Posts Tagged ‘football’


March 18, 2015

Few may remember the long bygone era when watching a football match required going to a stadium, but times are ever changing and for some even watching a full game on telly feels slightly anachronistic. After all, why waste all that time staring at a screen nothing much is happening on, when you can go on Youtube and watch a plethora of short video clips (of varying production quality) that have all the action without the boring bits? At first these clips may seem dazzlingly random and arbitrary but there are distinct and recognisable genres.

Match highlights

Match highlights is the oldest and most traditional genre of all. In fact it isn’t even one genre, as there are the 30-60 minute long highlights, which is basically the entire match with stoppages edited out, then there are medium length highlights, these are slightly trickier to edit down to 1ö-15 minutes, but our focus is now on short highlights, featuring 3-5 minutes of action, maybe 6 if there was a goal fest.

Short highlights are notoriously hard to get right, it requires talent and experience. The main challenge being that if you only include incidents that end in goals, the result will contain as much dramatic tension as when you see a mechanic turn up to fix the washing machine in a porn movie.  We all know that in real life not all washing machine repairs end in anal intercourse (heck, most of the time your washing machine isn’t even fixed), we still have no doubts about the outcome when we see it happening on screen.

Some narrative has to be constructed then out of 10-15 well-chosen incidents – short highlights are definitely artificial constructions, which on a good day re-create a similar overall experience as the match itself. Heroes, villains, turning points and conflicts need to be created, a tough job even if you weren’t further constrained by a pre-recorded match footage. That’s why you won’t find many home-made short highlights on the internet, but the better professional pieces that you do find, deserve some admiration.

Goal compilation

Goal compilations are much more of a mixed bag, with them concentrating solely on the goals of a single player or team. I wouldn’t even try to extend the porn analogy to this genre, let us contend with the observation that goal compilations don’t even attempt to capture the feel and the rhythm of a football match. Yes, the rhythm, dictated not by the slow-mo footage we see but the thumping mid-tempo two-four time soundtrack.

In the world of the goal compilation there’s no room for the natural ebb and flow of football, everything has to be bombastic, mechanised, following the robotic tic-toc-tic-toc of the music.

Just how much power the backing music wields can be seen by comparing the video above to an example of the emerging scene of goal compilations set to classical music, like this truly wonderful piece highlighting the artistic skill of Matt Le Tissier.


Out of all the football clip genres this is probably the most recent and also the weirdest. What happens here is the total deconstruction of football: watch all the touches of a single player, and only that. Although it is very tempting to ascribe this to deliberate post-modernism, the probable explanation is more prosaic: Football Manager. FM is a perfectly fine and enjoyable computer game, but it can create the false impression that players are nothing more than a collection of abilities, skills and stats, all expressed in precise numbers. A team in turn consists of X number of players, and a set of meticulously crafted formations and training regimes.

Watching them in this context touch videos are bleak and deeply saddening: what you see isn’t just your ordinary cult of the hero – that’s been part of football since the earliest days –, it is a total denial of the concept of team.

Fuck knows, maybe it is all random after all.


June 23, 2010

When you’re watching football in a pub, there’s always the same dilemma you have to face: ‘Do I watch the game sat down or do I just stand at the bar?’

Well, it all depends on how optimistic one is. Cause celebrating goals is easier if you’re already standing, but a sitting posture is better for head-in-hand moments.

That’s all I’ve got on that one.

Actually, never mind whether your pint glass is half empty or half full. All that matters is whether you had drunk the missing half or spilled it.

Shameless Cross-site Self-advertising

March 12, 2010


The target man

March 1, 2010

I am alone.

Of course that isn’t technically true, there are defenders all around me but they don’t count. Isolated from my team, I’m ploughing a lone furrow as a second-rate-pro-turned-pundit would say.

I’m alone and I’m dreaming.

Oftentimes I dream I’m a soldier in a trench. All the others have died but I’m still here, knee-deep in mud replenished by the drizzling rain, sitting on the shoulder of the last defender, waiting for the order to charge the machine gun nests mounted on the goal line. I know the order will come, in five minutes or in fifty, who knows when? But it will come, it will surely come one day.

Suddenly, the artillery fires a ball high above me. The signal! “Chase it, chase it!”, the words are ringing in my ears, but I’m already up and away, running through an imaginary curtain of bullets, leaving the defenders behind, leaving everything behind. By the time I dare open my eyes, I’m almost there, two more steps, one…I see a sudden yellow flash to my right, I stumble…

I was offside again.

The assistant’s flag descends on me like an axe to put me out of my misery, but of course it doesn’t. I have to pick myself up from the dirt, surrounded by the same defenders, they grin at me with their right arms still raised; “You don’t have to do this, you know” I keep saying to myself, but I know I’m lying. Like a modern Laocoon, I’m locked in my eternal struggle — for 90 minutes. Or less, if I’m shown a red card for stamping on an endangered serpent.

Not in my league

February 1, 2010

You’d think one has to be a real connoisseur of football to support a non-league team. And I don’t mean namby-pamby Conference professional teams but real lower league semi-pro football, the kind where it still is possible for one of the supporters to stand in as linesman if the referee’s injured or where catering means a single burger van with the obligatory misplaced apostrophe (“In a class of it’s own”).

You have to have an acute awareness of irony to truly enjoy standing in the terraces of the kop end on a bitterly cold and floodlit Saturday afternoon and listening to the theme tune of Hawaii Five-O as the teams are trudging out onto the slightly boggy pitch.

And indeed, Most people you meet there are very knowledgeable or at least self-deprecating, like the bloke who shouted “Wem-ber-leeeey!” after a victorious FA Cup qualifying round game.

That’s why I was suprised the other day to hear someone yelling incessantly at one of our players. “Wiiiiiiiide, wiiiiiiiide!”, he kept screaming at the poor guy, until his mate turned to him and said “For fuck’s sake, at least let him take that bloody throw-in first.”