You may recall recently I did a whole blog on the wonders of 1985 and how fantastic it was to be an infant back then. Well I was just driving along listening to some Britpop and it all came flooding back to me just how amazing 1996 was for the fifteen, and indeed, sixteen year old me. So much happened then and it truly felt like an endless summer that year.

I’d recently became mates with a lad who attended the same school as me for years but we’d never crossed paths before. To this day I’ve no idea how we met but we became proper best mates. He lived five minutes’ walk from me (or two minutes run which is something I liked to do back then as it didn’t kill me like it does now) and his house backed on to a playing field which is where we’d hang about all day when the sun was out which, as I touched on earlier, was bloody frequent.

Every day in 96 looked like this. Mostly.

Each day was similar in that it involved playing computer games or playing football in the field. The hours that were wasted playing Headers & Volleys were in the hundreds but it was time well spend as I scored many an incredible overhead kick and diving header (true story). I always preferred it in goal though. I LOVED playing in goal and I confess to you reader, I was pretty damn good at it. The only problem was that I was lacking in inches. I wasn’t very tall either.

Nothing beats the smell of new goalie gloves

I won’t say I’d grown up wanting to be a Goalkeeper as, up until the age of 14, I couldn’t stand football. Thought it was boring. Thankfully my brother taught me the finer points of the beautiful game and turned me into a Man United supporter*. 1996 was a great year for Man United supporters all over, not just recently formed ones from Bristol, as they won the League and Cup double thanks largely to the return of King Eric (Cantona obvs), back from kicking an early chav at Crystal Palace after he called Erics mum a cunt or something. Maybe. Once Le King served his nine month ban my cousin and me welcomed him back by playing Queens ‘One Vision’ quite loud as he walked on to the pitch against Liverpool, largely because we were excitable little twats.

He was a bastard GOD

I loved Cantona. I used to wear my collar up like him and everything. I even had a picture taken with him, though it was in one of those booths that superimposes you onto a picture of a famous person. Loved Peter Schmeichel too and had posters of them both in my bedroom because I didn’t feel comfortable putting posters of girls on my wall.

That said I did have a very handy double-sided poster up. It was Schmeichel on one side (the Danish stopper not Chesney’s dog off Corrie) and on the reverse was a picture of a hot young lady in a generic football shirt and nothing else but she is pulling the top down over her foo foo.

Had Sherlock ever walked in he would have noticed the crease down one side of the Peter Schmeichel poster and the grease marks from the Blu Tack used to fix it in place when it was in flip mode. Luckily none of my family ever twigged and Benedict Cumberbatch never came round much.

Not wanting to make this blog too football heavy I’d be a clown not to mention Euro 96, surely the last great tournament England had. The Terry Venables era felt so entertaining and I still maintain that had he stuck around for the following ‘Golden Generation’ of Beckham, Gerrard, Owen etc we would have won something.

One of my favourite memories is playing football in the field all day in the blazing sunshine, then my mate and me heading back to mine to watch the Quarter Final against Spain which we won on penalties thanks largely to David Seamans off putting kit. I don’t recall what happened after that.

Ah now I remember

Euro 96 leads me nicely onto the music of the time because one of the biggest songs was ‘Three Lions’ by Baddiel, Skinner and The Lightning Seeds which for my money is much better than World In Motion.

1996 was saturated in Brit Poppy goodness largely because Blur and Oasis were pissing all over everything else. Let’s not forget though this was the year that gave us Jagged Little Pill by Alanis Morissette. The search is still on for a home that doesn’t contain that CD. I know I bought it. I also bought ‘Free Peace Sweet’ by Dodgy which was my favourite album at the time and is still amazing, I recommend you download it right now. It helped form, as they say, the soundtrack of my summer along with Pulp, Space, Sleeper and all the usuals.

Go on, have a look. I bet you’ve got it

The biggest thing to come out of this year though for any fifteen year old boy had to be the Spice Girls. Holy hell when I think of the hours I spent with my bedroom door locked waiting for them to show up on MTV. Victoria Adams was always my favourite. Not so much now but back then I used to eagerly await that part of Wannabe where she was on the stairs and you could catch a glimpse of her knickers.

What with that poster and Spice Girls on constantly my bedroom must’ve stank of man goo 24/7.

Balls I missed it!

The best thing about 1996 though? It was the year I befriended a girl who I fell for instantly. We became inseparable friends and when we weren’t together I used to listen to Chasing Rainbows by Shed Seven, 2 Become 1 by Spice Girls or any old song by Robson & Jerome (who were MASSIVE at the time, though not for a normal sixteen year old) on a loop and lie on my bed just thinking about her.

I never had the courage to ask her out as I’d never done it before.

Incredibly she ended up asking me out and I can still remember the shock and that feeling in my chest when she said we should start seeing each other.

Twenty one years later we’re married with two kids!

Like I said, 1996 was amazing.

H. McKenzie

Ps) Honourable mention for Independence Day. WHAT. A. FILM.

*I WAS a Man Utd supporter but discovered Bristol City on my doorstep in 1999. Never looked back.


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