Summer 1976 – Recollected by many for wall to wall sunshine in the UK, the Montreal Olympic Games, Jimmy Carter/Gerald Ford’s nominations in the US presidential election and the end of the Cod War between the UK and Iceland. For me, though, I recall it as an era my existence took an unwelcome path for which I was woefully under prepared.
Suddenly I’d been robbed of the angst-free days of pre-puberty. Not to mention forming a deep rooted disenchantment at the erosion of Leeds United’s position in the English football hierachy. A consequence of sub-standard replacements for key members of Don Revie’s successful Leeds United squad who’d grown old together, or left to take up managerial roles at other clubs.
In my 1976 mind, Revie’s warriors in white were invincible. My deluded expectations at that age being Billy Bremner would be lifting trophies when I was in my 20’s – Victories in which Allan Clarke’s goal scoring would play a pivotal part, along with John Giles defence splitting passes and Paul Reaney’s surging runs from full back.
Additionally, further misguided expectations convinced me Norman ‘Bites Yer Legs’ Hunter would present me with the lower limb of a 2003 Chelsea squad member on my 40th birthday.
Of course, nature dictated otherwise, meaning summer 1976 was the start of the end for a time I fondly label ‘utopia in sock tags***’.
*** – Sock tags were accessories the Leeds United team adorned for a spell in the early 1970’s.
Among many negatives experienced as I embarked on my adolescent sojourn was a newly broken voice. Nature’s way of putting an end to me mimicking Jimmy Osmond’s melodiously chirping of Long Haired Lover From Liverpool….. That being said, my family probably didn’t miss that whimsical impersonation as much as Garfield J Strachan esq.
Yours truly’s over active hormones had rendered my previously angelic vocal chords tuneless. God dammit, I was now harmonising with the melodic qualities of actor Lee Marvin while singing Wand’rin Star in the 1970 movie ‘Paint Your Waggon’.
Angst ridden by changes to my existential status quo, I prayed to God asking for the return of the days when Leeds United were a successful football team and I didn’t receive homework from school. I also politely requested an end to the strange trouser stirrings experienced when watching presenter Lesley Judd on BBC’s Blue Peter.
God couldn’t oblige, however, I learned many valuable life lessons at that time. Among them, the knowledge that I couldn’t always have what I desired – Along with new found awareness that if you’re a pubescent boy it’s prudent to close the living room curtains while watching Blue Peter!
I filled several important development voids during and after summer 1976. Not forgetting experiencing the sheer happiness at an annual receipt of a Lesley Judd calendar.
That being said, yours truly’s life odyssey has thus far never returned to the exuberant fulfillment of my ‘utopia in sock tags’ days…… Something I believe, if I’m patient, will manifest itself in the future.