Those Were Indeed The Days
Monday, 5th Dec 2011 13:55
Football used to be better in the past. It’s a fact. And ample proof is provided in a big new football nostalgia book called Got, Not Got, which focuses on British football’s apparent lost utopia of the 60s, 70s and 80s – the fondly remembered Golden Age of mudbaths and cloggers, of miniature, carpet-level games and imaginary, comic-fuelled worlds.
TWTD knows authors Gary and Derek from the days of rivals.net, when Derek worked at HQ and Gary ran the Leicester site based on his fanzine The Fox, which has now been running for 25 years.
The book, which you can buy for a bargain £13.99 here, evokes the feel and smell of football past, its rituals and relics. But there’s more to the agreeably grumpy authors’ vision than a hilarious, heartstring-tugging celebration of everything we miss in modern football. There are hundreds of beautiful images of a lost football culture, pin-sharp observations and memories shared by generations of fans – in all, an ideal blueprint to help restore the game to its former glories!
As you can see, there’s loads of Town material in the book, from a bloody Terry Butcher and our early exotic imports to a special place in the cult movie Escape To Victory and memories of Sunday afternoon ITV on Anglia - Match of the Week with Gerry Harrison, which appear alongside hundreds more much-missed pleasures and treasures.
“Hopefully, there’ll be a lot of shared memories here for fans of every club,” Derek says. “Fans of a certain age, at any rate, who remember football’s Golden Era of mud, the magic sponge and Melchester Rovers...”
Got, Not Got centres around the very stuff of all our football-mad childhoods, digging out old programmes and stickers (which weren’t always sticky), dusting off everything from vintage progress charts and league ladders to antique handheld games, petrol freebies and priceless clumps of turf.
Hundreds of items of fan ephemera and memorabilia are featured among the book’s 1000+ images, which help summon back the sky-high promise of the Admiral seconds box, and all the thrills of the Peter Barnes Football Trainer depositing your shorts in next-door’s shrubbery.
Also much missed are those elements of our football culture which have been deemed surplus to requirements over the past 20 or 30 years – World Cup squad singalongs, dogs on the pitch, mud, the magic sponge and Melchester Rovers – all recaptured here in anecdotal form and in superb pictures from the Mirror Football archive.
Stories of long-lost football species, boiled burgers and floodlight pylons and are sure to trigger bittersweet memories in anyone who ever went to a proper football match.
And so to the flipside of the authors’ rose-tinted vision of the past, and their bemused attitude to a game which has been taken over by its own self-appointed ‘authorities’ and a clutch of monomaniacal Bond villains, our untouchable heroes of old somehow replaced by freelance millionaire celebrities.
Got, Not Got isn't just packed with shared, feelgood memories. It also adds up to a heartfelt fans' blueprint for the future of football – next stop, the FA and Premier League...
With Got, Not Got steadily climbing the Amazon football books chart before Christmas, Gary and Derek are already looking forward to a second volume – and that’s where you might be able to contribute if you’ve got any memorabilia, games or other vintage football treasures that escaped Mum’s great spring clean of 1985!
Please do get in touch by emailing TWTD with any photos or scans of your cherished clutter or let us know what you’ve got via the Comments section below.
Send in your old pics of stars snapped in the street, your souvenirs, DIY banners and cuttings – anything with a memory or a story attached – and we’ll share them on TWTD.
“Of course,” Gary says, “if anyone’s got anything brilliant like a pair of those 70s boots with rotating studs or a 1974 FKS World Cup wallchart, then we’d love to see it. Anything blue and white and rose-tinted!
“And if we could use any of your treasures alongside our next load of luvverly old tat, you’ll get full credit and we’ll be happy to send you a book when it comes out.”
Television was still within the realms of science fiction when the majority of British football stands were built, so when the need to house TV cameras began to crop up more regularly in the mid Sixties, some serious improvisation had to be employed. How to get all that heavy equipment, and the men required to operate it, up to an altitude acceptable to the TV viewer, where no one was likely to wander past pulling faces and flicking the Vs?
The bigger grounds managed to accommodate the cameras either in jerry-built rooftop sheds or hanging under the eaves on a suspended gantry; but for smaller grounds such as Portman Road, the answer was to construct a makeshift tower out of cast-off scaffolding and corrugated iron, the club carrying out a grand whip-round of Ipswich’s Meccano sets to complete the spindly legs.
In those days we didn’t need safety certificates, because we had blind optimism. “It’ll probably be all right,” we believed. And so it always was.
Subbuteo soon brought out their own version, in the swanky Continental Range, no less: the C.110 TV Tower. It may have been an unlikely subject for a toy, two sides of scaffolding with two platforms, a TV camera and cameraman, a monitor and commentator, but it was a top seller and remains one of the favourite Christmas presents I’ve ever received. I even recall the joy of opening it, undimmed by the fact that I’d already guessed what it was from the size of the box and the rattle of the figures inside.
I’m still not sure what made the tower so appealing. Perhaps the fact that my Subbuteo league games would now be reaching a nationwide audience of millions.
Photo: Action Images
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