1986: Year of newspaper uproar…and the ‘Hand of God’


1986 began with the sad loss of the great bassist and legendary rocker, Phil Lynott on 4th Jan. It also opened with the news that almost 15% of the entire UK workforce was now officially unemployed.

This was a year in which the newspapers themselves actually made the headlines as much as writing them. In February the Wapping dispute occurred – when Rupert Murdoch moved his New International concern to new premises well away from Fleet Street; a sprawling Docklands complex known as ‘Fortress Wapping.’ In a battle with the print unions that was at times every bit as vicious as the miners’ strike of 84-85, the police found themselves literally fighting print workers who were desperately opposed to the loss of their livelihoods in an era of ever-increasing mass unemployment. (I notice Murdoch and News International are somewhat in the headlines in 2011 too – yet more fuel to my thesis that we are currently reliving the 1980s methinks!)

On 4th March a brand new newspaper was launched – Eddie Shah’s short-lived Today newspaper. This was notable for being the first ever colour tabloid to be launched in the UK. Its demise came when it was shown to have fabricated many of its ‘stories’. Nothing new for UK tabloids methinks. On 13th March The Sun newspaper put itself in the limelight with its infamous “Freddie Starr Ate My Hamster” headline. This was a headline/story that caused a great furore at the time – and kept Freddie Starr firmly in the limelight for years afterwards. It is only comparatively recently that the notorious publicist, Max Clifford, admitted that he made the entire thing up and the hamster ‘story’ was, in fact, completely untrue.

Then, in Mexico in June 1986, there was the small matter of a Football World Cup. This was the year that the tournament featured one of its most infamous moments ever – the Argentine midfielder Maradona’s handball goal against England; dubbed (by the man himself) the “Hand Of God” goal. Although Maradona also scored a brilliant individual goal in the same match, the blatant cheating of an otherwise world-class player has never been lived down or forgotten by most England fans (or indeed players!). Of course, Argentina went on to win the final.

Another notable sporting moment in 1986 came in November when ‘Iron’ Mike Tyson became the youngest ever World Heavyweight Boxing Champion. He was only 20 years old at the time.

I was still playing drums in bands in 1986 – but I did buy three LPs that year: Iggy Pop’s Blah Blah Blah, Lou Reed’s Mistrial and Paul Simon’s Graceland. (Didn’t everyone buy Graceland?! It’s one of the biggest selling albums of all time).

The TV in 1986 was dire – or maybe I just had other things to do! Either way, the only thing I recall watching on the small screen that left any impression whatsoever that year was Dennis Potter’s The Singing Detective.

The movies of 1986 were not much better than the fare of 1985. Top of the box office charts was…er…Top Gun (which I avoided at the time and have avoided ever since). Crocodile Dundee came a close second at the box office – and I did actually see that one…but it’s really not much to write home about tbh! I can, however, pick out two decent movies from 1986: I was totally mesmerised by Beatrice Dalle in Betty Blue while Sid And Nancy accurately caught the tragic vibe surrounding the ill-fated and mutually destructive pairing of Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungeon.

Right then, here’s a pic of yours truly in 1986 (…on holiday on the Greek island of Alonnissos). See you all in 1987 on the next blog post.

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