Three years ago, my sister gave me the edition of Shoot that was published in the week I was born as a 30th birthday present. I had an enjoyable flick through at the time but with my move to China impending, I placed it in a drawer at my parent’s house and forgot all about it. I’m grateful like that.
This Christmas, I stumbled upon it again and brought it back to China with me to enjoy in its full glory. And what glory there is. There’s Mick McCarthy being trailed by Man City; there’s Jimmy Greaves opining on the filthy quick-buck-capitalism of Robert Maxwell; Tommy Smith calls Keggy an “absent-minded livewire”; and a column by Bryan Robson about “Why Big Ron is Angry” that doesn’t go down the dark path that you worry it might.
This was intended to be a short blast to celebrate my 33rd birthday but it is such a rich seam to mine that it’s got a little bit out of control on the word count.
Let’s start up-front where we are immediately rewarded with Keggy. Whether he’s hoofing the ball skywards or missing it completely isn’t clear but just sit back and admire how he uses his left-hand to balance out the weight of that perm. We can also win tickets to the Milk Cup, spend ages wondering just how and on what planet Shoot will beat Coventry City, wonder who O’Donnell the original recipient was (hope it wasn’t the lank-haired boss out of This Life) and ponder how Malaysia was one of the five export markets priced up on the front cover.
We can also enjoy that Shoot! cost 33p. According to moneysorter.co.uk that’s now worth 74p in 2017, which is definitely wrong but let’s go with it. WE were all hoping for £27 or something ludicrous right?
Into the meat of it. No editor’s note here! No siree, just something far more self-indulgent, though, unbelievably creative. Shoot! versus Coventry City. In response to Coventry’s strong season despite having a summer firesale and rebuilding the squad with lower league players, Shoot! set themselves the task of picking a lower league team to take on Bobby Gould’s men.
Yup, that Bobby Gould the Crazy Gang FA Cup winner and manager of Wales who was mad enough to challenge John Hartson to a fight. A decent player in his day, Gould’s coaching career began in the best way – as a player-coach who picked himself 40+ times and rewarded his own faith with 13 goals. His next job in management requires one of Shoot!’s preferred punctuation marks. He was assistant at Chelsea to Sir Geoff Hurst!
But how to judge the winner in this fictional game? Shoot! find famously impartial Jimmy Armfield to pick a winner.
Anyway, the teams and a few select comments from Captain Objective Armfield.
GK: Raddy Avramovic “it’s a plus that he isn’t as histrionic as some continental goalkeepers”
2. Brian Roberts
5. Trevor Peake
6. Sam Allardyce “he makes up for some lack of finesse by his determined approach”
3. Stuart Pearce – yup, that one.
4. Micky Gynn“rubs off on those around him.”
8. Nicky Platnauer
11. Steve Hunt
7. Dave Bennett
9. Dave Bamber
10. Terry Gibson
Shoot! XI – quite possibly the most 80s-footballer-name-filled team ever.
GK: David Felgate
2. Gordon Nisbet
5. Paul Stancliffe
6. Malcolm Shotton
3. Bobby McDonald “I don’t know the ins-and-outs (hint, hint, wink, wink) of the trouble he had at Manchester City, but their loss is Oxford’s gain”
4. Andy Thomas
8. Paul Lodge
11. Mike Barratt
7. Colin Morris
9. Billy Hamilton
10. Keith Edwards
Jimmy Armfield decides the score will be 90v90. Then backtracks to 3v2 to Coventry, the team that actually exists.
For those cynics of modern football always complaining that all United and Liverpool cup games are televised, Shoot! has two star writers, one from Liverpool and one from United. First up is United captain Bryan Robson telling us “Why Big Ron is Angry”. Big Ron, it transpires, is angry because United keep losing.
1984 Bryan Robson makes a fleeting reference to his injury hoodoo he’s going to learn a lot more about in the coming years, before pointing the finger at the defence for United’s poor form. “I’m not pointing an accusing finger” he says pointing the finger “at Kevin Moran and Gordon McQueen.” “I’m blaming the entire team” He isn’t.
