Big blue Lucozade bottles
Before giant Sports Direct mugs, there was the vast blue and yellow Lucozade bottle.
Drinking from one of these things – which when you’re a kid was about half your height – briefly made you feel like John Barnes recuperating after 90 minutes of sheer hell, but eventually you realised they all leaked and any fluid that remained ended up tasting like plastic.
Shoot/Match league ladders
Before the days where you could call up any number of websites to check exactly what position of mid-table mediocrity your team was in, you had to keep track yourself.
And to help this, your pre-season supplements would be accompanied by a wall chart with slots into which you gently placed tabs representing each team, which you would then move up and down the league accordingly.
Look, you had to make your own fun back then.
Bull Boy shoes
There’s a reason some things haven’t made a retro comeback, and in the case of Bull Boy shoes it was simply this: they were rubbish. Actually, it might be a bit misleading to have them on this list because barely anyone had them, rather they were simply very desirable.
Lord knows why, though: bearing a closer resemblance to orthopaedic shoes than the latest in footwear fashion, it was always a bit unclear how they ‘got the power in your feet’, as the advert promised. Apparently Gareth Southgate was their initial choice for the face of this trainer revolution, but then Euro 96 happened and they switched to Alan Hansen, who flogged the boots with the promise of some free signed shinpads. Did anyone actually get them?
Panini and Merlin stickers/Pro-Set cards
Obviously the football stickers racket is still going strong, particularly around major tournaments. But any kid who grew up in the 1990s would spend furtive hours at school with fistfuls of Panini and Merlin stickers, desperately trying to get rid of the nine Ian Brightwells you had. The difference is that back then they cost about 25p.
But your real early-90s connoisseur also collected Pro-Set cards. Just like stickers, you bought packs of the things and did your swapsies, but rather than a book in which to stick them, you had to buy an unwieldy folder with plastic wallets; like you were displaying your rare collection of butterflies. Hopefully you haven’t kept yours into adulthood, because you might look like a serial killer.
Can you even guess who this is? Answer at the end...
Bobbleheads are a huge thing in America; grotesque figurine distortions of your favourite sports stars with massive heads that wobble all over the place. In Britain we are naturally a little more reserved, which explains Microstars: still mini statues of famous players, still with disproportionately large heads, but at least their necks are solid and stay still.
In some cases, you could even tell which player they were supposed to be without looking at the name on the base.
Promotional cans of Coke
The old line about Coca-Cola being the biggest brand in the world but still spending billions on advertising also means that they’ll jump on absolutely anything resembling a bandwagon.
When companies started realising in the ‘90s that football was an attractive thing to attach themselves to, they’d try all sorts. And thus, Coke cans in the colours of your favourite teams were released, leading to undignified scrambles in newsagents. It’s possibly the reason kids are only allowed in two at a time these days.
Texaco World Cup coins
“Mum, can you get your petrol from Texaco please?”
“NIGEL MARTYN ON A COIN!!!”
“But it’s about five miles out of my way...”
Football games these days are so lifelike that you can be briefly fooled into thinking you’re watching the real thing. You wouldn’t make that mistake with Sensible Soccer, the much-loved game that favoured the ‘aerial camera so it looks like you’re playing with Umbro-clad ants’ approach, and where players jerked around like someone had slipped something naughty into their tea.
Obviously it was technically terrible, and looks even worse now, but back then we stared at those Amiga screens in awe and wonder because it had a ‘character’ that lifelike games lack.
Some sort of solo training device
In theory the preserve of either the lonely, kids who took their football far too seriously, or both. Devices which allowed youngsters to play football on their own were oddly popular.
If kicking a ball against a wall wasn’t enough/too anti-social, you could dip into the Argos catalogue and purchase either a bouncy net in a square frame, or perhaps a contraption that was basically a dog lead with some elastic you attached a ball to, which you’d then kick and it would return to you at pace.
You could fool yourself into thinking you were training, improving your control, but really you just looked a bit of a dweeb.
* Microstar answer... Nick Barmby! Like, obviously.
UNPOPULAR OPINION Why it’s absolutely fine to support more than one team
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