THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

We asked for your views about the 1998 World Cup and Roger Titford sifted through the responses to find out, among other things, who you blamed for that famous defeat to Argentina

Younger readers may not believe this but many years ago, before the widespread use of radios,TVs and mobile phones inside football grounds, there was another way of getting all the half-times. A bloke walked the ground in the second half selling the evening newspaper which had the half-time scores printed, somewhat haphazardly, in the Stop Press. You found out your other team were 0-2 down and, generally, threw the paper away.

For the purposes of keeping our World Cup survey topical we are bringing back such a service featuring the key half-time scores from the questionnaires received back at WSC Towers in time to write this.

The World Cup in its entirety was not as compelling as one might have thought. Five per cent of our readers watched less than 15 matches. At the other end of the scale four per cent claimed to have seen all matches, which must have taken time-shifting and judicious use of Eurosport in the early  hours. Forty-two per cent watched over 50 games, that’s an average of over four hours’ viewing a day for a month, and 37 per cent saw between 30 and 50.

The battle for the coveted prize of the face you were most sick of the sight of by the end of the tournament looks like going to the wire. There are four clear leaders in Ronaldo, Bob Wilson, Platini and Jimmy Hill, with the possibility of a late run from Ronaldo’s girlfriend.

Who did you blame most for England’s exit against Argentina? The horror does not let up for David Beckham as even the excellent judges of the game and liberal-minded spirits that make up our readership have the floppy-haired maestro at No.1 with 41 per cent of those offering an opinion. The “wrong to blame any individual – it was Society/Fate” brigade are not far behind on 34 per cent, with Hoddle on 25 per cent (what did he do?) and Ince and Batty completely exonerated. Boys, it’s safe for you to give Pizza Hut a call now.

In the contest for the honour of the team that performed heroically beyond expectations, Croatia are miles out in front on 56 per cent from Paraguay on 26 per cent. England and France have about five per cent each.

The most novel or radical ideas for improving the next World Cup were as follows. On the structure/length of the tournament,  you suggest: replays; six games a day; simultaneous kick-offs; England to have a bye to the semis.

On foul play, you want to bring back  the tackle from  behind and “Velcro shirts, like Buck’s Fizz skirts” – presumably as an antidote to shirt-pulling?

On settling drawn matches, the suggestions include: boxing- style “on points” dec-ision by all four officials after extra time; all players to take a penalty; count the number of fouls.

On media coverage, ideas include allowing the BBC to cover all matches and the kidnapping of Ally McCoist.

A full report, covering all the serious issues too, is scheduled to appear in our next edition. There is still time to complete your questionnaire, printed in our last month’s WSC, and have your say.

From WSC 139 September 1998. What was happening this month

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