I am in my mid/late 20’s, my earliest football memories are from the middle of the decade, of ‘Cool Britannia’ and ‘Britpop’. These memories, whilst maybe lacking in detail are rich with emotion and colour.
In 1994, Raith Rovers beat the mighty Celtic in the final of the Coca Cola Cup. I have no recollection of the game itself, only a picture in my head of people clad in dark blue, celebrating wildly. I remember the contrasting emotions, joy on one side, despair on the other, it was only disbelief that united blue with green.
From the World Cup of that same year, the shear ferocity of the Brazilian Leonardo’s elbow means it is forever ingrained on my conscience. That this contrasts so sharply with the smiling, charming man, who now appears on our television screens and is the public face of the PSG ‘project’, makes me doubt the veracity of this memory, but thanks to youtube such doubts are swiftly dispelled.
Also from that US hosted tournament, the barely contained delight of the commentator as Letchkov, from somewhere called Bulgaria, opened the scoring against an as always, and even more so in those days, intimidating German side, that same player’s bizarre isolated clump of hair, stubbornly clinging to his brow long after the rest had given up and receded. (I cannot find the commentary I remember from all those years ago, maybe my mind is playing tricks on me, but here’s a very excited foreign chap instead).
Henrik Larsson’s dreadlocks flailing in the air, Roberto Baggio, alone, shoulders slumped, and a sea of Samba yellow revelling in his pain, once again his hair, and his nickname, ‘the Divine Ponytail’. The Italians do many things well but it is in the provision of nicknames that they truly excel as a nation.
In 1996 Gary McCallister made me cry, not a single dignified tear but a flood of all consuming sobs. I remember a magician appearing on the television, telling me he had caused the ball to move at the crucial moment, I remember hating that magician, then he started bending spoons and reading people’s minds, hate turned to fear. It is clear now that Uri Geller is merely a publicity seeking shyster, but to my young mind he was a terrifying and wicked sorcerer. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uri_Geller#Paranormal_claims
I remember the glorious, Tartan patterned, Scotland shirt that was the uniform de rigueur of that footballing summer across the border, Ally McCoist scoring against the Swiss, and his joyful yet incredibly polite celebration, where he ran to the touchline and shook the hand of Craig Brown. Patrick Kluivert ‘nutmegging’ David Seaman at Wembley, ending the Scottish dream of playing knockout football on the International stage. I remember my unwavering belief that Scotland’s time would surely come. It is a sobering thought that these tear stained, tartan tinged memories may very well turn out to be the zenith of my time as a Scotland supporter.
My memories of football in the 90’s are simple ones, they seem to feature penalties and for no reason I can think of, haircuts. I have no recollections of systems or tactics, only extremes of emotion; my brain has retained the vibrant images and has very kindly discarded the cynicism.
This is the way it should be, it is comforting to remember a time when football was simpler, when it was purer. For me this time was the 1990’s.
I’d be delighted if you shared your own early football memories, either in the comments section or hit me up on twitter