World Cup best bits and worst strips

So, the draw for World Cup 2010 is upon us and I can’t wait! Thinking about it, this will be the 6th World Cup I can remember; 1986, 1990, 1998, 2002, 2006 and 2010.1994 in America doesn’t count because Graham ‘Turnip, do I not like Orange’ Taylor, the worst England manager ever (correction, 2nd worst – Steve McClaren now takes that mantel) couldn’t guide us past the Poles, Turks, Norwegians and the minnows of San Marino! Plus, anyone who refers to the beautiful game as soccer needs to be dismissed immediately!

The purpose for this post, is to find the best all-round world cup ever! Taking into account the following criteria: My memories, design (naturally), culture, music, strips and, of course, the competition. All from a 30-something, sport mad, unbiased Englishman’s rose tinted point of view. Also, see how many footy cliches and phrases you can spot!

Memories are made of this (and this)
There are so many memories I can recall but the most favourable ones definitely come from ‘Mekiko 86’ & ‘Italia 90’ so I’m split on this category.

Being a highly impressionable 8 year old who played up front, Gary Lineker was like a God to me during and after the 86 World Cup. I can even remember sporting a tuba-grip bandage on my left wrist for the whole of the 86-87 football season just to see if it would help bag me a couple of extra goals. Plus it looked ‘well cool’!

Swapsies in the Meadowside junior school playground was an everyday lunchtime occurrence for me during the Summer term of 86. Indeed I’m sure every playground in the country must have been the same. Now-a-days schools have probably banned sticker swapping altogether. Just in case the kids endure a horrific paper cutting incident when holding said contraband and slice an arm off! Then there was the hand in God! Diego Mara-Dog-nuts was public enemy No.1 and anybody caught wearing the light blue and white stripes got a swift smack round the lugg-hole. Unbelievably Thierry Henry has just reenacted ‘Le Hand of God’ to end the Irish dreams of South Africa.

My recollections of Italia 90 were a blubbing Geordie (Gazza) and Sir Lineker helping the 3 lions spank all in their path until coming unstuck against an average Germany side in the 1st of a series of penalty shootout disasters. Everybody started emulating the Cameroon corner flag shimmy of Roger Milla and Peter Shilton finally got his seniors bus pass and was, thankfully, put out to pasture.

I’ve got my eye on the prize
Three main catagories to study here: The sticker book which begins the World Cup hype 6 months before the event, the posters which, frankly, haven’t lived up to much in recent years and, finally, the all important mascot, the essential part of any major tournament.

Best Sticker album has to be Mexico 86. With the introduction of the silver foil team badges and the elusive Silver Pique sticker which I finally got 3 months after the World Cup. This was much to my parents relief as my mum’s purse was getting pretty empty feeding a 15p a day sticker collection habit.

The now legendary Mexico 86 font (an admirable update to the classic Mexico 70 font) and the fact I was a footy frenzied 8 year old meant that 86 was the complete package for me. My only complaint was getting Soren Busk in every single pack of 6 stickers I bought. You just couldn’t shift him at swapsies time!

Best posters
From the first World Cup in Uruguay, the posters have always emulated the host countries’ heritage and culture. Here are a selection of my favourite posters from the past 18 World Cups. Each has something special but I think Mexico ’70 is my No.1. It is a true design classic plus it was the tournament that saw the greatest team ever score the best goal ever: Brazil – Carlos Alberto!

Best mascot
A tricky one this and I can’t decide between these two:

  1. World Cup Willie – England 66 and the classic British lion as well as the first ever World Cup to get a mascot.
  2. Pique – Mexico 86 and a Mexican jalapeno with a cracking moustache.

As for the worst mascot award, there’s no competition. Germany 74 and the shocker that is Tip & Tap, the odd twins with ill fitting shirts, giant hands and clown shoe boots!

Best music
Best football song ever has to go to New Order, World in Motion from, yet again, Italia 90. Super John Barnes and that rap have gone down in the annals of musical history. Not sure whether that’s tasteful, respected musical history, but history none the less.

A worthy runners up place goes to the BBC who cracked it with their opening titles for Italia 90. The Three Tenors, Nessun Dorma. For me this little number just sums up the entire summer of 1990!.

Worst must go to Scotland for employing Del Amitri to produce the goods (or bads in this case). Tripe, lame, drivel are three nicer word to sum this one up!

Best strip
The best England shirt has to be the 66 shirt – it is an obvious classic. That said, in my lifetime it’s difficult to see past the V-neck Mexico 86 shirt with subtle textured stripes and classic 80s tight shorts and the skinny big red numbers on the back.

The best shirts of all time: Zaire Leopards, Russia 82,, Denmark 86, England 82, Ghana 80s, France 82, Germany 90, Croatia.

Worst shirts of all time: anything from the USA 94 World Cup – Mexico and USA in particular.

The competition
As an Englishman under the age of 50 (so discounting 66 because I wasn’t born) my choice has to be Italy 90. The Argies were spanked in the first game, Gazza showed how good he really was, grown men crying like babies, Chris Waddle’s mullet, mmm… isn’t it?!

I’ve not really had that feeling of excitement since 90, but South Africa could well change that and see the mighty lions step up once more and mix it with the big boys. Who knows what it will bring but let’s all raise a cool beer to the sights, sounds, triumphs and misdemeanors that are the World Cup.

  • Great post, keep up the good work!

  • Simon Garrett

    :D thanks, great article

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