World of Soccer
ABC television was the original weekend commercial channel for the Midlands and North. Starting in 1956, it served the largest franchise area in the history of the English ITV regions. ABC's first venture into League football coverage was an experiment with a live match on Saturday 10th September 1960 - At around 7:30pm, commercial TV viewers were able to tune in to live coverage of the 2nd half of Blackpool v Bolton Wanderers with Peter Lloyd commentating alongside Billy Wright (see article at the foot of this page), but unfortunately the match turned out to be a rather drab contest. With viewing figures and reaction not as spectacular as hoped, and the Football League still fearful of the impact live coverage would have on attendance's (as well as demanding an increased fee for a 2nd match), the Blackpool/Bolton fixture proved to be a one-off failed experiment.
ABC made a major commitment to sport in general on 2nd January 1965 with a four hour show described as a "mammoth new programme that will give the broadest, most comprehensive Saturday sports coverage yet attempted on television", it was called World of Sport and originally hosted by Eamonn Andrews with other debut personalities including "top Fleet Street journalist" Peter Lorenzo and ex-Fulham player Jimmy Hill, but football coverage was confined to results and league tables, there was no "On The Ball" preview sequence at this stage.
Some other ITV regions had begun producing weekend football highlights programmes featuring their local clubs as early as September 1962, yet ABC were locked in negotiations with the Football League until eventually beginning regular weekend coverage in November 1965, a month after their fierce rivals ATV London had launched Star Soccer. ABC decided to christen their own highlights package in a similar fashion, calling it World of Soccer.
Martin Locke, a Rhodesian, was the original World of Soccer commentator. After Locke had asked to be relieved of his contract in order to join the South African Broadcasting Company, a young Barry Davies (pictured) took over microphone duties early in the 1966/67 season. Davies had previously voiced a couple of midweek games for the network as well as commentating on the 1966 World Cup matches staged in the North East.
The ABC region's
With such a large coverage area, ABC were blessed with the majority of the Football League's grounds from which to choose to take their cameras. 14 of the 22 First Division clubs in 1965/66 were North or Midlands based clubs including all of the teams who would go on to finish in the top four; Liverpool (the current FA Cup holders), Manchester United (the current League champions), Burnley and the emerging force of Leeds United. Liverpool won the league in 1966 for the 2nd time in three season's and Everton responded by winning the FA Cup, beating Sheffield Wednesday in the final. Two years later, Everton were the beaten finalists, losing to the highest placed Midlands club in ABC's first year of coverage - West Bromwich Albion. Other Midlands outfits Leicester City and Nottingham Forest also made a good impression during the three season's World of Soccer was on air, but the North West continued to dominate. Manchester City won promotion as champions of the 2nd tier in 1966 and went on to be crowned champions of the top tier in 1968, in-between time Manchester United won the league in 1967 earning them entry into the European Cup which they promptly went on to win (the first English club to do so).
The end of ABC
The launch of World of Soccer was well timed, English football enjoyed an invigorating surge in popularity as the home nation hosted and triumphed in the World Cup finals of 1966, but ABC's days of covering football were soon to be numbered. In July 1968 the ITV regional franchise map would be redefined, the North region was to be split in two and there would no longer be separate weekday/weekend services for any region outside of London. ATV was handed the 7 day Midlands contract, Granada took on the North West franchise and a brand new company called Yorkshire Television would now serve the Eastern side of the pennines.
ABC were forced into a merger with Rediffusion - the holders of the London weekday service which would now become known as Thames Television. Although Thames proved to be one of ITV's biggest success stories, their restriction to Monday-Fridays air time would not encourage a close association with the region's football clubs, and what mid-week coverage there was soon became the responsibility of 'ITV Sport' networked programmes fronted by the faces of LWT.
The Monday to Friday commercial television services during the ABC era were provided by Granada (for the North) and ATV (for the Midlands). Weekday football fixtures shown on these channels are dealt with on our Midweek page, Gerry Loftus did most of the commentaries, though Barry Davies and Hugh Johns began to take over after 1966.
were shown on ABC
The following lists detail all of the Saturday matches recorded by ABC cameras. The practice of showing a 2nd/3rd match didn't begin until 1967/68 at the earliest and possibly not until after ABC's demise. Given dates are for when the fixture was played (not the broadcast). Blanks denote that we don't know what game was shown. Non-Midlands/North based matches are in italics.
17/Mar/1956 Birmingham City
3 (Kinsey, Astall, Brown) Sunderland 0 [FA Cup SF] *at
Hillsborough, ABC only 10:00-10:30pm.
