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Euro look-backs: Dutch masters at Euro ’88

July 10, 2016

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Ruud awakening: captained by Gullit and boasting both van Basten and Rijkaard in their ranks, the funky Dutch came to Euro ’88 full of promise – but would they at last prove to be tournament victors? 

Yes, we’re just hours away from it now, peeps; the biggest – and last – kick-off of Euro 2016. Yup, before this evening’s out, we’ll know whether the favourites, those French fancies spearheaded by the new Gallic superhero Antoine ‘The Griezmann’, have equalled the record of most Euro wins by any nation (that would be three) and also won a third major tournament on home soil, or whether the admittedly so far underwhelming Portuguese, led by their captain fantastic Cristiano Ronaldo, have managed to put the kybosh on what would have been a gigantic Parisian party.

And to get you in the mood for the main attraction across the continent tonight, why not indulge, er, me by casting your eyes down this blog post, the final offering in the short but hopefully sweet, soccer-friendly series of efforts reliving former glories, stories, victories, defeats and draws-resulting-in-dramatic-penalty-shoot-outs from football’s European Championships past.

And, should you be wondering just where the sun’s gone this weekend (almost certainly if you live in Blighty you will be), then this post may prove doubly fitting tonight, because with a decidedly Dutch theme, it promises to lend a very summery orange tan to, well, at least the few minutes it’ll take you to read it, sweeping you back to 28 years ago at Euro ’88, as it will, and the likes of Jack Charlton standing in the dug-out, the England team trying to dig themselves out of yet another hole, Rudi Völler’s disagreeable perm and Marco van Basten’s peerless volleying. On y va…?

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When, where and who?

June 10-25 1988/ West Germany/ Participants were Denmark, England, Italy,
Netherlands, Republic of Ireland, Spain, Soviet Union and West Germany (hosts)

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The champs

Netherlands

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The runners-up

Soviet Union

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The final

Netherlands 2 : 0 Soviet Union

Goals: Gullit 32 mins; van Basten 54 mins

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The semi-finals

Netherlands 2 : 1 West Germany

Goals: Matthäus (pen) 55 mins (0 : 1); Koeman (pen) 74 mins (1 : 1); van Basten (88 mins) (2 : 1)

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Soviet Union 2 : 0 Italy

Goals: Lytovchenko 58 mins (1 : 0); Protasov 82 mins (2 : 0)

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The low-down

Revered as the tournament at which the Dutch finally made good on their totaalvoetbal promise, Euro ’88 is less well recalled for its opening match – perhaps because, book-ending the competition nicely, it was contested by the same two sides that met in the final, only with a reversed result. Yes, in this opening group fixture, the Netherlands lost to the USSR 1 : 0. And similarly forgotten in the mists of time is the fact that it was another side in that group whom were favourites not just to make it to the final, but lift the trophy come end the of the tournament –  England, believe it or not. Why’s this been forgotten? Well, probably because England endured surely their worst ever performance at a tournament this time out. And, yes, given recent tournament performances, you might conclude that’s saying something.

Much indeed was expected from a team blessed with the likes of Gary Lineker, Bryan Robson, John Barnes, Chris Waddle and Glenn Hoddle (not least because it looked stronger than that which had been narrowly knocked out by Maradona in Mexico’s World Cup two years before). Yet, in a now familiar tale, a side made up of superstar talent of the English game completely and utterly failed to live up to the hype – so much so it tasted defeat in every one of its group games. The biggest embarrassment came in an opening 1 : 0 loss to a qualifying-for-the-first-time-for-anything Republic of Ireland (see video above), jam-packed full of ‘lesser’ English-born/ based players as it was, thanks to a super looping header from Ray Houghton, a goal that’s understandably still look back on with enormous affection in the Emerald Isle. Mind you, given England endured 3 : 1 defeats in both their other matches, as to which 90 minutes of football was actually their worst here is a good question, when it comes down to it.

Anyway, enough of the failures of the Three Lions, for this tournament was the glorious triumph of the Oranje Leeuw, of course. And, following that opening loss to the Soviets, their team – led and driven by their terrifically talismanic, dreadlocked and moustachioed skipper Ruud Gullit (who’d both won the Ballon d’Or and been named World Footballer of the Year in 1987) – got their act together and finally cruised their way through the group and to the last four. They claimed a 1 : 0 victory against the plucky Irish (whom following a draw against the USSR, sadly couldn’t qualify for the next round, but had firmly established themselves on the international stage) and thoroughly dismantled the English via a splendid second-half hat-trick from the boot of striker extraordinaire Marco van Basten.

But the Dutch were just getting warmed up. For, in the semi they met their greatest foes, the West Germans, which for both nations then, was as a big a deal as they come. A repeat of the final of the 1974 World Cup (which had been snatched away from a dream of a Dutch side featuring Cruyff, Neeskens and co. by the supreme poaching of Der Bomber himself Gerd Müller), the Dutch desperately wanted revenge; the Germans, whom as in ’74 were hosts, wanted victory just as much – not least to recapture the European crown they’d won in 1980 but lost to the French in ’84. And, remarkably just like 14 years before, the tie ended 2 : 1 with the first two goals traded between the sides via the penalty spot.

The result was different this time, though; van Basten proved the hero with an opportunistic sliding shot that Müller would have been proud of to book his nation a place in the final and knock its huge rivals out. Admittedly, a low point was struck following the final whistle when Dutch defender (and scorer of their penalty) Ronald Koeman, in front of his side’s jubilant fans, used a swapped German shirt to simulate wiping his backside; however, to be fair, this provoked nothing like the furore generated by the antics of Frank Rijkaard and Rudi Völler when the teams met again in the World Cup two years later.

