Its the League Cup Final this weekend, and you can tell a lot about a person’s age by which of the competition’s six sponsors they are most comfortable referring to it as. Currently the Carling Cup, it has previously carried the moniker of Worthington, Coca-Cola, Rumbelows, Littlewoods and Milk. Today we’re heading to my era, and sponsor number 3; The Rumbelows Cup.
If you’re in your late twenties or older, then the you’ll remember the Rumbelows League Cup for one key element. Not for its two winners; Sheffield Wednesday in 1991 (unless you’re a Wednesday fan of course), or Manchester United in ’92. Not for any particularly great games, not even Manchester United’s 6-2 win at Highbury. No, you’ll remember the Rumbelows League Cup for the 1991 Rumbelows Sprint Challenge.
The idea for the Sprint Challenge was fantastically simple. Who’s the fastest player in the Football League? I don’t know, let’s have a race and find out. So, each team was asked to send their quickest player, or at least a willing volunteer, to a regional heat. The players would run in their normal football kit and boots on a 100 metre grass track and the winners and fastest runners-up from those heats would then compete in the Sprint Challenge final as a build-up event to Rumbelows Cup Final itself.
This week’s Viva Video brings you the Yorkshire & North East of the Rumbelows Sprint Challenge. Held at Don Valley Stadium, filmed by Saturday lunchtime football mainstay Saint & Greavsie and presented by Clive Tyldsley on work experience. Whilst the spoil sports from Leeds and Middlesbrough decided not to take part, Doncaster Rovers despatched Kevin Noteman down the M18. Look for Noteman in the blocks giving it the Usain Bolt confidence trick. Unfortunately unlike Bolt, Noteman’s laid back attitude continues into his running, and 100 metres later he crosses the line behind Darlington’s Gabbiadini… no, no, not even that Gabbiadini. The other one.
Amongst you there will be people viewing this for the first time who have never seen so much footballer thigh outside of a News of the World exposé. Don’t panic, this is just how football kits were in the early 1990s. Short, shiny and generally horrific. Nowadays some of these kits are starting to edge into the ‘sort-after nostalgia’ bracket, but don’t let that fool you. If you need any proof that late 80s, early 90s fashion was woeful, and for some reason Scarborough’s kit doesn’t convince you of this, then just hold out for the cameo of Paul Austin from Ladbrookes.
The winner at Wembley, I’m sure you’ll be dying to know, was John Williams, then of Swansea City. Paul Austin’s knowledge of fast footballers alas, proving to be as credible as his taste in sunglasses.