The Long Ball Tactic

Scunthorpe Utd on the Football League Show

Posted in Uncategorized by mike on November 29, 2009

The excitement I felt watching my team Scunthorpe United on the Football League Show was, I think,  pretty much exactly the same as it would have been had I been eight years old. In honour of this seminal moment and for the aid of those who may have missed it I now present the story of the highlights of Scunthorpe United’s magnificent draw being on TV!

*drum roll*

Gary Lineker closes proceedings on Match of the Day with a witty pun, Mark Lawrenson puts the last of the complimentary biscuits in his pockets and goes to catch the last bus home as the studio lights go out one by one. Somewhere, in a warehouse in Darlington, Manish Bhasin and Steve Claridge are making their final preparations for the jewel in the crown of BBC1’s Saturday night television…THE FOOTBALL LEAGUE SHOW

The Football League show, you may notice, has no theme tune. Literally. The closest it gets is a rather primal drum beat accompanied by the sound of generic football crowd noise. Many have wondered why this is. In an interview with National Geographic, occasional Football League Show pundit Dean Windass shed some light on this unusual quirk:

“Well, basically, what it was was me and Clarra [Steve Claridge of ‘Ask Steve’ fame] were supposed to have a rap battle over the drum beat that you now hear as the shows theme music. But then I turns round and says ‘no, I’m not doing that’. ”

A nation of fathers put a calming hand on their son’s shoulders, for some the excitement is too much – The Football League Show has started!

Flatmate of Mark Lawrenson and respected TV presenter in his own right, Manish Bhasin, is joined by former footballer Steve Claridge. Claridge has won praise from many for his work on the show and earlier this year received nominations for a BAFTA, Ivor Novello award, Nobel Peace Prize and a much-coverted NME award.

It is believed that if the Football League Show contained absolutely no footage of football and was merely Bhasin and Claridge chatting for 50 minutes it would still retain 100% of the TV audience, such is the chemistry between the two and their appeal to young and old alike. For the time being, however, they’re here to talk about one thing and one thing only – football and, more specifically, Scunthorpe United v Leicester City:

The sense of occasion is palpable. A pair of giant rabbits in Scunthorpe shirts lead the teams out, the ref holds a special claret and blue ball, no expense has been spared by Scunthorpe United chairman Steve Wharton. This is not just another football game – this is a game being shown as the main highlight on the Football League show!

Leicester City take an early lead. Unable to believe that he has scored a goal in such an important game, Leicester forward Martyn Waghorn politely requests Scunthorpe supporters be quiet for a second so that he can take in the moment and regain his composure.

The brainiest managerial team in all of football plot yet another victory. “Should we maybe have started some wide players instead of four very similar central midfielders, boss?” inquires Scunthorpe assistant manager Andy Crosby. “No, Andrew” replies manager Nigel Adkins “no we should not.”

Iron ‘keeper Joe Murphy pulls off a wonder save as centre backs David Mirfin and Rob Jones admire the spectacle from the floor.

Meanwhile, back on the Scunthorpe bench, a visibly ponderous Andy Crosby has come up with a masterplan. “Maybe we should have our centre backs on their feet instead of lying down. And maybe we should bring on super-amazing winger and big-game goal machine Martyn Woolford to bring some much-needed width and perhaps sneak a point”, he tells Adkins. The manager reacts angrily to this, “fine! You manage the team! Bring Woolford on! See where it gets you!” he tells Crosby as he thunders off into the stands.

Deep into injury time Scunthorpe steal a point with the last kick of the game. But who was that amazing man running down the wing, picking up the loose ball and keeping his cool to score the crucial goal?

As the final whistle goes an embarrassed Nigel Adkins returns to the dugout in a clever disguise to collect the praise for his team’s credible draw. As fans exit the ground into the cold northern night people know that they have witnessed something special. In years to come they will tell their Grandchildren “I was at a game that was analysed by Steve Claridge”.


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