Match Of The 90s (BBC1, 1999)
This is a series about football that was in three parts. The first was Match Of The 70s, with Dennis Waterman in 1995. The second was Match Of The 80s, with Danny Baker in 1997. But I thought that I would concentrate on Match Of The 90s, which was hosted by double-act Mark And Lard, who I’m fairly sure are both Manchester City fans, a club that didn’t really have a successful 90s compared to where they are now.
Although they were known at the time for being on BBC Radio 1, around this time they also hosted some TV shows together, including plenty on digital channel UK Play, where they continued their commitment to delivering quality first. Match Of The 90s was a season-by-season look back at the race for the league title’s highlights, plus cup and international matches, using the Match Of The Day archive.
It is interesting to remember where English football was at the start of the 90s, which was somewhere in the doldrums. English clubs were banned from taking part in Europe, attendances were low, and it wasn’t incredibly exciting. But then, England fared unexpectedly well at the World Cup in Italy, raising interest in the game once again.
And who knows, if Paul “Gazza” Gascoigne hadn’t wet himself in the semi-final, it is not an exaggeration to suggest that this series might’ve been taking a look back at American Football or Baseball instead. Every edition was soundtracked by the music of the era, Mark And Lard offered plenty of cheeky comments, and there were several contributions from players and managers who were making the headlines at the time.
Of course, there are plenty of footballing moments from this decade that people remember. In the early-90s, there were the first FA Cup semi-finals to be held at Wembley. Following a disappointing Euro ’92 campaign for England, the Premier League launched, Manchester United won their first league title for 26 years, and went on to dominate for years. Football was now fancy again, how quickly things change.
Going into the mid-90s, all of the host nations failed to qualify for the World Cup in the USA, and Blackburn won their first league title for a record 81 years. More and more foreign players were being singed too, and the top scorers were leaving the goalkeepers with football pie all over their face. After the success of Euro ’96, going into the late-90s, Chelsea were on the up, England had more penalty agony at the World Cup in France, Arsenal won the double, and Manchester United won the treble.