It’s August 22nd 1964; The Beatles were still together, The Jimi Hendrix Experience hadn’t been formed yet, and football in the UK was on the rise. With this, there was no better way to celebrate the rise than to present every weekend game in a new BBC show called Match of the Day.
Although it’s a show primarily built to bring together the week’s footballing highlights, the series happens to offer so much more. Showing how live television should be done, Kenneth Wolstenholme, David Coleman, Jimmy Hill, Des Lynam, and England striking legend / crisp flogger Gary Lineker have all presented throughout the 50 years with their army of pundits to entertain and inform, telling us where the teams are going right or if they’re destined for relegation.
So you might not be a football fan, maybe you have no idea what I’m talking about or what a pundit is, so let me explain: think of a pundit as a co-host, a surprise guest even. The match highlights will play out and Gary will turn to the pundit, say all-time Premier League top scorer Alan Shearer, and he’ll give his verdict on the match in his soft Geordie tone. So, now we have that out of the way, why is this important?
In 1991, Rupert Murdoch battled for the rights to present the Premier League matches on Sky. After winning the battle, Sky Sports now shows the majority of Premier League and Champions League matches. However, Match of the Day’s presenter and pundit format clearly struck a chord, demonstrating how information and entertainment can go together, thus being replicated by other broadcasters.
Entertainment, this key word, is something that other shows have capitalised from Match of the Day. Game shows have been created on the back of the programme, doing so well that they’ve been nominated and won awards. A League of Their Own (Sky 1) sees comedians and sports superstars compete in ridiculous challenges, occasionally answering quiz questions. Hosted by James Corden, the show found its name on a BAFTA last year, proving that sports entertainment and information is still necessary and probably wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for Match of the Day.
It’s okay if football isn’t your thing, if you don’t understand why people scramble to their screens when Match of the Day is on. After all, it’s just football… right?
Do you love or loathe Match of the Day?
Comment with your thoughts.