The latest in the Steve Mitchell series for the GOT, NOT GOT blog…
These days the phenomenon that is social media has brought the private lives of superstar footballer’s right into the heart of our living rooms. One only needs a quick glance on twitter or facebook to know instantly where a player is going for his summer holidays, what new deal he has struck with a particular boot manufacturer or his verdict on the latest Italian sports car he has just taken delivery of.
Back in the 1970’s things where a little different, many of the superstars of the day (excluding George Best) remained a mystery to us once they had done the business on a Saturday afternoon. But all that was about to change thanks to every lads must have weekly football magazine Shoot and one feature in particular – Focus On.
Suddenly, the darkest secrets of all the top stars of the day were exposed and we felt we almost knew them as well as we knew other members of our own family. For instance, in November 1977 Brighton defender Mark Lawrenson revealed to the nation that he was driving around the south coast in a Toyota Coupe probably on route to his mum’s who would be cooking him his favourite dish, Lancashire hot-pot.
Imagine the astonishment when Aston Villa fans found out that their young starlet John Deehan’s favourite other team was Manchester United, or when Ipswich Town’s notoriously miserable midfielder John Wark revealed his favourite TV shows were in fact Rising Damp and Porridge!
When asked about their favourite singers of the time, Rod Stewart and Elton John albums seemed at the heart of most record collections whilst steak and chips was the staple diet of many top-flight players during the 70’s. When questioned about their favourite stadium, Wembley came out on top firstly for players who had played on the hallowed turf and secondly, for players whose ambition it was to play there
Pele, Johan Cruyff and George Best seemed to be the popular choices for favourite other player unless you were Trevor Francis who shook the football world when he announced Roger Hamilton-Brown, who was plying his trade at Dorridge FC in the late 1970’s, as his top choice. A footballer’s playing career is a short one but that didn’t seem to matter in the 70’s. When asked what they would have been had they not been a footballer the overwhelming reply was “don’t know”.
Nowadays footballers are like movie stars, invited to all the big events around the world and being photographed with some of the worlds most beautiful women whilst having friends in very high places. All this seems a far cry from the “Focus On” era when a player’s best friend was always their wife, a family member, a current or former teammate.
Finally, I would like you all to spare a thought for former Liverpool, Brighton and Southampton hard man Jimmy Case who when asked to reveal his best friend, came back with this rather sobering announcement “I have very few good friends”. Anyone who witnessed the scouse assassin on the field of play would not be surprised by his honest answer.
If you haven’t got the first ‘Got, Not Got’ yet then please sort yourselves out and buy it from branches of WH Smith and Waterstones or online here…