday and why they are playing it but not this time.
No dedication.
No request.
No explanation.
Then the next song is Neil Young's Heart of Gold.
"Keep me searching and I'm growing old."
Now I'm figuring out that some sort of crazy Poltergeist got into my old AM/FM radio (I don't do the IPOD thing).
That had me REALLY down, but then I got home and read James Gandolfini died.
Not happy to hear that, but I had a better day than he did. RIP James, one of my favorite one-role actors of all time.
I'm sure Gandolfini would have been good in a number of roles, but he made Tony Soprano a cultural Icon in the same kind of way Jason Alexander made George Costanza, Carroll O'Connor for Archie Bunker and Henry Winkler for The Fonz.
So while birthdays now are far from my favorite days of the year, this one more than the last few taught me a good lesson in perspective.
That, and to stay away from eating too much rich Italian food.

Notes: As far as my Temple football birthday present, the Owls recruited their second consecutive lineman on June 19. ... Last year, Steve Addazio gave me Matt Barone, who I think will have a very good career at Temple, and, this year, the June 19th signing was Kenny Randall of Mainland Regional (N.J.). Randall is 6-3, 290 and comes to Temple with the reputation of being a lock-down run-stopper.

Create your own Animation

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Retro Round-Up: 21 June 2013

Whether your week's been good or bad, it always ends well in the world of football nostalgia thanks to The Football Attic's Retro Round-Up!

As ever, we've scoured as much of the web as the 15-minute window in our schedules will allow to bring you the best football nostalgia from the last week. Let's crack on, shall we?

It's been around on the web for a little while now, but Who Ate All The Pies bring us the long-forgotten version of the Match of the Day theme tune (with titles) that was only ever used once. 'Enjoy', if that's the word we're looking for...

The Two Unfortunates have been doing us a great service with their series of 'Hopeless Football League Teams', and here's a well-chosen Premier League addition to the canon - it's the tale of Ipswich's 1994-95 campaign, as told by Gavin Barber...

It would have been the stuff of legends: a match between two teams, one bearing the name Wang on their shirts, the other with Nobo proudly displayed on theirs... The Goldstone Wrap tells us how the greatest even in world football almost happened...

A Hungarian team with a name like a TV rental shop and a logo to match... Videoton's 1974 vintage, as featured on The Vintage Football Club...

The first public free-to-enter UK national Subbuteo competition will be held later this year, and Toy News has all the details. Go on, give it a go!

When Saturday Comes chooses Red Star Paris as the subject of its Badge of the Week - a bright star that's long since fallen, you might say...

If books containing facts and statistics about German football light your candle, check out this post by Soccer Nostalgia - you'll get plenty of decent recommendations from it...

Always keep your garden clear - that's our advice after reading this story about the lost gates of St. James' Park, as detailed by Terrace Life...

A set of nine replica World Cup footballs, one from each tournament between 1970 and 2002 - yours to buy on eBay for US$1,800...

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Great Tracksuits of Our Time: No.15

Manchester City and Wolverhampton Wanderers (1974):

In the world of international fashion, bright citrus-coloured pants have rarely, if ever, been considered as acceptable. The same can be said of sky blue two-piece outfits with red trimmings.

Luckily the world of football doesn't concern itself with international fashion, and this undoubtedly allowed the 1974 League Cup Final to be one of the most colourful occasions ever seen at Wembley. And that was before the match got started.

As the two teams walked out onto the pitch for the big match, 97,000 fans could have been excused for whipping out their sunglasses and shielding their eyes from the glare.

On the one hand, Wolverhampton Wanderers, boldly striding forth in black tracksuit tops and 'old gold' pants; on the other, Manchester City, their opponents, a vision in summer blue with the customary stripy Umbro trim in red. If Admiral epitomised the excesses of late-1970’s football kit design, Umbro preceded it with their Wembley show costumes.

