Music by VICE

Meet the Illustrator Behind The Cover of the 1982 Dub Reggae Classic ‘Scientist Wins the World Cup’

Jamaica didn’t qualify for the 1982 FIFA World Cup but Tony McDermott’s cover suggests otherwise.

by Tim Scott
May 19 2016, 2:22am

Forget the fact that Jamaica failed to qualify for the 1982 FIFA World Cup in Spain, on the cover of the 1982 album Scientist Wins the World Cup, they give the England national team a royal flogging.

In front of a packed stadium, with Scientist’s Jamaica team already leading 6-1, one of the Jamaican players curls a shot hard into the top right corner of the net. The goal leaves Kevin Keegan, Glenn Hoddle and the rest of the English players stunned and the stadium erupting into wild and colorful celebration.

Illustrated by Tony McDermott, the in-house designer for legendary dub label Greensleeves, the image has become one of the most iconic reggae album covers ever and proved that although Jamaica had been independent for 20 years there was still a fierce rivalry with their former colonial masters.

One of the classic early 80s dub albums produced by Linval Thompson and Junjo Lawes featuring King Tubby's young engineer Scientist at the controls, the album has recently been reissued as Junjo Presents: Wins the World Cup.

McDermott was raised in Oldham, just north of Manchester before moving to London in 1978 to study graphic design at the London College of Printing. It was around this time that he began illustrating cartoons for Black Echoes magazine. An avid soul, funk, and reggae fan he eventually found himself at Greensleeves and designing album art for the likes of Mad Professor, Johnny Osbourne and Yellowman.

With the recent reissue of the dub reggae favorite we caught up with McDermott to chat about the album design.

Noisey: You grew up in Oldham. Did you support Oldham Athletic?
Tony McDermott: I did and in my younger days, before I got more interested in music and playing music, I went to most home matches at the windswept and rainswept Boundary Park. Our household was brought up to support Everton, my dad's preferred team, but went to see Latics (Oldham Athletic's nickname) with him quite often. I don't really count myself as a true supporter of a team, as I don't go to matches much, but I do still play recreationally and enjoy football in that way. The results I look to first are Manchester United, Oldham Athletic and Everton.

Did Jungo follow football?
I never knew Junjo to follow any football team, he was more interested in horseracing from what I understood. Though his build suggested he'd have been fast on his toes.

Jamaica didn’t actually qualify for the 1982 World Cup but there seems to still fair bit of rivalry with England even with Jamaican being independent for 20 years.
Most English football fans have an ambivalent approach towards the national team. Repeated failure to match 1966's World Cup triumph had led to a generally critical assessment of England players, so anyone other than Liverpool or Newcastle fans would have had a chuckle at Kevin Keegan or Glen Hoddle being mocked. The punky / reggae / soulboy circles I knew regarded footballers as being champions of the laughable mullet and curly-perm hairstyles, and conservative. Black players had also only recently been given the chance to play for England, and Britain's black populace knew that football in the UK at the time was racist. So reggae fans would have been sanguine about the England soccer establishment. Jamaicans (as with most West Indians regarding cricket) liked nothing better than the idea of beating the former colonial masters. So the reggae massive reacted well to the drawing, and the English do like to see an underdog have its day.

There is a lot of detail in the image with the crowd. Do you remember much about designing this cover?
Drawing crowds in detail took a long time, I do remember, but people really seem to warm to detailed / intricate work.

I notice Kevin Keegan and Glenn Hoddle. Who are the Jamaican players?
The imaginary Jamaican team in the picture was made up of Greensleeves-linked Reggae artists (many Jamaican musicians were skilful players), such as Eek-A-Mouse, Eastwood & Saint, Michael Prophet, Yellowman, Ranking Dread etc. with Junjo as the referee originally.

'Junjo Presents: Wins the World Cup' is available now from Greensleeves.

World Cup
Tony McDermott
King Tubby