TV WATCH Review of the month on screen
A by-product of our world of high-speed communication, accessible to all, is the increased speed at which someone can land themselves in trouble. Colin Murray discovered this when he became just a bit too perky for some MOTD2 viewers while discussing Pepe Reina’s sending of f against Newcastle. The British v iewing public will tolerate perkiness to an extent, even from a gay man on a Saturday night, but are always waiting for it to t ip over into actual cheekiness. At which point they will attack.
Murray asked Mark Lawrenson: “When you get sent of f for that type of lame headbutt, do you regret not st icking the head in anyway?” This was rather poor in two ways: partly because, with Murray having the physical presence of a convalescing child pianist, his question came across like a little boy asking how many Germans Papa killed in the war; also, of course, it appeared to condone violence. The Daily Mail, still angry after all these years, published tweets from outraged viewers the next day. One called Murray “a disgrace”. Not a disgrace to anything, you understand, l ike a disgrace to the dear old BBC or a disgrace to this nation’s historically keen sense of pacif ism – just purely a disgrace.
Jonathan Creek star Alan Davies got into dif f iculties a week later when he questioned Liverpool’s refusal to play on the anniversary of Hillsborough. Davies suggested that no one would expect him to not work on the anniversary of his mother’s death. He would still have to turn up on set and swish around in Creek’s long duffel coat mumbling “that’s what they want you to see” if the BBC required his services. Davies was quickly cyber-surrounded and harangued into an apology, too late to save him from the mortifying news coverage. These cases prove that we are at the end of an era. There is no need for criminals and politicians to make our news any more, we can simply respond to celebrities’ errors of judgement.
The BBC asked Gabby Logan to investigate sexism in the game and she did very well. Sexism in Football? (BBC1, April 4) employed in its title one of the least necessary question marks in broadcasting history and featured horror stories from women who had made it to the top in the boardroom, in journalism and on the FIFA executive, detailing overt discrimination and the assumed triviality of women’s contribution to the sport. While men’s roles are clear and uncomplicated – right-back, manager, f ixer – women are forced to gain acceptance by a more circuitous route. One inter v iewee, Jacqui Bass, has had to sneak into the game using t he job t it le Regional Club Partnership Manager, so that the men she encounters fail to realise her work has anything to do with
BRADFORD football. Jacqui Oatley described how one newspaper reported t hat, a f ter her f i r st appearance on Match of the Day, she had to rush back to the studio to redub her entire commentary. That this was untrue never followed the story into the public domain.
There was an uneasiness from ex-professionals Robbie Savage and Lawrie Sanchez, who expended a lot of energy trying not to say anything wrong while remaining technically honest. It became a struggle immediately for Savage, who responded to his very f irst question as if he were f ighting against the effects of a truth drug in order to avoid incriminating hundreds of former team-mates. Searching for sexism in football is rather l ike cutting open an anteater to determine the contents of its last meal, but one look at the confusion and embarrassment on Sky presenter Charlotte Jackson’s face when Andy Gray asks her to tuck his mic pack into his trousers is reason enough for such a programme to be made.
Monitoring the progress of Roy Keane, wolf-pundit, we reach a landmark event. Commenting on Didier Drogba’s Cup semif inal goal against Spurs, Gareth Southgate talked of the six inches Drogba gave himself with a deft touch to lose his defender. Keane, from nowhere, suddenly burst into comedic action. “You can do a lot with six inches,” he muttered, before tr y ing, and failing, to repress a snuff led laugh. There were no complaints about this Sunday teatime reference to penetrative sex. As with the dinner party scene in Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, when Tarzan picks up his soup bowl and drinks from it, Keane’s companions and the tabloid press politely pretended this was perfectly natural behaviour in a television studio. There is, apparently, some old-world courtesy remaining in the game.
fectly natural behaviour in a television studio. There is, apparently, some old-world courtesy remaining in the game.