Indeed this was an occasion when Umbro could look from afar with great pride. Both teams were wearing their apparel, both sets of tracksuit tops adorned by the Umbro logo of the time on the right breast. As for the all too stark effect of Wolves' jet black zip-up jackets and glowing yellow-orange bottoms, it was certainly daring, to say the least.

But let's not forget the small details on the top: the three leaping wolves of the club badge on the left breast, the substantial collar that Eric Cantona could have made an entire repertoire out of, and the word 'Wolves' emblazoned across the back... it was enough to bring a tear to the eye of Wulfrunians everywhere.

Less garish but just as bright were the City boys, Denis Law, Mike Summerbee and Rodney Marsh amongst them. Their tracksuit bore a closer resemblance to their playing kit, yet it too allowed for a considerable degree of flare and style.

Looking virtually the same as the garb worn by the England national team at the time (save for a different shade of blue) Ron Saunders' men looked quietly confident in their smart outfits. The two-tone red waist bands, leg and shoulder stripes and slim collar were a symbol of Umbro's 'tailored' approach to football kit manufacture, and with this in mind we can't imagine too many City fans complaining about the use of United's colours to round off the overall look of this tracksuit.

As far as we can make out, there was no name on the back of the tops, so apart from the aforementioned details and the club badge on the front, that was it - but what a fine look it was. If only it had spurred Manchester City onto an equally fine result on the day.

In the end, it was the dark destroyers in black tracksuit tops that won the 1974 League Cup Final. A 2-1 triumph for Bill McGarry's team was, amongst other things, a victory for loud and audacious colour schemes over toned-down smartness, but those clever designers at Umbro wouldn't have minded either way. For them, this was surely an occasion when they couldn't lose - no matter what the outcome.

Want more tracksuit-related memories? Try these on for size...

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Dogbe, Nutile a couple of good additions

Frank Nutile's junior highlights at Don Bosco.

Like the guy in Moneyball, I like stats.
One of the reasons the Oakland A's were able to build a team from low-budget to competitive was that Billy Bean never overthought things.
He'd rather draft guys who put up good numbers in competitive leagues (heck, he preferred top-level college baseball players over high schoolers) and roll the dice that past history is the best predictor of future history.
I've always been one of those people when it comes to recruiting Temple football players.
That's why I particularly like the recent recruiting additions of defensive end Michael Dogbe and quarterback Frank Nutile.
Dogbe was a sack machine playing for Parsippany Hills, a school that produced one-time Temple quarterback Mike Gerardi.
Nutile threw 14 touchdown passes playing for Don Bosco, a program consistently rated in the USA Today's  national Top 10.
To me, the most important stats for a quarterback are wins and touchdown passes.
Fourteen touchdown passes as a junior and an 8-3 mark for a storied program is a pretty good base upon which to build senior stats.
Contrast that to former Temple quarterback Vaughn Charlton, who was handed a scholarship even though he had only nine touchdown passes as a senior playing in a very weak and now defunct Southern Chester County League. On the other hand, Adam DiMichele had 36 touchdown passes as a senior at Sto-Rox.
You know how those two careers turned out.
Dogbe had eight quarterback sacks, which means he was disrupting a lot of offensive game plans.
I'll be watching Nutile and hope he pushes the touchdown totals over 20 this year.
Hopefully, Dogbe will be in double-digits in sacks.
Either way, I think past performance dictates future success for both guys at Temple.

Michael Dogbe's highlight reel. Would have used "who let the dogs out" as the musical track.

Create your own Animation

Monday, June 17, 2013

What's the Worst Thing About Modern Football? Semi Finals

It's that crucial moment in any competition - the semi-finals, a time when glory is tantalisingly within reach of those competing entities, a time when fortune favours the brave and losers are forgotten. Well, something like that in any case.

Yes, we're finally down to the last four in our search for The Worst of Modern Football, and thanks to your voting in the last round, they're a fine four to choose from.

