Shoot! magazine hits 50 with special annual revealing just how much football has changed


FOR half a century Shoot! magazine has chronicled the beautiful game.

But an annual brought out to mark 50 years since its debut on August 16, 1969, also highlights the uglier side of football.

Getty – Contributor

Former Manchester United captain Bryan Robson promoting the Shoot Magazine Annual for 1983[/caption]


For half a century Shoot! magazine has chronicled the beautiful game — starting with this, the first ever issue[/caption]

Shoot! has reproduced articles just as they appeared in the Seventies, Eighties and Nineties . . . and they illustrate how times have changed.

It was a world before the internet, where fans read what their heroes really thought without sanitising interference from marketing and PR people.

Tottenham’s away kit is described as “poofy blue” while butting an opponent was “just part of the game”.

It was a world where for most players their favourite food was steak and chips and their favourite singer was Frank Sinatra or Diana Ross.

Where drunken fans had punch-ups on the terraces that almost brought the game to extinction and then went home to keep track of their team’s league position using a cardboard ladder that came free with Shoot!

In a world before brand domination, European and World Club champions Ajax are pictured wearing a mismatch of tracksuits in different colours from a host of manufacturers who did small-time private deals with the players.


Spurs’ Argentinian imports Ossie Ardiles and Ricky Villa happily posed for pictures having tea, with a bottle of red wine and 7-Up on the table . . . not a stylist in sight.

Amazingly, the magazine once even published a feature on “The Black Explosion”.

Even more remarkably, it has been printed again in its entirety in the 50th anniversary edition.

The article, which was written in 1978 and which should never have seen the light of day again, is a shaming comment on attitudes then within the game, and society.

It tells how black players were accused by fans of “being soft when the chips were down”.

In it, Crystal Palace manager Terry Venables pointed out how “the new breed of black player is acclimatised to both the weather and the physical demands of British football”.

Amazingly, the magazine once even published a feature on The ‘Black Explosion’
After 50 years, Shoot! is celebrating with a warts and all annual with articles reproduced just as they appeared in the Seventies, Eighties and Nineties . . .  illustrating how times have changed
In 1990, Britain’s top team was worth less than £23m

He praises the genius of Vince Hilaire and then says: “They often have natural speed and control white players lack.”

The article continues: “Some, like Wolverhampton Wanderers giant de- fender Bob Hazell, still become incensed by derogatory comments about the colour of their skin but most have learnt to bite their tongue”.

And the appalling feature on how English clubs welcome “coloured crusaders”, ends helpfully: “Who knows we could soon have a British ‘All Blacks’.”

Just three years before the mag hit the shops England had won the World Cup at Wembley and captain Bobby Moore was Shoot!’s first star writer.

Former Editor Colin Mitchell says: “Moore was so revered that Shoot! decided to give away a free seven-inch high model of the player with every copy of an early edition.”

He was not the only massive player to grace the pages in those years — the icon George Best, Allan Clarke of Leeds, Southampton’s Mick Channon and “SuperMac” Malcolm Macdonald who moved from Newcastle to Arsenal for £333,333 — a staggering figure in the Seventies.


Geordie fans were so upset that they descended in protest at the gents’ outfitters Macdonald owned and police had to throw a cordon round the building.

Other Newcastle stars Kevin “Special K” Keegan and a young Gazza were also regulars in the mag.

Gazza gave the first hint of his addictive personality when he admitted being addicted to sweets.

Colin says: “Shoot!’s editorial team was so respected that no player was out of bounds. We used to send clubs questionnaires which were passed to players who filled them in, hoping their details would appear in the ‘Focus on’ feature.

“Unlike today – when it can be difficult to get past some club officials or agents to talk to megastars – the stars of yesteryear were only too willing to meet and talk openly.

“Players would gather after training on the day the magazine came out. They would turn straight to that feature to see if they had made it into print, revealing things like their car, favourite holiday destination, dislikes, best friend and which famous person they would most like to meet.”

