Last updated : 08 January 2002 By Thorne In The Side
I kept up with 'the Jones's' with my faithful TV set and a satellite dish to receive Sky Sports and didn't feel anything was missing in my football life.

Whilst others played around with the remote control, talking about 'player cam' and other features, I was just happy watching what I'd sat down to view…football.

I'm not interested in following a certain player around for part of the game or having useless facts or stats cover the screen interrupting the game that I'm glued to.

I was brought up on a healthy TV diet of Match of the Day, The Big Match and a helping of the occasional Sportsnight on a Wednesday night during the school holidays, not forgetting the two most eagerly awaited Saturdays of the year, the FA Cup Final (with of course Eddie Warings pre-match It's a Knockout!) and the main game from the fantastic home internationals, England v Scotland. The only two 'live' matches on television.

This term I was faced with BBC 1, ITV, ITV Sports Channel, Sky Digital, Sky Sports 1,2,3, Sky Season Ticket or Box office or whatever, Eurosport, Channel 5 and if you were really desperate…MUTV, and what about my poor satellite dish? absolutely useless now…. For weeks of the pre-season, I pondered as to what I needed. If a football junkie like me was confused as to what package I required heaven help the casual supporter on a budget?

In the end I decided to keep my money in my pocket, take down the Sky dish and thought that my terrestrial offering would satisfy my footie fix. Even though this meant I was to miss Soccer AM and the Sunday live games but what the hell?

Not liking change, I was disappointed to see MOTD depart into the archives but settled down to watch ITV's equivalent 'The Premiership.' Remembering that when we were kids we were told that the BBC were always the 'preferred' choice when given the option of watching the FA Cup final on either channel, I wasn't expecting the slick and professional presentation of Lineker and Hansen.
What I did expect was a little bit more of the above than I actually got though!
What I couldn't understand was that Independent Television had paid a lot of money for this wonderful product called 'football' so why didn't they just show it?

After an hour of its debut I had already taken about as much as I could stomach. I'd already had to win the Children over by sitting upstairs in the bedroom on my own adjusting the Ariel every ten seconds on my portable because they wanted to watch 'The Weakest Link' or something as dire on the other side, after all this is peak time TV? At least when Match of the Day used to come on they were up in bed and football time was my time! But what was more disappointing was the absolute 'balls up' of the production and presentation. It's football…fu#king show me some and entertain me…?

What is all this 'It's a beautiful day' all about? Why would Robbie Savage's Grandmother say anything but 'he's a lovely boy..' in the pathetic opening insight into a players life profile at the beginning of the show? And why do I have to endure Ally McCoist trying to turn everything into a joke when he should learn that even though 'you're hilarious on a Question of Sport' this in fact is meant to be a serious football show?

Show the game, show the goals, show the saves, but please do not try and pad out a match by interviewing Managers as they leave for half-time especially by Andy Townsend who's to sports presenting as Myra Hindley is to baby sitting.

We are told that the half past eleven showing is with 'added footage and highlights' but lets be honest, if you've sat down at the earlier programme you're hardly going to watch it all over again to get the extra little bits thrown in are you?

And so onto Monday night…I was pleased to see that there was a new programme devoted to football called 'Premiership Parliament' on ITV. At least if I didn't have Sky I could sit down on a Monday night and catch up with the highlights from that night and Sundays Premiership action, but instead it was a brief goals round up and the now irritating McCoist and 'Gobby' Yorath interviewing fans from each of the 'top flight' clubs.

Maybe I'm being harsh on Ally, but Gabby Logan, as she now prefers to be called?

Great tits and arse, but call me sexist, when ever has a woman and football worked? Am I the only male to cringe at local news reports when some bird struggles to pronounce names like Junichi Inamoto or fails to recognise the importance of reading the results out with that tone that accompanies every away teams fate?

Lets face it, the only female to cope admirably is the ladette Helen Chamberlain herself, but not wanting to upset Paul Gibbs, you'd rather take her out for ten pints and a curry than a five course meal at San Lorenzo's and a night-cap at 'The Ritz'?

I say put Gabby on AFTER midnight, and preferably on channel 5 (now we're talking!) So, back to 'The Monday Parliament' the programme where the camera turns up and ten seconds later so does the microphone, catching the poor interviewee in mid sentence, a rather dour Radio 5 six o six type of entertainment but two days late and good for?…well radio I suppose!

On the first night we had to watch (and eventually) listen to some prat of a Fulham fan in a sun-hat talking a load of bollocks, and then see all of the supporters be 'frightfully nice' to each other, patting one another on the back and congratulating themselves on their clubs performance in between those 'hysterical' McCoist jokes.

There was a saviour on the horizon though, or so I thought. Two weeks later and ITV had launched another football show 'London Weekend Televisions Sunday Soccer.'

Ironically the launch was a day after the great Brian Moore passed away (He'd probably seen a pilot of the programme) and I had visions of a 'Big Match' style regional offering, like ones that still exist in almost every other part of the country on HTV, Meridian, Yorkshire. Maybe three or four Brentford games highlighted each season? All of our goals perhaps? and Sunday afternoon memories like the great Brentford v Watford match came flooding back to me.

I was to be disappointed - just as it couldn't get any worse, it did!

Gabby Yorath was on overtime and was joined by Les Ferdinand who went onto embarrass himself even more than he did when he put a Brentford strip on.
'Show us some football…' the armchair fan screamed, but instead Ferdinand struggled to keep up with the autocue and failed abysmally to read out e-mails sent in by viewers.

When he at last managed to string a few words together, the message from 'Mr Braindead' from wherever said 'I'd like to congratulate England on last nights performance over Germany..' fucking scintillating stuff mate and perfect for in-depth discussion (not). At least make up the e-mails if that's the best that people send in!!

I know some of you are probably saying that I do have an 'off' button on my set but this was essential viewing, just simply too bad to believe! For an onlooker coming into the room, they could be forgiven for thinking that this was another of those awful 'Steve Penk Worst nightmare' programmes or an excerpt from '100 worst TV moments..' This show was 'The Sun' on TV at its very best!!

To cap it all, at least the camera production crew were having a giggle, all of a sudden they started to use stills and close ups of Les Ferdinand's pitted skin and then a shot of his nasal hair…classic TV!! and to round it off, the Tottenham strikers flat mate phones in live on air to congratulate him on his presenting performance, and Gabby replies.. 'We have a star in the making..' fucking priceless!!!!!

So where do they stick the best footie programme on? Monday nights around midnight. At least its still on the air, great crowd shots, fantastic views of all the changed grounds around the country, all the goals from Divisions 1,2,3, and a lower league fans must…a chance to see how many Rochdale took to Torquay. Three quarters of an hour of what we simply want to Hidden in the middle of the night but a must for the video before settling down to bed.

'No frills but plenty of thrills..' shit I'm beginning to sound like Ally and Gabby, pass me the pills!