Sport on TV: A dive into the past provides perfect Euro visions
Saturday 07 June 2008
At last I see the point of the digital revolution. All this week BBC Interactive have been showing a loop of golden moments from previous European Championships. It makes for a couple of hours of high-end nostalgia.
We kick off with the 1972 final, with the peerless West Germans thrashing CCCP – great shirts – under the admiring gaze of the peerless Barry Davies. "It's only two years away," he enthuses, "but it's going to take an awfully good team to stop West Germany winning the World Cup. Maybe Holland are the best bet..."
Nearly, Barry, nearly. At the end there's a pitch invasion. "Look at them now!" he shrieks. "It's a cavalry charge!"
We then skip to the frenzied 1984 France v Portugal semi-final, with larynx-shredding roars more Johnny Rotten than Johnny Motson, and then on to 1988 and a fine display of acrobatics from Jürgen Klinsmann, against the Netherlands. "Despicable little cheat," I want to yell – except that we have also seen the Republic of Ireland's famous win over England, who lose despite Klinsmannesque contributions from Gary "Greg Louganis" Lineker and John Barnes, who appears to suffer acute attacks of Ménière's disease every time he steps into the Irish penalty box.
In 1992 we see Scotland, already eliminated, stuff the CIS – rubbish shirts – and Lineker's last act in an England shirt, trudging off, substituted, unable to look Graham Taylor in the eye as Sweden send us packing. More horizontal Klinsmann in the final, and the result every neutral wanted. "It's dramatic, it's delightful, it's Denmark!" yelps Motty.
On to 1996, when football came home in a horrible grey change strip. It was good to be reminded that that nauseating little squirt Andi Möller, whose penalty sank England, missed the final after getting booked for lashing out as Stuart Pearce tried to help him to his feet. The nostalgia fades after '96 as the rest of it is so recent, full of players still with us. But overall, what a feast.
One complaint, though. With all that material, why stop at a couple of hours? What about the 1984 final, or France's fabulous 5-0 destruction of Belgium in the group stages? And we needed a bit of Pearce in the '96 shoot-out against Spain, when he consigned his miss in Turin six years earlier to the proverbial dustbin of history. And the all-time top 10 goals, repeated in between each tournament, became a bit tiresome – why not a top 10 for each one?
The Marco van Basten volley from 1988 was No 1, as you'd expect, ahead of Paul Gascoigne's 1996 stunner against Scotland. Poor Gazza. Not so much the dustbin of history, more the dustbin of the present.
Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes
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