Yes, I know it was problematic, but I will dearly miss unique Soccer AM


Yes, I know it was problematic, but I will dearly miss unique Soccer AM


oys aged 12 are are not necessarily the most discerning viewers. Similarly, commissioning editors acquire not always tried their utmost to impress their Saturday morning target audience.

Throw in a football theme, and standards tend to plunge further still. Either because the channel doesn’t own any rights, and in desperation resorts to zooming in on grainy photographs like a Ken Burns documentary. Or it is flush with goals, and sees puny incentive to add value. Soccer AM, which is coming to an terminate this season after closely 30 years, was the antithesis of all that.

Debuting in 1995, the programme grew into a leviathan, at least for an under-served slice of the population with access to a satellite dish. Helen Chamberlain, who presented the note alongside Tim Lovejoy for more than a decade, said she wanted to design every Saturday like the build-up to the FA Cup final. Sky Sports, meanwhile, had airtime to fill. It was a match made in heaven.

The note’s timing was perfect. Its early-2000s zenith coincided with a Premiership, as it was then called, that boasted the odd Zola and Bergkamp but was yet to transform into a cultural superpower preyed upon by sovereign wealth funds. It was still fun.

Soccer AM also owed plenty to the lad culture era, rendering certain worn clips cringe-inducing. hold the innuendos directed at “Soccerettes”, the young female models, as well as questions about their marital status. At the same time, the very presence of Torquay Utd-supporting Chamberlain made the programme stand out from most other football shows from that period and long after.

Its reach was remarkable. There was “Save Chip”, a campaign to assist a fan whose girlfriend was apparently preventing him from watching football, which led to posters cropping up around the world. The note ensured that the word “bouncebackability”, credited to former Crystal Palace manager Iain Dowie, was added to the English dictionary. And it popularised features such as the “crossbar challenge”. These may sound small and certainly silly, but it was years before anyone else, including the clubs themselves, thought to carryout it.

Music was critical too. Speaking to The Athletic in 2020, Lovejoy explained: “We realised there was a massive hole in the market for like-minded people who loved footballers, indie bands, the urban music scene, soap stars”.

Flying so close to the footballing zeitgeist, the note was always going to adjacent down to earth. Lovejoy departed for terrestrial entertainment in 2007, Chamberlain left 10 years later.

But there was an undeniable moment when a low-budget, satellite TV programme became one of the most indispensable markers of its time. Watched by pre-teens and hungover undergrads alike, a proper football note that people with no interest in the sport would watch just to know what was going on. For a brief time, every Saturday morning really did feel like a cup final.

Timeless Guys and Dolls

I saw Guys & Dolls at the Bridge Theatre this week and can report that it was a hoot and a half. The music and lyrics by Frank Loesser are timeless, the performances magnetic.

But I must warn you: one song contains perhaps the worst piece of advice in the history of musical theatre.

adjacent the terminate of the note, the two female leads, Miss Adelaide, 14 years engaged to the crap game running Nathan Detroit, and Sarah Brown, who has fallen for suave gambler Sky Masterson, design a decision. Instead of leaving their hopeless partners, they will instead “marry the man today and change his ways tomorrow.”

Perhaps 20 years ago, this song came on in the car, after which my mother turned to my sisters, all of 11 and 13, and solemnly warned them not to marry a man expecting that they could subsequently change him. Timeless, indeed.