Retro Recaps: Sport Goofy in Soccermania

Retro Recaps is where we will look back at old television episodes from the past, and analyze their story, content, and much more.

If you grew up in the 1980’s like I did, then you may recall Disney’s rise to providing after-school programming that seemingly started with the series Ducktales. Loosely based on Carl Barks’ comic series that made Scrooge a wealthy adventure-seeker (sometimes accompanied by Donald Duck and his nephews), the television series would spawn everything from video games to a feature-length film. But unknown to most people, Scrooge and the nephews shared in a ‘pre-adventure’ in Duckberg that was several years in the making due to the production stopping and starting up again.

Though our familiar cast of ducks figure into the main cast, the true herald of the show is Goofy (or ‘Sport Goofy,’ if we go by the title). Word was, this short only aired once on television, almost a year before Disney debuted the Ducktales TV series. So what did Goofy and Scrooge do in Duckburg before Launchpad McQuack and the others came out to play? Let’s find out:

After an updated opening reminiscent of the beginnings of the original Goofy short-subjects (this time with some action-packed music by composer John Debney), we find ourselves in Duckburg, where a (somewhat) familiar structure towers over much of the city: Scrooge’s money bin.

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Inside, we find Scrooge swimming around in his loot.

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Shortly after we meet Scrooge, we meet Huey, Dewey and Louie. When they ask Scrooge to help support the city’s sports program, he agrees, but balks when he finds out how. The boys request Scrooge purchase a trophy for the city’s soccer tournament. The one they want is only $1.49, but that’s enough to still make Scrooge sweat.

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Hoping to get out of the obligation, Scrooge goes swimming in his money, and comes across an old beat-up trophy, that he happily provides the boys.

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Needless to say, the three are upset at Scrooge’s miserly ‘donation,’ but their mood soon turns to shock when a dog claiming to be the curator for the Duckburg Museum of Antiquities sees the trophy, and confirms that it is in fact an ancient artifact worth over $1 million!

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The revelation soon makes the local newspaper, and Scrooge goes through the roof (literally in one scene) when he realizes he’s just given valuable property away! Shortly afterwards, he visits the boys with a huge new trophy, but they refuse Scrooge’s offer for a trade, claiming if he wants his million dollar trophy back, he’ll need to sponsor the winning team.

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Scrooge (grouchily) concedes defeat, and agrees to sponsor the boy’s team, as well as giving in to their request for a new soccer ball. Going to a local sporting goods store, they are serviced by Sport Goofy (why they don’t just call him Goofy is never explained). Scrooge and the boys watch as Goofy effortlessly stocks the shelves in less than a few seconds, and demonstrates some impressive soccer skills. Needless to say, Scrooge eagerly requests that Sport Goofy join the team.

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The boys then introduce Scrooge and Sport Goofy to the team that will become The McDuck Greenbacks. However, Scrooge’s mood turns from sure to shocked when he finds out that the group the boys have assembled are clueless regarding soccer. Even so, Sport Goofy eagerly agrees to coach them.

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Meanwhile, in a rougher side of Duckburg, we encounter The Beagle Boys. The lead Beagle Boy informs his brothers that they will be participating in the upcoming soccer tournament for the trophy.

Of course, the Beagle Boys know nothing about soccer, and resort to cheating. Naturally, since this is a cartoon, they manage to cheat their way to the finals against the McDuck Greenbacks.

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Eventually, Scrooge finds out the bookkeepers are placing 1,000,000:1 odds in the Beagle Boys’ favor of winning the game. Naturally, Scrooge knows the kind of scoundrels that the Beagles are, but Goofy seems oblivious to his tirade.

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Goofy tells the rest of the team to go home and rest, but after getting ready for bed, he finds he has some company.

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The next day, the city’s stadium is packed with citizens come to see the big game.

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Plus, where would we be without product placement?

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Scrooge soon after arrives in the locker room of the Greenbacks with some new jerseys, but loses his cool when he finds that Sport Goofy hasn’t shown up, and the Beagle Boys have left a note for the team.

Scrooge panics at first regarding what to do. He attempts to give the team a pep talk, but it comes off more like a demand that they win back his trophy. This leads to the team sadly trudging out onto the field, as the crowd reacts in shock when the announcer mentions that Sport Goofy has not appeared.

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Meanwhile, Sport Goofy is being held at the Beagle Boys’ hideout. Even though he’s tied up, he stays in high spirits as the game begins.

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As expected, the Beagles use all sorts of methods to cheat on the soccer field. Scrooge and the crowd watch as the Beagles use everything from an oil slick-

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– to bricking up their goal. The referee is blind to most of this, as his glasses keep getting knocked off.

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Back at the Beagles’ hideout, Sport Goofy gets ahold of a knife, and manages to cut his bonds and escape. After outrunning two of the Beagle Boys, he makes his way back to the stadium, surprising everyone when he leads the dejected Greenbacks back onto the field for the final game.

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The Greenback’s luck soon turns around, as Sport Goofy’s soccer prowess ends up tying the score.

