So who was Mr X? – A brief guide to GOAL football magazine

Posted: 17th July 2014


Although I didn’t realise it at the time, I was only weeks away from the puzzle of Mr X, as GOAL magazine landed on the door mat at the start of the 1968/69 football season.

But the only thing that was important at the time to me initially was that I felt like GOAL was my magazine.

This proprietorial feeling was as a result of one very small detail; that it was launched in my life time and at a moment that my awareness and enthusiasm for the game was at it’s height. I could buy it, read it and collect it from issue number 1.

Much as I loved to read Charles Buchan’s Football Monthly and Soccer Star, these publications had been going for a few years before I was born in 1956 and by the time I was getting into football magazines and building a stack of them in my bedroom shelf, both were well into old age as far as their publishing lives were concerned.

There was absolutely nothing wrong with them except that they weren’t new!

With the new GOAL magazine, things were different.

Here was a new magazine issued right now for young football mad fans like me: It was my magazine.

I had a similar feeling about SHOOT magazine, launched the following year around the same time and it felt quite special to a 12 year old-boy to think that here was a magazine just for me (two magazines even).

Of course, this mindset was probably one adopted by thousands of other young football fans and just what the marketing men at Longacre Press (publishers of Charles Buchan’s Football Monthly) had wanted, although if they had, it has been suggested that one of the factors which saw a decline in circulation for Football Monthly was a concurrent rise in the interest in GOAL at the expense of the established magazine.

But I didn’t care about that. I had my football world created from a few visits to top clubs and local amateur ones too, the FA Cup Final every spring, and football matches for the school on Saturday mornings where I would experience indescribable excitement in the build up in the days before as the team was posted at Friday break, then boots were polished, kit packed and the trip to the ground took place and finally the whistle blew.

A magazine like GOAL could bring all this almost obsessive involvement together in one place with its’ features and marvellous photographs, including the intriguing issue of identifying Mr X. But more of him later.

There were 296 editions and I’ll break the remainder of this article into 3 sections, 1-100, 101-200 and 201-296, if only to review the magazine’s history in relatively bite-size chunks as opposed to any significance to those particular number splits (which there isn’t).


Numbers 1-100

GOAL began its’ life on 16th August, 1968 (see above, top).

Published by Longacre Press, an arm of the mighty IPC Magazines, the magazine cost 1s 6d and for this, you got 48 pages full of features and photographs, both colour and black and white.

Many aspects of the magazine stayed unchanged (or changed only slightly) for the magazine’s life. This was certainly the case with many principal contributors. Alan Hughes was the editor throughout and Ken Jones and Leslie Vernon also wrote columns from start to finish.

Hughes’ office was next door to those of Charles Buchan’s Football Monthly team and in many ways, GOAL was a weekly version of Charlie Buchan’s creation.

In fact, the new weekly magazine also contributed to the demise of its sister publication.

GOAL was a newer, fresher version of CBFM and as GOAL’s circulation increased, CBFM’s declined.

The big player attraction was Manchester United and England’s Bobby Charlton’s diary which lasted through 260 issues and only finished when Charlton took on the manager job at Preston North End.

As far as visuals were concerned, the first issue had Liverpool and England’s Emlyn Hughes and Manchester United and Northern Ireland’s George Best on the front cover, two players who would feature regularly throughout the magazine’s life.

Inside there were full page colour player photographs, a centre pages colour team photograph of Liverpool, many black and white player pictures too and a back cover quartet of players (l to r, clockwise), Manchester City and England’s Mike Summerbee, Celtic and Scotland’s Tommy Gemmell, Queens Park Rangers and England’s Rodney Marsh and Derby County and England’s Kevin Hector;


This mix of content and layout set the scene for pretty much the whole of the magazine’s life and there was a slight change to the mast head and inside page design in the last few issues.

Overall, the look of the magazine, both externally and internally, didn’t really change at all.

