When I was growing up during the 1980’s, serving my apprenticeship on the North Bank at Upton Park there would be literally hundreds of men standing watching the game with their ear pressed to a radio. The “Terrace Tranny” as it was known was a vital part of a match day. Long before the days of mobile phones the only way to keep in touch with events around the country was to listen in to Radio 2 to the voices of Peter Jones, John Helm and of course a young, ego free Alan Green. Yes, Radio 2. Because back in the 1980’s there was no such thing as Radio 5, let alone a live version. That didn’t come until the 1990’s.
This was the age of only three TV channels so the concept of commercial radio was also still in its infancy. Talk Radio did not start until 1995 so the airwaves were relatively idiot free. Just good old fashioned commentary. And of course with virtually every game being played on a Saturday afternoon at 3pm, the radio was the only place to hear all the action.
Half time scores would be read out by the Tannoy announcer, normally taken from Ceefax (the forerunner to Teletext….try explaining that one to your kids) or from a phone call to the Press Association. In some grounds the scores were put up around the edge of the pitch via a complex number/letter system only understandable to those with a programme (Game A = Arsenal v Chelsea, B = Gillingham v Bury and so on but randomly mixed up to stop people guessing which game was what). Continue reading