Despite His White Boots

Football, football, football and, if the mood takes me, more football.

Saturday, April 03, 2010


I'm in Dublin right now. I saw Jeff Stelling's book Jellyman's Thrown A Wobbly in the airport bookshop so I bought it to read on the plane. It delivers pretty much what you would expect, some light entertainment without being especially revelatory. When you think about it, as the book says, the whole concept of Soccer Saturday (watching four ex pros watching football matches that you can't see) is utterly bizarre but it does work very well. The reason it works IMO is that the show finds the right level of irreverence about the game. People like Stelling, Baker and Kelly, and so on understand how the game is viewed by a very large chunk of fans - as something to be passionate about but at the same time have a good laugh at/with.

Some of the mainstream TV football shows at least nod in this direction, for example the BBC's Football League show, but even these have too much inane "we've just lost two in a row sack the manager" comments from random jawflappers at home. But most, and this is most pronounced at the level of Premiership, Champions League and internationals, are so utterly humourless [1] and so far up themselves that most of the "analysis" is just bonecrushingly dull. Then you get the tabloid-stylings of TalkSport and the like, where every marginal decision is raked over the coals and every issue of the slightest controversy attacked like a lynch mob.

If people in football weren't so far up themselves I'd have a lot more time for it. If Match Of The Day with Alan Shearer and Mark Lawrenson became Match Of The Day with Matt Le Tissier and Danny Kelly instead, I'd watch it every week, and I think so would a lot of others.

[1] Stuff like the clumsy sarcasm of Alan Green and the camp stylings of Mark Lawrenson is actually worse than humourless. Good humour is spontaneous [2] and good-natured. The mental image of Green sitting up all night pre-preparing his cack-handed butchery chills the spine.

[2] Yes OK, stuff like "Jellyman's thrown a wobbly" isn't spontaneous either, as Stelling admits, but he has the style to pull it off and it's all in fun.


  • At 7:18 PM, Anonymous Pete said…

    Too true about the MOTD tedious presentation. You might enjoy 'off the ball' which is on newstalk radio every weekday evening at 7, the football section is usually after 8 or so. The programme as a whole manages to be simultaneously irreverent and informative.

    You'll get it on and I neither work for them nor know anyone on the show!


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