Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Growing up with The Big Match on TV

In this “teenies” decade of the 21st century, I don’t think we realise quite how lucky we are TV football wise. 

Tune into Sky Sports most nights of the week and you will find a live match being broadcast. At weekends there is generally a plethora of big games, with 2 or 3 shown live both on Saturday and the same again a day later. 

In fact, if you know where to look, it’s not difficult to find internet coverage of any Premier League game you may wish to see at any time. But back in the day, it was somewhat different to say the least.

In the sixties, seventies and eighties, live football on TV was generally confined to the FA Cup Final, the occasional Home International Match (often England v Scotland) and of course the World Cup Finals once every 4 years (whether we qualified or not). 

That is not to say there was no football at all. The BBC’s Match of the Day has broadcast Football League highlights for donkey’s years on a Saturday night, but my favourite was always Brian Moore introducing the Big Match on ITV on a Sunday afternoon. 

The Big Match Opening Titles

As I was coming towards my own teenage years, I was rarely allowed to stay up and watch the football on a Saturday night, so my footie fix had to be on the Sunday. 

This wasn’t particularly easy either, as my parents insisted that I went to Sunday school at the local church and, as the meeting ended half-way through the broadcast, it normally meant an almighty (whoops, sorry for that slip-up God!) rush to get out of the door and sprint the half mile home in record time, hopefully to catch the end of the programme. 

Eventually my parents saw sense and realised it was a total lost cause (or more to the point, I was) and let me call time on the weekly religious interlude and any dreams they had of an ecclesiastical career for me finally fell on stony ground.

Jimmy Hill
I used to love watching the Big Match, introduced every week by Brian Moore, with initially (before he defected to MOTD) Jimmy Hill’s match analysis. At that time, I was totally fascinated by JH’s beard (or more to the point his chin). “Could give Brucie a run for his money”, my Dad used to say with a grin on his face. I was certain he was right, whoever Brucie might be.

The late, great Brian Moore
I thought Brian Moore had the best job in the world. To be able to watch the top matches, tell everyone what was going on, go on the telly and get paid for it was a dream for the likes of a snotty nosed little kid like me, staring at an old black and white TV with his eyes out on stalks and his head way up in the clouds.

The only downside was that, as I lived in an area covered by London Weekend TV, the main match was nearly always a game from the capital. This meant that my beloved West Bromwich Albion hardly ever featured until very brief highlights were shown of games covered by other ITV regions. If WBA had played at home to a London club and it had been covered by ATV, then it was likely to be shown (it was never very easy supporting a club based 150 miles from your home). 

The Big Match was broadcast from 1968 until 1983, primarily on a Sunday afternoon, but in later years moved to Saturday evenings. Click here to go to a site dedicated to the programme, with listings of all featured matches over the years.
ATV's Hugh Johns

Did you grow up watching the Big Match and MOTD on TV? Which one did you prefer? 

Who was your favourite commentator? Maybe it was Kenneth Wolstenholme, John Motson, Barry Davies, Hugh Johns, David Coleman or Brian Moore?

The Big Match was one of the highlights of my week – sadly in this modern era, I can’t say the same about the numerous live matches that now adorn our screens.

No comments:

Post a Comment