Double plus ungood, like I said Clive

8 05 2016

I dealt with my teetering pile of When Saturday Comes back issues the other week. One of them was the 30th anniversary edition that contained a reproduction of the first ever issue in the centre.

The first ever issue contained a short piece where the writer highlighted a few clichéd phrases that he thought people should stop using. I can come up with my own list for 2016.

“This programme is brought to you by (Insert Corporate Name Here)”

These days everything has been cynically considered from a commercial point of view so we’re not allowed to do anything that’s unaccompanied by the altruism of corporate interests.

Every facet of our sport comes with a sponsor’s logo. Even the community based schemes that exist to encourage social inclusion, the very antithesis of rapacious corporate interests, are sponsored. Naturally the celebration of victory has been given a corporate sheen with corporate hoardings and sponsored flags.

The trouble with the carefully planned corporate ownership of human enjoyment is that enjoyment can be unavoidably deferred for years. Witness the forlorn carefully planned celebration buses that became superfluous when results didn’t turn out as planned.

“BEEP………..BEEP………. BEEP………. BEEP” indeed.

“Let’s go over to The King Power / The Etihad / The Emirates / The I PRO / The Aviva / The Pukka Pies”

We can neatly move from the above to this grating example of corporate football. Media types always say something like “Let’s go over to The King Power / The Etihad / The Emirates / The I PRO / The Aviva / The Pukka Pies” on those TV programmes that keep you updated about scorelines and it’s always delivered with an excited pregnant pause.

While you obviously need to mention a ground’s name from time to time to establish a location there is absolutely no reason to give free advertising to the corporate giant and there’s certainly reason to utter the words with such obvious relish. What’s wrong with “Let’s go over to Leicester / Manchester City / Arsenal / Derby / Dublin / Walmington-on-Sea”?

When people respect the sanctity of the commercial arrangement all they’re doing is helping rich people ruin things. When people tweet things like “I’m going to the (Corporate stadium name) tonight.” they should be denied access to football matches.

If people are going to do this kind of thing it should be more truthful. “Let’s go over to the “PR cleansing operation for a toxic brand stadium”.

“That’s a Good Hit.”

When did “shots” become “hits”? Years ago you only heard the word “hit” when a poor free kick failed to make it past the wall or when a player whacked his penalty over the goal or there was a close up of a contre-temps. For most of my life “shots” were called “shots“.

It was easy to distinguish a “shot” from a “pass”, a “pass” was the propelling of a football towards a teammate and a “shot” was the propelling of the ball towards the goal. All of a sudden they started mentioning “hits” when “shots” happened and now all commentators excitedly mention “hits” as if it’s alright.

“He was entitled to go down there.” / “He had every right to go down there.”

Postmodernists tell us that metanarratives have lost their power to explain the world because we all have a unique experience of the world around us. 78.3% of the penalties given in professional football are proof that there is some validity in the postmodern point of view.

When the pundits analyse the incidents that led to penalties they conclude that 78.3% of them were definite nailed on stonewall penalties. Even though slow motion technology allows us all to see that these definite nailed on stonewall penalties involve the training ground honed practice of “engineered contact” or “leaving you foot sticking out so it brushes against something” rather then an actual foul

When there’s a doubt the pundits fudge by invoking the “Well he had every right to go down there” gambit. When I consulted the laws of football I couldn’t find the word “entitled”.

Law 12: Fouls and Misconduct

A direct free kick is awarded when a player commits any of the following in a manner considered by the referee to be careless, reckless or using excessive force:

  • Kicks or attempts to kick an opponent
  • Trips or attempts to trip an opponent
  • Jumps at an opponent
  • Charges an opponent
  • Strikes or attempts to strike an opponent
  • Pushes an opponent
  • Tackles an opponent

Or commits any the following offences:

  • Holds an opponent
  • Spits at an opponent
  • Handles the ball deliberately (except for the goalkeeper within his own penalty area).

In determining whether or not a player deliberately handled the ball, the referee has several considerations:

  • Movement of the hand towards the ball (not the ball towards the hand)
  • Distance between the opponent and the ball (unexpected ball)
  • Position of the hand (‘natural’ position versus ‘unnatural’ position) does not necessarily mean that there is an infringement
  • Touching the ball with an object held in the hand (clothing, shinguard, etc.) counts as an infringement (considered an extension of the hand)
  • Hitting the ball with a thrown object (boot, shinguard, etc.) counts as an infringement (also considered an extension of the hand)

If a player commits a direct free kick offence within his own penalty area, a penalty kick is awarded irrespective of the position of the ball, provided the ball is in play.

How is a player “entitled to go down”? The phrase presupposes that some players are more equal than others, why are some players entitled to special treatment?

Why should a defender be careful about leaving their foot too close to a striker with an eye for a chance? Why should defenders be unjustly punished just because they’re not as glamourous as the attacking players that feel unencumbered by the pressure of a moral outlook? Cheating a fellow professional isn’t something to be admired.

“Spitting is the worst thing a fellow player can do to another.”

Apparently spitting is worse than than cheating your way to a penalty, or getting a fellow professional sent off by acting, or have your leg broken by an opponent, or having your knee ligaments snapped by an opponent, or being racially abused by an opponent, or being disrespected by an opponent in their autobiography, or having a teammate sleep with your wife. It must be because they say it is.

“(Insert Name Here) is an absolute legend.”

In the ancient past you had to be like Hercules to be a legend, in other words you had to perform a Herculean feat of strength, bravery or endurance.

These days all you have to win a few matches, or score a high profile goal, or be the flavour of the month for doing something that’s run of the mill whilst carrying out your job.

Legends are players that have done something exceptional, or had something exceptional. Legends are not the players that are lauded for doing something useful and then pressured to leave 9 months later because they’re “useless”.


In the past people were willing to accept that it wasn’t possible for their club to win everything all the time, most fans would have been happy if their club won anything.

These days most people appear to think the satisfaction of their own personal expectations is the most important thing in football. If the truly heinous prospect of expectation denial occurs someone has to be sacrificed to the god of opportunism with the gift of the sack.

Who decided that football was a “Perpetual success parade or you’re history dickhead” type situation? You and the rest of Murdoch’s willing slaves that’s who.

“I cashed out.”

Four young men sit around a pub table, doing the banter like Jeff and the boys on the screen above. They check their phones and do the banter loudly. They sit there, they know that matches are taking place because Jeff and the boys are talking about them. They know that matches are taking place their betting apps have told them.

They know matches are taking place yet there they sat, they know matches have taken place for years yet there they sit, they know that matches will go on for years but there they sit. They choose to sit there and make knowing jokes about subjects they think they’re entitled to make jokes about.

Matches happen and they need matches because matches are the petrol of their banter bus. They don’t need match tickets because they never need tickets, they don’t care their local club is struggling to make ends meet, they’ve got their mates and their banter.

They’ll never be warmed by the first glimpse of verdant grass, they’ll never share the communal joy of an unjustified winner, they’ll never fall over a row of seats in celebration, they’ll never be carried along by the glorious hubbub of a celebratory throng on a car-free road.

All they need is a pub table, their phones, Jeff & the boys and the banter bus.

“Vive Le Bantz”

Anything that Paddy Power produces should be banned. The fans of Mrs. Brown’s Boys are the only people that think Paddy Power is a funny person full of genius.




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