This is the twenty-fifth episode of Viva Video since our July relaunch and regular viewers may have noticed a trend amongst the selected clips. Indeed I am embracing the opportunity to bring you regular football footage from the latter years of the Pre Back-Pass era. Mid 1980s to early 1990s clip offer a welcome source of nostalgia for me coming as they do from the period when I first began watching football.
This week’s clip features Rovers’ weekend opposition Bristol City and comes from slap bang in the middle of that not-so-glory period identified above. An FA Cup 4th round tie from the 1989-90 season as City take on Chelsea. City, then in the Third Division had defeated Barnet, Fulham and Swindon to set-up this tie with top-flight Chelsea at a soggy Ashton Gate; their opponents having scraped past Crewe Alexandra in a third round replay. For the record Rovers had been knocked out at Grimsby in round two whilst wearing that infamous all-green kit.
Anyway, this clip features a number of staples from football of that era which it is worth looking out for and why I find it a joy to watch. Firstly, there is the pitch itself, though surprisingly green for January it appears to offer a similar experience traction wise to playing in bear socks on a wedding reception dance floor. The kits are also impressive, still boasting the offspring threateningly short shorts, but edging towards the mid-90s kit design oblivion with some, er, brave patterns on show.
Then there is Ashton Gate itself of course, packed to the rafters, at least it would be if there were any. Genuinely rammed terracing as the supporters crush backwards to shelter under what roofing there is, whilst the open terrace at what is now the Atyeo End also offers a glimpse of that big cup-tie staple, two people watching precariously from a nearby rooftop. Also on the subject of the fans look out for classic home-made paint-on-a-bed-sheet style banners draped from the stands and also the Parker wearing giant celebrating the opening goal.
I know its often said that footballers are not as hard as they were in days gone by, hitting the deck and whining for a yellow-card every time they get the slightest knock. Its easy to dismiss this theory as rose-tinted nostalgia, until you see the second goal on this clip. The build up features wild challenge after wild challenge with Chelsea players hurling themselves towards the man with the ball like American traffic cops ascertaining the culprit at the end of a high-speed pursuit, all the time with the referee ushering play on.
Don’t get me wrong, football is much better now. It’s players are more technical it’s stadia are safer, but this video shows the game as I grew up with it, and at times, when I watch clips like this, I bloody miss it.