Football Desert Island Discs

Note: if anyone cares to do their own version of this in the comments, I’ll turn it into a separate post here.

Just because Desert Island Discs is old doesn’t mean it isn’t tight. Only eight records? And one book? One luxury?

I never felt much like having a luxury, unless that be an unexpected, inexhaustible barrel of Leffe Blonde, and each of my records would turn out to be sets of 78s the size of the multi-volume encyclopedia I am already forbidden by the Plomley Rules. And as for the book – I’d have Philip Larkin’s “Further Requirements”, which includes his Desert Island Discs.

And how dull to be washed up with what amounts to an Ipod and a broken Amazon Kindle. I want to be washed up with books, music and Youtube clips.

Your Football Desert Island “Discs” are EIGHT football clips, TWO football books, TWO football songs, ONE image and ONE moment in football history in which you can intervene.

These are mine in reverse order. Clips first. Cliche alert:

1. Brazil v England 1970

Still, in my view, the best international match ever played, and the best English team performance of all time. It came against the best international side of all time, and they lost. But so well..


2. David Pleat and Luton v Manchester City 1983

At school in Bedford, Luton were our closest First Division side, so a lot of us supported them by extension. None of us cared about Pleat’s shoes then. I trust we would now. But a good man and a good manager and Spurs’ worst mistake of modern times was to sack him.


3. David Beckham v Greece 2001

Do I really have to justify this one? Save to say, given how Beckham has played for England down the years, in contrast to many who are always about to perform, or promising to perform, or expected to perform, he spends rather a lot of time being the fall guy.


4. Newcastle United v Liverpool

Not that one. This one, which is much better:


5. George Best v Benfica 1968

The best player of all time in my opinion, with apologies to Sir Tom Finney. And Manchester United should always play in blue: more tasteful than that godawful red that I had foisted onto my bedcover as a boy.


6. Michael Owen v Germany 2001

I was too scared to watch this game, spending it over the barbecue talking to a German visitor who was in the same kind of mood. When we finally went inside, it just got better and better and better.


7. They Always Score

1999, the last time I watched a match as a pure fan wanting my team to win. It almost bloody killed me. Remember I’d had to sit through England v Argentina only a year earlier.


8. Rahn schiesst..

It’s the commentary: ten years of international shame, of hunger and bitter cold and hard work such as I can’t imagine, all finding release in one glorious moment. It never fails to raise the hairs on the back of my neck. Hungary has never been the same since. In Berlin, I came across George Szirtes’ new book “Metropole” translated into Hungarian by some guy called Karinthy. Not a patch on the original.


Now for the songs.

1. Three Lions (original version)

The 1998 repeat is embarrassingly bad. But this one went straight onto the terraces. Even I like it. And Brooking’s comments in the opening seconds still apply:


2. The Kop

Not my team, but this has gone now, really: the sound so vast that it overwhelms the microphone. The Beatles wrote England’s folk song book alone during this period, and Morris Dancers should be shot etc.


Here’s my image. It would be a video, had anyone had the sense to wield a film camera.

And two books.

1. “Matt Busby’s Manchester United Scrapbook”

This was actually my second book of football history, but the first to really ram home what was lost at Munich. Glorious photographs, great memories and the inevitable reassurances about Dave Sexton bringing back the glory days.

2. Tor! The History of German Football by Ulrich Hesse-Lichtenberger

Pace Simon Kuper and Jonathan Wilson, still the greatest book ever written about the game. German football has had a far more interesting time of it than English. We’ve had the triumphs, but they’ll always have 1954 to look back on.

And, finally, one moment in which I intervene. As a child, I dreamt of playing: running on to that through ball, and so did you. More recently, I find myself dreaming of management! But really, what I want to do is to shoot the tyres out on aircraft so that they can’t try to take off.



4 Replies to “Football Desert Island Discs”

  1. No time to be thorough this morning, so just some quick mentions:

    A book:
    ABC, Ajax, Barcelona, Cruyff

    Song: I can’t even quote words properly, but Monchengladbach fans had a great set of verses about lederhosen when I saw them play Bayern.

  2. “Philip Larkin’s “Further Requirements””: bloody hell, that’s my loo book du semaine. One never knows, do one?

  3. I commend to you this strangely prophetic song from the 2006 World Cup
    “We’re going to do quite well, injury permitting”

    Didn’t get much radio play.

    I think that Baddiel and Skinner should be forced by law to update 3 lions every two years until we win something.
    40 years of hurt, 42 years of hurt, 44 years of hurt, 46 years of hurt etc.

    They should be commissioned to write the post break-up English national anthem, I think now would be about the time to start in time for Premiers Cameron and Salmond’s signing of the Treaty of Gretna.

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