1982 was the year a small island in the South Atlantic Ocean most people had never heard of hit the headlines. It was also a year when unemployment still raged, hooliganism and racism were rife on the terraces, and stadiums were often two-thirds full at most. There was a World Cup that shone at times and stank at others; a league title race that went down to the wire, and the capture of the European Cup by an English side for the sixth successive season
Also in the news were Mark Thatcher and his sense of direction, Newspaper Bingo, a Papal Visit, 20p pieces, Prince William, Bobby Robson, the continuation of the ‘Troubles’ in Northern Ireland, council houses and the Right to Buy Scheme, Channel Four, Greenham Common protests, and the notable deaths of Douglas Bader, Arthur Askey and former QPR defender Dave Clement.
In the music world, the Human League ushered in the year at Number One with ‘Don’t You Want Me?’ and later in the year Culture Club and their flamboyant lead singer, George O’Dowd, more commonly known as Boy George, (or ‘Georgie Boy’ as my mum used to call him) headed the charts with ‘Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?’.
Also making headway in the music industry in 1982 were Dexy’s Midnight Runners, The Kids from Fame, Eddy Grant, Paul McCartney dueting with Stevie Wonder, and, er, Captain Sensible.
Notable British films included ‘Who Dares Wins’ a film based around the SAS and inspired by events of the 1980 Iranian Embassy Siege, and an adaptation of Pink Floyd’s ‘The Wall’ album, imaginatively titled ‘Pink Floyd – The Wall’, starring Bob Geldof.
The year began with much of England covered by a blanket of snow as the nation was in the midst of one of the worst winters in decades. Unsurprisingly, this was playing havoc with the sporting world and postponements were aplenty in the first half of the 1981-82 domestic season, with less than half the season had been completed by the turn of the year.
In the First Division, there was an unfamiliar look about the table as the New Year was ushered in with Swansea City top and Southampton in fifth spot with Ipswich Town and the two Manchester clubs completing the top five. Reigning champions, Aston Villa, were down in seventeenth spot, just two points above the relegation zone, and European Champions, Liverpool, were also struggling in twelfth place having already lost five times in seventeen matches.
A dire Boxing Day defeat at home to Manchester City saw Bob Paisley start to ring the changes and when Liverpool took to the field for the Third Round FA Cup tie at Swansea on the second day of the year, a new captain was leading them out. Graeme Souness replaced the struggling Phil Thompson and Liverpool’s 4-0 victory set the side off on one of their legendary second half of the season charges.
Having successfully qualified for the World Cup through a qualifying stage for the first time since 1962, England were drawn in the same group as France, Czechoslovakia, and Kuwait, and were cautiously optimistic of doing well in the coming June. That word, ‘cautious’, would ultimately be England’s undoing in Spain, but as the winter months finally started to thaw out, there was at least a slightly feel-good atmosphere in the air.
March came and went with Liverpool, by now well and truly back in their groove, picking up the first silverware of the season by defeating Tottenham Hotspur 3-1 at Wembley in the final of the League Cup courtesy of two extra-time goals.
Tottenham, however, were having a great season and at one point were in strong contention for four trophies as they challenged for the league title as well as making progress in the European Cup Winners’ Cup, FA Cup and League Cup.
In the spring of 1982, a certain Scottish striker made history when he made two appearances on the nation’s flagship show, Top of The Pops, on the same evening. As Spurs battled through to the FA Cup Final, another Chas and Dave inspired record was released. This little ditty was titled, erm, ‘Tottenham, Tottenham’ and reached number 19 in the charts. The same evening, the Scotland World Cup squad performed their single, ‘We Have a Dream’ ( rather disappointingly not a reworking of the old Abba hit, ‘I Have a Dream’). Each time the entire squads appeared on the programme miming rather awkwardly as they were surrounded by scantily clad dancers.
Anyway, alongside all his medals and caps in a colourful and successful career this little snippet of history-making is probably what keeps Steve Archibald warm at night almost four decades later.