Then we get a couple of real treats. “Garth Crooks” – guess where this is going – “was pleased to be part of our set-up on loan. He seemed to enjoy himself….I wish Garth all the best in the future, whatever happens with his football career. He’s one of the most friendly fellows in the game” – “fellows” is a word Bryan’s never used and I think we can all tell the real meaning of this passage is that Garth is a bit odd.
Bryan lets us know he’s over Jesper Olsen, who visited ahead of his move to Old Trafford the following summer – “I was impressed with his mastery (another word Bryan has never used) of the English language, and now I’ve forgotten about him.”
And now we forget about Bryan.
Devastatingly, I learn next that if I’d be born a week later I would have received a free Panini album and six stickers with the next issue. This issue also includes a crazy premonition about the noughties where “Glenn Roeder rides again with Newcastle”.
Tony Morely, a man who set up the winning goal for Villa against Bayern Munich in a European Cup final is our next feature. Things have gone downhill for old Tony, but nobody has told his ego. In an interview blissfully untainted by West Brom’s media officer, who is yet to be born, Tony tells us how good he is at football and how he alone might bankrupt the Baggies.
“The £70,000 they paid to bring me from Villa Park has left Albion broke. Now is it up to me contribute towards an era of success that gets the turnstiles clicking faster” He remarked, whilst pulling a screwdriver from his tool belt and tweaking the turnstile.
There seems to be some kind of Brexit advert up next “Italian worker ends up in cement” but it’s actually a pun-free and confusing advert from little known Japanese tech firm Nintendo. The advert is promoting the hero of Donkey Kong, some plumber called Mario, in a new adventure, which takes place in a cement factory. The inventively named ‘Mario’s Cement Factory’ features two skill levels, the second of these is aimed at “super ace show-offs”.
Competition time now! Where Linsey Rintoul, a girl of 17 wins a Braun electric shaver for being Fan of the Week! Obviously, she’s too old to be winning that kind of prize but it’s not her fault. Her younger sister nominated her for her devotion to Dundee United, specifically her desire to paint her room orange and black – a bad idea that was rightfully stopped by her parents. Linsey can console herself with a pair of boots and the best football ever – the Adidas Tango.
Sharing the page with Linsey is notorious cookie monster impresario Diego Armando Iannucci Maradona. The great man teaches us to mug off keepers and defenders and smash a ball under a bench. There’s no guidance on tax avoidance or contraception avoidance.
Overleaf, soon to be unknown Norwich manager Ken Brown admits his high-flying team “haven’t got the pedigree nor the money”. Answering questions about his libido, Brown retorts that he “can still be hard” before grimly expanding “I insist on enjoyment but not sloppiness.”
This week’s page 10 stunner is pin-up Forest and England man Steve Hodge. Hodge looks resplendent in one of the era’s finest kits. If you can take your eyes off Hodge’s muscular thighs your eyes can address the first of nine million football school adverts the magazine contains on the adjacent page. In light of recent events, I’m not keen to Google the coaches leading these courses.
Then it’s time for a global news round-up in a two-page spread that reminds you Shoot! really was excellent and those seeds of football hipster were sewn many years ago from an office in SE1. Tony Roche Goes World Wide!
This section deserves a real detailed review. First up we’re in innuendo city with the title ‘Stoned!’ about an incident involving Anderlecht. The incident is brilliant. An Anderlecht fan managed to divert the ball goalwards by throwing a stone at it and the ref let it stand.
There’s some more Maradona. This time his move to Barcelona being in jeopardy because of a clause to include 7 exhibition games with Boca. What is this? 1930?
Marcel Raducanu, is referred to as a Rumanian rather than a Romanian. And being from Rumania. Anyway, Marcel is in the middle of his own cold war drama where he’s playing for Dortmund but refusing to play for the national team unless his family can join him in the west. He went on to train a 10-year-old Mario Goetze.
There’s even news of a Czech referee retiring with ligament damage. Take that The Blizzard.
