by Kevin Henning

Having been born in 1978, the eighties was inevitably going to be the decade that decided whether or not I was to become a football fan. Below are a list of memories that made up my mind.

Norwich City v Sunderland 1985 Milk Cup Final

The very first game of football that I ever watched was this Milk Cup Final. I can remember one of the side bringing on a substitute and wondering how the hell the manager selected one man from the thousands gathered around the pitch.

Football Manager – ZX Spectrum

Those of you over the age of thirty will know that I’m not referring to the all-encompassing, marriage threatening, time consuming game available for the PC nowadays, but the Kevin Toms version that ruled our school holidays. Guiding a team from the fourth division to the top by managing Russell Osman and Viv Anderson whilst repeatedly tapping “99 Enter” could keep you entertained for hours on end.

Finding out I was English

The beginning of the Mexico ‘86 World Cup saw me collecting Panini stickers, World Cup wall charts and Pique transfers despite the fact that I didn’t really care about the football itself. I’d had a glance at my wall chart and due to the fact that I was fond of both their flag and name, I’d decided I was a Belgium fan. That was until the day of the England v Argentina Quarter Final when my older brother pinned me to the floor and kindly ‘explained’ to me that I was English.

Weird Cup Finals

Those that have become fans of the beautiful game post Premier League must find it strange to look through the record books and see that only twenty five years ago, teams such as Wimbledon, Coventry City and Luton Town were not only playing in major cup finals but actually winning them!

Old School Chants

Terrace banter was so much simpler back in the ‘80’s than the ballads that each clubs’ fans try to adopt as their anthems these days. Classics such as “You’re gonna get your fucking head kicked in”, “Here We Go” and “You’re Going Home in a St.John’s Ambulance” were a sign of more basic, ultra-violent times. Oh how I miss the sublime lyrics of “He’s only a poor little cockney”.

G-Mex Soccer 6’s

A fantastic annual tournament held in Manchester during the second half of the decade saw the top teams in the country name their best players for a 6-a-side knockabout at an indoor arena. These days, Premier League teams wouldn’t even consider phoning their insurance companies but back in the day you could rely on the likes of Paul Walsh, Gordon Strachan and Johnny Metgod to show up and take it every bit as serious as the Rumbelows Cup.

The Match

For some reason, we weren’t allowed to watch live football on a Sunday until about October but once the weekly offerings began, it was a treat to settle down after dinner to listen to the wonderful Brian Moore talking us through games that were selected from Arsenal, Everton, Liverpool, Manchester United, Nottingham Forest and Tottenham Hotspur. If two of these sides weren’t playing each other, we’d be snookered. Apart from the one time when Aston Villa were shown leathering Everton 6-2. Fortunately, there was at least one face-off from the big six every week for a good four year stretch during my childhood. Liverpool faced Forest an incredible 27 times in the 1988/89 season which helped to keep football on our screens.