But as the weeks and then seasons went by, there were numerous interesting things to read about. Looking back 40 odd years later, many of the features, articles, advertisements, competitions provide a lovely snapshot of both football and life at the end of the 1960’s and early 1970’s.

On the front cover of #2, August 15th, 1968, we saw England and West Ham United’s Captain, Bobby Moore who would appear frequently in the pages and covers of the magazine;


The first major content change was in #27, February 8th, 1969, when GOAL Gallery was introduced.

This was a series of head shots of the top players in clusters of 9 over a few weeks.

In an unashamed pitch for regular subscription, the copy states that the only way to ensure that you receive all the photographs is to ‘ask your paper shop NOW to order GOAL for you each week’;


Issue #32, March 15th, 1969 was the first cup final special, this one covering the League Cup Final, where Third Division Swindon Town repeated Queens Park Rangers giant killing act beating West Bromwich Albion in 1967, by beating the mighty Arsenal.

The Arsenal and Scotland centre back, Ian Ure was on the front cover;


A few weeks later, the special for the F.A. Cup Final between Leicester City and Manchester City was #38, April 26th, 1969, an issue which also covered the Scottish Cup Final between Celtic and Rangers;


Mr X began to be unveiled from #40 (May 19th, 1969) .

The front cover, sporting a head shot photograph of Celtic and Scotland’s star winger, Jimmy Johnstone, asked us ‘WHO IS MR X?’

This mysterious player was a well known one and shown to us piece by piece over 5 weeks.

We were told to ‘Save it and snip it’, although it would probably have been easier to reverse those commands and ‘Snip it and save it’!

The first body parts to be revealed to us were legs / socks / left boot.

Of course, ‘only GOAL’ would reveal the identity of the player, as if others were competing to do so;


In #42, May 24th, 1969, we saw 2 pages of club’s results over the previous season.

These results were published through the close season in a double page spread including 12 clubs a week;


A week later in #43 (May 31st, 1969), an edition with Newcastle United and Wales’ Wyn Davies on the front cover and the left hand side of Mr X revealed (see below), we saw another new feature.

Who’s Who provided pen pictures of 1,500 players and was a nice feature for the close season, although at that time of year, a higher than usual percentage of the players than at any other time of the year would be changing clubs as the series was being published.

Still, club affiliation aside, these pages were a tremendous source of information for statisticians and general fans alike;


Another close season feature was SOCCERSENSE, introduced in #48 (July 5th, 1969) and written by Ken Jones. This introduction to the basics of football tactics was a double page spread looking at systems and playing styles.

In this issue we also saw the first of series of drawings by the GOAL artist, Reg Bass, ‘The Best of Bass’.

Wyn Davies appeared again, here as Number 1;


The first colour advertisement was this one for the Stylo Matchmaker football boots worn by Manchester United’s George Best in #54 , August 15th, 1969;


In #73, December 27th, 1969, we find a piece by GOAL MAN, Warwick Jordan, one of my team mates at Finchley Cricket Club in the late 1970’s.

Warwick wrote on a regular basis for the magazine;


This issue also included a 2 page, end of decade, match by match list of all England games in the 1960’s.

We also saw a nice action photograph of Manchester United and England’s Bobby Charlton on the front cover;


Issue #83, March 7th, 1970 was another League Cup Final special between Manchester City and West Bromwich Albion.

We see the Baggies’ and England star, Jeff Astle on the front cover (along with City’s Francis Lee) whose goal had won the 1968 F.A. Cup Final for Albion and although he scored again this time, goals from Mike Doyle and Glyn Pardoe sent the Cup to Maine Road;


Also, a few weeks later we had an F.A. Cup Final issue, #88, April 11th, 1970, to preview the Chelsea v Leeds United match, a really exciting game on a mud bath of a Wembley pitch which would end in a draw and require a replay at Old Trafford where a brilliant goal from Peter Osgood and a late header from David Webb would take the Cup to Stamford Bridge.

