Sunday, July 23, 2006

Sunday Sunday

Apart from watching a torpid five minutes of Celtic-Everton on Channel 5 this afternoon, I've had a relatively football-free weekend. This is what the end of July should be like. A bit of golf on the television, enough cheap Tequila last night to floor an elephant. Lazy days indeed. A time to feel footloose and fancy-free before the stomch-knotting domestic season begins in earnest again. We become, for a few weeks, fully rounded human beings.

Of course, it's not quite as simple as that. I've spent some time downloading bits and pieces over the weekend, and I'm currently girding myself to torrent two hours worth of highlights of the 1979/80 Scottish Premier League. I know that this is alarmingly geeky, but I also know that at least some of you will be insanely jealous. However, the opportunity to own highlights of (amongst other things) Rangers playing in front ot a crowd of 12,000 at Ibrox was just too good to pass up. I've also stumbled across the Celtic-Rangers match from 1987 that ended up with four players being charged by the police. I'm not watching that until I've got a big tub of popcorn, though.

Of course, the television coverage of football is the one thing that has changed more than anything else over the last twenty years or so. I have something in the pipeline about ITV's regional coverage of the 1970s & 1980s (and bemoaning the terrible waste of their back catalogue - all the matches that they covered are sitting gathering dust somewhere. Why haven't they been made available on DVD or to download?), so I'll stay away from that subject for the time being, but Channel 5's coverage of Celtic-Everton reminded me of the extent to which it is possible to argue that there simply is too much football on the television these days. A pre-season friendly between Celtic and Everton, not even part of a pre-season tournament, could be of very little interest to anybody other than, well, Celtic & Everton supporters, so why did Channel 5 decide to pack John Helm and chums off to Glasgow?

Well, this sort of football is still cheap broadcasting. To actually produce it costs next to nothing. Five will have bunged Celtic a few quid for the rights, but to actually show it costs them next to nothing. It fills a couple of hours in their schedule at a time when they would be expecting an audience of no more than a few thousand people and, most importantly of all, they know that there are enough people like you and I that will slump down on the sofa at this time of year and watch any football that's put in front of them. It's the reason that Channel 5 shows highlights from the Eriedivisie at two in the morning on Fridays (and very good it is, too), and why Channel 4 occasionally sneaks something from Le Championnat into its late night schedule. If nothing else is on, who amongst us doesn't flick onto Sky Sports News when there's nothing else on and stare vacantly at the Welsh Premier League's top goalscorers until we realise that we should be doing something altogether more constructive?

All of which reminds me... I really need to get a HD recorder before the middle of August.


colin said...

I suspect they do it because, outside of Man Utd v Arsenal fixtures, games featuring either side of the Old Firm get the highest viewing figures when they're shown across the country as opposed to just in Scotland.

I was at that game in 1987. There was a bit of a rammy in the box between Frank McAvennie, Chris Woods, Terry Butcher and Graham Roberts, during which the unthinking man's Glaswegian Peter Stringfellow violently assaulted the Rangers trio with his throat.

If I remember rightly, while the first three all got charged with breach of the peace for that incident, Robets was up before the beak on the same charge for his antics later in the game.

Having taken Woods' place in goal, he abandoned a kick to turn to the Rangers support and 'conduct' them in a rendition of one of their many lovely party tunes about knees, blood and their dad's old clothes.

The charge was found Not Proven. Roberts recently left his job as manager at Clyde after being accused of making racist and anti-Semitic remarks on a club tour of Canada.

twohundredpercent said...

Lovely. Would you like a copy of it? It's quite startlingly violent.

colin said...

Aye, I wouldn't mind. To be honest, my memory of it was it being unpleasant, but roughly level with how all on-field communication is carried out when away to Arsenal.

colin said...

Oh, and - was 79/80 not a slightly odd season? I was too young to remember it, like - but I think Hibs were relegated and Hearts weren't even in the Premier Division.

twohundredpercent said...

Email me your address and i'll post it off as soon as i get some blank CDs. Hearts spent quite a while outside the Premier League, if I recall correctly.

Moore said...

Is every major football ground now kitted out with a permanent set of cameras for whichever broadcaster to use, or do they pitch up with their kit on the morning of the game? It seems unbelieveable that the TV companies would pay the capital expenditure for fixed cameras, and yet setting up would add a fair old cost to showing a one off match like this.

twohundredpercent said...

The cameras are the responsibility of the broadcasters, but Outside Broadcast Units are owned by every television station and setting them up is a time-consuming but relatively inexpensive. When I worked for Ladbrokes at Vicarage Road on the 1999-2000 season, the TV people would already be there setting up. This is how I met Richard Keys, and, yes, his hands really are as hairy as everyone says they are.

Curiously, one of the criteria that St Albans had to meet to join the Nationwide Conference this summer was to have a TV camera gantry built at their ground, because the Conference requires every match to be recorded on video. Who they get to do it remains a mystery, though. Sky own the rights to Conference football, but I can't see them being too interested in turning up on a wet Tuesday night in March to record St Albans City against Forest Green Rovers in front of 300 hardy souls.

colin said...

Celtic have certainly got their own facilities to some extent, as they were the first club in the world to broadcast a competitive game themselves a few years back, but I suspect five would have used their own.

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