You can see the results from Round 3 on our Worst of Modern Football page, but in short you ranked 'Ticket Prices' and 'The Media Love-In With All Things Premier League' as the winners from Group A and 'Greed In General' and 'Rebranding / Ignoring Club History' the winners from Group B. A huge thank you as ever to all of you that voted - we had a great response once again!

And now we must crave your votes for the penultimate time as we enter the semi-final stage. On this occasion it's a straight knock-out and you can only vote for one item in each match, namely the item you think is more fitting of the title 'Worst Thing About Modern Football'.

Once again we've randomly drawn the competing entities and you can see who's playing who below, so we invite you to make your selections and help us find out who will be taking part in the Final of The Worst of Modern Football!

Voting for this round closes at midnight on Monday 24 June 2013.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Goal Frames We Have Known and Loved: No.1

From time to time, we here at The Football Attic are asked to cover the much overlooked subject of goal frames and goal nets. It's true that those wooden or metal structures into which the ball is eternally struck have evolved and developed in different ways over the years, but it's also true that we've never really bothered to show an interest in the subject.

That will all change now as we start an occasional series where we'll upload a picture and write a few plain words to highlight some truly classic goal frames.

Old Trafford (1978):

As close to the classic Subbuteo Club Edition goals as you're likely to find (there was no horizontal bar at the back of the net to restrict the goalkeeper's movement, mind you), these posts looked a little on the thin side while the back of the frame had a rigid tubular structure. This latter point allowed for the classic scenario of the ball rocketing into the top corner and bouncing out again to some extent.

The net was a fine white mesh that maximised visibility for the crowd behind but didn't give much in the way of ripple definition when the ball hit it. All things considered, however, a pleasing goalmouth into which the ball could be struck, if lacking the slickness and modernity of later designs.

Structure: 8
Net pattern: 7
Net colour: 7.5
Overall: 7.5

Friday, June 14, 2013

Peter Pan Pocket Pop-o-matic Football Game, 1979

Back in the days when a 'handheld device' meant nothing more than a few bits of plastic in a cardboard box, there was the chance to play football on the move - wherever you happened to be. That is, of course, if you had either (a) a healthy imagination or (b) very low expectations.

Following not very hotly on the heels of Pocketeers 'World Cup' in 1975, Peter Pan Playthings, that maker of games such as 'Test Match' and 'Frustration', came up with their Pop-o-Matic Football Game. 'Pop-O-Matic', you'll remember, was that cunningly useful system designed to stop little kiddies losing their dice when playing board games. Never more was it needed than in a game that could conceivably have been played in the back of a car or in the school playground.

The idea was a simple one. Two players would attempt to score goals by moving a ball around a pitch that was marked in two-tone green stripes with red and blue squares marking specific locations in a sort of grid. By rolling the dice... sorry - 'popping' the dice - each player would initially hope to see their designated colour appear, be it red or blue. If it did, they could move the ball along the grid-style track to the next appropriately coloured location, but that would depend on the colour shown on the other die. If it was light green, they'd only be able to move the ball to an adjacent red or blue location if it were in a light green stripe on the pitch - the same for dark green. If that wasn't possible, the other player would get a turn and so it continued.

The game worked well enough on an operational level, albeit ponderously so, but it was probably only a matter of time before the human player or players involved developed a headache from the constant popping of those dice and decided to call it a day. Given that the instructions on the back of the box gave no clue as to when to end a match, it was probably assumed that a searing pain in the cranium was the deciding factor where such things were concerned.

All in all then, this was a rather basic and sadly unexciting return to the world of pocket football entertainment, but spare a thought to those poor schmucks that bought one of the other five Pop-o-Matic games in the range. Pocket Swimming, anyone?

Retro Round-Up: 14 June 2013

Greetings, retro football lovers, and welcome to another collection of the best football nostalgia stuff we could find on the web this last week. You can thank us later...

