Football It’s All About Opinions – What’s Yours?

It’s All About Opinions

The 90 Minute Cynic team generally agree that we have the best football radio show on the airwaves, pretty much anywhere in the world.  We broadcast every Thursday at 9pm on Pulse 98.4fm and online www.pulseonair.co.uk.  Tony Coffey decided to listen to some of our competition and here’s how he got on.

To be a proper journalist takes dedication and conviction.  Whether you are embedded with a band of guerrilla soldiers in Cairo, risking beheading by infiltrating a Mexican drugs cartel or just sat up all night trying to hack into celebrity email and phone accounts sometimes you just have to put the effort in. This week I found out that I’m not cut out for a life of hardnosed investigative reporting.  I haven’t got the stamina or inclination to get in where it hurts.

The intention was to listen to the radio phone-ins and report back to you, the discerning reader about what troubled and what excited the nation’s football fans on the first day of the English Premier League.  The hopes and fears, the joy and laughter and all the controversy.  For one Saturday I was going to put my mental state on the line for you.  And I failed.

I lasted about five minutes of Ian Wright and Kelly ‘Kells’ Cates chumming their way through a string of Arsenal fans doing the thing that Arsenal fans do best before giving up and turning the radio off in despair. I can’t listen to it.  Forget terrace violence, obscene language, obscene wages and obscene players and their obscene wives in my eyes the football phone in coupled with the invention of ‘free minutes’ of mobile chat have done more damage to the game than anything.

‘Great show as usual lads’ each caller begins his spiel in a desperate way to ingratiate himself with Ronnie or Adrian or Jason or any other of the increasing number of ex-pros now prepared to talk about Gareth Bale non-stop for 14hours a day, every day.  Great show?  It’s the SAME show!Not only that it’s the same people calling in too!  Listen out on Clyde 1’s Superscoreboard for Tommy from Coatbridge as he postulates his theory on the goings on at Ibrox, flip over to Talksport and five minutes later he’s on there talking about the same subject only to be interrupted when his landline rings.  ‘I’ve gottae go, that’s ‘You’re on Sky Sports’ on the line.’

I’m fully aware of the irony of writing this but who do these people think they are?  What sort of person sits in his house and thinks the listeners would be better off hearing his views on 4-4-2 versus 4-3-2-1?  It’s a self confidence and arrogance I certainly don’t posses but these single lonely men know no shame.  It’s ‘obvious’ to them from their taxi rank in Rochdale that Arsene Wenger has ‘lost the plot’ or the ‘dressing room’.  I’d love to ask these guys what they think the ‘plot’ is and when, apart from that time the police were called was the last time they were actually IN any dressing room, let alone that of a professional football club.

And of course there’s the ‘banter’.  Banter, the unthinking man’s humour.  Banter is to comedy what Cleethorpes is to nano-technology.  It does nobody any good if everything Robbie Savage, sorry @robbiesavage8 says is met with uproarious guffaws and thigh slapping from ‘Chappers’, Alan or more often than not @robbiesavage8 himself.

Robbie likes a joke doesn’t he? Whether he’s joshing with former players about how slow they were or berating a caller because they’ve never played professionally (this means ‘Sav’ knows more than you do by the way) he’s never short of chucking in a joke or none and his moronic braying laughter lets you know when he’s dropped another zinger for you to chuckle away at.

Before I started I did manage to do some research on the source of the River Banter.  As best as I can pin it down there seems to be two possible tributaries.  Some say it springs from the Question of Sport studio in 1970’s Manchester.  Under the leadership of David Coleman Billy Beaumont, Willie Carson and Emlyn Hughes swapped hilarious stories about not being able to jump in line-outs, laughing like a helium fuelled child or just constantly pawing at fellow guests and members of the aristocracy. Other’s think the Banter rises in ITV’s ‘On the Ball’ studio where Saint and Greavsie (actually a breath of fresh air in the early days) joked with many pre-Operation Yew Tree favourites about not being good at golf.  In a famous episode they went live for some reason to Trump Towers where a bemused Donald Trump made the draw for the 1991-92 Rumbelows Cup.  Ask your dad about Rumbelows, ask the people of Aberdeen about Donald Trump. Trump referred to Wimbledon as ‘Wimbleton’ but that didn’t matter the banter was great and flowed like champagne – which is where I think the trouble started for Greavsie.

Since then we’ve been unable to stem the flow of banter and we’re drowning in it.  Nothing’s serious, everything is light and frothy, Tim Lovejoy and Max Rushden don’t need to know anything about anything as long as he can make a joke out of someone’s jumper and soon-to-be-dads are forced to ‘slam’ their wives during labour so Channel 4 can crank out shows like One Born Every Minute every minute. So now we’ve got numbskulls with a phone and no sense of humour talking about goal line technology, why David Moyes should be sacked (give it a couple of weeks) and why ‘Little Scotty Parker can still do a job’ morning, noon and night to halfwits being listened to by no marks.

It’ll never go away of course, the reason the Football Phone In is so popular with broadcasters is because it’s so cheap to make.  There’s nothing I can do about that.  The only thing I can do is not listen to any of it.

I am prepared to do that for you.

Do you agree with Tony? Comment below or tweet us @90minutecynic

Follow Tony on Twitter @tonycoffey and get along to Tony’s final show at The Edinburgh Fringe on Monday 26th August at The Beehive Inn, Grassmarket.


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