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However, as the clock ticks down to the final seconds, the Beagle Boys gang up and tackle Goofy. This illegal move is the only one that the referee manages to catch, and Goofy is awarded a penalty kick.

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The Beagle Boys then attempt one last trick by rigging the soccer ball with explosives-

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-but the plan manages to backfire on them, and Goofy ends up making the winning kick!

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Scrooge eagerly gets his trophy back, and then publicly declares that he will donate it to the Duckberg Museum (on condition that his donation is tax-deductible!).

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The final shot shows the Greenbacks and Scrooge taking a team picture with Sport Goofy, who delivers a parting line: “If you play fair, and work together as a team, anyone can be number one!”

As the credits roll, we get a shot of the black-and-white team picture, along with a reprise of John Debney’s score.

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And that was Soccermania. The episode is definitely one of those anomalies in the history of Disney animation. When I first saw it, it was packaged along with numerous shorts from Goofy’s long and storied career of playing sports such as football, hockey, and skiing.

Even though it was released around the same year as Ducktales, the voicework in Soccermania is also quite jarring. One example is Scrooge McDuck, who is voiced this time (and only this time) by Will Ryan. In Mickey’s Christmas Carol (made in 1983), Alan Young voiced Scrooge, and after Soccermania, has been voicing the richest duck in the world ever since.

There is rumor that the creation of Soccermania was several years in development. At one point it was shelved, and then put back into production. It’s possible that the production and voice work of the short could have taken place prior to Mickey’s Christmas Carol, but not a whole lot of information exists on the production, let alone what the original incarnation was compared to the final product.

The depiction of The Beagle Boys (all voiced by Will Ryan) matches their comic incarnations, in that they are all the same body type, albeit each one is missing a separate numbered prison tag. This was supposedly their first animated television appearance.

There are a couple more visual items in the short that did catch my eye.

Word is that an early concept of Roger Rabbit shows up in the crowd scenes. Here’s a clip (you be the judge):

As a kid, I remember cracking up and loving the numerous manic expressions that were given to Scrooge. Scrooge did get manic in Ducktales, but many of the things he did failed to compare to a lot of the funny moments in Soccermania. Here’s my favorite example:

One of the storyboard artists on Soccermania was the late Joe Ranft, who later went on to work at Pixar. One gag he did in Toy Story 2,was showing the toys in a dream of Woody’s, playing cards. However, they are all playing cards with the Ace of Spades, which in some cultures, is considered ‘the death card.’ In Soccermania, the Beagle Boys are seen playing cards, hinting that maybe they should do something for Goofy ahead of the big game. As they laugh, they throw down their cards, revealing the following shot:

Ever since finding the ‘Ranft’ connection, I did wonder if this may have been his story handiwork as well. As a kid, I had no idea the significance of the cards, so this shot almost acts as something the adults watching the show could pick up on. That’s something that seems to be lacking in some shows today (subtle jokes to the adults, not ‘death cards,’ though I haven’t seen many of those pop up on television either).

Soccermania is one of those animated shorts that has stuck in the back of my head for many years. While the quality of the animation is not up to par as some of their later efforts, I felt it was worthy to be a contender here in my Retro Recaps section. If you have fond memories of this episode, or are part of the production crew who could shed a little light on the making of the episode, by all means, please leave a comment.

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About MWH1980

Growing up in the state of Iowa, one would assume I'd be enamored with pigs and corn. Well, I wasn't. Instead, I grew fascinated by many things that were entertainment-related. Things like movies, animation, toys, books, and many more kept my attention. This blog I hope to use to express myself regarding my varied obsessions. (P.S. There's no Photoshop involved in that Gravatar-I really am holding an Oscar)

4 responses to “Retro Recaps: Sport Goofy in Soccermania”

  1. Rich Eddi says :

    i have a disney cell i think from sport goofy. it shows goofy sitting on floor(dressed in dark green shorts w/ lighter green shirt, like in cartoon) and it is layed over another cell with one of the beagle boys dressed in womens cloths standing over him, but i cant find this frame any the cartoon or in any cartoon
    was it cut from the film ???

    Like

    • MWH1980 says :

      I couldn’t say yes or no to that,as i don’t recall a scene like that from when I saw the short.

      I know some people who sell animation cels can sometimes mis-match backgrounds or characters related to a certain scene.

      Do you have a picture of the cels that I could see? My guess is that maybe the image of the Beagle Boy on a different cel, is from something else.

      I wish I could tell you more about ‘Soccermania,’ but all I was able to find was put into my blog recap.

      Like

      • Rich Eddi says :

        here’s pic

        Like

      • MWH1980 says :

        Wow! I do think that might actually be from a deleted scene from ‘Soccermania.’ I can only guess what went on in the scene, but my assumption is that maybe there were several attempts by the Beagle Boys to ‘off’ Goofy before the championship, and this was one scenario that backfired, before they all ganged up on him at his house and kidnapped him.

        Like

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