Soccer AM

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Soccer AM
Soccer AM.png
Starring Jane Hoffen (1995)
Russ Williams (1995–96)
Gary A. Stevens (1995–96)
Helen Chamberlain (1995–present)
Tim Lovejoy (1996–2007)
Andy Goldstein (2007–08)
Max Rushden (2008–2015)
John Fendley (2015-present)
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
Production
Running time 240 minutes (1995–2001)
180 minutes (2001–2010)
120 minutes (2010–2016)
90 minutes (2016-present)
Release
Original network Sky Sports
Picture format 4:3 (1995–2002)
16:9 (2002–present)
Original release 1995 (1995) – present
External links
Website www.skysports.com/watch/tv-shows/soccer-am

Soccer AM is a British Saturday-morning football-based comedy/talk show, predominantly based around the Premier League (though also showing clips from The Football League, Scottish Premiership and some European leagues), also clips from North America's Major League Soccer. Originally presented by Jane Hoffen, Gary A. Stevens and Russ Williams, they lasted just a year before Helen Chamberlain and Tim Lovejoy replaced them, where Lovejoy served for over a decade. He has since been replaced by Andy Goldstein and, more recently, Max Rushden who has now been replaced by John Fendley. The show has been aired on Sky Sports 1 each Saturday morning of the football season since 1995 however will now more than likely be broadcast on Sky Sports new channel Sky Sports Main Event. In early 2009, the 500th episode was broadcast. Although the show is filmed live from 2010 it has been broadcast on a momentary delay due to bad language and/or inappropriate content from certain guests.

From the 2016/17 season the show changed its running time to just 90 minutes, cutting well known segments out of the show such as the fans of the week.

Fans of the week[edit]

The "Fans of the Week" feature was a mainstay of the show. Eight fans of a British football club came in as studio guests every week, seated in the "Luther Blissett Stand". The Luther Blissett Stand was opened by Chris Waddle on 20 December 1997. Everton fans were the first fans to sit in the newly renamed stand. They are featured in various aspects of the show, culminating in a team footballing challenge at the end of the programme.

The car park game[edit]

The challenge involves the fans attempting to kick a football through a number of holes within the sixty second time limit. The challenge has been renamed almost every season, along with the props and background music for the feature. The other studio guests all have the opportunity to attempt to score as well. Its various guises through the years include:

