Friday, January 13, 2006

We don't need live transmission

Source: The Guardian

FC United's Tony Howard celebrates a return to the days when fans don't actually see goals

Before millions of tea-time television viewers marvelled at Xabi Alonso's long-range goal for Liverpool on Saturday, we at FC United saw our own man do almost the same thing. Former Manchester United youth team captain Josh Howard collected a poor clearance from the Nelson goalkeeper on the touchline 45 yards from goal and lobbed the ball expertly under the crossbar.

Those who saw David Beckham score that goal at Selhurst Park in 1996 began making comparisons even before the final whistle had blown. It was a moment to savour and unlike the majority of FC's goals this season, we will actually get to see it again: because in an extraordinary departure from the norm, ITV's Granada Soccer Night caught it on camera.

Years ago, before football reached television saturation point, Soccer Night could always be relied upon to offer the only chance to see goals from midweek games. United fans unable to get to Arsenal to see Lee Sharpe's hat-trick in the 6-2 Rumbelows Cup win in November 1990 could enjoy it on the north-west's weekly highlights programme.

We got to re-watch United's victory over Liverpool at Old Trafford in the same competition and confirm the view that David Burrows should have been sent off for cynically bringing down Danny Wallace. All played out to a soundtrack provided by Madchester band Northside.

But many United fans recall the 1985-86 season when Ron Atkinson's side won the first 10 games and not one was filmed due to a row over advertising. And until this week United fans now watching non-league football had to revert back to those days, when you saw the action just once and the only re-runs were in your mind.

It's been a strange experience going 20 years back in time, and many of us who've missed goals while queuing for a pie will never see them. Therefore, there was actually a cheer when it was announced that Granada cameras were present on Saturday so we'd be able to watch Howard's goal again.

We never thought we'd see the day when we'd once more be scrabbling desperately for a blank video to tape our team's goals. These are strange times indeed. Now where did I put that Northside CD ...

Tony Howard
13 January