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'All I Want for Christmas Is A Dukla Prague Away Kit'

record sleeve illustration with a boy looking at presents under a Christmas tree

Four lads who shook the Wirral

In 1986 Birkenhead band Half Man Half Biscuit released their debut album, 'Back In The DHSS' on local label Probe Plus. The album became the biggest selling Independent label release of 1986. The group's debut single, 'Trumpton Riots', also topped the independent charts in the same year.

Unusually, the record sleeve artwork for the single was inspired by the song's B-side, 'All I Want for Christmas Is A Dukla Prague Away Kit'. The sleeve was created by founding member Neil Crossley, and designer Steve Hardstaff. Steve continues to design the band's album and single covers.

Our tune

Much has been written, often incorrectly, about the lyrics and meaning of the song, so who better than songwriter Nigel Blackwell to put the record straight.

record sleeve illustration with a boy wearing the t-shirt he got for Christmas

"It was written in 1983 in order to celebrate the name of one of those mysterious European football teams who popped up against our British sides every now and again.

It was originally intended for the club to be Ujpesti Dosza, but this didn't seem to scan with the music as well as the Czech team and so the strip of the 'somewhat unpopular crack army unit' was awarded the dubious honour.

I didn't know what in fact the kit looked like at the time, and having seen it since probably would have made the Hungarians scan come what may, as the turgid yellow/mustard abhorrence that is a Dukla Prague away kit resembles something which 'Tap Manager Ian Faith might describe as 'an Australian's nightmare'.

There is no childhood yearning intended in the song and it must also be said here that the game 'Striker' was a far better purchase than Subbuteo - the latter never having been owned or indeed coveted at any time - perhaps we are more mercenary than some would imagine!

There is no romance here. The Scalextric stuff is all true mind..."

This record sleeve, Nigel's original lyrics to the Half Man Half Biscuit song 'Joy Division Oven Gloves' and the cover of their album 'Four Lads Who Shook The Wirral' are all on display in the Wondrous Place gallery| at the Museum of Liverpool. You can hear 'Joy Division Oven Gloves' on our digital jukebox in the gallery too.

Accession number MOL LI 83/2010.2