On Saturday, Hearts played Dundee United at Tannadice. Being five weeks before Christmas and looking at an already stretched budget, I didn’t venture to Tayside. Instead, I spent a rare Saturday afternoon on front of the television and watched the excellent BBC’s Final Score. It was Scottish Cup afternoon and Airdrie United thrashed Gala Fairydean 11-0.
It was one of those scorelines that the teleprinter deems it appropriate to spell out, almost as if it patronisingly doesn’t think you’re smart enough to read ‘11’ without thinking it’s a mistake. The teleprinter has been part of the football results service for years now and in the age of cutting edge technology, you know if your take your eyes off the screen for a few minutes you risk the chance of missing an update on your team.
I’m old enough to recall the days when the BBC had Grandstand as its Saturday afternoon sports showcase and in the early 1970s there would be the legendary sports commentator/presenter David Coleman displaying a knowing grin as the final scores began to roll in at twenty minutes to five (in those days the half time interval lasted just ten minutes) I lived in Aberdeen 40 years ago and as a child at this time of year would be prone to being trailed round the shops with my mother in a last minute attempt to complete the Christmas shopping. I recall a couple of days before Christmas 1972 standing in Aberdeen’s Union Street outside a branch of Radio Rentals (ask your parents, young ‘uns) An array of television sets beamed at me from the display window - some were even in colour - and the old typewriter style printer would tap Heart of Midlothian 1.….Dundee……..then nothing but a flickering star symbol. The tension felt while waiting for the teleprinter to complete the job was quite unbearable. I crossed my fingers and hoped the next character would be ‘0’. When, after what seemed an eternity, the teleprinter typed out ‘2’, my heart sank. Being just ten years old, I wasn’t really into conspiracy theories but I harboured a suspicion about the BBC that day that has surfaced all too regularly ever since - usually at quarter to five on a Saturday. I can’t remember for sure if it was David Coleman on duty that afternoon but I can envisage his smug grin and uttering the words ‘Hearts unbeaten in four - until today’.
Even worse was the odd occasion when the teleprinter got the result wrong. I can’t remember exact details when it came to Hearts games but believe me dear reader, it did. For example Celtic…2 Hearts….3. Much dancing and leaping for joy on the streets of Aberdeen invoked looks of contempt from the locals, which turned to mirth a few moments later when the blasted teleprinter typed Corr. Celtic 2 Hearts 0. The emotional damage that could cause a young Hearts fan is incalculable.
Today, the internet and smart phone technology means we no longer have to rely on ‘Final Score’ to tell us about the fortunes of our team. However, it’s good to see the BBC have retained at least one piece of Saturday afternoon tradition. And it would be fun to see the teleprinter have a sense of humour to lift the gloom of those who are being constantly reminded of their team getting beat. For example, a few weeks ago it could have typed out Deveronvale 4 Berwick Rangers 0 (a bloody long way to go to see your team get knocked out the cup by non-league opposition); Culter 1 Partick Thistle 1 (ha-ha, Smith, that’s your fixed odd coupon busted and it’s only half time in the other games); QPR 2 Man City 3 (uh-oh, that will mean another post match rant by Neil Warnock); Newcastle United 2 (Ameobi 88) Tottenham Hotspur 2 (hah! Quick, let’s have a shot of Garth Crook’s face on camera 1 - see, not so smug now, eh Crooksy?!)I know this is quite a juvenile way of thinking but Hearts are causing me and many others a lot of pain just now. The fella who has read the football scores on BBC1 for the last 40 odd years retired on Saturday and I was thinking how he usually gave Hearts their full name - Heart of Midlothian. Although even Tim Gudgin has now resorted to Hearts Nil...
My pain isn't eased by the crass pre Christmas period that has set in, even earlier it seems this year. However, my spirits would be lifted if the teleprinter begins 2012 on 2 January by flashing across the screen Hibs 0...Hearts… 8 (eight)
That would make it a Happy New Year...