The Chelsea skipper Ron Harris and the Leeds United and Scotland captain, Billy Bremner were on the front cover;


We were approaching the Mexico 1970 World Cup Finals. As a strong England squad prepared, a series of painted images of Sir Alf Ramsay’s stars began to appear in what was called World Cup Art Gallery.

Painted by D. Collins, here we see the image of West Ham United and England’s Geoff Hurst;


In amongst all this World Cup fever, a future England star was featured towards the back of issue#94 (May 23rd, 1970) where there was a nice photo of a young Kevin Keegan in his Scunthorpe United days and with literally, the wind in his shorts;


The front cover for the 100th issue (July 4th, 1970), showed Pele celebrating his headed goal in the World Cup Final between Brazil and Italy and an inset photograph of captain, Carlos Alberto who had scored the stunning 4th goal, after a flowing move involving numerous of the Brazilian stars, with the Jules Rimet Trophy;


 Before moving on to the next segment of numbers, here’s part 2 of Mr X with his white shorts and hairy legs;


Numbers 101-200

Again, through these middle numbers of the magazine’s existence, the size, contributors, content, layout and look stayed pretty much consistent with its’ earlier issues.

As we’ve seen and not surprisingly, the very top stars featured frequently in the magazine’s pages.

Manchester and Northern Ireland’s George Best was one of those iconic stars, possibly the biggest and he was smiling at us from the front cover of #101, July 11th, 1970;


Another iconic image of these times was the photographs taken of Best’s modern house in Bramhall, Cheshire. The caption calls it a castle although I’m not sure it would fit into a Bernard Cornwell 100 Years War story as one.

Still, the house was quite different for its times;


There was a strong European feel about #110, September 12th, 1970, as English and Scottish sides anticipated the early rounds of the 3 major European competitions.

Chelsea and England’s John Hollins is on the front cover which announced the 12 Page-Euro-Special;


With either #119 or #120 (not sure which), this little booklet was included.

It was called GOAL 1001 Football Facts and it pretty much did what it said on the tin; namely to include a list of 1001 football facts like #44 – Professional football was introduced into Turkey in 1952. Did you know that?


In #123, December 12th, 1970, a new competition was introduced.

Remember, Remember, Remember consisted of readers identifying the details of photographs of old matches and submitting those answers into a prize draw.

The princely sum of £2 was the reward for each winner;


In this edition, readers were also reminded of the GOAL binders available to them for keeping their collection of the magazine safe and sound;


In case you’ve forgotten him, here’s part 3 of Mr X.

I reckon the shirt colours might give you a pretty good idea of identity of this mysterious player;


Through these issues, various new features were included including Brilliant Bosses, Soccer’s Top Teams, Super Skippers and Magic Matches all of which described quite well what they were all about.

Edition #134, February 27th, 1971 was another League Cup Final special.

Aston Villa were taking on Tottenham Hotspur and the two captains, Brian Godfrey (right)  and Alan Mullery (left) can be seen nestling in the middle of their respective club rosettes;


A short while later , issue #144, May 8th, 1971, was the Cup Final special with a focus on both the English Cup Final between Arsenal and Liverpool as well as the Scottish Cup Final between Celtic and Rangers.

The captains for the game South of the border, Liverpool’s Tommy Smith and Arsenal’s Frank McLintock were on the front cover;


This edition also had a feature on what was revolutionary at the time, a special inflatable bubble which Leicester City used both to protect their Filbert Street pitch from the elements, while allowing the players to train underneath;


Issue #147, May 29th, 1971, not only covered the finals of the European Cup and the Fairs Cup but was a preview edition for the Anglo-Italian Cup,  a pre-season competition which ran for a few years around this time;


In #154, July 17th, 1971, something called the £3m album pull-out was included;


In #167, October 16th, 1971, we saw an advertisement for the Football Star Parade football annual.

This book was first published in 1968/69 and carried this name for the first 3 editions.

It became the GOAL Football Annual in 1971/72 and continued after the magazine’s demise until 1977 ;


At the start of the 1971/72 season, #158, August 14th, 1971, announced an expansion to 64 pages.