Next up it’s the Keggy special. Another one for the modern cynics who think the game only recently became infected with greed.
We’re treated to some lovely quotes from current and former colleagues of Kevin.
Chris Waddle “His best mate is Terry McDermot and they spend quite a lot of time together.” “He now commutes from his Hampshire home, arriving on Wednesday and leaving on Saturday evening. When he’s up here I believe he does a lot of promotional work for a local brewery”. I wonder which one that was!?
Keith Burkinshaw “he never worried about his lack of inches”
Steve Williams “The one annoying thing about Kevin was that he liked to play scrabble on the team bus….the only consolation was that he was usually beaten.”
Dave Watson (not that one) “If there was a silly hat about, Kevin would put it on his head.”
Tommy Smith “We used to call him Andy MCDaft because he had so much on his mind that he tended to be absent minded.”
Take a deep breath for this next one.
Star of a racist joke one of the assistant dads told me as an Under-11 footballer, Karl-Heiz Rummenigge says the following of Kevin “A lot of the experts are hailing Diego Maradona as the best in the world but he has nothing on Kevin for all-round skills”.
Then we get into a load of Scottish football news. Remember when Scotland did the football too? This issue is probably 40% Scottish football news.
Spot the difference involves a stereotypical boardroom at Christmas, presumably an admin error in the hazy drunk weeks of December led to a spare Christmas spot the difference being kicked over into January. I’m not going to do the spot the difference, like a wordsearch or Celebrity Big Brother, I’m well above all that.
Likewise, I can’t be bothered reading the Subbuteo competition results.
Linsey from fan of the week’s favourite player Paul Sturrock, turns out to be a Star Writer like Bryan Robson and Kenny Dalglish. Stop laughing at the back. This week Archie Knox has become manager of local rivals Dundee and Sturrock is worried in a ghost-written sort of way.
Nobby, Shoot!’s cartoon, is rubbish.
Want to win two tickets to the Milk Cup final? Then answer five questions about early 80’s football that I’ can’t be bothered to write out. THIS IS A REPEAT, PLEASE DO NOT CALL, YOU MAY STILL BE CHARGED.
Time for King Kenny to do his stint as a star writer. “I am well aware that of how Imre Varadi is finding the net with admirable consistency” he didn’t even say down a phone to some graduate intern oik. “Dalglish’s” article is something of an essay. It’s incredibly boring.
The centrefold spread is a full-colour festival of the best team in Europe’s tilt to win the Milk Cup for the fourth successive year. The highlight here is a journo who has clearly asked Graeme Souness something daft “Souness, quietly-spoken but quick to pounce on daft comments….”
Bloody hell, over the page there’s more Liverpool. I’m a Liverpool fan and I’m bored of this. Bored until Grobbelar reminds me just how old I am that is. “I was a corporal in a tracking team during the war in Rhodesia”. Yikes.
The other seven teams left in the Milk Cup get to share a page of coverage. There’s an all third-division tie between Rotherham and Walsall, which we’ll call the outskirt of better places derby. A third third-tier team, Oxford play Everton. Wednesday host Shoot!, sorry Liverpool and finally Norwich face Villa.
Remember when VHS cost the same as it did 15 years later? That’s right for £15.95 (the average weekly wage in Shropshire then) and £1.50 P&P you can Enjoy Better Soccer.
Ask the expert is lost on my post-Google mind but has some lovely facts, including:
Harold Bell of Tranmere played in 401 consecutive league games between 1946 and 1955.
Mustaza Mustaffa, one of Shoot’s many Malaysian readers learns that George Camsell scored nine hat-tricks in one season, for Middlesborough in Division 2 in 1926-27 season. Just about 1 hat-trick every four games. Crazy.
Another of Shoot!’s Malaysian readership – Chia Yao Hwa – gets told who England’s leading scorers are in a subsection of Ask the expert, delightfully titled, Short Passes.
Bloody hell, more Scottish Football next, this time in Edinburgh as we check in with pun-friendly Hearts. Hearts are delighted to have signed one-day-management-failure Craig Levein. There’s also some waffle on Roddy MacDonald, who is the most Scottish named man ever.
