Saturday, 19 March 2016
357 The Kick-Off Match / Match Time
First viewed : 20 August 1978
I acknowledge the help of http://carousel.royalwebhosting.net/itv/ITVfootball68-83.html in writing this post.
After the World Cup I couldn't wait for the 1978-79 season to start, devouring all the transfer news and reports of pre-season games I could find in anticipation of the kick-off on Saturday 19 August, a week after Forest demolished Ipswich in the Charity Shield.
With Match of the Day still on a little too late for me , my main source of football fix was The Kick Off Match on Sunday afternoons which showed the highlights of a game of regional interest. This did pose a problem in the pre-VCR era as it clashed with the fortnightly walks of Littleborough Civic Trust which I attended. However on the Sunday before the season started I went on one around Calderbrook which a new family attended. They had a really obnoxious girl who took the piss out of me and with neither her parents nor the regulars among the Trust choosing to intervene I dropped out for the rest of the year leaving me free to watch the football. The other problem was that it clashed with the Sunday film on BBC1 which my mum liked to watch so I usually ended up watching this at my gran's.
So what delights did Granada serve up on 20 August 1978 ? It was a Second Division encounter between Burnley and Leicester City. Burnley were treading water but Leicester were newly-relegated after a disastrous campaign in which they finished bottom of the First Division, 11 points adrift of safety. Their young goalkeeper Mark Wallington had actually kept 12 clean sheets but a chronic shortage of goals at the other end cost them dear. However they had tempted treble-winning manager Jock Wallace down from Rangers and he gave a League debut to future Northern Ireland centre half John O Neill in this game. It finished 2-2 . Burnley's goals were scored by their future chief executive Paul Fletcher and bald-headed midfield stalwart Peter Noble while Billy Hughes and Trevor Christie scored for Leicester.
Sometimes Granada couldn't cover a match that weekend so we got LWT's The Big Match instead and that was the case for the second week of the season where we got to see Tottenham v Chelsea. Spurs featured again the following week but must have wished they hadn't as they were steamrollered 7-0 by probably the greatest Liverpool side of all time. The seventh goal was the best of the lot. David Johnson received the ball just inside his own half turned and hit a raking pass for Steve Heighway to run on to on the left. He hit the mother of all first time crosses for Terry McDermott to plant a header into the roof of the net. From the halfway line to the back of the Spurs net in three touches it was absolutely sublime. They only lost four League games all season conceding just 16 goals on their way to reclaiming the League title although Forest put them out of the European Cup and United came out on top in a hard fought FA Cup Semi-Final.
A fortnight later we were back with Brian Moore and LWT for Chelsea v Man City which the visitors won 4-1, a rare highlight in a miserable season for the Blues. They had been tipped for the title following the signing of England Under-21 international defender Paul Futcher from Luton to replace the ageing Tommy Booth but it didn't work out that way. The team couldn't put a consistent run together and Futcher's individual mistakes eventually led to a recall for Booth at his expense. Manager Tony Book eventually had to accept the return of Malcolm Allison to "help" him and we all know how that turned out. Still it was a fine result at Stamford Bridge and a career high point for Futcher's twin brother Ron , a striker who had been bought to keep him company but scored a hat trick that day. Paul and Ron were among the first players offloaded by Allison in 1979. Ron went to America's Minnesota Kicks and became one of the top goalscorers in the old NASL. He returned to the UK in 1984 and scored consistently for Barnsley, Oldham, Bradford, Port Vale , Burnley and finally Crewe ( after Rochdale had declined his services ). Paul moved just down the road to Oldham where he recovered some of his reputation as a fine defender and later gave sterling service to Derby , Barnsley and Grimsby ( in his late thirties ) though sadly he was never given another chance in the top tier.
Bolton featured a few times that season as they'd just been promoted and so the cameras were at Burden Park to capture THAT goal against Ipswich by Frank Worthington who finished the season as the top scorer in Division One. Bolton actually lost that game 3-2.
The week after that it was over to LWT again, featuring a Second Division encounter between West Ham and Wrexham. West Ham opened the scoring with a goal by Billy Bonds after a clear handball by David Cross in the build-up went unpunished. Wrexham keeper Dai Davies was so incensed he chased after the referee and spun him round. Needless to say the ref didn't appreciate this and gave him a red card. The match finished 1-1.
In the new year, my friend Steven joined the Civic Trust and I resumed walking with them so I watched this less often. The following season I started watching Match of the Day which made it seem a bit "yesterday's news" and in any case it didn't start until the end of October due to a technicians strike.
However in 1980 ITV turned the tables on the BBC and so The Kick Off Match became the Saturday night highlights programme although looking at the stats I don't think I watched it much. The following season it went back to Sunday afternoons and became "Match Time". I do remember watching the final series , back on Saturday nights with Elton Welsby as host, although none of the games featured have stuck in my memory.
At the end of the 1982-83 season the regional football highlights set up was dismantled though it would return for midweek games a decade or so later.