You might think that, after that semi, the final would disappoint. Not a chance of it. Having defeated Italy (whom were building towards the next World Cup which they’d host), the Soviet Union were, as mentioned, the somewhat surprise package awaiting there. And yet, although this would be the last big-time tournament tie in which the USSR would play a part (major change for Europe was just around the corner, of course), the Soviet krasnota couldn’t pull off a fairy-tale finale; for the Dutch oranjes flexed their muscles – first via a Gullit bullet header and then via one of the greatest goals ever scored thanks to that man van Basten (see video below) – and, at last, the ghosts of the 1970s near-misses were laid to rest. Not least for their coach Rinus Michels, the man who’d not only led them to oh-so almost glory back in ’74, but had also masterminded ‘Total Football’ in the first place.  At last then, Rinus – and his fellow countrymen – had enjoyed a rich summer to savour. And they’d clogged it to the Germans too.

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Fantasy football, favourite son and feeling the Bern: Rinus Michels with the trophy (left), Marco van Basten wins the tournament’s best player and top striker awards (middle) and West German coach Franz Beckenbauer looks like he wants to hop away as he meets mascot Berni the rabbit (right) 

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The most valuable player

Marco van Basten

Honourable mentions: Ruud Gullit, Frank Rijkaard
and Jan Wouters (Netherlands); Lothar Matthäus (West Germany)

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The top scorer

Marco van Basten ~ 5 goals

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The turkeys

England

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The unforgettable moment

It has to be – and is – that impudent and incredible near-sideways volleyed goal Marco van Basten netted in the final against the USSR to seal the Dutch their first (and, so far, only) major football title.

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The abiding memory

If you’ve orange blood coursing through your veins, Euro ’88 is surely the greatest summer of football – nay, maybe of all sport – the world has ever witnessed. Featuring the AC Milan defence-midfield-attack axis that was the Rijkaard-Gullit-van Basten triumverate and kitted out in maybe the greatest soccer shirt ever to grace a game, the Dutch weren’t just worthy winners of this tournament they were truly glorious victors, putting right the ‘wrongs’ they – and possibly many purists of the football fraternity – had endured in 1974 and ’78. For the West Germans, though (whom also wore one of the best ever football kits), this was a rare contest to forget; failing to get to the final and beaten by bitter rivals. And for England? Well, nobody of an English persuasion ever really wants to think about, let alone mention Euro ’88. However, for both these nations’ teams, sunny times lay ahead and would be enjoyed very soon – in Italy in two summers’ time, in fact…

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Euro look-backs: Les sacré Bleus at Euro ’84

June 25, 2016

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Michel, leur belle: France’s Number 10, Michel Platini, truly proved to be their captain fantastic; his goal tally (remarkably just one shy of his shirt number) propelling  the host nation to triumph 

So, the UK population – or, at least, its majority – has made its decision; its heading out of Europe. Conversely, though, the UK’s national football teams are certainly not out of the Euros; not yet at least. Yes, today’s second round clash between Wales and Northern Ireland ensured there was always definitely going to be British interest in the quarter finals whatever happened and, as it turned out, the red dragon roared and managed to squeeze its way past the nor’n irons and into the last eight. But what of England?

Well, at present, the three lions are still in the Euros (facing mighty wee Iceland on Monday, to be precise) even if – and forgive me for getting political again – the majority of their people are pleased to see them out of Europe. Maybe fittingly then, today’s look-back at European soccer Championships past casts its glance at one the English played no role in whatsover – and indeed one that the British TV media played little attention to either. Well, more fool them. Because France’s balmy (and, at times, rather barmy) Euro ’84 was one of the all-time greats. And if you doubt that, you really need to read on…

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When, where and who?

June 12-27 1984/ France/ Participants were Belgium, Denmark,
France (hosts), Portugal, Romania, Spain, Yugoslavia and West Germany

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The champs

France

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The runners-up

Spain

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The final

France 2 : 0 Spain

Goals: Platini 57 mins; Bellone 90 mins

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The semi-finals

France 3 : 2 Portugal

Goals: Domergue 24 mins (1 : 0); Jordão 74 mins (1 : 1);
Jordão 98 mins (1 : 2); Domergue 114 mins (2 : 2); Platini 119 mins (3 : 2)

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Spain 1 : 1 Denmark

Goals: Lerby 7 mins (0 : 1); Maceda 67 mins (1 : 1)

(Spain won 5 : 4 on penalties)

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The low-down

Nowadays reviled the world over as a dubious football politician, 32 years ago Michel Platini was revered as a dynamic – and possibly the world’s greatest – football player. Indeed, it would never get better for Le Roi – and rarely that good again for his nation – as, during that heady, balmy fortnight in June ’84, he guided his side to Euro triumph. Aided in his efforts, lest we forget, by the marvellous midfielders that were Alain Giresse and Jean Tigana (making up an irresistible triumverate), Platini scored an astonishing nine goals in five matches – including a hat-trick each in group games against Belgium and Yugolsavia – thus, at last establishing Les Bleus as a footballing tour de force as they barnstormed their way past everyone to walk away from Paris’s Parc des Princes stadium with arguably the sport’s most prestigious piece of silverware (the World Cup trophy’s golden, after all) and their first international title.

