The England football team’s performance this evening was dire. Rubbish. Awful. But it did get me thinking about how big football stories tend to bring out the best in tabloid sub-editors. When it’s open season on an England manager, the puns start to flow – so look out for a few good ones in the red tops over the next few days.
In the meantime, I’ve dug up some classics that anyone would be proud of. Enjoy – and remember: although all these headlines would score virtually zero for search engine optimisation, they all looked great in 128pt type on the front (or back) page of a tabloid.
- FROM RUSSIA WITH GLOVES. In 1994 Chelsea played their first European away game for years. They won 4-2 on aggregate against Viktoria Zizkov (who?). Russian goalkeeper Dmitri Kharine saved a crucial penalty, and one of the British tabloids immortalised him with this, one of my all-time favourite headlines.
- HOW DO YOU SOLVE A PROBLEM LIKE KOREA? Back in October 2006, North Korea decided to conduct a not-at-all-provovative nuclear test. International condemnation followed, but no nation’s response topped The Sun’s. The newspaper’s headline raised the question of which is worse: reality TV, or a nuclear holocaust? Tough call. See the headline>
- SUPER CALEY GO BALLISTIC, CELTIC ARE ATROCIOUS. It doesn’t exactly trip off the tongue, but this headline from The Sun proves that the king of British red tops is difficult to beat when it comes to punnage. It’s the classic formula: rip off a song lyric everyone knows, substitute a few words and stick it on the sports pages. Brilliant.
- TWO SH*GS. Accompanying the Daily Star’s coverage of John Prescott’s various indiscretions, it’s simple and to the point. Given the amount of flesh that’s frequently on the front page of this paper, it seems strange that they’ve stuck an asterisk in ‘shags’, but then who am I to comment on tabloid standards? Whatever, it’s simple, effective – and very British. See the headline>
- GORD HELP US NOW! Regardless of your opinion on the Daily Diana Express, occasionally its staff come out with a gem. Ok, very occasionally. I liked this one which greeted Gordon Brown’s move into No. 10. It’s great because it makes the paper’s position immediately clear, pokes fun at the new PM’s name, and also sounds like something Alan Partridge would say. See the headline>
- MORON TERROR. The Sun hits the spot again. Almost two years after the 21/7 attempted bombings in London, four people are found guilty of planning the attacks. Choosing to focus on the ineptitude of those involved, the paper sums up their intelligence in two words. Presumably they included the picture so that we didn’t think they were referring to George Bush. See the headline>
- CELEBRITY BIG BLUBBER. Yet again, from The Sun. While part of the country was obsessed with the antics of Chantelle in Celebrity Big Brother, the rest of us were intrigued to see a whale swim right up the Thames and into central London. Despite rescuers’ best efforts, the poor animal didn’t survive – it just seems a shame that Celebrity Big Brother hasn’t yet suffered a similar fate.
- TOM AND THIERRY. Being an Arsenal fan, I’m completely biased on this one. Thierry Henry and Tomas ‘Tom’ Rosicky scored as Arsenal beat Liverpool at Anfield 3-1 early this year. It’s not one of The Sun’s best efforts, but they get extra points for printing it in a cartoon-style font.
That’s all folks … for now at least. What are your favourite headlines? Hit up the comment link and let me know.