Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Confessions Of An Armchair Football Fan - Part Two

Before I start boring you to death, just a word to say that Search Me is back. I will try to update it regularly from now on whilst trying to coax Betty back to do a few posts. She's got so much into the Atwood that her hair's turned all long and grey this week and she's started knitting me an itchy jumper which I don't want. This reading isn't good for us. We need to be at the coalface of blogging, continually failing to get shortlisted for Post Of The Week.

Ah, the football...

In the olden days there was Match of the Day on BBC and The Big Match on ITV. I'd avidly watch both these highlights of Saturday's matches. I knew every player in every team. I even quite liked some teams other than West Ham. I liked Burnley as they played in claret and blue. I liked Stoke City because we had a classic League Cup Final against them when Bobby had to go in goal. I liked Tottenham Hotspur because Martin went there and they played entertaining football. I remember one match with Spurs I saw on The Big Match which was full of mud and rain and great football. I had two posters on my bedroom wall, one of West Ham, one of Spurs. We both played the game it was meant to be played. We were the entertainers.

I suppose I stopped watching the football highlights of matches not involving West Ham in 1982 when my dad had a phone call in the middle of Match of the Day from his secret fancy piece. All hell was let loose and I missed the rest of the football. Other teams didn't seem to matter anymore. I have only ever watched matches involving the Irons from then on.

Rupert Murdoch's Sky has, of course, revolutionised the way we watch football. There are highlights of all Premiership matches and several live ones. Yes, live ones! There is even a new viewer called the "neutral". You will often hear a Sky commentator say, "that was a great game for the neutral."

The neutral will watch any old shit, all two and a half hours of action and analysis of a match he is not emotionally involved in. Highlights I can understand, if you've got the time. But a neutral can watch and enjoy a whole game of football, dispassionately.

I've nothing against neutrals. They're decent men in the main. It's just not for me. I need the sweating, the shouting and the heart rumbles. I need to roar like a lion when my team scores. I need to shout obscenities at the referee and opposition players, manager and especially chairmen. Especially chairmen like Dave Whelan of Wigan.**

If I did all this at a live match I'd be banned. I wouldn't do it. In company, I'm a civilised member of society. At home, though, I am a beastial real man, an Iron John.

And it's all thanks to Rupert Murdoch.

** Admittedly I'm the same when I watch Later With Jools.


  1. I subscribe to Fox's digital football channel in Canada so I can watch highlights of the English and Italian games.

    It gives me an outlet besides my blog to shout obscenities.

  2. When I was little, my bedroom was above the living room, so I would often be woken up by the sound of Dad watching the football. Boxing was worse, though.
    I have been known to shout at the ice skating.

  3. MJ - But can you swear in Italian?

    Arabella - My dad used to shout at the commentators. He was apoplectic with rage when they used to say "One one" instead of "One all".

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  5. I wish our lot were in the Premiership, it'll cost me a lot less to swear at them.

  6. In the pre telly days my mum went to watch Rovers with her older brother who was a quiet, kind and gentle sort of chap.

    At the match he turned into a vulgar, raucous, loud mouthed, screaming extrovert.

    She never quite got over it.

  7. Istvanski - Televised football is biased towards the top division. Why can't they show decent highlights of lower division matches? I hope Palace are back in the Play-Off Final next year: beating Sheffield United.

    Kaz - I can imagine the conversation on the way home. "Well that was a very enjoyable afternoon, wasn't it? We must do it again some time."

  8. I'm banned from Football as I keep deflating the ball.

    I have nominated this for Post of the week, though, so you can fail to get shortlisted.

    Hope that helps.

    PS We demand conclusive evidence that Betty is alright.

  9. Thank you, Murph. I think this one is serious enough for POTW. It's got the breakup of my parents' marriage in it after all.

    Betty is alright but I can't give you any evidence. You'll just have to take my word that she's "taking a break." It's not anything as pretentious as writer's block.

  10. Nice one Murph re. the nomination. I'm alright, but I've got writer's block. Don't you know, these days all we bloggers are Real Writers with creative personalities and moodswings?

    Geoff - I dunno if it is serious enough for POW. Couldn't you have chucked a debilitating illness and a bereavement in there just for good measure?

  11. I could bolt on my hamster's suicide.

  12. The trouble with The Big Match is that it was regional, so you only got matches from your area. Our town was on the border between Midlands and HTV, which meant on our telly it was always Aston Villa, but if I walked to my auntie and uncle's house I could see Bristol City instead. Not much of a choice, was it?

  13. Welcome, Alan. I suppose being a Spurs fan in the Midlands couldn't have been much fun but I always preferred The Big Match to MOTD as there was a good chance one of my favourite London teams would be on. Plus we got the excitable genius of Brian Moore.

    Betty has an old joke for Star Soccer viewers in the Midlands:-

    Who has the biggest hands in football?

    Hugh Johns!