Wednesday, 5 July 2017
728 Saint and Greavsie
First viewed : 12 October 1985
The blog suddenly speeds up now for reasons I'll explain. At the end of my first year at university, there was a mass exodus from my hall of residence. Only 8 students out of approx. 85 were going to stay at Seton House for the forthcoming academic year, the rest either graduating or house-sharing in bedsit land much nearer the campus. I was particularly disappointed not to be invited into one such arrangement and even though I got on well with most of the other seven stayers I didn't like being one of those left behind. Therefore, when my friend Dave suggested, around March 1985, that we find a house for our final year, I jumped at the suggestion without a moment's hesitation. The search for suitable accommodation was protracted and fraught but eventually Dave, myself and another guy called Pete ended up at 17 Thomas St, a back to back terrace in Woodhouse within walking distance of the campus.
The relevance to this blog is that we didn't have a TV. I think Dave still had an old portable black and white thing but he didn't bring it downstairs and make it communal so we made do with the radio. I did usually walk over to the Student Union to watch Top of the Pops in one of the TV lounges but nothing else that I can recall. Therefore for the last three months of 1985 this blog is restricted to programmes that were broadcast at the weekend when I usually went home.
Saint and Greavsie is the first such example. In September 1985, ITV's long-running World of Sport was scrapped, its execution slightly stayed by a dispute over football coverage which meant that Frank McAvennie's spectacular start in English football went unfilmed. The two most popular elements remained as separate programmes , the lunchtime soccer coverage previously known as On The Ball and for a few more years , the professional wrestling.
Former Liverpool legend Ian St John had been the affable anchorman for On The Ball ever since his dismally unsuccessful stint in football management came to an end in 1977. Peerless goal poacher and recovering alcoholic, Jimmy Greaves had been his foil on the segment ever since his starmaking turn as a pundit during the 1982 World Cup.
Now they were the titular stars of their own show with Saint still the straight anchorman and Greavsie given free rein to come up with amusing one liners. The programme was serious when it needed to be but the duo went out of their way to find amusing angles on the beautiful game.
I missed the first of the separate shows as I was on a coach to Swindon, my first long away trip with the Rochdale FC Supporters Club ( a dismal 4-0 battering for the Dale but Swindon were runaway champions that season ). Generally, I really enjoyed the show though there was irritation at the unfair amount of coverage given to Tranmere Rovers and Stockport County who were being allowed to play their home fixtures on Friday nights at the time and therefore provided the show with some up to date action to show.
The duo were violently hated by some serious football writers and the show's demise when Sky won coverage of the new Premier League in 1992 was widely celebrated. I remember one writer in The Guardian - I can't recall who - for whom the duo's downfall seemed to be adequate justification for the Premier League on its own. I was sad to see the end of the show although latterly Greavsie's act had deteriorated and was more dependent on clowning than his former wit. The pair worked together on some regional coverage of the remaining Leagues, viciously parodied on Fantasy Football League , but with Sky obviously here to stay they eventually went their separate ways.