“On the eighth day of Christmas my true love said to me, can I have my ball back please?”
We love a ball picture here at TBIR. After all, we named our website after the spherical bringer of such joy to our lives. But which is our favourite? We have seen all sorts of colours – the traditional white, the Ryman League Surridge red/white look-a-like, the yellow winter ball, the orange ball used when all of the white ones have sailed out of the ground, the purple one at Hyde and of course a retro tango or two. I still have no idea what the rules are on when which one can be used – when does the Orange ball need to be used over the Yellow one? What about the black one kept for very special occasions? It is a minefield out there for club secretaries to regulate and stop being fined by the league.
So here are our three favourites from the year.
3rd – The Ryman Red/White
Let me take you back to the League Cup final in 1979 when Nottingham Forest took on Southampton. The most talked about white shiny thing on the pitch wasn’t David Armstrong’s bald head but the new Stuart Surridge red and white ball. Despite holding iconic status it was soon replaced by the latest Nike/Adidas/Mitre offering. But the Isthmian/Ryman League decided to honour its impact on the history of football by having their own take on the ball, used up and down the south east every week.
2nd – The Tango Europe
Surely the best ball ever made when it debuted in 1978 for the World Cup Finals in Argentina (The “River Plate”). At the time the ball cost a massive $78 (today around £170) and went on to be the iconic symbol of the World Cup through to 2002 in various colours/patterns before it was replaced by the Adidas Fevernova. However, the good times are about to return as the new version, the Tango 12, will be the official ball for the Euro2012 Championships.
1st – The Yellow Ball
We can’t wait for the 1st November every season because that is when the yellow ball is dusted down and thrown onto the pitch. When the nights start drawing in, there is nothing better than the yellow ball against a dark sky. When the yellow ball is used there seems to be a crackle of magic spreading around the ground. We count down the days until the end of February, knowing that the balls will be locked away in that special secret place for another eight months, and woe betide any clubs who dare to use them inbetween.