Chris O (follow on Twitter: @COakleyFtbl)
Tue 5 December 2006

Nostalgia and technology in perfect harmony

So anyway, there I was thinking about my rather odd and at times worrying interest in football kits past and present when it occurred to me that there must be dozens of kits from days gone by that I’d never even seen before.

“How would I ever get the chance to wallow in all that nostalgia” I wondered, with not a little time on my hands. It was then that I struck on a rather spiffing idea. Come back with me, if you will, to the early 1980’s…

Back when I was about nine years old, I grew into the habit of purchasing ‘Shoot’ magazine on a frequent basis. Inexpensive and utterly harmless to the young football fan, I regularly marvelled at its unique blend of written features and pictures of the stars that strode purposefully over the pitches of the day.

To be specific, it was those pictures I was drawn to more than anything else in each issue. At one point, I can specifically remember detaching the colour team pictures from the staples of each copy and sticking them up on my bedroom wall. I had it that bad.

And so it was that this enduring image gave me an idea. In this modern age where the Internet is king, why shouldn’t I have a looky-see if anyone out there’s selling old copies of ‘Shoot’ magazine that I could buy? It seemed rational enough – after all, you can buy just about anything on the Web these days. Predictably enough, my first port of call was eBay and wouldn’t you know it, there they were – copious editions of the magazine I used to buy as a kid, ranging from the late 60’s to the early 90’s. The feeling of joy within me was growing perceptibly.

I decided I’d take the plunge and put in a bid for an issue of ‘Shoot’ dated 13th April 1974. No particular reason why I should go for that one more than any other, but it did have Trevor Francis and Emlyn Hughes battling it out on the front cover so it can't have been all bad. And so it was that I entered my opening bid of £2.99 to match the asking price, fully expecting to have to put in a higher bid shortly after. Little did I know that a couple of days later, I'd be informed that I’d won the auction with a winning bid of £2.99 on account of the fact that no-one else wanted it or had put a bid on it. It was all too easy, this ‘buying Shoot magazines on eBay’ business…

So within a week, I became the proud owner of my very own issue. It contained some gloriously cheesy articles and pictures of people like Joe Jordan, grimacing as he was from behind his pristine white Leeds United kit.

It was great - all the old features were there, like 'You Are The Ref' and those fabulous 'Focus On' profiles where star players were asked inane questions. Ask a player from the 1970's who they'd most like to meet, and the chances are you'd get the answer 'Raquel Welch', likewise if you asked them what their favourite meal was, you'd be very surprised if it turned out not to be 'Steak and Chips'.

I was hooked. A few weeks went by and I started to wonder if there was room for one or two more issues in my life. I had no plans to spend a fortune, but with an eye for a bargain, I felt sure there'd be something to suit my budget. I was in luck.

On my next visit to eBay, I discovered someone selling a whole batch of about 30 'Shoot's' from the late 70's and early 80's. I figured I was prepared to pay about £12 at most for them, so in went my bid, fully expecting someone to pitch theirs in above mine and take the lot. Again I was wrong. At the point where the bidding reached £11, everyone else forgot that the auction was about to end, and I came out on top.

I had won yet again, but this was to be my last flirtation with eBay. I now had more than enough material to keep me going for months and was consequently as happy as Larry. I kept the magazines in my ofice at work, and whenever the stresses of web design got too much for me and my colleague, we'd stop, down tools, and have a 'Shoot' break. This, I was led to believe, was what was known in the trade as a (fairly) cheap thrill.

It was while perusing one of these delights from yesteryear that I realised just how unbelievably resourceful the Internet is. In one issue from 1982, there was an advert for a game called 'Logacta' which could be played by 1 to 4 players and was a way of playing every kind of football competition from the comfort of your own home. It apparently involved dice, lots of charts and the occasional basic logarithm to determine who would win the European Cup, FA Cup or any other Cup for that matter.

I was fascinated by the sheer lo-techness of it. This was an era before Fantasy Leagues and Pro Evolution Soccers. The most technical this game got was when you decided whether to use a biro or a pencil. It was of course only a matter of time before I asked myself "Is there anybody on the web that you can still buy this game from?" Well, you can buy just about anything on the Web these days...

Amazingly, a quick check on eBay showed that there WAS someone out there who had a copy of 'Logacta' to buy, so I put my hand in my pocket and immediately forked out the princely some of £3 to take it off their hands. It was a miracle - real proof that nothing ever dies - it just ends up on eBay.

You don't need to know what the game was like: that's a mere formality. The thing is, for someone of my age it's now entirely possible to be reunited with some facet of your childhood, and it's all down to the sheer comprehensiveness of the World Wide Web. How lucky am I to feel so young at heart with the memories and feelings of my youth still so readily at hand.

So I now have my dusty old 'Shoot' magazines and my 'Logacta' game. I dare say if I wanted to I could start collecting Subbuteo teams again or bubble gum collector cards, but I won't just yet. This will keep me happy for a while, but I know that if I need it, the Web will always be there to satiate my appetite for the good old days when men were men and footballers ate proper food like steak and chips.

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