  • "Volley Challenge"'(2015–present) - Fans must volley a shot and try and score past a "celebrity" 'keeper each week. The contestants are two sets of football fans.
  • "The Champions League"' (2012–2015)
  • "Wembley 2011" (2010–11)
  • "The Glory Hole" (2009–10)
  • "Road To Rome" (2008–09) – Fans now have a much larger hole to kick the ball through. The set now features a large Champions League trophy surrounded by players such as Steven Gerrard, Ryan Giggs, and Billy McNeill. Other features of the set include Julius Caesar holding up a red card and a red carpet displaying the Champions League logo along with the city in which the final will be played, Rome.
  • "Hollywood" (2007–08) – following David Beckham's move to the Los Angeles Galaxy, the game featured a Hollywood Walk of Fame-style "pavement" leading to the familiar target with a David Beckham mock-up alongside it. The stars included friends of the show with Jeff Stelling as the biggest star on the walkway. Noel Gallagher, Ricky Hatton, Mani, and Kasabian's Sergio Pizzorno also featured.
  • "Road to Wembley II" (2006–07) – a revision of 2005–06's "Road to Wembley" – a tongue-in-cheek response to the failure of Wembley Stadium to be completed in time for 2006 FA Cup Final. On 26 August 2006, Kasabian guitarist Sergio Pizzorno scored what was hailed to be the best goal on Soccer AM by Helen Chamberlain – flicking the ball up in front of him and unleashing a spectacular right footed volley clean through the hole target whilst wearing cowboy style boots.
  • "Road to Wembley" (2005–06) – the original edition was named to celebrate the return of the FA Cup Final to Wembley Stadium in May 2006, although remained unchanged despite The FA's announcement that the stadium would not be complete. The challenge was 'scoring' by hitting the ball through the hole in the letter "b" (of the inflated word "Wembley") as many times as possible in 80 seconds from 12 yards. Viewers are encouraged to text in and guess the number of times the "Fans of the Week" will get the ball through the "b". This is done with the background music of "Que Sera, Sera". Teams who score seven or more times won an "Easy" T-shirt for each member.
  • "We Are the Champions League" (2004–05) – celebrating Sky Sports' purchase of broadcasting rights for the Champions League, the central star of a 3D Champions' League logo was removed and made the target from 12 yards. The background music was, "Blitzkrieg Bop" by "The Ramones"
  • "Feed The Iron Curtain" (2002–03) – fans had to kick the ball through the Iron Curtain as many times as possible in one minute. Meanwhile, the Eastern European substitutes (wearing red TCCCP tracksuits - a pun on the old СССР shirts and TCP the antiseptic) would warm-up, a memorable moment from "Feed the Iron Curtain" was when one of the celebrities missed the "goal" and kicked the rebounding ball in frustration and the ball hit one of the eastern European substitutes in the face. This celebrity was Frank McAvennie and Tim and Helen loved it so much that they renamed the car park The Frank McAvennie Car Park in his honour.
  • "World Cup 2002" (2001–02) – a giant face of Sven-Göran Eriksson with his mouth wide open was the target, with the background music of "Sven, 'Gor-don', Eriksson, tra, lala, lala!" (to the tune of Brown Girl in the Ring).
  • "Feed the Goat" (2000–01) – the target being the mouth of a giant goat, with the background music of "Feed The Goat And He Will Score" (to the tune of Cwm Rhondda) – a popular terrace chant for Shaun Goater at Manchester City.
  • "Lob Star" (1999–00) – The target was a large net, held up by a lobster. The object being to chip the ball into the net from distance. Notably, Neil Lennon successfully found the target, only to be told he had done so before the whistle. Following the whistle, he repeated the feat.
  • "Chips" (1998–99) – As the name suggested, the ball had to be chipped into the target. This had to be done over a short "brick" wall. The ball boys at this time were American state troopers in the style of those in the popular TV show CHiPs.
  • "Rob Jones" (1996–1998) – A round target with a head shot photo of Liverpool defender Rob Jones glued onto it. The target was on a spring sticking out of a small box. Each week Tim would joke 'because Rob Jones hasn't scored for Liverpool in the 2/3/4/5 seasons he's been playing for them'.

Soccerette[edit]

The Soccer AM Soccerette was a feature of the show for several years. A young female modelling a Soccer AM T-shirt, which was redesigned each season acted as a competition prize. Viewers can win the T-shirt by guessing the number of goals scored by the "Fans of the Week" in their team challenge later in the show. The Soccerette was introduced by the male presenter and was asked a series of questions that almost inevitably led into premeditated gags and innuendo.

The Soccerette was asked about her marital status, which results in rampant cheers if "single", and boos if the Soccerette "has a boyfriend" or "married" (although the latter was fairly rare), and a crew member would run on without a shirt and react. Former host Tim Lovejoy used to declare that the Soccerette's relationship will "never last", regardless of how long they had been together.

Famous Soccerettes have included Sky Sports News Natalie Sawyer, Hollyoaks Jennifer Metcalfe, Lucy Pinder and Big Brother's Louise Cliffe. This section ceased after complaints about its outdated attitudes.[1]

Footballing features[edit]

Unbelievable Tekkers[edit]

Unbelievable Tekkers is a segment featuring a clip of football action from the past week, usually the best goal or piece of skill of the week. The phrase was apparently first used by Andy Ansah on Wayne Rooney's Street Striker, with the word "tekkers" meaning "technique". The introduction goes "Some tekkers are good..." (with clip of a great Wayne Rooney overhead kick), "Some tekkers are bad..." (with clip of David Dunn miskicking and falling over) "but some tekkers..." (Andy Ansah clip) "Unbelievable Tekkers!" The 2010-11 season Soccer AM T-shirt also featured this phrase.

