When Watford Ruled OK!

The year was 1982; Sir Clive Sinclair was about to launch his electric powered C5 motor cars, The Jam were about to do the unthinkable and split up and staying on the subject of the unthinkable, Aston Villa were champions of Europe. 

Steve Mitchell brings you the first of a series of contributions to the ‘Got, Not Got’ blog….

BBC had the monopoly on tea-time children’s TV in the early eighties with Grange Hill easily its flagship and most controversial show. Pressing channel three on you’re teletext colour Ferguson set in those days between 4 and 5.30pm failed to set the pulses racing (once Dangermouse had finished )and the network needed something to rival Tucker Jenkins and company down at the South London comprehensive.

murphys mob

Central television provided the answer with Murphy’s Mob, a drama which centred around a Third Division football club called Dunmore United and in particular a group of young fans attempting to set up a junior supporters club amidst constant confrontation with the clubs committee members who strongly opposed the idea.

The youngsters had an unlikely ally in the clubs downtrodden Scottish manager Mac Murphy brilliantly played by Ken Hutchinson and a man so serious he made Bill Shankley look like Benny Hill.  Suddenly the Grange Hill gang had a rival to contend with as the shows main characters, Boxer, Wurzel , Mugsy Moran, The Hulk, Prof, Pacman , Charlie and Hannah became household names around the country.

In musical terms, Murphy’s Mob was punk to Grange Hill’s northern soul, the prime example of this being the shows Sham 69 inspired opening titles sung by Gary Holton who went on to star in Auf Wiedersehen Pet and who sadly died in 1986 of a drugs overdose.  The team were kitted out in yellow, black and red and the production team used Watford’s Vicarage Road ground for many of the outside shots. The writers also based Dunmore’s pop star chairman, Rasputin Jones, on Watford’s larger than life supremo Elton John although I’m not sure if Elton ever owned an amusement arcade called “Outer Space” like Rasputin did.

If Grange Hill storylines were designed to shock then Murphy’s Mob attempted to raise the bar even further with regular bouts of football hooliganism, mindless vandalism, lots of snogging and bad football.  The main thing the show will be remembered for is its director who was none other than Mickey Dolenz, formerly of sixties pop sensations The Monkees.

Sadly, the series only ran for three years between 1982 and 1985 and during this time kids TV magazine Look-In also ran a comic strip of the show. Books were also produced to accompany the series but unfortunately, unless you managed to preserve a video recording of the show the odd clip on You Tube is now the only way to take a trip down memory lane.

Youtube clips…

We are now working hard on ‘Got, Not Got 2′ but you can still get last year’s model. (Cunning punk rock reference). Don’t leave it too long however, we hear that supplies are getting low… Available from branches of WH Smith and Waterstones or online here

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Editor of The FOX Fanzine - covering Leicester City for 23 years... it seems longer.
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