In a rather Gallic-shrug-of-the-shoulders, ironic manner, though, the piece de resistance wasn’t the final against Spain, which was won by the host nation thanks to a Platini direct free-kick squirming its way under the hapless opposing ’keeper and a late strike from Bruno Bellone (the only French striker to actually score in the tournament). Instead, the show-stopper was France’s semi against the surprise package that was Portugal. Surely one of the greatest ties in the history of the Euros, it was a dramatic old ding-dong (see video above) that saw the Portuguese, with barely 10 minutes of the 90 remaining, cancel out the host’s slender lead (surprisingly provided by left-back Jean-François Domergue), only to snatch the lead themselves in the first period of  extra-time. France’s stars got their act together, though, and via Domergue again scored an equaliser, only for Platini – who else? – to pop up and seal a place in the final with a winner in the last minute of extra-time.

The other semi also saw fireworks, in that the tournament’s other most fancied team didn’t make it through. Yes, Denmark (who’d previously impressed at Euro ’80 and this time featured the talents of in-demand striker Preben Elkjær as well as midfielders Frank Arnesen and – then, an emerging – Michael Laudrup) lost on penalties to Spain, thanks to the talismanic Elkjær missing from the spot in a climactic penalty shoot-out. Indeed, to their credit, the Spaniards had already achieved notoriety by dumping the West Germans out in the group stage – yes, that’s right, the reigning champions went out in the group – with to a 1-0 victory in which they’d grabbed a winner in the final minute.

So, Euro ’84 may have featured no home nations, no Netherlands, no World Champions Italy and no Germans through to the latter stages, but if exciting, high-scoring and – at times – crazily unexpected football’s your thing, then bleu was definitely the colour in summer ’84.

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Platini, patterns and Panini: France’s hero lifts the trophy (left), the brilliant diamond-adorned Belgian home kit and the stylish French away kit (middle) and the Panini Euro ’84 sticker-book (right)

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The most valuable player

Michel Platini

Honourable mentions: Alain Giresse and Jean Tigana (France),
Frank Arnesen and Preben Elkjær (Denmark)

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The top scorer

Michel Platini ~ 9 goals

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The turkeys

West Germany

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The unforgettable moment

Even though he delivered those couple of moments where he produced back-to-back hat-tricks and clinched France’s final place at the death in the semi, it really has to be the moment when Monsieur Platini finally lifted the trophy – real Le Roi of the Rovers stuff. I thank you.

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The abiding memory

In retrospect, Euro ’84 was something of a standalone – as well as a stand-out – tournament. Although the French managed to reach the last four in both World Cups ’82 and ’86, at neither (beaten by, yes, the West Germans both times) were they able to find the sparkling form they did here. Indeed, they wouldn’t reach the final of a major tournament again until they triumphed – again – on home soil in the World Cup of 14 years later. Moreover, neither of the European football mainstays that are Spain or Portugal shined again in the ’80s or ’90s. The one side that did impress here as part of a trend during those two decades were the dynamic Danes, whom looked good again in the World Cup two years later, topping their group over the team that would eventually finish as beaten finalists… West Germany, of course. Yup, Euro ’84 – it was a wonder of a one-off, for sure.

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Playlist: Listen, my friends! ~ June 2016

June 19, 2016

G5309-11a, hoofdtelefoons type LBB 3012, 1970, 811.234G5309-11a, hoofdtelefoons type LBB 3012, 1970, 811.234G5309-11a, hoofdtelefoons type LBB 3012, 1970, 811.234G5309-11a, hoofdtelefoons type LBB 3012, 1970, 811.234

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In the words of Moby Grape… listen, my friends! Yes, it’s the (hopefully) monthly playlist presented by George’s Journal just for you good people.

There may be one or two classics to be found here dotted in among different tunes you’re unfamiliar with or have never heard before – or, of course, you may’ve heard them all before. All the same, why not sit back, listen away and enjoy…

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CLICK on the song titles to hear them

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Kenny Ball and his Jazz Men ~ Midnight In Moscow (1962)

Los Mustang ~ Submarino Amarillo (1966)¹

Jefferson Handkerchief ~ I’m Allergic To Flowers (1967)

P. P. Arnold ~ To Love Somebody (1968)

Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus ~ Theme from Inga (1968)

Eartha Kitt ~ Hurdy Gurdy Man (1970)

Billy Rosenberg ~ Theme from Columbo (Ransom For A Dead Man) (1971)

Joan Baez ~ The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down (1971)

Okko Bekker ~ East Indian Traffic (1971)

Johnny Wakelin & the Kinshasa Band ~ The Black Superman (Muhammad Ali) (1974)² 

Denny Crockett and Ike Egan ~ Theme from Ulysses 31 (1981)

The Icicle Works ~ Whisper To A Dream (Birds Fly) (1983)

The Dream Academy ~ The Edge of Tomorrow (1985)³

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¹ The Spanish-language version of The Fabs’ much-loved pseudo-throwaway tune that sold a spectacular 130,000 copies in its homeland; in fact, so popular a cover was it that the fans of the Villareal football club took up singing it at matches – owing to the team’s all-yellow kit – thus inevitably establishing the club’s nickname as El Submarino Amarillo (The Yellow Submarine)

² Ironically for a novelty hit that cheerily celebrates black empowerment (released to ride the wave of Ali’s extraordinary comeback when he won back the World Heavyweight boxing crown at the age of 32 via the Zaire-set ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ bout), its writer and performer Johnny Wakelin was a white man from the English seaside city of Brighton; Ali died on June 3, aged 74

³ As featured on the soundtrack of classic ’80s-tastic coming-of-age teen comedy-drama Ferris Buellers Day Off, which was released in cinemas 30 years ago this summer.