The front cover showed the captain of Arsenal’s double winning side from the season before, Scottish international, Frank McLintock;


On the back cover of #187, March 25th, 1971, the magazine made a departure from the usual head shot of action shot photographs with a 6 part photographic sequence of Ajax and Holland’s Johan Cruyff in full flow against Arsenal’s Peter Simpson and Peter Storey;


There does not appear to be a special edition for the 1972 League Cup Final in which Stoke City beat Chelsea but #193  May 6, 1972 was the Cup Final special covering the Arsenal v Leeds United and Celtic v Hibernian finals;


The 200th edition, June 24th  included a front cover photograph showing Leeds United’s Allan Clarke striking his leg into an interesting position through West Ham United’s Tommy Taylor;


Gradually, we’re putting Mr X back together a bit like a football version of Humpty-Dumpty.

Here is part 4, his left hand side, remarkably similar to his right one.

He’s carrying a ball. I wonder if that means something?


Numbers 201-296

The Goal Colour Strip, a series of pages designed to put on a Wall Chart was featured in #207,  August 12th, 1972;


A new feature in #214,  October 7th, 1972, The Goal Soccer School became a good reason to feature top players along with their advice on how to play their position.

Each week, a new player would take the role of Coach of the Week.

The first in the series was Leeds United and Scotland’s Billy Bremner, talking about midfield play;


West Ham United’s Bobby Moore’s celebrated his 100th England cap and this achievement was featured on the front cover of #232, February 10th, 1973;


The 1974 League Cup Final between Norwich City and Tottenham Hotspur was featured in #235.

The Canaries’ Duncan Forbes and Spurs’ Martin Peters were on the front cover;


Perhaps the biggest FA Cup shock of many years before or since, Second Division Sunderland beat the then mighty Leeds United was previewed in #244, May 5th 1973.

The Whites’ Billy Bremner and the Black Cats’ Bobby Kerr were on the front cover with the managers Don Revie and Bob Stokoe inset photographs too;


After just under 5 years, in #254, July 14th, 1973, Bobby Charlton‘s Diary came to an end as he had left Manchester United to take over the player-manager position at Preston North End;


A new mast head was unveiled for issue #260, August 25th, 1973 with the GOAL name now in italics.

Liverpool and England’s Tommy Smith and Southampton and England’s Mick Channon were on the front cover;


Issue #264, September 22nd, 1974, featured a colour photograph of the England squad who played that ill-fated World Cup qualifier against Poland where Brian Clough famously called Poland keeper, Jan Tomaszevski, a clown and told the viewers to go and make a half time cup of tea as everything would be all right.

Despite many strikes on goal by just about every England forward player, Tomaszevski showed that he was far from a clown and England lost;


In edition#271  November 10th, 1969, we saw Bobby Charlton in his new role with Preston North End.

Sitting in the front row immediately to Charlton’s right in the photograph below is Graham Hawkins.

Some time after his professional career was ended and when I was working out in Bahrain, I decided to play a few games for one of the teams in the small ex-pat League there.

When I turned out for the Bankers Club, who should be playing for the British Club but the very same Mr Hawkins who was now also working and living in the Gulf.

I had to mark Graham at corners but I shouldn’t have bothered as he was so big and strong that I felt like a mouse taking on an Elephant as time after time, he just ran towards the ball, leaped purposefully upwards and thundered another powerful header goalwards with me watching like a spectator a few yards behind.

Amazingly, he didn’t score and we won the match, the Island Cup Final. But it was a lesson as to the differences in playing standard of professionals and Graham was way past his career best at that time but still way better than anyone on the pitch that evening.

I tried to imagine what a formidable proposition he must have been in his prime;


The only edition covering a 2 week period, #282, 16th and 23rd March, 1974 covered the League Cup Final between Manchester City and Wolverhampton Wanderers

Wolves’ Mike Bailey and Manchester City and England’s Mike Summerbee were the front cover stars;


Issue #292, May 4th, 1974 was the F.A. Cup Final special for the Liverpool v Newcastle United.

