We're excited to present our first-ever historical English season card set for SOCCER BLAST, created by Neil Maitland, Aberdeen, Scotland. Neil is both an avid fan of SOCCER BLAST and a student of historical European football. This card set will be available February 10th—we're certain it will provide you with many hours of vintage English football! The text below was written by Neil, as an introduction to this exemplary season of English professional football...
The English First Division in 1985-86 was an exciting season involving both historic and "new kid on the block" teams. It was played against the backdrop of a European football ban on English teams following repeated issues with crowd trouble that culminated in the Heysel disaster of May 1985. There was also no television coverage until mid-season due to a dispute over television rights.
This set gives you a chance to relive (or re-invent!) career moments for some famous names. It includes star players at the peak of their powers (Aldridge, Hoddle, Lineker, McGrath, Rush), veterans still going strong (Case, Clemence, Dalglish, Hansen, Shilton), and exciting and often controversial young talent (Barnes, Gascoigne, McAvennie, Rocastle, Walker).
Manchester United won their first 10 games, putting them 9 points ahead of Liverpool and 13 above the defending First Division champions, Everton. United remained unbeaten through 15 games before Champagne Ron Atkinson's side came crashing back to earth. Chelsea chased Manchester United for the first half of the campaign—and were still in second at year end. A tough run of fixtures later in the second part of the season would also see them fall away.
An even more surprising early contender was John Lyall's West Ham United with the goal scoring talents of Tony Cottee and the blonde prodigy from St. Mirren, Frank McAvennie, who would be top scorer at year end despite his many off-field distractions. Unlike Manchester United and their London rivals Chelsea, the Hammers would stay in touch with the leaders through the second part of the season. Despite the efforts of these teams, and from a hard working Sheffield Wednesday outfit, the title seemed inevitably to be heading for a Merseyside shoot out.
Everton, the title holders, went to the top of the table by beating Liverpool at Anfield in February and took an 8 point lead on their city rivals. Having added the prolific Gary Lineker to their squad in the offseason the champions now looked as if they could coast home. However it was the red part of Merseyside who would knuckle down—winning 10 of their last 11 matches while the Toffees would stumble despite Lineker topping the end of season scoring charts with 30.
Liverpool also won the FA Cup, defeating Everton 3-1 in the final in front of 98,000 at Wembley with Kenny Dalglish becoming the first player-manager to complete the illustrious double.
At the other end of the table, Oxford United retained their First Division status and won the League (Milk) Cup beating Queens Park Rangers in the final. West Bromwich Albion and Birmingham City were resigned to their relegation fate by January but the final place went to the last day of the season as Leicester, Coventry, Ipswich and Oxford were all fighting to hold on to their First Division status. Ultimately it was the team from Suffolk, following defeat by Wednesday, who went down. Leicester and Coventry both managing crucial wins to consign Ipswich to their fate.
This is your chance to take these vintage teams onto your tabletop—will you play out a battle for the "Championship of Liverpool" or will the upstarts of West Ham United have something to say? Can Manchester United or Chelsea have a more consistent campaign and challenge to lift the league trophy? You'll need to make the right managerial moves to give Birmingham City or West Bromwich Albion fans very much to cheer about in a very tough season.
The 1985-86 English Pro Season cards for SOCCER BLAST present all 22 top-tier clubs in team colors, over 500 individually-rated player cards in all. You also get a season summary and Instant Results table which will allow you to get results (and scores) of entire games with a single dice roll. Hours of classic football fun, for just $36 postage-paid*. Or get the PDF edition for just $21, delivered to your e-mail in-box—print and play the same day! Order YOUR copy today!
* Domestic delivery only, international shipments require extra postage.