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Euro look-backs: Vorsprung durch technikcally perfect at Euro ’80

June 10, 2016

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Guten tag, pet: champions of Europe again, Die Mannschaft’s Euro ’80 triumph saw the successful christening of a new generation of West German international football talent for the decade ahead

Europe. It seems to be all about Europe this summer, doesn’t it? While half the UK population looks determined to try and extricate itself from its continental neighbours in 13 days’ time, the other half appears to be, perhaps grudgingly, of the opinion the UK’s better off staying put. And meanwhile, the English, Welsh and Northern Irish football teams are determined to stay ‘in’ for as long as humanly possible (and, as for the Scots, well, they’d just love to be there in the first place, while confusingly – as far as this sentence goes – maybe not part of the UK).

Yes, Euro-fever has verily gripped the zeitgeist, not least too because the continent’s quadrennial summer soccer palooza finally kicks-off tonight with hosts France taking on Romania. What better day then to pick up this blog’s ongoing series casting an affectionate eye back on European Championships past? And this time, specifically, the focus is a tournament seemingly forgotten in the mists of time by many, yet (nice and topically) maybe not by that nation which over the last half-century has found itself at Europe’s very ‘heart’ – for at Euro ’80 it was, yup, the turn of those Red Devil underdogs to flex their muscles from Brussels…

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When, where and who?

June 11-22 1980/ Italy/ Participants were Belgium, Czechoslovakia,
England, Greece, Italy (hosts), Netherlands, Spain and West Germany

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The champs

West Germany

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The runners-up

Belgium

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(Red) devilishly good: Euro ’80’s surprise package, Belgium not only topped their group – denying
the hosts a spot in the final – but ran the West Germans damned close in the showpiece title match

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The final

West Germany 2 : 1 Belgium

Goals: Hrubesch 10 mins (1 : 0);
Vandereycken 75 mins (pen) (1 : 1); Hrubesch 88 mins (2 : 1)

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Third/ fourth place play-off

Czechoslovakia 1 : 1 Italy

(Czechoslovakia won 9 : 8 on penalties)

Goals: Jurkemik 54 mins (1 : 0); Graziani 73 mins (1 : 1)

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The low-down

The first European Championships to feature eight teams and so more than just a quartet of matches – all the past efforts had been open to only four teams – Euro ’80 should have seen the four-yearly event really kick on, but it seems many across the continent didn’t realise it had even kicked-off. Why was this? Well, too many of the matches those who bothered to to turn up to or tune into on their TV sets proved dull, undeniably defensive affairs; far from a great advert for the great, beautiful game.

Not that that was the case everywhere, though. In the host country, Italy, expectation was understandably high. Having been crowned World Champions twice by this point and being one of the world’s leading soccer nations, surely their team – jam-packed full of stars, as it was – needed only to turn up to their three round-robin group matches to make it to the final, right? Er, wrong. Drawing two of their matches, winning one and managing to score just one goal, the Azzurri only managed to finish runners-up in their group which meant that, with two groups and oddly no semi-finals this time out, they failed to make it through to the last two, no doubt causing then a giant, collective Mediterranean shrug.

Not so for Europe’s other world-leading nation in international soccer. Maybe oddly, as a side remembered for being flushed with success throughout the ’70s and the ’80s, West Germany were far from awesome at this point. Having been defeated by Czechoslovakia in the Euros final four years before, the team that graced this tournament featured a majority of relative youngsters; the celebrated old-guard of the past decade having moved on. And surprisingly – or maybe not, given we’re talking the Germans – the new-look Mannschaft manned-up, making it through their group (defeating a Dutch side containing the last vestiges of the Total Football-friendly players of the Cruyff era) and winning the final with a brace from the big, bulky Hamburger SV striker Horst Hrubesch; a real achievement for him, given he’d only been called up to the team as a late replacement and having been injured himself in the European Cup final just weeks before, which his side lost to Nottingham Forest.

However, maybe the team that achieved just as much glory (for nostalgic types looking back through rose-tinted glasses, at least), were runners-up Belgium. Yes, that’s right; Belgium. A nation boasting then, well, almost zero footballing pedigree and even fewer names than their fellow finalists, they defied the odds to emerge from a depressingly hooligan-hit opening draw against a Kevin Keegan-led England – whom, in their first tournament since 1970, lived up/ down to expectations by underwhelming yet again – to eventually top Italy’s group (albeit on goal difference, although they did score four more goals than the latter). And then, come the final, they only narrowly lost thanks to Hrubesch’s last-minute winner. (Red) devilishly good, you might say.