Modern times Football’s bid for world domination
Sun, April 30 Sun, April 30
Times, April 18
Sunday Telegraph, April 15
Sunday Telegraph, April 15 Town criers KETTERING
Chants or banners demanding the removal of football club chairmen are commonplace at grounds up and down the country, but rarely do such messages appear on the team’s own electronic scoreboard. “WE WANT L ADAK OUT” demanded Ket t er i ng Town’s scoreboard during their Blue Square Bet Premier match against Gateshead back in January, referring to the club’s unpopular chief, Imraan Ladak. Displaying an admirable level of gallows humour, the operator soon added a second message: “I’m getting sacked in the morning.” Whether or not he was given his marching orders is unknown, but the episode summed up what has been a shambolic season for the Poppies, who were relegated fol lowing a 3 - 0 home defeat to Mansfield Town on Easter Saturday.
Last summer the chairman decided to move the club nine miles out of Kettering to Nene Park, the home of defunct r ivals Rushden & Diamonds, who went out of business at the end of the 2010-11 season. Leaving aside t he dubious ethica l i ssues of what appeared to be a merger-by-stealth, with Kettering providing the team and Diamonds the stadium, on a practical level it made no sense. One of the reasons for the demise of Rushden & Diamonds was the prohibitive cost of running Nene Park, the impressive but expensive legacy of their free-spending rise through the divisions under Doc Martens mogul Max Griggs.
Ladak said the move was necessary as he was unable to secure a long-term lease on the club’s Rockingham Road ground, their home since 1897. He soon installed ex-manager Morell Maison for a third spell in charge, but despite an array of expensive new signings, Maison resigned at the end of August with the club rooted to the foot of the table.
More managers came and went. Mark St imson lasted until January before leaving the club, with wages reportedly having gone unpaid for several months, leading to the departure of most of the club’s senior players. These included str ikers JP Marna players. These included str ikers JP Marna and Moses Ashikodi, who had and Moses Ashikodi, who had made head l i nes when t hey were both sent of f for trading made head l i nes when t hey were both sent of f for trading punches in a match against punches in a match against
Hayes & Yeading.
Hayes & Yeading.
Morell Maison says ta-ta
E x - b o s s M a r k Cooper returned for one g ame but wa s soon on his way after new i nve s t ment he had been prom i s ed f a i l e d t o mater i a l ise. Former defender A s h l e y Wes t wo o d was left to hold the
E x - b o s s M a r k Cooper returned for one g ame but wa s soon on his way after new i nve s t ment he had been prom i s ed f a i l e d t o mater i a l ise. Former defender A s h l e y Wes t wo o d was left to hold the fort until the end of the season, but with fort until the end of the season, but with
Kettering Town’s adopted home, Nene Park a t ransfer embargo in place and only a t hreadbare squad of youngsters at h i s disposal, Kettering’s relegation surprised no one. By Christmas Ladak had put the Poppies up for sale and had released a statement blaming the club’s f inancial problems on unpaid sponsorship money. No mention was made of the costly Nene Park move or of the folly of allowing Maison to embark on his disastrous pre-season spending spree.
Eventually an unlikely saviour appeared on the horizon in the form of George Rolls, who infamously left his f irst chairmanship at Cambridge United after of fering the manager’s job to three dif ferent people at once before eventually appointing Martin Ling. Rolls remains banned from Cambridge’s R Costings Abbey Stadium.
More recently he has been in charge at Weymouth, where he oversaw a drop from the Blue Square Bet South to the foot of the Evo-Stik Southern Premier and took the club into a Company Voluntary Arrangement due to debts of over £800,000 run up by previous regimes. Despite repeated denials that he was about to jump ship from Weymouth, Rolls off icially took over at Kettering in April after paying of f a debt of £42,000 owed to HM Revenue and Customs. The club’s transfer embargo is expected to be lifted shortly.
As ever, Rolls i s ta l k ing a good game. He plans to follow the full-time model pioneered successfully by Graham Westley at Stevenage: “The players have been working a couple of hours a day and that’s it. When I say we will be full-time, I mean we will be full-time. The players will be playing football in the mornings and then going out into the community, coaching and meeting youngsters and gett ing into the schools to help spread the word. There will be no easy rides for anyone.”
His words will ring true for Kettering fans, who have had anything but an easy r ide in the last 12 months. For the moment Rolls will get the benef it for the doubt, but it remains to be seen whether, under his stewardship, Kettering will prosper in the Blue Square Bet North next season.
Scenes from Football History