I watched the match live on TV with the rest of the nation and always remembered the way David Coleman summarised the Reds 3rd goal; ‘Liverpool 3, Keegan 2, Heighway 1, Newcastle United 0’ – apologies for the reminder Toon fans.

Two top strikers, Newcastle United and England’s, Malcolm Macdonald and Liverpool and England’s Kevin Keegan were on the front cover;


The end of the magazine was quite abrupt, announced in the small print of the editorial of #296,  June 1st, 1974 where rising production costs were highlighted as a reason to close the magazine.

One of the greatest players the game has ever seen, by then a Barcelona player was Dutch international, Johann Cryuff;


An amalgamation with sister IPC magazine / comic SHOOT had been planned and the issue included a colour advertisement for the following week’s new magazine;


Reborn as a monthly in 1995, the magazine lasted 3 years.

Here is a 4 page Special Warm-Up Issue with Newcastle United’s Les Ferdinand starring out at us;


Collecting, values and prices

Due to being a slightly more recent publication in memorabilia terms, issues of GOAL are reasonable easy to find on the internet and especially Ebay.

Collectors can find old copies packaged up in complete collections, sometimes bound, in larger job lots, often in runs with the numbers of the issues included stated, or in unspecified job lots too.

Individual editions for the collectors looking for specific numbers or issues with content of their club, are readily available too. This is how I sell issues of the magazine in my Goals and Wickets Ebay Shop.

As with most old magazines of the age of GOAL, issues are likely to cost a few pounds plus postage and packing.

In job lots, the unit price per issue can either be lower or, for better condition copies, slightly more.

As ever, ultimately, collectors will pay amounts which fit their budget and or need.

Condition issues to keep an eye out for are creasing and tears. Unless, the magazines have been stored in damp conditions, rusty staples and bleed through the other page joins are not a frequent problem, although collectors can always check on this aspect of the magazine’s condition.


Final word

In ending, there’s only one more thing we have to do: Reveal the identity of Mr X.

There would be a 2nd mystery player who would turn out to be Manchester City’s Francis Lee.

But here is the first Mr X. I know you know by now.

He was West Ham United and England Captain, Bobby Moore;



See the About Us link, top right, for details on how you can make best use this site overall and the search facility in the Goals and Wickets Ebay Shop.

Use the Ebay links above to take you to the Goals and Wickets Ebay Shop Homepage from where you can check out the available items in the FOOTBALL MAGAZINES section and the other categories of football memorabilia cricket memorabilia.

To go directly to the GOAL magazines in the Goals and Wickets Ebay Shop click;

Category: Football Magazines


Chris Marker

What a great review! Thanks!

Wednesday 3rd June 2015 - 9:24am


Thanks very much, Chris.

Thursday 4th June 2015 - 6:43pm

Peter Prentice

But what happened to Mr. X's left shoulder?

Sunday 7th June 2015 - 2:16pm


It's on the opposite page, Peter. I just chose not to scan it in. Thanks for looking at the site. Best wishes, Mark

Sunday 7th June 2015 - 3:43pm

Peter Prentice

Many thanks for the clarification, Mark. When you said it came in five parts, I couldn't help but wonder. Keep up the fantastic work.

Sunday 7th June 2015 - 5:48pm


Goal was a much better magazine than Soccer Star which was aimed at Adults got a few issues myself, trying to get every issue

Wednesday 29th July 2015 - 5:12pm


Hi Johnny, Thanks for looking at the post. Yes, the content of GOAL was very good. Looking back at issues today, they must have had very good contacts to generate all those stories each week. For your information, if you use the EBAY links on the site to click through to my Shop, I have just under 200 GOAL issues listed there and I send back buyers multiple item refunds if people buy more than one item. If you are looking for large job lots, although I don't sell them that way, there are usually a few coming up on a regular basis on Ebay. Either way, I hope you find what you are looking for. Best wishes, Mark

Wednesday 29th July 2015 - 5:34pm

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