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Perms and Pinocchio: England captain Kevin Keegan’s hairdo starred against Spain (l), even if
his and his team’s talent didn’t, while the tournament’s funky mascot charmed all and sundry (r)

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The most valuable player

Horst Hrubesch

Honourable mentions: Klaus Allofs,
Karl-Heinz Rummenigge (both West Germany) and Jan Ceulemans (Belgium)

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The top scorer

Klaus Allofs ~ 3 goals

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The turkeys

Italy

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The unforgettable moment

Horst ‘The Monster’ Hrubesch’s redemptive, winning bullet header late in the final

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The abiding memory

As I think I’ve made clear by now, this was hardly a tournament to live long in the memory; certainly not for the English, with violence from hooligans purporting to be English fans holding up one the uninspired national team’s matches for at least five minutes. And not for the Italians either, whose first tournament on home soil for 46 years ended in embarrassing failure. However, it undeniably saw a new dawn for the West Germans; key members of its winning team would go on to grace the latter stages of pretty much every Euros and World Cup for the next decade. And, of course, for the Belgians, whose talented group of relative unknowns would cause an even bigger splash at the ’86 World Cup, where they’d reach the last four. And, in fact, it wasn’t all doom and gloom for the Italians in the end. For, just two years later, they’d be crowned World Champions. Yes, Italy’s international football always seems to have flitted between triumph and disaster – just like their governments. Ah, European politics, eh?

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Playlist: Listen, my friends! ~ May 2016

May 25, 2016

G5309-11a, hoofdtelefoons type LBB 3012, 1970, 811.234G5309-11a, hoofdtelefoons type LBB 3012, 1970, 811.234G5309-11a, hoofdtelefoons type LBB 3012, 1970, 811.234G5309-11a, hoofdtelefoons type LBB 3012, 1970, 811.234

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In the words of Moby Grape… listen, my friends! Yes, it’s the (hopefully) monthly playlist presented by George’s Journal just for you good people.

There may be one or two classics to be found here dotted in among different tunes you’re unfamiliar with or have never heard before – or, of course, you may’ve heard them all before. All the same, why not sit back, listen away and enjoy…

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CLICK on the song titles to hear them

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Quincy Jones ~ Hallelujah Chorus (1969)¹

Dick Oliver ~ The Chicken (1969)

Andy Williams ~ Here, There And Everywhere (1969)

Ennio Morricone ~ Ritratto d’Autore (1969)²

Kenny Rogers and the First Edition ~ Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love To Town (1969)

Simon Haseley ~ Hammerhead (1972)³

Genesis ~ Fly On A Windshield/ Broadway Melody Of 1974 (1974)

Telly Savalas ~ Who Loves Ya Baby? (1975)

John Barry ~ John Bursts In/ The End from Robin And Marian (1976)

Tantra ~ The Hills of Katmandu (1979)

Kate Bush ~ There Goes a Tenner (1982)

Chaka Khan ~ I Feel For You (1984)

The Psychedelic Furs ~ The Ghost In You (1984)

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¹ From the soundtrack of the Swinging ’60s-examining blockbuster comedy drama Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice (1969)

² The theme from the 1969 Italian movie La Donna Invisible (The Invisible Woman)

³ The superb library music track that’s become a notorious source for sampling by modern R ‘n’ B artists, not least by Beyoncé on her 2006 hit A Woman Like Me

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Euro look-backs: Czech-mate at Euro ’76

May 17, 2016

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Cheap trick or tricky chip? Antonin Panenka scores his cheeky penalty in the final’s shoot-out against mighty West Germany to crown the Eastern Bloc’s Czechoslovakia unexpected European champions

Regular visitors to this blog (is is too presumptuous to assume there are some out there? Erm…), yes well, anyway… regular visitors to this blog may have noticed there’s been something of a fall-off in posts on its main page this year thanks to the focus on the long-term review effort’s that The Great 2016 007 DVD-athon. Well, that’s going to change this spring/ summer. The main page is going to be staging a fight back. Indeed, out of nowhere – Leicester City-like, if you will – it’s going to shoot up the league table and cannily fox its way back into the spotlight as, in anticipation of next month’s Euro 206 football tournament, it takes a look back one-after-another at the soccer European Championships of yore.

For sure, the Euros, as they’re often affectionately referred to, are traditionally smaller affairs than their big brothers, the World Cups – and are of less import. Yet, that also seems to have ensured they’ve often been quirkier, more surprising and – dare one say – sometimes more entertaining too. So, to kick-off then, let’s begin by looking back at the first of them to probably properly enter the European football followers’ collective consciousness, Euro ’76. Euro ’76? Really? That’s a bit random, isn’t it? Well, actually, yes maybe it was, but if you want to know why we’re starting here, then you need to read on…

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When, where and who?

June 16-20 1976/ Yugoslavia/ Participants were Czechslsovakia,
Netherlands, West Germany and Yugoslavia (hosts)

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The champs

Czechoslovakia

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The runners-up

West Germany

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Umbrella antics: Czech skipper Anton Ondruš meets Dutch captain Johan Cruyff – over whom
is held a brolly by Welsh referee Clive Thomas – ahead of the wet and ill-tempered semi-final

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The final

Czechoslovakia 2 : 2 West Germany

(Czechoslovakia won 5 : 3 on penalties)

Goals: Švehlík 8 mins (1 : 0); D. Müller 28 mins (1 : 1);
Dobiaš 25 mins (2 : 1); Hölzenbein 89 mins (2 : 2)

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The semi-finals

Czechoslovakia 3 : 1 Netherlands

Goals: Ondruš 19 mins (1 : 0); Ondruš 77 mins (o.g.) (1 : 1);
Nehoda 114 mins (2 : 1); Veselý 118 mins (3 : 1)

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West Germany 4 : 2 Yugoslavia

Goals: Popivoda 19 mins (0 : 1); Džajić 30 mins (0 : 2); Flohe 64 mins (1 : 2);
D. Müller 82 mins (2 : 2); 115 mins (3: 2); 119 mins (4 : 2)

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The low-down

This was the last ever European Championships to feature only four teams; it merely comprised two semi-finals, a play-off for third and fourth place and the final. That meant that, following the qualifying group matches, four quarter-finals had taken place, but these were home-and-away two legged affairs that were held during the regular season before the tournament proper took place in the then unified Yugoslavia. Moreover, as this was the last Euros to feature less than eight teams, it was also the last for which the hosts themselves had to qualify. Which today may seem a bizarre notion, but there you go.