The first football highlights programme on ABC was listed in the Times as "Excerpts from a Saturday Soccer Match" 1:55-2:30pm on Sunday 6th November 1965, ABC had recently been showing Rugby League highlights in this slot. The Times billed the show as "World of Soccer" the following weekend. All TVTimes I have for this season list Martin Locke as the commentator (including the 3rd edition on 20th November). All programmes were broadcast in 405-line black & white on VHF only.
06/Nov Preston North End 2 (Lee, Kendall) Wolverhampton W. 2 (Knowles, Wharton) *TVTimes bills this 2nd Division match
13/Nov Probably Blackpool 1 (Robson) West Bromwich Albion 1 (Brown)
20/Nov *now 2:45-3:20pm
27/Nov No programme this weeked *showed Rugby League match
22/Jan No programme this weeked *FA Cup 3rd Round day, ABC showed Rugby League match
05/Feb Leicester City 2 (????, Roberts) Aston Villa 1 (Hateley) *Listed in YEP
12/Feb Chester 4 (Metcalf, Morris, Jones 2) Bradford City 0 *YEP (ABC did not have rights to show FA Cup R4)
19/Feb Nottingham Forest 0 Leeds United 4 (Lorimer 2, Hibbitt, Giles(pen)) *YEP
26/Feb Sheffield United 1 (Jones) Leeds United 1 (Bell) *YEP
05/Mar Northampton Town 2 (Lines, Hudson) Leeds United 1 (O'Grady) *YEP (ABC did not have rights to show FA Cup R5)
12/Mar Stoke City 1 (Ritchie) West Bromwich Albion 1 (Clark) *YEP & NOTW
19/Mar Sheffield Wednesday 3 (Ford 2, Fantham) Northampton Town 1 (Hudson) *YEP
26/Mar Leeds United 1 (Charlton) Blackpool 2 (Lea 2) *YEP & NOTW (ABC did not have rights to show an FA Cup QF)
02/Apr Networked coverage of Home International
09/Apr No programme this weeked *showed International Rugby League
16/Apr Coventry City 4 (Pointer, Machin, Reece, Curtis) Birmingham City 3 (Jackson, Vowden, Fenton) *YEP
23/Apr Nottingham Forest 0 Blackburn Rovers 3 (Douglas, England, Ferguson) * NOTW
30/Apr No programme this weekend
07/May No programme this weekend
14/May Networked coverage of the FA Cup Final - Everton 3 (Trebilcock 2, Temple) Sheffield Wednesday 2 (McCalliog, Ford)
Bill Shankly's Liverpool were crowned champions for the 2nd time in three season's with Roger Hunt the first division's top scorer on 30 goals, the Reds were six points clear of Don Revie's Leeds United who were runners-up for a 2nd successive term. Burnley rekindled the form that had seen them do so well in the earlier part of the decade and finished 3rd with Willie Irvine netting 29 times, but this proved to be Burnley's last great season in a golden era under Harry Potts, Matt Busby's Manchester United were 4th with David Herd grabbing 24 goals for them. the highest placed Midlands club were Jimmy Hagan's West Brom in 6th and they also won the last ever two-legged League Cup final, beating West Ham 5-3 on aggregate. Tony Hateley netted 27 times for Aston Villa in 16th, but it was a disastrous campaign for Jack Marshall's Blackburn Rovers who lost 30 of their 42 league games and duly finished rock bottom. Manchester City were promoted as champions under new manager Joe Mercer after three season's at 2nd tier level. Down in the lower league's, Kevin Hector was top scorer in all league's with 44 goals for 4th tier Bradford Park Avenue. Everton and Sheffield Wednesday met in the FA Cup final with Harry Catterick's Toffees coming from 2-0 down to win 3-2 and lift the cup for the first time since 1933. Liverpool reached the final of the Cup-Winners Cup, meeting Borussia Dortmund at Hampden Park, but they went down 2-1 in extra time after Roger Hunt had equalised.
TVTimes clipping for the very first edition of "World of Soccer",
see also this article from the same week's magazine.
With 23 goals, Denis Law was top scorer at Manchester United who were now seemingly taking it in turns with Liverpool to win the league title, Busby's men claiming top spot this year ahead of Johnny Carey's Nottingham Forest who also reached the FA Cup Semi-finals. Liverpool were 5th and Everton 6th whilst Manchester City's return to the top flight saw them finish 15th. Aston Villa and Blackpool were relegated and would be replaced by Jimmy Hill's Coventry City and Ronnie Allen's Wolves, Booby Gould was the Sky blue's leading marksman with 24 goals, Ernie Hunt grabbed 20 for Wolves, Francis Lee scored 22 times for 9th placed Bolton. League Cup holders West Brom reached the first final to be held at Wembley, but lost 3-2 to 3rd tier QPR. Leeds took 4th spot in the league and reached the Fairs Cup final but, as in recent League and FA Cup campaigns, they had to be content with being runners-up - losing 2-0 to Dinamo Zagreb on aggregate (drawing 0-0 in the 2nd leg at Elland Road).
