I am currently writing a book (if you’re interested, it will include discussions about opening chart positions of Number 1 singles, how BBC Records could not sell a 12-inch single to save their bacon in the 1980s, and why ‘The Chart Show’ was nearly axed on two separate occasions in the early 1990s), which possess a number of challenges.
Unsurprisingly, given a 200 mile distance between my home and the British Library, the most difficult task is accessing research material. Sobbing after being outbid, with five seconds to go, for Record Mirror and Melody Maker magazines from 1974 is something that I’ve become accustomed to.
I, however, have recently acquired an issue of Record Mirror from 25 August 1984. Apart from confirming that 1.6 million homes in Europe had access to cable television, it was also a football-related special to tie in with the start of the 1984/85 season.
Within the first two pages, there were details of ‘Back On The Ball’, a single by Chelsea FC that celebrated their return to the first division, a list of the ten worst chants (including those by Birmingham City, Exeter City and Torquay United supporters), and a mini-review of ‘Football Manger’ (“I felt pretty pleased with myself when I got Swindon Town promotion [sic] on Level Five”) for the ZX and Spectrum 48K.
The sporting highlight of the season was arguably in January when: “The BBC run a soap opera called ‘Palace’, wherein a wicked, bearded football commentator tries to take over an ailing second division club, have an affair with Gladys the tea lady and have breakfast on the freezing cold of his Ruislip patio every morning.”
Gary Crowley, unfortunately, was also on hand to pen an article about his love of football. Describing Roy Of The Rovers and Billy’s Boots as “trashy football story magazines” suggests that he couldn’t even hit the post, though.
However, and thankfully, there was also Pat Nevin, Record Mirror’s guest singles reviewer.
And I can assure you that a footballer who cares about music formatting is worth their weight in gold. It looks like that he wasn’t much of a Marc Almond fan, though.
Also, in a later interview, he admits that the first record he bought was ‘The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway’ by Genesis.
Former Norwich City striker Mick Channon, a man who likes “everything from Adge Cutler to the B52s” was put under the spotlight, and said: “There’s no need to buy records now, is there? Whether you like it or not, there’s home taping, everybody’s doing that.”
There was also a short feature about football chic, while pop stars were given the chance to chat about football. Hibernian fan John Robertson, from The Questions, and Sheffield Wednesday supporter, Martyn Ware, from Heaven 17, were interviewed.
But the star of the issue was Baz from the Farmer Boys, who tipped Port Vale for promotion “because I don’t know where they come from”.
And last, but not least, there was pop’s memory man, Alan Jones. Rather than his weekly Chartfile, a very rare Soccerfile appeared in this issue.
Jones published numerous football-cum-music facts; such as Don Revie’s daughter, Kim, releasing a single in 1982, and Nottingham Forest’s ‘We’ve Got The Whole World In Our Hands’ reaching the Top 10 in the Netherlands and Belgium.
He also announced that George Benson was football’s favourite pop star – by a landside. Who said that footballers lack good taste, eh?