Saturday, 14 June 2014


As the more sports-minded (or 'armchair experts') amongst
you will know, the football season has descended upon us.  We can
now look forward to lager-lout behaviour in pubs with giant-screen
TVs, brain-addled parents spending fortunes on official team kits for
their infants and toddlers, and the disruption of normal channel
programming for the discernible future (yawn).

You'll doubtless have guessed that I'm not a footie fan (what
gave me away?) - not got the slightest interest in the game, or sports
in general come to that.  However, when I was a lad, I bought #1 (and 
for a while, subsequent issues) of SCORCHER when it first appeared
on January 3rd (dated 10th) 1970.  I never could resist the lure of
a new weekly comic's number one.

 At some stage in its early run, it gave away free-gift cards
featuring famous footballers, and although I wasn't a fan of the
game (I only continued to buy the comic for the BILLY'S BOOTS
strip, which had a sort of supernatural premise), I decided to retain
the one of GORDON BANKS and get rid of the rest.  The reason?
His name of course.  Here was someone who was regarded as the best
goalkeeper in Britain, if not the world - the absolute top man in his
chosen profession - and his name was Gordon.  (And he wore
a nice grass-green top for good measure.)

Over the years, the card has come, in memory, to encapsulate
sunny Summer days of my youth (the photo was clearly taken in
Summer) in one of my old neighbourhoods, so when I recently saw
it for sale on eBay, I snapped it up.  Gordon's card is now back to
live with me - and provide one more window into the past to
distract me from the final future that beckons us all.

(Now there's a cheery note to end on.)


baab said...

I did not buy Scorcher.
Was Billy's Boots an update of an older story in another comic,because I remember it fondly.for the same reason as you give.

Kid said...

If memory serves, Baab, there had been a similar-themed strip of the same name (but in a more humorous vein) in Tiger between 1961-'63. Scorcher's strip played it more straight.

Gey Blabby said...

So many good Billys to choose from back then, including Billy Whizz and Billy The Cat, but Billy's Boots was one of my favourites as well; there was just something about the premise that appealed to me. And Scorcher was a good 'un for me, being into all things football at the time. I always enjoyed the free wall charts shown here, and would pin them up for use throughout the season.
Briefly at the time I wanted to be a goalie, and Gordon Banks, being the best, was a great inspiration. I was given the grass-green top you described for my birthday and wore it constantly indoors and out. His save from Pele in the World Cup later that year remains lodged in my memory as one of the great moments in football history.
I would have bought anything that gave away things that were football related in those days. For the 1970 World Cup one of the petrol companies (Esso, perhaps) gave away silver coins that featured the faces of the England squad (including Banks, I think) every time you bought a certain amount of petrol; my father had to stop buying at any other garages until I had collected the full set.

Kid said...

Great reminiscence, GB. I remember those coins and probably had the Gordon Banks one. Talking of Esso, do you recall the little Esso keyring figures that used to be available? I'll have to try hunting one down.

Gey Blabby said...

Was it Esso that had 'A Tiger In Your Tank?' I think we had a keyring with the tiger on it, although I might be getting that mixed up with Tony and Frosties.
We used to get Esso Blue to put in the paraffin heater we used to heat our bedrooms with; we'd move it from room to room, and sometimes it would get so hot, the ice would start to melt off the inside of our windows. When I saw your previous post of Smoke Rings, I originally thought it was Smoke Gets In Your Eyes, which Esso used most famously to advertise Esso Blue way back when.

Paul McScotty -Muir said...

A tea totalling non football loving Scot it's unnatural I tells ya, next you'll be telling me you don't put salt in your porridge .

Actually to make things worse for you Kid it's actually the end of the regular football season (ie club football) for most of Europe which means it will start again very soon after the World Cup with the play off rounds for Europe then the various National leagues - to be followed by Wimbledon, the Glasgow Commonwealth games, the British Open Golf (being held in Scotland) and Formula one so not a good year for non sports lovers, me I'm in heaven re the World Cup (even although Scotland didn't qualify....again ).

I vividly recall the ESSO World Cup coins in 1970 as well "Gey" my dad also was "forced" only to buy petrol at Esso stations and in those days they weren't that many of them around (once ,bless him my dad ran out of petrol trying to get to an Esso garage) but he would always come in every few days with a couple of coins for my my brother and myself (great days) I missed out on finding 2 coins and its still etched in my memory till this day (Peter Bonetti, the 2nd goalie to Gordon Bank & and someone called Henry Newton??) the 70 World Cup was a cracker Brazil at their very best.

