As I pointed out last night, there have been several previous posts on here featuring football related music, and tonight it’s time to tie up a few loose ends and complete your collections – or as near as I can manage. There are, I have to admit, gaps. I appear to have missed the bus on finding a copy of the music for Anglia TV’s “Match Of The Week”, and locating any ITV football music between the mid-1980’s and “It’s A Beautiful Day” is more or less impossible. Having said that, I’m rather pleased with my little cleaning up exercise, because it has thrown up a couple of little curios and found a couple of big guns from the history of televised sport that I was frankly annoyed that I hadn’t been able to locate before-hands. Make the most of the last of these theme tunes. After this, it will all be football-related music. You’re going to have to trust me on this much, at least: it really is downhill from here on. I’ve also thrown in some other sporting bots and pieces, for the true completists amongst us.
Match Of The Day I: I’m pretty certain that I’ve mentioned the first ever episode of MOTD on here before. It is very much a symbol of its time. Kenneth Wolstenholme, introducing from the touchline at Anfield prior to match between Liverpool and Arsenal in August 1964, describes Liverpool as “Beatleville” whilst, behind him, the Kop sings “She Loves You”. Both teams lined up with a 2-3-5 formation. Liverpool won a thrilling match 3-2, and there was even a cat on the pitch. This is called “Drum Majorette”, should you have been wondering.
Match Of The Day II: God, I had a struggle getting hold of this. The internet is awash with a horrible version of it that makes it sound like the b-side to the theme tune to The Benny Hill Show, and various midi and polyphonic mobile versions of it, but the original..? Not a prayer. Maybe the BBC are saving it for Jimmy Hill’s funeral, or something. For many, many people, this is the sound of football. This version, from 1993, is almost drowned out by clips of commentary from down the years. Official name? “Offside”, by Barry Stoller.
The Big Match 1974: On a previous post on this subject, I mentioned that I was missing a version of the theme tune to The Big Match, but I have managed to locate it, thanks to the Chris Moyles website, of all places. ITV were big on fanfares in the mid-1970s, and this remained with them until it was superceded by Jeff “War Of The Worlds” Wayne’s “Jubilation”, in 1980. The soundtrack to the golden era of sport on ITV.
Sportsview: The precursor to both Match Of The Day and Grandstand, Sportsview was Britain’s first sports television magazine programme. This programme featured, amongst other things, Roger Bannister’s four minute mile, and coverage of the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne. Hosted by Peter Dimmock, it ran from 1954 to 1968.
Sports Report: So, you’re out of the ground on a cold Saturday afternoon, into the car, and switch on Radio 5. The presenter says, “it’s five o’clock, and time for “Sports Report”, and everything feels a bit better. I don’t know how long the BBC have been using this particular piece of oom-pah-pah strikes up. Even in the modern, all-singing-all-dancing Premiership this survives, and the world is a better place for it. How many of you have heard it all the way through before, though?
Ski Sunday: We’re getting away from football now, for the sound of BBC2 on Sunday afternoons for many a year. Such was the was the state of torpor that this country existed in for such a long time, that skiing survived on the BBC for many, many years, and many people (myself included) spent an hour every week watching foreigners hurtle down the side of a mountain at 120mph, and hoping that the plucky British competitor would finish above about 27th, which they never did.
Snooker: The venerable snooker music is another theme tune that the BBC have ill-advisedly attempted to “jazz up” over the last couple of years or so – not that it needed it, of course. A friend of mine once got stoned and spent several hours teaching himself how to play this on the guitar. He later described it as “the greatest single achievement of my life”. Of course, though, the success of snooker on the television wouldn’t have been popular without…
Pot Black: The programme that took snooker out of dingy back-street halls and onto prime-time television. Well, 9.00 on a Tuesday night on BBC2, anyway. A single frame. And Ray Reardon usually won. Still, a nice piece of ragtime piano though, I think you’ll agree.
Wimbledon: The only time of the year that you’ll regularly get to hear the great Barry Davies nowadays is during the two weeks of Wimbledon every summer. It is, of course, the sound of strawberries and cream, Sue Barker’s gusset dampening at the very concept of Andre Agassi, and middle-England getting itself in a terrible stew over Tim Henman, only be disappointed yet again. And finally…
It’s A Knockout: Not really sport, I know, but still worthy of inclusion on here on account of Herb Alpert’s wonderfully knockabout composition.
And that’s it for TV themes for now. I daresay, though, that I will find another rich seam of them at some point in the future, and then this whole sordid business will begin again. For now though, I’m off to hunt for ITV’s theme music to their Endsleigh League coverage from the early 1990s. I think it was called “You Are The Number One”, and I know it sounded like Chesney Hawkes, but… well… you know how it is.