The iconic opening fanfare debouches from the screen and speakers. The presenters introduce the adoring tribesmen to the spectacle – delayed by way of magic and abstinence from news – for which they’ve waited dutifully in half-peaked anticipation. In ceremonial formation, the guileless gladiators pay homage to their ancestors by shaking hands with their opponents; an archaic yet sublime gesture replete with barren meaning. And then it begins… Hoards of doting fans, shameless in their sycophantism and paternal jealousy, scream and prostrate themselves to the hallowed ground for a nation to see…. Exaggeration? Perhaps, but where better to extol the virtues of near-satiric exaggeration than on Match Of The Day?!
Just like ‘corruption in politics’ and ‘tackiness on reality T.V.’ the ‘injustice of footballer’s salaries’ is Teflon coated to the greasy slander the masses throw at it. All are debased and all are entrenched in society. The only thing to do is to gain some pleasure out of them and that would seem the modus operandi of MOTD. Don’t be fooled, these hardened pundits may give the illusion of dogged sincerity towards this game – their wordplay is often effortless – but the proof is in the editing and the editing is majestic.
Football’s conveyor belt of inspiration for every young follower; the goals are treated with full comedic allowance. Regardless of a goal’s actual merit MOTD finds precious reel to showcase every player’s exuberance and gymnastic talent. Whether a 200mph, physics defying rocket or a tumbling toe-poke from two yards out, each player is allowed the right to exult to the heavens their divine gift on national television. Treating each “leather-over-line” with such equality is the stuff of a Thomas Paine wet dream.
The real bread and butter of the show. Without fouls and contentious refereeing decisions, the adoring fans would have to deflate their empyrean righteousness and accept fault in their heroes. At MOTD they’re not so cruel as to demand such sacrifice. Every angle available to technology shunned by the game’s authorities is put to perfect use by the pundits for their polemic armchair-opinions. And what footage it is! Every flail, every grimace, every split-second recovery of these superhuman Thespians is documented sublimely, and without even a smirk from the pundits. That’s professionalism! Even Morecambe and Wise would let slip wee chuckle on occasion!
The reverence due to this portion of the show will always exceed our puny human capabilities. On the pitch, players may outmatch the Managers in agility and endurance, but the nimble-minded Gaffers are dominant in interviews. Under the pressure of camera and spotlight, Managers dip, duck, dive and dodge questions with platitudes of such ineffable brazenness it’s a mystery the viewers can be so content on a weekly basis with so little real substance.
I hope you’ll join me next week for a full round-up of the ‘Saturday night laughs,’ and I’ll leave you with a gem from Roberto Mancini, talkative Gaffer of the penurious Manchester City, on their 1-1 draw with Arsenal:
“We had one problem in this game: we didn’t score enough goals.”