Coventry City's future may look a little uncertain at the moment, but the only thing uncertain about its past are some of the players' facial hair, as shown at Old School Panini...

Great players, a great team and a great kit - Netherlands 1974 in all their orange glory over at The Vintage Football Club...
A lovely postage stamp depicting Juventus as 'The Old Lady Zebra' over at Footysphere...

‘I had to leave Man City to get away from Malcolm Allison...'  Michael Robinson's use of ambiguous language lets him down over at The Goldstone Wrap...

FootballGaffesGalore provides us with a fine compilation of opening title sequences from ITV's The Big Match, but there's one thing we've always wondered - whatever happened to the phony guy holding the trophy at 4:43?  

Got 200 empty Panini World Cup 2010 sticker albums to fill? You're in luck! Someone's selling 216 sealed boxes of stickers over on eBay...

And don't forget...'ve only got until the end of the month to vote on your favourite England home kit since 1965. If you haven't already done so, get in quick before it's too late! :)

Thursday, June 13, 2013

ITV Saturday Soccer Special Annual, 1980

If, as a child, you saw this slim tome in your local bookshop back in 1980, you might have expected it to contain articles about football and ITV’s presentation of it. Sadly for anyone interested in The Big Match or On The Ball, this book featured only one such article, and at no point did it even mention Jim Rosenthal. Devastating as this is, I beg you to read on.

This was, in real terms, a football annual much like those produced by Shoot or Match years ago, but it’s distinction derived from the fact that it was a one-off - published purely to coincide with ITV taking over the prime Saturday night highlights slot from the BBC.

The acquisition of those TV rights came to be known as ‘Snatch of the Day’ as it was the first time the BBC’s Match of the Day had not been bumped from its traditional slot in the schedules. Having finally been given the go-ahead to switch from Sunday afternoons, The Big Match was finally where it wanted to be, and to celebrate, it produced... a children’s football annual.

They could have called it ‘The Big Match Annual’ (as a few other books had been in the mid-1970’s) but clearly the aim was to reinforce the word ‘Saturday’, as if ITV had finally laid their hands on the holy grail. Having emblazoned that on the front cover, they also included a nicely painted composition by Bill Ireland representing the home footballing nations. The ever-present image of Kevin Keegan took centre stage as you’d expect, while around him Kenny Dalglish, Terry Yorath, Peter Shilton and a couple of other less identifiable types were depicted doing their thing too.

This being the early-80’s, it was almost against the law to publish a football annual without Kevin Keegan in it, and this one didn't disappoint. Inside we were told why Keegan chose to sign for Southampton on July 1, 1980 rather than the other clubs that were said to be after his signature, namely Barcelona, Juventus, Chelsea and Liverpool.

Aside from the chance to play at The Dell alongside his England teammate Mick Channon, “private chats with Johan Cruyff convinced him Barcelona would expect too much from him for the fistful of pesetas he would get” or so we were led to believe. In addition, Italy was “torn by internal strife and terrified by kidnappings, bombings and murders in recent years” while Liverpool couldn't offer Keegan anything new by way of a challenge because he’d won everything there first time around.

As for Chelsea, they weren't guaranteed to get promotion from the Second Division in 1979/80 (they would ultimately miss out on goal difference) so in the following season “Keegan would have been appearing at Second Division clubs like Oldham, Cardiff, Bolton and Orient. Clearly a waste of the great man’s talent.” Ouch.

Talent was something very much on the mind of Denis Law, according to the annual. The former Man United and Man City star was pondering the dearth of skilful British players apparently seen more widely in in previous decades. The reason, Law surmised, was down to coaching. “Players like Bobby Charlton, George Best and Tom Finney never had any coaching” he said. “Look at their skills, their class and natural ability - it came through without any of the fanatical coaching people demand today.”

There was, it seemed, only one way to improve matters in the mind of The Law Man: “The sooner we throw out coaches, the better. The flair isn't there anymore and I am concerned it is because of the craving for coaches.” A curiously controversial view, and one that the average 15-year-old may have been at a loss to comprehend.

