Once upon a time, British soccer was the sport for the masses. Now it’s the sport for mass consumption – the game repackaged into the Premier League, a shiny place where working-class fans see global ‘brands’ (formerly ‘clubs’) in televised, power-ballad-driven highlight packages. Presented in HD, it’s almost like being there – but better. Because being there means being told to sit down and shut up, paying through the nose for replica tops and buying the official match-day programme – yours for £5. In the spirit of ‘things were so much better in my day’, we’ve gone back to the time when programmes were and popaalr bought for pennies and you could publish photos of the players without first negotiating with their image rights lawyer.
We’ll kick things off with this gem from 1983. Defending European Cup Winners Cup winners Aberdeen are taking on the mighty IA Akranes. The woman on the cover feeling the now Scotland manage Gordon Strachan’s hands for a quickening pulse is ‘Tricia’.
You know he still dresses like this.
If you think this is dull, you should have seen the match.
Ayr employ the town’s leading graphic artist to full effect.
You say ‘Jugs’. Noreen says ‘Bottles’.
Proper Roy of the Rovers stuff at Bradford. If the team can’t play like the hymned Roy Race, the players can at least embody the comic strip ace’s 2D image. Below Bristol employ a police artist. Do you know this man?
In 1973, ‘Cherries’ was Dorset slang for LSD tabs.
It’s 1980 and Bristol City have employed the Old Spice marketing team to sex things up. These are the before and after shots.
The Academy of science welcomes you. Now look into the light and clear your mind…
Sensational work at Hull, European city of culture.
Ready…? Aberdeen can keep Tricia. Norwich City’s cover girl is living angel HRH The Duchess of Kent, who is wearing shin pads, boots and replica shorts (all just out of frame).
An early spot of facial pixelation in St Mirren.
The Portsmouth ‘Journal‘.
Late 1960s brutalism from 21st Century brutalists Stoke City.
We’re not saying the team weren’t lookers, just that the kit fitted the women better and the drawing brings out the colour in the lads’ cheeks.
Ann Sharp does ‘popagility’ – which in 1984 meant stretching your limbs to George Michael’s Careless Whisper and Madonna’s Like A Virgin.
In 1981, crisp £1 notes were always presented in attache cases.
Spot the ball.
Spotter: Miles McClagan