I always had a laboriously filled in World Cup wallchart as a kid…
…in 1974 it was from Scorcher, 1978 from Shoot!, 1982 from Match Weekly… and just because I had left school and started work I didn’t see why I should change my habit in 1986.
I went to WH Smiths on my lunchbreak and parted with £1.25 for a seriously involved Mexico 86 Wallchart produced by Statmill.
To brighten up the long, dull days in the factory I had somehow landed in I asked permission to pin it up on the wall on my section. It was grudgingly allowed by our foreman and up it went. As the drama unfolded in Mexico, so my wallchart began to take shape, with coloured flags stuck on and scores filled in.
It soon became the focus of the entire factory, with a few people always milling around our section gazing at this brightly coloured little window onto events in Monterrey, Leon, Guadalajara and Mexico City.
Now and again the gathering would be dispersed by the foreman: “Have ye nae got any jobs to be getting on with?” although he would then tarry by the wallchart checking up on Scotland’s kick off time against Uruguay.
Sometimes managers from the office upstairs would happen along, dish out a bollocking to people wasting time around the wallchart and then hang around studying it for a while. On one occasion a director came down and although I am sure he had set out to ask me to take it down, he appeared to change his mind when he considered what a terrible affect its removal could have on company morale.
And he also needed to keep tabs on Northern Ireland’s progress, or not, in Group D.
At one time or another every single person in the company had come to visit, whether from a love of football, or to see how their pick in the sweepstake was doing, or simply attracted by the bright colours, they all took something from it. Young men, old women and everything in between.
The highs and lows were all pencilled in, from Gary Lineker’s hat-trick against Poland, to Maradona’s handball goal outrage.
Then, on the 29/6/86 Argentina lifted the trophy, and the following Monday everyone had a last look, and the wallchart came down and our corner of the factory never seemed the same again.
This article originally appeared in ‘The Lost World of Football’ – … available now in branches of WH Smiths and Waterstones or can be ordered online here…