Obviously with only four places up for grabs, qualification had been very tough; none of the Home Nations made it through (England being at the height of their hapless qualifying form of the ’70s), yet mighty Wales almost made it through the quarters – only to be denied by the hosts. At the tournament itself, both finalists of the World Cup of two years previous were there then; West Germany – with their captain fantastic Franz Beckenbauer, but without talismanic striker Gerd Müller – and the groovy Netherlands – with arguably the best player in the world at that time, Johan Cruyff. Somewhat disappointingly, though, the Dutch didn’t at all hit their dizzying heights of World Cup ’74, failing to get through their sodden semi against the Czechs, in which two Dutchmen were sent off and – according to (yes) Welsh referee Clive Thomas – Cruyff unsportingly ‘tried to run the game’ in his place.

The final was more up to the mark, though, as the Czechs faced the World Champions, West Germany. And quite stunningly, the undeniable underdogs only went and won it. Leading 2-1 until the 89th minute, the plucky Czechs – then hailing from behind the Iron Curtain, of course – eventually claimed victory via a penalty shoot-out. Nowadays, that may not seem an extraordinary event, but this was the first major tournament match ever decided in such a way and the first – and last! – ever to be lost by a German national team. And yet, the real stunner was the penalty that won the whole thing; a chipped beauty from marvellously moustachioed midfielder Antonin Panenka – pretty much the first penalty anyone had ever seen scored with this technique, hence it becoming christened ‘The Panenka’.

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Shirt stories: Ondruš goes with a relaxed, hippie look as he shows off the trophy back home (l), while half the triumphant Czech team pose – inexplicably – in exchanged German shirts after the final (r)

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The most valuable player

Antonin Panenka

Honourable mentions: Franz Beckenbauer,
Dieter Müller and Anton Ondruš

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The top scorer

Dieter Müller ~ 4 goals

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The turkeys

Netherlands

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The unforgettable moment

Panenka’s perfectly chipped penalty. Like, obviously.

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The abiding memory

The poor Dutch performance may be recalled by some (although many from the Netherlands whose memories go back that far probably would like to forget it), yet the thing that practically everyone would remember was undoubtedly the (West) Germans losing it on penalties and the unfancied team from Eastern Europe snatching it from them. In fact, it kicked-off a Euro pedigree for the funky Czechs – as the Czech Republic, they’d go on to be finalists again in 1996 (against the Germans once more) and semi-finalists in 2004. You might say then, something of a Czech-ered history. I thank you.

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Playlist: Listen, my friends! ~ April 2016

April 22, 2016

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In the words of Moby Grape… listen, my friends! Yes, it’s the (hopefully) monthly playlist presented by George’s Journal just for you good people.

There may be one or two classics to be found here dotted in among different tunes you’re unfamiliar with or have never heard before – or, of course, you may’ve heard them all before. All the same, why not sit back, listen away and enjoy…

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CLICK on the song titles to hear them

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The New Vaudeville Band ~ Winchester Cathedral (1966)

Murray Head ~ She Was Perfection (1967)

Fairport Convention ~ Si Tu Dois Partir (1969)

Augusto Martelli ~ Beryl’s Tune (1970)¹

The Lettermen ~ I’m Only Sleeping (1972)

Neil Richardson ~ Another Happening (1972)²

Tom Jones ~ The Young New Mexican Puppeteer (1972)  

Shirley Bassey ~ Can’t Take My Eyes Off You (1976)

Shawn Phillips ~ Jam for World In Action (1977)³

Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark ~ Electricity (1979)

Cozy Powell ~ Theme One (1979)4

Thompson Twins ~ Lay Your Hands On Me (1984)

Prince, Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne, Steve Winwood and Dhani Harrison ~
While My Guitar Gently Weeps (2004)5

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¹ As featured in the 1970 sexy but dubious Italian fantasy flick Il Dio Serpente (The Snake God)

² Belonging to the marvellously monikered Boosey & Hawkes music library, this piece has in recent years been used to soundtrack the opening of BBC4’s fascinating Britain On Film programme, a compilation of clips from Rank’s Look at Life documentary shorts that were screened in UK cinemas back in the ’60s

³ The strident, even stark, but iconic track that was adopted for (or, depending on which sources you choose to believe, originally written for) the opening and closing to ITV’s ground-breaking investigative journalism-tastic current affairs show World In Action (1968-93)

4 The irresistible synth-drum-tastic version of the tune written by the great, late George Martin as a theme for BBC Radio 1 on its launch in 1967; George Martin passed away aged 90 on March 8

5 A performance of the George Harrison masterpiece from a quite brilliant supergroup that could have been at a US Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony, featuring a quite magnificently showy and stunning guitar solo from the squiggly diddly rock-pop-icon-cum-love-machine whom died yesterday (April 21) at the age of 57

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Playlist: Listen, my friends! ~ February/ March 2016

March 2, 2016

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In the words of Moby Grape… listen, my friends! Yes, it’s the (hopefully) monthly playlist presented by George’s Journal just for you good people.

