Saturday 18 July 2020

Guest Review: Match of the Day: 50 Years By Nick Constable

Remember Sergio Aguero's late goal to win the title for Man City? Or, best of all, Geoff Hurst's hat-trick wining the World Cup for England in 1966?

Over half a century, Match of the Day has witnessed some of the greatest moments in football history, week in, week out. From the big shorts and brown leather balls of the Stanley Matthews era, through the classic tussles of the old First Division, right up to the glamour of the globe-spanning game that we know today, football has undergone an incredible journey - and now, in this milestone 50th year, Match of the Day celebrates the very best of the drama and the heartache.

With evocative memorabilia and photography throughout, relive the story of the beautiful game, season-by-season. Featuring favourite Match of the Day memories from top players and long-standing members of the MOTD team, this is the ultimate collection of football memories for any fan.

Review: In August 1964, the very first football league highlights programme was screened on Saturday night on the television channel BBC2. Initially, there was opposition from the league clubs who feared that a highlights programme would harm attendances at the matches on Saturday afternoons. However, executives at the channel persuaded the clubs that very few people could receive BBC2 at the time since a new aerial was required, so it should not affect match attendances. Indeed, the crowd for the first televised game at Liverpool’s home ground of Anfield outnumbered the show’s audience by 2 to 1. Later on, the programme was switched to BBC1, although there had to be an agreement that the featured match would not be revealed until full-time whistles had been blown and that it could not be shown before 10pm. Match of the Day grew to become a national institution and football clubs have come to recognise the beneficial effect of TV coverage.

This book was published in 2014 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the programme, which has kept going despite hiccups along the way when other TV channels mounted successful bids for the right to screen highlights for a few years. Its presentation and format has evolved as technology has advanced. Initially, before the advent of colour TV in this country, matches could be shown only in black and white. I can recall one commentator advising that since the strip of both teams appeared grey, they could be distinguished because one team wore white socks, and the other wore socks that appeared grey on the screen. Some of the commentators, such as Kenneth Wolstenholme, David Coleman and John Motson, have become legendary.

The book is divided into decades, from the 1960s to the 2010s, and there is an outline of the events of each season, with sections featuring the player of that year and a selected match of the season. There are also sections on a few of the World Cups that took place. Of necessity, to keep the book to a manageable size, the descriptions of the seasons are fairly brief and some things have had to be omitted. There are illustrations throughout the book, and some eagle-eyed readers (and John Motson) will have fun spotting one or two that have been mis-captioned.

For a nostalgic review of a national institution, including hairstyles and playing strips of a bygone era, and a reminder of many footballers who have been forgotten over the years, I would recommend this book to all fans of the beautiful game.

To order your copy now, just click the link: UK or US

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