Nephew of John Charles, Jeremy, who also could play centre-back and centre-forward. He’s just moved to QPR and is scoring goals, despite their plastic pitch. The 80s weirdest contribution to football, seeing pros playing in trainers.
The adjacent page contains a similarly bemusing throwback, where Spurs forward Mark Falco dreams up a situation where a 15-point gap to leaders Liverpool isn’t too daunting.
WARNING TO READERS – the only way to guarantee your free Panini album with next week’s Shoot! is to order it from your newsagent. Ah, those crazy days where people made what was needed and not a needlessly large amount of everything.
Advert time again now. A soccer school you can trust with Bobby Charlton offers young hopefuls the chance to learn and impress scouts. It’s also sponsored by Lada, which is bonkers for 1984.
More Scotland now with Aberdeen and their bright young manager, Alex Ferguson. Fresh from winning the European Super Cup, Mr. Fergusson is targeting the European Cup. Only 15 years to wait Alex. Some colour photos of the Super Cup win follow.
I’ll leave the quiz and crossword for your enjoyment.
Oh hello, who’s that looking like a porn star playing a low-ranking police office? Why it’s Mick McCarthy, who is being trailed by Man City who are looking for a top-class centre-half. We also learn of his first come and get me for the Republic due to his father’s nationality. If only young Mick knew this would all add up to being told to shove it up his bollocks.
2017 news now. Charlton are in dire financial difficulty with their ground nicknamed ‘Death Valley’.
Four further cartoons with punchlines I can’t fathom.
Completing the shameless big team news is something on Arsenal that I cannot be bothered to read.
Finally, some real news! Previews of the weeks game, transfers, rumours and George Best blaming other people for him not still being a United player at 38. In genuinely interesting news, the first case of a professional successfully settling a case against another for ending his career through a dangerous tackle is documented. Dunfermline’s Jim Brown accepted £20,000 from St.Johnston winger John Pelosi for ending his career.
In more crazy old time news Gordon Milne speaks out in favour of the ‘playing on Sunday experiment’. “The atmosphere seems much more relaxed than on a Saturday….there is less traffic on the roads to the grounds a little less fraught.” Remember when Sundays were rubbish?
Ray Kennedy has moved (nearly) home to Hartlepool because China and the Qatar hadn’t built their carehomes for old footballers yet.
Save the best til last. It’s time for Greavesy, who answers your letters. This means opinions and a lot of pink font. First up Greaves goes full David Conn and goes after the quick buck capitalism of keen night-swimmer and full-time arsehole Robert Maxwell, despite him owning half of ITV. Didn’t see Keys and the other one going after Murdoch did you?
Less cool is this answer to the abuse United fans aimed at Ossie Ardilles. “Whilst I don’t condone the Stretford End’s behaviour – he’s about to condone it – I don’t think Ossie should be singled out for sympathy. All crowds try to upset the opposition, and when we’re technically at war with Argentia it was hardly surprising Ardilles was going to come in for some stick.”
Pre-Beckham and Owen, Greavesy highlights why footballers never win Sports Personality of the Year. “This award is presented to the outstanding individual, which makes it hard for any footballer to shine” He doesn’t think Steve Cram should have won 1983 SPOTY though. Torville and Dean got his backing.
In yet more nothing-ever-fucking-changes news he opines on FIFA shunting world cup qualifying places from Oceania to Asia “It all comes down to the politics of FIFA. Their first consideration is to make money from the tournament, so there is a great temptation to fix and fiddle the draw”.
David Swindlehurst is profiled on the back and it’s classic 80’s footballer throughout, until the final answer “I don’t want to stay in the game when I retire. In fact I’ve already decided to become a partner with my father-in-law, who runs a funeral parlour.”
He didn’t get to live his dream, instead he moved in to coaching, eventually becoming Palace’s reserve team coach.
So that’s it, the world in the week I was born through the eyes of Shoot! Magazine.
If you made it through this, you might be able to stand my book about cycling across China, available here.