I have a soft spot for Scorcher, (am I correct in my rcollection that Scorcher was advertised on TV? I seem to recall that cover being c"animated"?) it also had some great strips by the legendary Ken Reid (Sub, Football Forum and Manager Matt etc) all very funny and in some cases had his signature dark humour. I miss the old UK football based comics and Scorcher probably most of all .

Billys Boots was in several other comics after Scorcher folded (think it merged with Tiger) as well - well Im off to watch 7 hours of football programming bliss :)

Kid said...

I think it was Esso who put a tiger in your tank, GB, and their tune must have been at least vaguely similar to the Opal Fruits one as me and my bruv used to deliberately amalgamate them - "Esso Blue - made to make your mouth water!"

The Esso keyring was a little man with a white body and a yellowish-orangey flame for a head, with the Esso logo embedded in his chest.


Well it sure won't be the first time I've been considered unnatural, McScotty, that's for sure. However, in my defence, I was only parking my bike - she shouldn't have been lying face down on the grass, dressed in green and with her @rse-crack in the air. I used to have an original page of artwork of The Sub by Ken Reid, but I sold it. I think most comics of that time were advertised on TV, so it's a fairly safe bet that Scorcher was too - and Shoot, which I also bought - and Score too, come too that. Not bad going for someone who isn't interested in Football, eh?

Billy's Boots did indeed appear in Tiger - and I have a vague notion also in new Eagle when Tiger merged with that, but I could well be wrong. Vulcan Anuual 1977 has a nice little Billy's Boots tale, as you know.

Scotland didn't qualify? My, you surprise me, McS. Enjoy your footie.

Paul McScotty -Muir said...

Yeah it was indeed Esso that put a tiger in your tank - Great memories of the ESSO Blue paraffin heater from Gey I recall that as well it's amazing that there weren't so many fires with these things in our rooms (but it was either that or consumption).

Esso has a few good advertising songs the famous "Smoke gets in your eyes" one Gey noted and the more famous "The Esso sign means happy motoring" song (they did that advert/song in a variety of "accents" like Scots,Irish. Welsh , Chinese etc - some that were pretty racist - see link to YouTube below)

For TV the Esso Blue advert had a character that was a cartoon man with collar and tie and a wee hat (in black and white) with the tune/tag "Esso Blue dum dum dum" (possibly like the "......made to make your mouth water " bit from the Opal Fruits advert) - The Esso key ring core character was indeed the wee flame man (later a flame girl)

Kid off subject but if interested the Keith Giffen "Infinety man of the Forever People" comic is now out.

Esso Blue dum dum dum:

Esso sign means happy motoring:

Kid said...

I've still got an old '50s or '60s paraffin heater in my hall (an Aladdinique) and a couple of paraffin lamps around the house, McScotty. They're in better shape than me, too. I'll be checking out those links once I've 'ad me tea.

I'll ask Big Al at FP to stick the first issue in my file, McS - ta much.

Colin Jones said...

Kid, you seem to be able to find anything and everything on e-bay - when exactly did your love of nostalgia kick in because you obviously were getting rid of plenty of stuff that you now want back. Paul's mention of salt in porridge reminds me that my dad used to do that but he had to give up salt due to high blood pressure - he also gave up salted peanuts which he loved. I suppose it extended his life by a few years but it was the high blood pressure that got him in the end. I can't stand football either and will totally ignore the World Cup - unlike you I didn't buy or want to buy any football comics. I remember going to a Christmas party in the village hall when I was about nine and getting a football book as a present when what I really wanted was a Marvel annual or something. Football is totally consumed by greed now anyway.

George Shiers said...

Scorcher looks like a good comic, I keep meaning to get some issues but have never gotten around to it. Maybe one day...

Kid said...

I think I've always had a sense of nostalgia, Col. When I was a kid, I sometimes used to buy a comic a few days after having already bought (but not kept) it, just to re-live the experience.


George, if you've got a spare £30, you buy #1 from 30th Century Comics right now. However, there's mixed bundles available on eBay at this very moment.

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