A happier man was Tony Woodcock. His move to Cologne had been all the more successful because of the determination to succeed shown by Kevin Keegan before him. ‘Keegan was virtually shunned by his Hamburg team-mates who even refused to pass to him during club matches’ said the annual. Woodcock continued: “Everyone knew the problems he was having and when he finally won through the following season, they really admired him for his determination.”

“Kevin’s battle at Hamburg certainly made life a lot easier for me, I realise that” he went on. “It will be the same for any more English players who come out here - they’re bound to find a more sensible and realistic attitude from the German players who can make or break such a move.” Tell that to Man City’s Dave Watson who, it was noted, went home to Southampton only a matter of weeks after joining Werder Bremen.

Elsewhere in the annual, John Burridge explained why his rigorous fitness regime enabled him to keep in tip-top condition as he travelled around the UK looking for another club to join (sorry - might have made that last bit up) while Sunderland manager Ken Knighton stated why he was intent on keeping the Roker Park club in the top flight with nothing but success as his main priority. “If Sunderland hasn't made progress within three years, I don’t deserve to be in charge anymore” said Knighton. After a series of disputes with the club chairman, Knighton and his assistant Frank Clark left Sunderland Football club just a few months after the annual was published.

John Richards, meanwhile, was extolling the virtues of a growing partnership between himself and Andy Gray. Wolves had won the League Cup in 1980 on the back of it and had finished sixth in the First Division. They’d even played in the UEFA Cup during September 1980, albeit going out after a home and away tie against PSV Eindhoven.

Richards said of record signing Gray: “He cost us a bomb but helped us win the League Cup and that was the first effect. Now we aim for the League Championship title.” When this annual was published, there were still five months of the 1980-81 season left to be played, but when it ended, Wolves were 18th in the First Division - just two places above the relegation zone. The following season saw them relegated to the Second Division, yet Gray and Richards remained at the club until it regained its place in the top flight in 1983.

ITV’s Saturday Soccer Special Annual certainly wasn't found wanting in its provision of articles, even providing a brief outline of Ipswich Town’s plan to become ‘Team of the Eighties’ and the role of smaller regional clubs like Brentford, Stockport and Tranmere to provide the talent for their bigger local rivals - but what about that one article on ITV itself?

Step forward Brian Moore to explain the fresh challenge of broadcasting a football show on Saturday nights instead of Sunday afternoons: “We had to gear our thinking much more to a totally hard news programme, plus plenty of action from three games” he said.

“Presenting three games on Saturday night was a new idea. The BBC had only shown two matches, plus some occasional film from another match. But covering three games fully meant a far wider spectrum” said Moore. “The BBC set a high standard for us to follow, make no mistake about that. But I feel they didn't go deeply enough into the stories arising from the Saturday matches.” Frank views indeed.

On an operational level, Brian Moore found his whole work routine transformed. “After commentating on a top match, he has his commitments to World of Sport, which involve a comprehensive after-match summary report. Then after lining up and doing the necessary interviews, it’s off from the ground at around 6pm... Brian likes to write his own scripts and then have something to eat. A change of clothes after that, and the clock is already ticking on to 8.30 or 9pm and it’s time for rehearsals.” After that, Moore could be seen presenting the live show on LWT after 10pm - a long day indeed for ITV’s main commentator.

In many ways, that level of commitment and professionalism shines through in this football annual. Everything’s well written and the presentation is neat and smart. Unfortunately one is left with the feeling that the book lacks a little soul - as if the book was conceived and produced by a committee of senior managers rather than football writers and designers.

Perhaps it’s just as well, then, that this was a one-off attempt by ITV to make a football annual. They didn't do a bad job, but to be as frank as Brian Moore himself, they were never going to match Shoot’s passion for football writing that kids loved for years long before and since.