Just like Bobby Goldsboro, my first time was on a hot afternoon, the last day of June (more or less), although I can’t recall whether or not the sun was a demon…
Allowed one comic a week, I’d already graduated from the entry-level Beano to Scorcher, but not until the summer of 1974, while immersed in the West Germany World Cup, did I consider myself man enough to step up to Shoot!
Eight pence was the price of admission, and I was soon in beyond the full-colour cover of Billy Bremner playing for Scotland against Brazil.
Now I could absorb an article by Bobby Moore; could puzzle over the fiendish problems posed in ‘You Are the Ref’; study up-close World Cup action featuring Australia, Scotland, Holland, Zaire, DDR and Yugoslavia; pore over stats on the previous nine Finals; shed sympathetic tears over Bremner’s article on Scotland’s brave exit, and realise there were people just like me all over the country, courtesy of the ‘Goal Lines’ letters page and ‘Ask the Expert’ readers’ queries.
“Which goalkeeper has the biggest pair of hands in the First Division?”
If you didn’t already know the answer was Pat Jennings, then you’d have an understandably burning need to find out.
Next, a sucker-punch one-two. I was still chortling at the ‘Football Funnies’ chosen by Manchester United’s Stewart Houston when I was made to gasp by Kevin Keegan revealing how he’d been beaten up by officials at Belgrade airport, smashing some attractive Bulgarian pottery he’d bought for his family.
Unsettled, it was several minutes before I could properly ‘Focus On’ Paul Gilchrist of Southampton (Miscellaneous Likes: motor racing, oil painting, music); nod sagely at ‘Bob Wilson Was Wrong to Retire’ by Alan Ball; relax ‘At Home With’ John Radford of Arsenal and his Dutch wife Engel; marvel at John Greig’s assertion that ‘Rangers Can Win the Title Next Season’, and gaze in awe at Man City’s grinning Colin Bell on the back cover.
It’s difficult to explain now how a photo could be so prized, Blu-Tacked instantly up on your wall, but in the days of black newsprint papers and monochrome TV, the eight colour pages in Shoot! were like oases in a grey desert.
For five years my collection grew, filling several boxes, until 1979 when my head was finally turned by an attractive newcomer called Match Weekly.
I’m sorry I dropped you, Shoot!, and I’m even sorrier that we now live in a world where kids can’t leg it down to the newsagents to eagerly pore over the latest issue.