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.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

No Hiding Place


There’s not much that I feel the younger generation should envy in their elders but one footballing phenomenon that seems to have passed that is worthy of regret is the chance to watch highlights of a match without a clue of the final score.
Growing up in the 70s and 80s live football was initially restricted to the FA Cup Final and the odd international then some live league games which were planned so far in advance they rarely were of great import. This meant that most of the football you watched was in the form of highlights. Naturally radio coverage and Final Score meant that you knew what had happened on a Saturday afternoon, particularly if you were lucky enough to live in a part of the country which published a Football special newspaper at Saturday tea time. However, come midweek, if you ignored the commentary provided by Radio 2 it was more often than not the case that you had no way of knowing the football scores unless you had teletext. This meant it was often almost unintentionally possible to get to the late night highlights and enjoy the game without knowing the outcome even if you had to run out of the room when the immortal phrase "and if you don't want to know the score look away now" was read on the news. With midweek coverage usually restricted to cup matches or vital league games this only served to ramp up the excitement as you waited until long after the final whistle to find out what actually happened.
This feeling was captured perfectly in an episode of Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads, entitled No Hiding Place. This 70s sitcom, set in Newcastle centred on the trials and tribulations of Terry Collier (played by James Bolam), and Bob Ferris (Rodney Bewes). Naturally football played a big part in their lives. This series focused on their reunion after several years apart whilst Terry served in the army. During that time he'd got married to a German ("about as likely as Hartlepool getting promoted"). The marriage was doomed following England's defeat in the 1970 World Cup following their late capitulation which left Terry who'd been "dancing on the sideboard singing Rule Britannia" when England were winning 2-0 little option but to slink away in humiliation when faced with his in laws who were so happy at coming back to win that "they looked like they were going to invade Poland again".
This episode found the eponymous lads in a hairdressers at the hands of the proprietor whose clients included Bobby Moncur and Malcolm MacDonaled. They explained that they were looking forward to watching the highlights of the Bulgaria v England game at 10.20 pm, a game that was actually kicking off at 1 pm UK time. Their friend Flint (Brian Glover) got wind of this and threatened to tell them the score. They managed to escape to a local pub but once again Flint found them with the additional threat of a radio broadcasting live commentary of the game which was now about to kick off. Forced to escape once more they bet Flint £5 that he couldn't tell them the result and they resolved to hide until late evening.
Sanctuary was initially found at Terry's sister Audrey's house, then a church. A car drive saw them forced to duck down to avoid seeing the newsstand and TV showroom. There followed a visit to the Women's Institute then the hospital to give blood before they made it to Bob's house with minutes to spare.
At this point Terry revealed that when he fainted after giving blood he glimpsed a copy of the Evening Chronicle but only saw the headline "England F". A conversation ensued about what it could mean. England flop, fail, fiasco or fade? England fightback after early setback, forge ahead, five? They were then finally caught by Flint but paid him off so they could sit down to watch "England flooded out". The match was postponed with all that anticipation wasted.
Still what had been a mission almost 40 years ago would be impossible today with the all pervasiveness of the internet, Sky Sports News, text messages and so on. See if you can do it tonight. Avoid the 5.30 kick off and try and get to Match of the Day without knowing the score. I guarantee that if you do that a modern day Flint in the form of Gary Lineker will spoil your efforts by clearly signalling the result.

1 comment:

koncode said...

During England's final qualifing game for the Euros of 2 years ago I had to pick up my wife from Birmingham. I saw the first 20 mins of the match and then had to leave in the knowledge that i wouldn't get home until after the final whistle! I decided to videotape the match so i could watch it but then had to get all the way to birmingham by train, wait for her at new street and then get a train back without discovering the score!!! Especially difficult as the concourse at New Street station has a GIANT tv screen with news 24 on.

I knew that even one drunken reveller post final whistle would give away the result, if they were chanting England won, if they were despondant we hadn't progressed to the Euros.

I actually managed to succeed with returning (3 hours later) without discovering the score but only by keeping my eyes closed for the entire journey and having headphones in to block out all sound! Not easy at all.