Good evening. If you’re reading this in Internet Explorer 7 (or the beta version of IE9, as it goes), there’s a good chance that everything looks a little bit wonky on the site this evening. It’s being sorted, and should be back to normal in the next couple of days or so. Please bear with us while we get it sorted out. Shouldn’t be long. In the mean-time, it’s time for this week’s Video Of The Week, and another peer back into the BBC’s magnificent football archive with the first of six episodes of “Match Of The 80s”, a bit of pre-season filler from the mid-1990s, starting with the 1980/81 season.
The 1980/81 season was a remarkable one for British football. In England, Liverpool and Nottingham Forest had been dominating the headlines for the previous season, but the league championship run-in ended up being between Aston Villa and Ipswich Town, with Ron Saunders’ Villa team eventually taking their first English title since 1910. Ipswich got a little solace from a season of disappointment from winning the UEFA Cup, and the FA Cup final ended up as a mini soap opera in itself, with a revitalised Tottenham Hotspur eventually beating Manchester City in the first FA Cup final replay ever to be held at Wembley. As for Liverpool… they struggled to sixth place in the league, but ended up winning the European Cup. Meanwhile, in Scotland, Celtic ended up as champions but Aberdeen finished in second place and only goal difference kept Rangers above St Mirren and in third place in the SPL.
Presented by Danny Baker, it is the quality of the archive material that marks “Match Of The 80s” out. The match footage is predictably terrific, but the news film also picks out some beautiful period detail – Kevin Keegan, for example, appears to have caught a dose of the old Saturday night fever at the press conference to mark his return to Southampton after three years in West Germany with Hamburg. Why this series (as well as its sister series, “Match Of The 70s”) haven’t been re-issued by the BBC on DVD or at least more regularly repeated is a question that only the corporation can answer.