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What Was The First English Football Match You Remember Watching On TV?


For some of us, this may be an easy answer. For others, it may be practically impossible to say. But what was the first English football match you remember watching on television?

Living in Britain in the 1970s, football matches were hardly ever shown on television. The one match you could count on was seeing the FA Cup Final live on TV from Wembley. So while I don’t vividly remember which one was the first match I watched, by narrowing it down it must have been the 1976 FA Cup Final between Southampton and Manchester United. The goal was memorable, but after seeing thousands of soccer games on TV since then, the rest of the match events are unsurprisingly a bit foggy.

What about you? Was a story behind the first match you saw? And did it have an impact on you becoming a fan of the sport or the league? Share your stories in the comments section below.

Thanks to EPL Talk reader Taylor for the story idea.

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  1. Mahlon Christensen

    January 20, 2012 at 12:31 pm

    First World Cup: 1994

    First match: 2006 Champions League Final Arsenal v. Barca

    First League Match: Whatever was the first match broadcast by fox soccer in around the week of September 17 2010(do you keep your old tv schedules in archives Gaffer? I’m sure I’d have looked here first) that’s around when my subscription started.


  2. Rick

    January 20, 2012 at 7:05 am

    February 12, 2009, Manchester United replay on FSC at 11 pm. I decided to try the sport as there was nothing else on tv, and I was fascinated. Wayne Rooney had the game winning goal from outside the box, and I was hooked.

  3. Wan

    January 20, 2012 at 6:41 am

    Not much but somewhere during 1987-1989. Road to Wembley of course, the anthem song still in my head.

  4. LDD

    January 19, 2012 at 10:59 pm

    It was 1976. All-Star Soccer with Mario Machado. Liverpool and Leicester City. If you were not a Brit, it was almost impossible not to fall in love with Liverpool. Keegan, Smyth, Mcdermott, and my personal favorite, Steve Heighway. “The Big Bammer”, Heighway seemed to get the ball on the outside at midfield, wait for one or two opposing players to challenge and then just take off with those quick feet, flying down the left flank. I had the pleasure of meeting him years later.

    Just a year later, I was in Denmark and it was a season of following Liverpool and also Monchengladbach, with another electrifying player, Alan Simonsen. You know the history; the two teams met in an epic battle in Rome. Two teams loaded with stars. Unforgettable.

  5. Stacy Richardson

    January 19, 2012 at 9:47 pm

    For me it was the 1980 FA Cup final, in which Arsenal lost to second-division West Ham, 1-0. It was televised live on ESPN and I’m going to guess it was the first soccer match from England to be shown live on American television. Somebody correct me if I’m wrong.

  6. Kyle

    January 19, 2012 at 6:01 pm

    Not the full match but extended highlights on the old EPL Show from Fox Sports. Yes that’s right we who didn’t have the Fox Sports World used to watch what was really a low budget Match of the Day plus any ESPN Champions League for our weekly fix. Puts all those gripping about not being able to watch FSC in HD or any other issues in perspective. But back to the match it was the last day of the 1998-99 season and Southampton needed to beat Everton at the Dell and hope Charlton lost to stay up. Marians Pahars and Matt Le Tisser scored for the Saints and Charlton lost. Completing a turnaround only matched since by West Brom’s second half surge in 2005. It was that day that led to me becoming a football fan.

  7. zoomfergie

    January 19, 2012 at 4:43 pm

    England / West Germany 1966 World Cup. I remember it well too, because a big argument ensued in our household as no one, besides me, wanted to watch ‘soccer’ and I wouldn’t stop for lunch as the game went into extra time. Lots of arguing, not fun, but I stuck it out. Truth is, I wasn’t even a fan then, I was just curious.

    • The Gaffer

      January 19, 2012 at 5:08 pm

      Wow! Thank goodness you stuck it out. Imagine how different things would have been if you missed a piece of history! It reminds me a bit of that film titled Sixty Six (for different reasons). Here’s the trailer at

      The Gaffer

      • zoomfergie

        January 20, 2012 at 9:06 am

        I can’t recall what network that 1966 WC final was broadcast on here in America. I’m guessing maybe it was ABC via their Wide World of Sports show, which was the default program for “odd” sports back then.

