About Me

My photo
Hammersmith, London, United Kingdom
I'm a director of Maidenhead United Football Club. For ten seasons one of my roles at the club was to produce the match programme. The aim of this blog was to write football related articles for publication in the match programme. In particular I like to write about the representation of football in popular culture, specifically music, film/TV and literature. I also write about matches I attend which generally feature Maidenhead United.

Sunday, 18 November 2007

Ripping Yarns: Golden Gordon

The Monty Python team, despite their Public School/Oxbridge background, were not averse to creating material relating to the working man’s ballet as shown by their typically surreal sketch "International Philosophy". Featuring in this sketch was Michael Palin, booked as Nietszche for telling the referee he had no free will ("Confuscious he say name go in book"). Post Python, whilst Eric Idle picked the easy target of football hooligans for a musical sketch on his Rutland Weekend TV series (thus securing endless royalties as it became a staple clip of nostalgia programmes about the decade), Palin chose to create an affectionate portrait of non league football in 1930s Yorkshire as part of his Ripping Yarns serious which was jointly made with fellow Python Terry Jones.The episode in question was called "Golden Gordon" and follows the heroic tale of football supporter Gordon Ottershaw, who when faced with the demise of his beloved Barnstoneworth United makes a desperate bid to salvage some pride by gathering together the legendary 1922 Yorkshre Premier Cup winning side for the final game. Although the episode follows the usual format of sporting fiction with a last win for Barnstoneworth in their last ever match, the enjoyment comes in the telling of the tale, with plenty of details to make the modern non league fan chuckle if not cringe. Barnestoneworth United are a team without a home win in four years. The episode opens with the latest defeat against Brighouse “8 bloody 1 and their centre-forward wears glasses during the match”. Our devastated hero Gordon returns home to his wife and son and proceeds to smash up his house in a fit of rage before returning to the frighteningly authentic Social Club to drown his sorrows. But even Brown Ale can’t salve his destructive urges as he breaks the honours board uttering the words “Useless, useless bastards”. Things get worse at training when the team lose their shorts driving the manager Mr Dainty crazy (“I didn't come here on a free transfer from Walsall to stand and watch a bunch of morons arguing about football shorts!”), leading to his arrest for “indecent exposure in a bakery”. This persuades the board of directors to close the club & sell off the ground to local scrap merchant Arthur Foggen. Back home when teaching his son Barnstoneworth (middle name United) the legendary Yorkshire Premier League Cup winning team of 1922, “Hagerty F, Hagerty R... McIntyre, Treadmore and Davitt”, Eric ignores his wife’s announcement that she’s going to have a baby, and instead sets about reuniting the team for the club’s last ever match. Needless to say the ground (again very authentic) ultimately resounds to cheers of “Barnestoneworth” as the team win at last prompting a celebratory orgy of domestic destruction by the Ottershaw family.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Golden Gordon must be a strong contender for the funniest 30 minutes of TV ever: It is packed from start to finish with hilarious nuggets.

Aside from some already mentioned above, here are a few more, from memory (so may not be word-perfect):

Barman, utterly calmly, polishing a glass: "I know how you feel, Gordon"
The club's playing field is named "The Sewage Works Ground"
The club is so impoverished that pairs of the players have to "share a peg" in the changing room.
Not many of the team have turned-up for practice - two are "off with boils", and one's gone to a wedding.
Mr Dainty, rapidly slapping both his thighs in unison: "These! These are what matter!"
Mr Dainty, in a revelatory moment: "Chuck 'em away! Goodbye shorts - hello football !"
Gordon's wife, commenting on their son: "Gordon, you know he can't kick a ball - he 'ates it"
Gordon's wife: "No dripping?"
Arthur Foggen's wife shifting-about railway scrap on the velvet carpet of the lounge of his mansion, in an evening dress.

At the final match:
Foggen: "I'd like to see Barnstoneworth win!"
Manager: "I'd like to see 'em turn up."

Foggen: "I like Ottershaw, he's... enthusiastic"
Manager: "Obsessed, I'd call it"

Mr Dainty: "There's six of them turned up, but only three have got shorts."

In short, this is 30 minutes of TV you MUST see (several times) before you die.