I remember the days when I was much younger than I am now. Back in those teenage and early 20s years I would have a pretty steady Saturday morning ritual before either heading to Fratton or St. George’s Park to take in my live football. That ritual would involve enjoying Sky Sports’ Soccer AM. The show fronted by Tim Lovejoy and Helen Chamberlain wasn’t must-see TV but a nice relaxing route into the footballing day.
As I got older though I fell out of the habit, not just because of age (and maybe some maturity) but because when Tim Lovejoy left the show (taking a lot of the actual talent with him) it became a shell of what it once was. I know Fenners has returned and is now fronting the show but he was at his best when playing characters. Sheephead was first rate. Robbie Knox et al. They were what made the show funny.
Fans of the show will remember Hells Bells snogging Rocket for his birthday, Fixtures Man, Topless Weather is association with Gravy, ooo northern boys love gravy, Barry, Fenners punching Lovejoy, Lovejoy getting a ball to the knackers, Serge’s goal in the Wembley game, naked hikers, the Dance Off, the Save chip! campaign and the like. Those were the days…
The show is back is the news today as word comes out that having fronted the show since its inception, Helen Chamberlain won’t be on the famous red sofas this season. I have to admit I don’t think I’ve watched a whole episode in a decade or so. I have seen bits here and there but when Andy Goldstein came in, it lost a lot and Max Rushden wasn’t able to stem the tide (although I actually thought/think he’s a solid TV presenter).
Chamberlain though has been a permanent fixture on the show. Her departure would logically have been the catalyst for Sky to finally axe the show and move forward with something new on a Saturday morning. With the new Sky Sports channel line-up, this was the perfect opportunity to put Soccer AM to bed (albeit a decade after it should have been).
Sometimes TV shows evolve and move forward with the times. Soccer AM failed to do this and when it had to change things up once Lovejoy and the gang left, it instead just tried to replicate their success but with inferior presenters/crew.
What shouldn’t be overlooked is the culture of the sport itself changing. Maybe it is just because I have myself drifted away from it as a weekly staple (I’ve become one of those armchair fans mostly) but it does seem as though football has become more of a family outing than the blokey one it still was when I was younger. With that culture (from my PoV anyway) changing, the larks of the show don’t sit with what audiences want any more.
When the time is right for a complete overhaul or an ending, TV producers shouldn’t be afraid to get it done. Leave them wanting more. Fawlty Towers only ran for two season’s as did The Young Ones. Soccer AM had a great run but bringing in Jimmy Bullard to replace Helen Chamberlain along with comedian Lloyd Griffith won’t turn around the sinking ship that has lost around 80% of its audience in the past ten years.
So farewell Soccer AM. I had pretty much forgotten you existed (apart from the final two or three minutes when I see it as I’ve turned over to watch Jeff and the boys at midday and they are not getting stale). Without Tim Lovejoy and the gang you had lost your mojo but without Helen Chamberlain you’ll have lost your soul. The show will be a husk of what it once was and as I end and look outside of the window here in the south, I see that it is light drizzle…
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