If you haven’t seen this, then I suggest that you devour all of it. Very quickly. I have said for a considerable amount of time that the BBC don’t make enough use of their massive sports archive, and I’m delighted to see that, for this World Cup, they have, to an extent proved me wrong. It’s all here and, particularly delightfully from my point of view, they’ve uploaded the original review programmes from just after the tournaments, rather than cobbling together right now. This is, so far as I can see, a fundamentally good thing, as we get to see the tournament from the perspective of the time. Desmond Lynam, for example, reminds us at the start of the 1990 review that the 1990 tournament was, relatively speaking, a poor one. Too many teams played too defensively, meaning that, although this competition has been given a rosy glow with the benefit of hindsight, we see the truth behind a tournament that was less exciting than previous ones. Likewise, I had forgotten just how poor England were in the group stages in 1986, and the extent to which some atrocious refereeing marred the 1994 tournament.
Most nostalgic for me, though, was the sound of the World Cup – at least up until 1982. Back in the old days, digital sound technology wasn’t quite what it is now. Matches shown on the television sounded like hey came from another planet, with the commentator struggling to be heard above a maelstrom of crowd noise. It made the broadcast sound as if it was coming from another world, which, in an era of just three domestic television channels and practically no live football shown at all (let alone abroad), it might as have been. My suggestion, therefore, is this: in the multimedia digital age, where several commentary options are available, why not fit a filter to their technical gubbins to make it sounds like it’s coming down a telephone line from a village in the side of a mountain in Bolivia? I know I’d listen to it.