"World of Soccer" returned in its' usual 2:45-3:35pm Sunday afternoon slot, the Westward, Channel & TWW/Teledu Cymru regions switched between "World of Soccer" and ATV London's "Star Soccer" at different times during the course of the season. Anglia picked up "World of Soccer" until their own highlights show resumed on 24/Sep.
19/Aug Leeds United 1 (Greenhoff) Sunderland 1 (Kinnell) *Listed in the YEP & NOTW
26/Aug Coventry City 2 (Key, Bruck) Sheffield United 2 (Reece 2) *YEP & NOTW
02/Sep Sheffield United 0 Sheffield Wednesday 1 (Ritchie) *YEP & NOTW
09/Sep Manchester United 2 (Crerand, Burns) Burnley 2 (Lochhead 2) *YEP & NOTW
16/Sep Everton 0 Leeds United 1 (Gray) *YEP & NOTW
23/Sep Wolverhampton W. 3 (Knowles 2, Evans) Burnley 2 (Harris 2(2pens)), *YEP & NOTW
30/Sep Manchester City 1 (Bell) Manchester United 2 (Charlton 2) *YEP & NOTW
07/Oct Aston Villa 2 (Greenhalgh, Godfrey) Birmingham City 4 (Bridges 2, Vowden, Beard(pen))
14/Oct Stoke City 0 Burnley 2 (O'Neill, Irvine) *YEP & NOTW
21/Oct Home International
28/Oct Nottingham Forest 3 (Baker 2, Wignall) Manchester United 1 (Best)
04/Nov Wolverhampton W. 2 (Knowles 2) Coventry City 0
11/Nov Sheffield United 1 (Hill) Leeds United 0
18/Nov Leicester City 2 (Sinclair(pen), Large) Arsenal 2 (Radford, Johnston)
25/Nov Manchester City 4 (Coleman 2(1pen), Summerbee, Young) Burnley 2 (Casper, Morgan)
02/Dec Everton 1 (Royle) Nottingham Forest 0
09/Dec Blackpool 1 (McPhee) Derby County 1 (O'Hare)
16/Dec Liverpool 1 (Hunt) Manchester City 1 (Lee)
23/Dec No programme this weekend
30/Dec Leeds United 3 (Gray, Hunter, Greenhoff) Sheffield Wednesday 2 (Ritchie, Witham) *NOTW
06/Jan Wolverhampton W. 1 (Knowles) Everton 3 (Royle 2, Trebilcock) *NOTW
13/Jan Leeds United 5 (Jones, Hibbitt, Lorimer, Madeley 2) Southampton 0 *footage exists, intended match Sheff Wed v Spurs was postponed
20/Jan Nottingham Forest 3 (Lyons, Baker 2) West Bromwich Albion 2 (Clark 2) *NOTW
27/Jan Manchester United 2 (Best, Charlton) Tottenham Hotspur 2 (Chivers 2) [FA Cup 3rd Round]
03/Feb Everton 1 (Kendall) Liverpool 0 *NOTW
10/Feb Walsall 1 (Watson) Shrewsbury Town 2 (Clarke, Brodie)
17/Feb Stoke City 0 West Ham United 3 (Sissons 2, Hurst) [FA Cup 4th Round] *NOTW
24/Feb Home International
02/Mar Networked coverage of the League Cup Final - Leeds United 1 (Cooper) Arsenal 0
09/Mar [FA Cup 5th Round]
16/Mar West Bromwich Albion 2 (Collard 2) Everton 6 (Ball 4(2pens), Morrissey, Royle) *NOTW
23/Mar Bury 2 (Jones, Kerr) Grimsby Town 0
30/Mar West Bromwich A. 0 Liverpool 0 [FA Cup QF] *Leeds 1 (Madeley) Sheffield Utd 0 appears to be the only QF not shown on TV.