There may be one or two classics to be found here dotted in among different tunes you’re unfamiliar with or have never heard before – or, of course, you may’ve heard them all before. All the same, why not sit back, listen away and enjoy…

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CLICK on the song titles to hear them

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Gillian Hills ~ Zou Bisou Bisou (1961)¹

H. P. Lovecraft ~ The White Ship (1967)

Catherine Deneuve and Françoise Dorléac ~ La Chanson Des Soeurs Jumelles (1967)²

Sarah Vaughan and Billy Eckstine ~ Passing Strangers (1969)

Marty Gold ~ Eleanor Rigby (1969)

Ennio Morricone ~ Amore Come Dolore (1970)³

Ike and Tina Turner ~ Workin’ Together (1971)

Ronnie Hazlehurst and his Orchestra ~ The Two Ronnies Theme (1971)

Led Zeppelin ~ Kashmir (Live(1975)

Linda Ronstadt ~ Tumbling Dice (1977)

Julio Iglesias ~ Volver A Empezar (Begin The Beguine) (1981)

ABC ~ Theme from Mantrap (1982)

Supertramp ~ Brother Where You Bound (1985)4

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¹ The original charting version of this über-earworm, as performed by the British singer-cum-actress whom would later go on to appear in Stanley Kubrick’s notorious satire A Clockwork Orange (1971)

² The theme that introduces the irresistible ’60s French film star sisters in Les Demoiselles de Rochefort (The Young Girls Of Rochefort), Jacques Demy’s colourful seaside-town-set follow-up to his 1964 iconic musical Les Parapluies de Cherbourg (The Umbrellas Of Cherbourg)

³ An exquisitely lugubrious theme from the (now) Oscar-winning, legendary film composer for the giallo movie Le Foto Proibite di una Signora Per Bene (The Forbidden Photos of a Lady Above Suspicion/ The Secret Picture of a Respectable Woman)

4 The epic title track from the band’s eighth studio album, a patent and potent critique of the Cold War (in its then early ’80s state) which features a reading from George Orwell’s 1984 (1949) and on release was accompanied by an equally epic short-film of a video; here its lyrics are quite fittingly put to images from the movie Brazil (1985)

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I’d like to thank the Academy: the Oscars story in pictures

February 28, 2016

Having a (Sally) Field day: the Texan thesp’s memorably delighted when she discovers 
she’s actually ‘popular’ among her peers as she scoops the Oscar for Best Actress in 1985

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So, are you on Team Leo or in Matt the Martian’s Mob? Do you want a slice of Brie and so have no Room this year for Blanchett? Are you rooting for The Revenant or banking on The Big Short? Yes, like it or not, tonight in the United States the very public and shameless fisticuffs between Messrs Trump, Cruz and Rubio take a back seat (if only for one evening) as the great and the glamorous and the good (and even some of the talented) of Hollywood pound down the red carpet and throw themselves into L.A.’s Dolby Theatre to battle it out for a batch of little gilded figurines, the capture of which will mean those lucky few get to declare, all fuzzy like, they’re this year’s ‘best’ in their respective fields of the movie industry – even if, as in most years, it’s likely the majority of cinemagoers, film critics and even their peers will pretty much disagree with almost every win heralded on the night.

Yes, like The Eurovision Song Contest, the Oscars – or, to give the thing its full title this year, The 88th Academy Awards ceremony – is a strange beast. Part unashamed-US-movie-industry-awards, part TV-variety-showcase and part fashion-horse-parade-for togs way too expensive for any mere mortal to ever aspire to wear. And yet, those of who can, always tend to watch it every time it comes around – or at least take an interest in finding out who’s won what, who’s thanked who and who’s worn ‘who’.

And this year’s ceremony is quite the hotly anticipated one too, given the controversy that’s surrounded its build-up over the lack of black nominees (enabling the media to dub it the ’lily-white’ Oscars – clever, eh?). Controversy then? Surprises? And just plain randomness and weirdness? Don’t doubt it, it’s all happened before down through Oscar’s nine decades – making tonight’s ceremony, in prospect, something of a par-for-the-course show. Not convinced? Well, why not take a perusal of the following pictorial-telling of the Academy Awards story – all the glitz, glamour and glorious mugging of grandiose thesps (and others) grasping golden statuettes and more await, I promise…

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First and last (so far): first ever Oscar winner Emil Jannings (Best Actor for The Last Command in 1929) and alumni of last year’s Best Picture winner Birdman Or (The Unexpected Virtue Of Ignorance)

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Welles underwhelmed: the only Academy Award won (for Orson Welles’ script) by Citizen Kane in 1942, which was nominated for eight further awards including in every major category and has often been cited as the greatest movie ever made  – the statuette sold for around $861,500 in 2011 

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Tiny trophies: early Hollywood moppet Shirley Temple presenting Walt Disney with a special Oscar for Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs in 1938 (along with seven little ones for the dwarfs) and in later life with her own diminutive ‘Juvenile Academy Award’, with which she was presented in 1935

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Five times a night: the three – and so far only – flicks to have won every one of the ‘big five’ Oscars (Picture, Director, Actor, Actress and Screenplay) – It Happened One Night in 1936, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest in 1976 and The Silence Of The Lambs in 1992 – and their various human winners

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Audrey’s award and Grace and favour: Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly winning Best Actress in consecutive years – the former for Roman Holiday in 1954 and the latter for The Country Girl in 1955 