Scotland had qualified for a third successive tournament and were faced with the daunting prospect of taking on Brazil and the Soviet Union, and the perhaps slightly less daunting one of opposing New Zealand.
Making it three out of four for the Home Nations was Northern Ireland, who qualified from the same group as Scotland and now faced Honduras, Yugoslavia and host country Spain.
Before anybody could set out for Spain however, there came news of an event brewing in the South Atlantic Ocean that would ultimately put all three countries’ participation in the World Cup in doubt and, more tragically, cost the lives of over 900 people.
The Falkland Islands’ sovereignty had long been disputed and, without wishing to get all political and go into too many details, in early April it was invaded by an Argentinian task force. Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, dispatched a task force to take back the island and eleven weeks later this was achieved.
By this time the domestic season had ended with Liverpool pipping Ipswich Town to the title and Tottenham Hotspur retaining the FA Cup courtesy of a single goal victory over Queens Park Rangers in a replay following a 1-1 draw.
The World Cup itself kicked off with Algeria defeating West Germany in one of the biggest shocks of all time, and England qualifying from their group in style with three wins out of three. Scotland got their expected shooing from Brazil and also made slightly hard work of disposing of New Zealand before triumphing 5-2. This meant they met the Soviet Union in the final group stage needing a win to qualify for the next stage. The 2-2 draw that ensued wasn’t sufficient and so once again Scotland were on the first plane home.
Northern Ireland did the Province proud against all the odds with four points from a possible six in the group stage. Draws against Yugoslavia and Honduras were followed by a legendary and historic 1-0 defeat of Spain. On a night forever remembered by the Irish, Gerry Armstrong wrote his name into folklore by scoring the only goal of the game.
Into the second group stage and England’s ‘reward’ for winning their group was to meet Spain and West Germany who had both come second in theirs. Two Don Howe-inspired goalless draws saw England eliminated without losing a match and only conceding once in five games.
Upon the conclusion of England’s participation in the tournament, Ron Greenwood stepped down as manager and to nobody’s surprise was replaced by Bobby Robson.
Italy would go on to defeat West Germany 3-1 in the final to take the trophy for the third time.
The summer came and went and as new boys to the First Division, Norwich City, Luton Town and Watford, looked forward to the new campaign with excitement and anticipation, the three sides relegated from the top flight, Leeds United, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Middlesbrough, probably contemplated life in the Second Division with less enthusiasm.
Bob Paisley was still in charge at Liverpool but announced on the eve of the season that it would probably be his last in charge before retirement beckoned. The season then kicked off at Wembley with a repeat of the previous season’s League Cup Final as Liverpool and Tottenham met once more. This time Liverpool prevailed by a single goal scored by Ian Rush.
Graham Taylor had performed miracles at lowly Watford and three promotions in five seasons had seen the Vicarage Road side climb all the way from the basement division to the top flight. Expected to struggle, Watford started the season like a train and never looked back with an 8-0 victory over Sunderland in September being a particular highlight.
Also starting very well were Liverpool who after hitting the top in October were never to relinquish top spot despite being chased by a Manchester United side that had been revitalized by the force of nature that was ‘Big’ Ron Atkinson.
A year that had started in a fog of gloom following the riots and strikes of 1981 ended with a reasonably feel-good atmosphere due in large part to a hangover of the Falklands War. A large and, perhaps in hindsight slightly tasteless, Victory Parade was held in October 1982 by which time Margaret Thatcher’s dwindling popularity in the polls had been completely transformed and her ruling Conservative Party were well on the way to a second successive General Election victory.
On a personal note, the year 1982 straddled my third and fourth years at comprehensive school and was not a particularly happy time as I recall. Nothing specially good or bad happened, but as with the majority of my rather nondescript and bland existence, it appeared to pass in a haze of ‘meh’ and nothingness.
But there you go.
Anyway, as Renee and Renato saw in the year in the Number One spot urging either each other or society in general to ‘Save Your Love’, there was a temptation to do so with perhaps just a little more optimism than in most recent years.