06/Apr Preston North End 0 Birmingham City 0 *NOTW
13/Apr Blackpool 2 (Skirton 2) Charlton Athletic 0
20/Apr Rotherham United 2 (Downes, Wilson) Millwall 0
27/Apr Everton 1 (Morrissey(pen)) Leeds United 0 [FA Cup SF] *played at Old Trafford
04/May Everton 3 (Royle, Ball 2) Stoke City 0
11/May Showed Tyne Tees coverage of Newcastle Utd 3 (Robson, Sinclair, McNamee) Manchester City 4 (Sumerbee, Young 2, Lee)
18/May Networked LIVE coverage of the FA Cup Final - West Bromwich Albion 1 (Astle) Everton 0 AET
Northern teams dominated the top
flight this season, taking all top five places. Joe Mercer's Manchester
City were champions, Manchester United were two points behind in 2nd and
they became the first English club to win the European Cup, the final was
held at Wembley and United scored three in extra-time to beat Benfica 4-1.
George Best was joint top scorer in all league's with 28 goals, Roger Hunt
netted 25 times for Liverpool who took 3rd spot, Leeds finished 4th but
finally lifted silverware - first the League Cup, after beating Arsenal
in the Wembley final, and then the Fairs Cup, overcoming Ferencvárosi
1-0 at Elland Road before a goalless 2nd leg in Hungary. Everton took 5th
spot in the league whilst at the wrong end of the table Sheffield United
were relegated, two points behind neighbours Wednesday who stayed up with
new boys Coventry sandwiched inbetween them. Bury bounced straight back
from relegation to the 3rd tier by finishing as runners-up with Bobby Owen
scoring 25 times. Alan Ashman had taken over as manager of West Brom in
the summer and in his first season he guided Albion to the FA Cup final
to face Everton, Jeff Astle (who'd notched up 25 goals in the league) scored
the only goal of the game in extra-time to bring the cup back to West Bromwich
for a 5th time (having last won it 14 years earlier). Brian Clough's first
season in charge at 2nd tier Derby County saw the Rams finish a disappointing
18th, but they almost made it to Wembley (losing to Leeds in the League
Cup Semi-final) and Kevin Hector, now plying his trade at the Baseball
Ground, scored 21 goals.
The Television Cameras Come to
ABC live coverage of the Blackpool v Bolton league match, 10th September 1960
An article by Blackpool FC historian Gerry Wolstenholme
With the back part of the Spion Kop well covered with a brand new roof, the television cameras felt that it would be a good idea to start of a planned new series with a game from Bloomfield Road. ITV was to name its series ‘The Big Match' but there was much scepticism about live League Football being televised. Bill Slater, the ex-Blackpool player and then Wolves captain, stated that he thought televising League football was worth a try although he did wonder, speaking of television and the newly inaugurated League Cup, “...if there are not dangers as well as benefits in these new sources of income". He also thought that “the effects of soccer on television in Britain will have to be watched very carefully over the initial trial period" for, he added, “once a spectator is lost to armchair viewing, he may never return to the terraces if TV football is stopped”
Regardless of the views expressed ITV pressed on with their arrangements to film the second half of the Blackpool versus Bolton Wanderers clash on 10 September 1960. It was to be the first of 20 live football matches to be filmed during the season. The only draw-back for the crowd was that the kick-off time had to be put back to 6.50pm to fit in with television scheduling.
“It is definitely on,“ said chairman Albert Hindley
as three cameras, all sited on a platform at the back of the Spion Kop,
were set up to cover play with zoom lenses to pick up action at the south
end of the ground. A scanner was placed in the north east corner of the
ground in order to beam the pictures to the Winter Hill transmitting station.
Peter Lloyd was to commentate and Billy Wright, the ex-Wolves and England
captain, was to be the summariser.
On the Friday night before the game the floodlights were switched on so that technicians were able to have a full scale rehearsal for the history making match. This trial was successful and David Southwood, chief of Outside Broadcasts, said, “The cameras are perfectly sited at the top of the Spion Kop and give one hundred per cent coverage of Blackpool admirable pitch, which is excellently illuminated.”
The game was something of an anti-climax as Bolton Wanderers won 1-0 with a Freddie Hill goal after 79 minutes and the crowd of 17,166 went home disappointed. As did Blackpool secretary Richard Seed who remarked that the crowd was "disappointing and there is no point in disguising the fact”. He did add that perhaps “It could be partly attributed to Bolton fans not wanting to get caught up in the illumination traffic."
But whatever the reason, the smaller than normal attendance for a Lancashire derby may well have been a factor in the future discussions between the TV companies, the Football League and the clubs for the final outcome was that ‘The Big Game’ programme was immediately abandoned! At least Blackpool Football Club had played a small part in television footballing history.
Thanks to Peter Gillatt for this Blackpool
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