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oscars_tom_hanks_1994 oscars_tom_hanks_1995

Back-to-back actors: the only men to have won Oscars for Best Actor in consecutive years – Spencer Tracy for Captains Courageous in 1938 and Boys Town in 1939 (pictured with ’39’s Best Actress winner Bette Davis) and Tom Hanks for Philadelphia in 1994 and Forrest Gump in 1995 

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Leigh’s glee: Vivien Leigh wins Best Actress in 1940 for her iconic turn as Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With The Wind and again 12 years later for playing Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire

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It was great to be Kate: the quartet of statuettes won by Katharine Hepburn, the most rewarded thespian in Oscar history, for Morning Glory in 1934, Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner in 1968, The Lion In Winter in 1969 and On Golden Pond in 1982 – curiously, she never attended a single ceremony

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Minority report: the first Asian, African American, thesp in a non-English language role and Hispanic Oscar winners – Yul Brynner for The King And I in 1957, Hattie McDaniel for Gone With The Wind in 1940, Sophia Loren for Two Women in 1962 and Jose Ferrer for Cyrano de Bergerac in 1951

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Starkers at the Oscars: the notorious occasion (once voted Oscar’s greatest) when photographer Robert Opel flashed at the 1975 ceremony – supposedly impromptu, it seems it was actually a staged stunt, perhaps why host David Niven’s riposte was such a classic (‘Probably the only laugh that man will ever get in his life is by stripping off and showing his shortcomings’)

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From superstar to soap opera: magnificent Method thesp Marlon Brando looks delighted to have stormed to victory in the Best Actor category for On The Waterfront in 1955, yet when he wins the same award 18 years later for The Godfather not only doesn’t he attend the ceremony, but in his place sends activist Sacheen Littlefeather, whom delivers a speech on pressing Native American issues

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oscars_jack_nicholson_1976 

 

Jack’s hat-trick: counter-culture-icon-turned-unlikely-Academy-Award-darling, Jack Nicholson winning his three Oscars – Best Actor for One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest in 1976 (top) and Best Supporting Actor for Terms Of Endearment in 1984 and Best Actor for As Good As It Gets in 1998 

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Bananas in pajamas? Barbra Streisand not only won her Best Actress award (for Funny Girl in 1969) in an eerily sheer pantsuit, but also tripped on her way to collecting the award – adding to the sense of pantomime, she had to share her win with Katharine Hepburn (see above) as the result was a rare tie

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When Rocky met Ali: Sylvester Stallone and Muhammad Ali strike suitable poses at the 1977 ceremony, at which Stallone’s Rocky was named Best Picture and also won for its direction and editing

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Cher – or sheer? – delight: anything Barb can do Cher can do, er, better – the songstress-turned-thesp in her truly outrageous outfit at the 1986 Oscars and winning her Best Actress statuette for Moonstruck at the 1988 awards in a slightly less odd but no less revealing, slinky lingerie-like get-up

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Nobody remembers the losers? Samuel L. Jackson (nominated for Best Supporting Actor for Pulp Fiction) utters a profanity as Martin Landau wins (for Ed Wood) in 1995, while Bill Murray (for Best Actor for Lost In Translation) looks nonplussed as Sean Penn triumphs (for Mystic River) in 2004 

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The Brits have, er, come: despite whatever the great Colin Weiland claimed on winning his award for writing Chariots Of Fire in 1982, those from the UK have always been a thunderous force at the Oscars – (clockwise from top left) Laurence Olivier wins Best Picture and Best Actor for Hamlet in 1949, David Putnam wins Best Picture for Chariots Of Fire, Richard Attenborough wins Best Picture and Best Director for Gandhi in 1983 and Colin Firth wins Best Actor for The King’s Speech in 2011

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Youngest and oldest: Tatum O’Neal wins Best Supporting Actress for Paper Moon in 1974 and Christopher Plummer wins the equivalent male category for Beginners in 2012 – at present, she remains the youngest ever winner of a competitive Oscar (aged 10) and he the oldest (aged 82)

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The movie brats – all growed up: the legendary trio of terrific ’70s and ’80s cinema, Francis Ford Coppola, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, award their friend, the just as legendary Martin Scorsese, with his Best Director Oscar, which he won – finally – in 2007 for helming The Departed  

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The hosts with the most: surely the greatest ever Oscar masters of ceremonies, Whoopi Goldberg (hosted four times), Bob Hope (hosted a staggering 19 times) and Billy Crystal (hosted nine times) get friendly with various gilded friends – Goldberg also won Best Supporting Actress for Ghost in 1991

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Playlist: Listen, you pretty things! 1964-2015

January 11, 2016

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1947-2016

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CLICK on the track titles for video clips

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David Bowie ~ Liza Jane (1964)

David Bowie ~ Life On Mars (1971)

David Bowie ~ Kooks (1971)

David Bowie ~ Ziggy Stardust (1972)

David Bowie ~ The Jean Genie (1973)

David Bowie ~ Rebel Rebel (1974)

David Bowie ~ Young Americans (1975)

David Bowie ~ Speed Of Life (1977)

David Bowie ~ Heroes (1977)

David Bowie ~ Ashes To Ashes (1980)

David Bowie ~ Modern Love (1983)

David Bowie ~ Slow Burn (2002)

David Bowie ~ Lazarus (2015)

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Goodbye, David Bowie – until your next incarnation…

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Image video courtesy of Helen Green

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