THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

21 February ~ A few years ago you never got to hear what football supporters thought. Players, presenters and pundits told us black was white and right was wrong. All we could do was scream at the TV so loud we frightened the kids or whack the off button on the radio so hard it wouldn't go on again. Now it's phone-ins, discussion programmes, reality TV and invitations to text your views, email your comments or reply to some blog or other.

Fans having a voice is, of course, fantastic. Supporters being elected to boards, fans organisations having real influence and phoenix clubs sticking up two fingers are all wonderful and all valid. But why is this being drowned out by white van, redneck, lynch mob opinion every time you tune in? I don't want to know that Ryan from Cardiff, Daz from Barnsley and Shane from Basildon are all waiting to speak. I don't care what they're called. I care even less where they're from. And two hours of single issue banalities aren't entertaining and informative, not when that particular subject could be raised, considered, debated and resolved in around 45 seconds by two mates sitting quietly in a pub before they moved on to sort out the rest of an extensive range of topical matters before last orders.

Of course we should have the chance to air our views. But inform us. Give us facts that lead us down the right path. Half way through bring in a manager or a ref or just someone who knows something relevant. Make us pleased that we all contributed, even in a small way, to a discussion on a football subject that needed to take place and that led us somewhere worthwhile in the end.

I suppose it's too much to ask public service broadcasting to do that job. Even though that's the job they're supposed to do. We are forced to buy a TV licence and are threatened with imprisonment if a van with a coat hanger sticking through the roof finds we haven't. But do we get informative intelligent debate on football finance or the vagaries of the modern offside rule? No, we get Spoony. Or the admittedly pleasant girl they pan over to in the boiler room on the Football League Show who tells us someone has emailed something about someone else.

The lovely people on the trust board at Rochdale, the fan who never used to miss a game but can't afford to watch his or her club any more, the Newcastle supporters who long for local ownership of their club. Let's hear from them. Not the follower of one the big four who supports them from his leather settee and hasn't got a clue who they play next week, or the nouveau riche who can afford the equivalent of the cost of a decent used car to have a Premier League season ticket and think the Glazers are doing a good job.
 
Of course there's nothing stopping anyone phoning in. But when the presenter and the format suit the latter and not the former, then we'll switch on, listen to someone talking about John Terry, calling him John as if he knows him, and we'll switch off. Not just the radio, but switch ourselves off just a little bit more from loving the game we thought we'd never stop loving. Now that is something worth talking about. Rob Bradley

Comments (5)
Comment by t.j.vickerman 2010-02-21 12:45:37

And here's an email from Tom in Wigan saying, 'great win today, let's hope we win again next week'.

To be fair, it's probably more insightful than Leroy Rosenior...

Comment by GCostanza 2010-02-21 12:53:28

And there's almost as many pompous morons moaning about these phone-ins, as there are taking part in them!

If you want things to change, phone or write in with your own profound topics.
Or you could always just switch off?

Comment by darkblueturbo 2010-02-22 14:08:57

I often think the same about comments on blogs - everything's abusive against the article, with exclamation marks (case in point, GCostanza).

It's why I stopped listening to football phone in's years ago.
It's why I almost never read comments on any blog.

I chose to do so today to pick up on something Mr. Bradley said in the article (can I call you Rob?)...
One of the people we need to hear from "...the fan who never used to miss a game but can't afford to watch his or her club any more"
That's me.
But I'm lucky enough to follow one of those top four teams, so isn't this me, too?
"the follower of one the big four who supports them from his leather settee..."

I know I used a media trick and missed out the rest of the article there, but I do find myself almost feeling guilty.
It's especially hard when meeting new people - I want them to instantly know I'm in the former group, not the latter.

And to finish back on the actual subject, I'm sure more of 's' would join in but it's hard when the chair of the discussion is Spooney, or Tim Lovejoy, or some other over opinionated (for both position and level of knowledge) type.
They need to make the change first. In the meantime, I'll put some music on when they're talking...


PS - even half time on Sky is less than insightful. We need more of Andy Gray's "Last Word". Best thing on TV by a mile.

Comment by Lincoln 2010-02-22 16:12:49

I can't see the problem with football phone ins myself. I download the one featuring Spoony and the highly intelligent and articulate Marcotti. It is nice to hear what fans think, you know those people who aren't all blessed with outstanding intelligence but are just still valuable to our game. You get the odd myopic idiot, but you get some useful insights from a perspective you wouldn’t normally get from the written media who are similarly biased at times. A good example is the support given to Rafa in the phone ins from people who go to Liverpool games. This is in contrast to the current media lynch mob standing outside his door after anything other than 3 points gained. In a contrasting way it is interesting to hear Spurs fans saying Redknapp has taken them as far as they can compared to 'Happy Harry' and 'Harry Potter' as he is portrayed in some papers.
If you have a listen to 606, you will also hear the more aforementioned myopic idiot admonished by Marcotti rather than simply agreed with.
If you are seeking to make football opinions on the air the sole reserve of those blessed with intelligence then one questions whether you should really be taking an interest in a sport where most of the people involved, players and fans, don't fall into your desired category

Comment by Tomazao 2010-02-23 02:52:42

I quite like 'World football phone in' on 5 live.

but with the majority of the media it's the obssesion with the "big 4" and the plastic supporters that makes it so dull.

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