        Not sure if it was a live or taped broadcast either. 1966 would have been fairly early in the days of live trans-Atlantic satellite television though, but I do seem to remember it ending around noon/1pm on a Saturday in Michigan, which is -5 hours time difference from England. So if the game was live then, that would have been around 5-6pm in England, which would match up with a traditional 3pm start in England. (Help anyone ?? Maybe I’ve finally reached that old age cutoff where I don’t remember things that really happened so well, but I remember other things that never happened quite well. : )

        In any event, ‘soccer’ is not just considered an “odd” sport in America anymore, that’s for sure.

        • The Gaffer

          January 20, 2012 at 9:32 am

          According to Wikipedia, “the first American coverage of the World Cup consisted only of a same day tape-delayed telecast of the 1966 Final on NBC. The Final was aired before their coverage of the Saturday Major League Baseball Game of the Week. NBC used the black & white BBC feed and aired it on on a two hour tape delay.”

          The Gaffer

          • zoomfergie

            January 20, 2012 at 12:27 pm

            Thanks much for finding that information. NBC, eh? That would have probably been my last guess. : ) Cheers.

  8. Ivan

    January 19, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    First “English” game I “saw” on TV was the Brussels nightmare, Champions League final, Liverpool-Juventus, 1985, Platini with a game winning goal from the penalty spot; a penalty that should have never been given since the foul was outside the penalty area. I remember that due to whatever was happening in the stands, the kickoff got delayed and my parents sent me to bed; I don’t think I got to see the entire game 🙁 My dad told me to cheer for the red team…Ha!

    My first distinct memories are from the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, the Maradona World Cup: a good time to discover the beautiful game…

    • Mufc77

      January 19, 2012 at 2:28 pm

      Yeah I remember that game as well although for some reason I was thinking that was 84, sad night for football fans no matter which team you support.

    • Taylor

      January 19, 2012 at 3:01 pm

      Almost watched that one – living in Asia then and the game was around 1.30 AM. Dad promised to wake me up when the game started and then he didn’t for obvious reasons.

  9. DE2

    January 19, 2012 at 12:41 pm

    It was the Champions League final of 2008. I have always played soccer but never followed a team aside from US national. At the time I was playing on a team that wore Chelsea kits. So I picked them to win and my obsession was born as was my distaste for Man United. I can still see Terry’s miss…

  10. Mufc77

    January 19, 2012 at 12:21 pm

    Easy one gaffer it’s the 85 facup final between Utd v Everton. I remember it clear as day, the teams leaving the hotels, the players on the pitch for the pre game walk around then the match. Thought the world had ended when Kevin Moran got sent off but then big Norman whitside curled in that winning goal and my love for utd was born. Growing up in Belfast and having whiteside hit the winner made it even more special for this 8 year old that day.

  11. Patrick Starr

    January 19, 2012 at 11:19 am

    Not an english match. but the earliest soccer game i remember watching on tv was Argentina vs England in the 98 world cup when i was 10.

    haha i guess it was an ‘english’ match

  12. Taylor

    January 19, 2012 at 11:16 am

    1987 FA Cup – Coventry vs Bolton

  13. S04th

    January 19, 2012 at 10:32 am

    I think it was the 1982 FA Cup final. Spurs/QPR. I know I saw a Sheffield Wednesday game some time in the mid 80s too. Had to have been later than that though.

    Before that it was just NASL, World Cup and Soccer Made in Germany.

  14. DaveG

    January 19, 2012 at 8:58 am

    LOL Same EXACT game here Gaffer…I was 6 at the time, and as a passionate Man United fan that late Bobby Stokes goal is burned in my memory…I might have cried 😉 LOL I cant remember the other FA Cup finals before 1976 so this is it for me for sure….First World Cup was 1978 and I can remember being in the front garden playing football and shouting out the names of Luque and Kempes ala David Coleman..ahh great times!

    • The Gaffer

      January 19, 2012 at 9:10 am

      Yeah, I was six years old then too! I remember the 1978 World CUp for the ticker-tape falling down on to the pitch, Archie Gemill’s goal and the wonderful Holland and Argentina teams, as well as those amazing goals from Peru. Fond memories indeed!

      The Gaffer

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