Friday, March 23, 2012

The English Leagues in Reviews : The Seventies, Season 1978 1979 Special

   At Forest Brian Clough's side included ex-Derby players John McCovern, John O'Hare and Archie Gemmill,together with former Liverpool stopper Larry Lloyd. Clough added Kenny Burns, turning the former Birmingham City bad boy into the Footballer of the Year. There was also Viv Anderson, a young attacking full-back who became England's first black player when he took the field against Czechoslovakia on 29 November 1978. But the key acquisition was probably Peter Shilton, bought from Stoke for £270,000, the highest amount ever paid for a goalkeeper. Forest lost just three games all season, conceding only 24 league goals, and took the title with four games to spare. Clough followed in the illustrious footsteps of Herbert Chapman in taking two clubs to the championship. Forest also got the better of Liverpool in the 1978 League Cup Final, a John Robertson penalty settling the issue at Old Trafford after a goalless draw at Wembley.  Having been pipped for domestic honours twice, Liverpool made sure they didn't finish the season empty-handed by retaining their European crown. FC Bruges were their Wembley opponents. 

The Belgians set their stall out defensively, inviting Liverpool to try and break them down. The Reds managed to do so just once, Dalglish chipping the keeper delightfully for his 3oth goal of the season. Between 19 November 1977 and 9 December 1978 Forest were unbeaten in the league. Their only defeat in any competition was an FA Cup quarter-final tie with West Bromwich Albion, who won 2-0. Having beaten the country's form team, West Brom went down to Ipswich in the semis, and it was the East Anglian club who were the surprise winners of the trophy. That game will be remembered for the Roger Osborne goal which beat favourites Arsenal in the final. Osborne was so overwrought with the occasion that he was substituted, apparently through sheer nervous exhaustion. His goal took the Cup to Portman Road for the only time in the club's history.

Televised Football has come a long way since the first experiment in 1937 when the Daily Herald predicted that a time would soon come when we would regularly watch football by the comfort of our firesides. After the early success of that first transmission from Highbury, the annual televised match for those wealthy enough to own TV sets was the Cup Final. Yet it was not until 1953, when the Coronation sparked off the mass purchase of cheap sets, that football really arrived in the average living room. And the Stanley Matthews Final of that year was tlje first sporting event to be seen in millions of homes. But for the remainder of the 1950s, televised football was generally restricted to internationals, Cup finals and the odd friendly. Indeed, it was not until the 1960s that league soccer found its way onto the small screen, when a live fixture between Blackpool and Bolton was shown on the Saturday evening of September 10th 1960. But the game was a grave disappointment, and plans for regular live televised Saturday football were quickly dropped. Four years later, on Saturday August 22nd 1964, the BBC introduced edited football with highlights of the afternoon's clash between Liverpool and Arsenal shown that evening under the title 'Match of the Day'. 

 Only 75,000 watched that first programme, transmitted on BBC 2, but once the series had been transferred to BBC 1, it soon became one of the nation's favourites with Saturday night crowds returning home early from pubs, dance halls, and cinemas for their weekly diet of David Coleman and Jimmy Hill. Appropriately enough, Anfield was also the venue for the first colour transmission of football when BBC cameras captured the action between Liverpool and West Ham for 'Match of the Day' on Saturday November 15th 1969. Independent television's inaugural broadcast from a soccer ground came in January 1956, when the third round Cup replay between Bedford Town and Arsenal was transmitted in some regions, but ITV generally lagged behind the BBC whose years of experience had given them a near monopoly of sports coverage. It was not until 1978 that ITV really made its mark when it signed a lucrative contract with the Football League to guarantee edited soccer on the channel every Saturday evening beginning in August 1980, instead of in their traditional Sunday afternoon slot. The contract, stolen from under the noses of the BBC, was negotiated by Michael Grade of London Weekend Television and was said to be worth more than £9 million over three seasons. BBC chiefs who had automatically assumed that the League would again sign a deal with them were furious.

Football remained surprisingly untroubled by drug scandals. Only a handful of cases have ever come to light, thanks usually to the tabloid press. In the mid-1960s Albert Dun-lop, the Everton goalkeeper, claimed in the People that he had taken drugs and that on one occasion he was so totally confused towards the end of a match because of the number of stimulants he had swallowed that he had to be stretchered off the field. He also claimed that he was not the only Everton player involved in drugtaking, but after an internal investigation no action was taken by the Football League, either against the club or Dunlop. Perhaps the most famous case was that of Willie Johnston, the former Glasgow Rangers and West Brom-wich Albion winger who was sent home from the 1978 World Cup finals in Argentina after failing a drugs test. Johnston always maintained his innocence but the Scottish FA had been severely embarrassed before a watching world and Johnston who had played just one game in Argentina never played again in the blue shirt of Scotland. Just a few months after the John ston affair, Stan Bowles, the 28-year-old Queen's Park Rangers' striker went public in the Daily Star, claiming that he had taken drugs. He told the newspaper that he had tried amphetamines and valium and added that in his opinion some drugs should be legalised. 

 Bowles however was a controversial character, well known for his gambling and drinking and the Football League did not appear to take his allegations too seriously. The following day Charlie George, the former Arsenal favourite, revealed that drug taking among footballers in America where he had played was widespread. But again with players either retired or with no specific or provable allegations it was impossible for the League to take much action. Bowles almost certainly touched on a scandal that went much deeper and it remains surprising that, even to this day, the press has continued to ignore investigations into an area which could offer some rich journalistic pickings.

Codec H264, 
Bitrate 1000
Sound 128 kbps
English Comments

MOTD 70s 
Season Review


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