Dave McVey, a midfielder with Notts County, Torquay and Peterbrough in the 1970s, called his autobiography Steak And Diana Ross in tribute to the stock answers in Shoot!

Arsenal’s John Radford’s responses were typical. Car: Ford Mustang. Favourite food: Steak in The Olympic Café, Neasden. Favourite TV Show: The Epilogue. Favourite singers: Shirley Bassey, The Supremes.

Bobby Moore loved liver and bacon, Dionne Warwick, Frank Sinatra and talked frankly about his humiliation at being arrested in Bogota accused of stealing jewellery before the ill-fated 1970 World Cup.

Colin Mitchell says: “Diego Maradona appeared in the feature and held his hand up to ‘disliking injustice’.

“Ironic for the player infamous for his Hand of God incident against England at the 1986 World Cup finals.”

Shoot! even stood up for Maradona against outraged England fans and claimed: “Such hypocrisy does little justice to the British way of life. Surely we are a more honest breed than that?”

Players were desperate to be chosen for Shoot! magazine’s legendary ‘Focus On’ feature
It’s not just current footballers who have regular fashion fails, as this article on Liverpool and England legend Kevin Keegan illustrates


I WORKED for Shoot! for eight years until 1991 and was Editor for 12 months.

The game was a much more innocent time in those days before footballers all had press officers and media advisors.

We had all the players’ numbers and they would happily talk to us. They would even pose for unusual pictures.

One of our writers was Albert Stubbins, who had been a player with Newcastle and Liverpool and he’d appeared on The Beatles’ Sergeant Pepper cover. He hired a boat and took Paul Gascoigne sea fishing for the day for an article.

I don’t think we paid Gazza a penny.

The biggest names in football would happily write a column for a hundred quid, today you would have to pay tens of thousands.

Shoot! sold about 400,000 copies every week.

The biggest seller was always the issue with the League Ladder – though I suspect hardly anybody maintained those league tables after a couple of weeks because they were so fiddly!

  • By Mike Irwin: Sun Sports Reporter


A REGULAR feature in Shoot!, saw Jimmy Greaves – the former England striker  and one half of TV pundit team  Saint & Greavsie – answer questions and queries from readers. Here a selection  from the magazine’s archive.

ALAN JONES from Rugeley, Staffs, wrote to Greavsie: “I recently bought the Tottenham away strip for the boys’ five-a-side team I run but the next day you went on TV and called it ‘poofy blue’. My lads are upset. Any chance of a refund?”
Greaves replied: “I’m sorry about that mate, but when I saw Spurs running out at Stoke I thought it was the chorus line from Swan Lake! They played like it, too.”

CHARLES KINCAID of Walton-on-Thames, Surrey,  complained about Brighton striker Mike Robinson butting Watford keeper Steve Sherwood:

Greaves replied: “People must realise that butting is nothing new. I once saw the great Pele flatten an Argentinian defender with the nod of his head. Former Everton and England striker Fred Pickering was nicknamed Kerrygold because he was the best butter in the business.”

JOHN SHERWOOD, of Aberdeen, moaned to Greavsie that Scotland’s  teams failed in Europe  because they relied too much on foreign players, not because of the poor standard of the Scottish league.

Greaves replied: “I don’t agree, though there are a lot of foreigners in the Scottish game. That’s because Scotland is really part of Scandinavia and they regard all those Icelanders, Vikings and Eskimos as local lads.”

JOHN NEILL of Jarrow, Tyne & Wear, wanted  people to stop having a go at Jimmy Hill. He’s taken  Coventry City  from the Third to the First Division and always tries to improve football as a spectator sport.

Greaves replied: “I’ve a great deal of admiration for my old mate. He does have a lot of critics, and he’s not always gone about it the right way, but I respect his honesty.”

  • 50 Years Of Shoot! is published by


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