Opening Seen No. 2: Saint & Greavsie

Whether it’s the opening scene of a movie or the first ten minutes of a piece of visual non-fiction, here are some selective video grabs and thoughts to hopefully establish a narrative and/or make sense.

First time around we looked at hip hop classic Juice; now it’s UK armchair pundits and former footballers Ian St-John and Jimmy Greaves with an un-original but still applicably-titled compilation of football howlers. There’s no snark; Jimmy makes sure his tie is looking squiffy and it’s all rather sweet.

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The front cover of this video. The main image on the box together with the pixellated welcome screen (below) and lamentable production values on set suggests 1976 not 1996. The strap line at the bottom of the video box does not, sadly, detail that viewers will get a chance to see football’s funniest flakes. But fans of boots in the nads will no doubt be grinning from ear to ear.

 

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What’s not to love? The unnecessary but grammatically correct inverted commas; the halo for the ‘i’; the red and blue to indicate our hosts’ most celebrated teams; and lastly the lack of a hyperbolic exclamation mark at the end of ‘game’. Quite rightly, as this is a gently-humoured programme which deserves a cosy Commodore 64 of a frontispiece. Today’s compilations would have CGId explosions of a Van Basten rocket alongside an all caps 20-point ‘FAIL!’ stuck on the midriff of a sheepish but angry Mark Bosnich. Today sucks.

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For the first Opening Seen I took the screen grabs, wrote four packed pages of notes and then forgot all about it. When I came to post it on here, the notes had vanished, leaving only the grabs. This time I thought to augment my low-fi capturing with some equally low-fi iPhone notes. The opening few minutes of this video compilation concern Saint’s Liverpool FC playing Greavsie’s Tottenham Hotspur. The spidery writing, well…

 

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Liverpool player St John bellows at the referee in a complaint over the positioning of a Spurs free kick just outside the penalty area. Out of shot to the left of the man in black, Spurs and England’s Greaves readies himself.
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Emlyn Hughes at the near end of the wall points at something (his future allegiance to Margaret Thatcher and the Conservative Party?) as the Liverpool players show their uncertainty by facing every which way. A Spurs player quickly makes his way behind the wall…

 

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Here is St John laughing and pointing in memory of the Reds’ poor wall as the Spurs No. 8 is congratulated by his team-mates for his adept and unexpected free kick (it’s unknown whether S&G ever thought of recreating the goal using Subbuteo men or Weebles on the baize pitch in front of them. I’d like to imagine a younger member of the production team suggested it and at least one eyebrow was raised before the ‘f’ word was liberally aired).

 

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This should say Jimmy has a go at ‘you Jocks’, specifically the goalkeepers of Scotland. He doesn’t explain why he’s taking the opportunity to come over all sectarian when the next clips are of keepers’ blunders and there’s nary a scrap of tartan fabric nor an Irn Bru can to be seen.

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John Lukic and Peter Bonetti are verbally slapped down by S&G over their on-screen haplessness with Jimmy particularly relishing when Arsenal’s Bob Wilson let the ball slip past him at Wembley of all places. Aside from the the Jocks comment, this is as snidey as the commentary gets. This grab shows the Derby goalie reading himself to pummel a defender for a shocking back pass that left him with no chance of stopping a goal being scored. Frozen in time, the keeper is the personification of James Cosmo of Braveheart/Game Of Thrones fame (it’s the head shag and fighting fists). The contrast between how many kids were at this game, hugging the touchline, in contrast with Premiership matches nowadays is also significant.

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Again, a translation of my finger-tipped iPhone scrawl is needed: ‘Saint tries but fails to hide the death in his eyes. No chortle can fool the viewers’

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Defenders hadn’t been allowed to pass back to their keepers for four years by the time this video was made. The decision was taken in order to stop time-wasting and liven games up, but S&G seemed to suggest it had just happened along with the phasing out of rationing and the start of BBC 2.

 

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No idea who this goal scorer was. I was simply impressed with the strip and his alarming dentures. Upon reflection, the lack of colour in the crowd is also rather noticeable.

 

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Saint makes reference to his managerial days at Pompey when he ‘inherited’ a forward, the one-time golden boy and ex-Gunner Peter Marinello. You can hear in Saint’s voice that PM might not be on his Christmas card list [he played 95 games over two seasons… and scored seven goals], but it’s equally important to recognise that this clip was over 20 years old – was there trouble locating more recent fumbled antics? Viewers at the time of  its original release may have thought so but then Australian tw Rupert Murdoch’s Sky TV was already causing a revolution in how and when football matches were shown. Me? I bought the video for 15 pence so I can’t complain…

Saint and Greavsie then talk of ‘Big’ Bob Latchford – who is said to ‘look like Rasputin’ -and ‘Big’ Vic Hallam who ‘read it well’. This is as in-depth as the punditry gets.

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There’s no let-ups in the guffaws and rib-tickling department as S&G delight in the quagmire that was Derby County’s ground. Mud-on-mud afficionados may want to dwell on this image of yesteryear top-flight football whilst supporters of Grassmaster hybrid pitches will look away in disgust.

The opening fifteen minutes (and thus this piece of fond frippery) comes to an end with Jimmy stating that3db0587b-349d-43d5-ab77-8daf9daa21e8.pnga1619e4a-8d20-4278-afed-d149be61992d