Nutmeg Files[edit]

A nutmeg is the term applied when a player plays the ball between his opponent's legs and regains control of the ball after going round him. Another ever-present feature of the show, the weekly edition of "The Nutmeg Files" shows a clip from the previous week's football matches of a player being nutmegged, while the "nutmegger" is superimposed shouting "NUTS!", "¡Caňo!" (Brazil/Portugal), "Tunnel" (Italy) and "Petit Pont" (France), depending on which country the "nutmegger" is from. This feature is (very loosely) based on The Rockford Files.

Third Eye[edit]

Third Eye has been a feature of the show from its outset, and involves viewers sending in often-comical mishaps from the television (generally football matches) that may well have been missed by the majority of the viewing audience. These typically involve people falling over or being caught doing something stupid.

Taxi[edit]

The feature Taxi!, accompanied by the theme tune of the US sitcom, consists of yet more clips from the previous week's live football. The clips chosen are typically embarrassing displays of showboating gone wrong. The embarrassed player's name is then suffixed to the voice-over phrase "TAXI FOR...". Concluding with the quote "Taxi is filmed in front of a live stadium audience."

The presenters highlight several embarrassing moments from the previous week's football, the worst comes last and is usually introduced with:

"It's time for a trip to (stadium)".
"Taxi for (name)!"

Team Mates[edit]

Team Mates is the section at the end of the show where a player from a football team is interviewed about their teammates, being asked questions such as which team mate is the best trainer or has the worst dress sense.

The Crossbar Challenge[edit]

"The Crossbar Challenge" is a feature that involves a weekly trip to the training ground of a British league football team. The entire squad, including willing coaching staff and managers, are filmed, one-by-one, introducing themselves and attempting to hit the crossbar of the goal from the halfway line. The feat is rarely accomplished - the majority of squads fail to hit the bar once. However, a successful strike generally provokes manic celebrations by the kicker and his team-mates. The original background music is the instrumental "Seventeen Years" by Ratatat but this was changed to "Smiling" by The Beta Band.

The current record is held by Wolverhampton Wanderers who hit the crossbar four times on 25 April 2009. The current player record is held by Graham Stack who has hit the bar three times for three different clubs (Wolves, Plymouth and Millwall).

Skill Skool[edit]

A pre-recorded section where two members of a football team – usually a youth/academy side – pits their wits against each in showing off their best individual skills with the football. It involves a different side each week. Rocket presents this part with the two opponents, surrounded by their team-mates, and with the appropriate drum and bass backing tune of "Don't Wanna Know" by Shy FX and T-Power. He begins by saying to the footballers (named Joe and Bob for example):

"Joe, Bob, Welcome to Skill Skool. You know the rules, three rounds, best skill wins. Let's get the lesson on!"

Sublime individual skills are shown by each competitor while being egged on by their team-mates. After each have completed 3 rounds, Rocket says:

"Joe/Bob, good skills. But there's only one winner.... Guys, give it up for Joe (cue cheering and applause). Give it up for Bob (bigger/lesser cheering and applause) Bob, you're the Skill Skool winner. Skills!"

Rocket proceeds to thrust the ball into the midrift of the winner, while the team-mates usually mob and even sometimes perform some prank.

My Favourite Goal[edit]

A famous footballer is asked to name his three favourite goals throughout his career so far, and the choices are played (in reverse order) at various stages throughout the show. Notable appearances have included Thierry Henry, Wayne Rooney, David Beckham, and Ryan Giggs. Ruud van Nistelrooy in this section was only asked to pick his top three favourite goals for Manchester United. The song used during the older version of 'My Favourite Goal' is "Strange and Beautiful (I'll Put a Spell on You)" by Aqualung.

Our Man In A Caff[edit]

This sketch involves crew member Trev, dressing up in a builders outfit, sitting in a café and reading the newspaper (presumably tabloid) and giving us his account of recent events in football and footballers all over the world, in a parody of James Richardson from Football Italia. This is a skit on the typical lazy English builder, having lunch in a café. Our Man In A Caff ends with Trev signing out with 'Over an Out' plus an added sign off from somebody or from somewhere.

I'm an A League Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here[edit]

This weekly sketch involves two crew members playing the part of Ant and Dec in Australia as if presenting the ITV show I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here, who introduce football clips from Australia's A-League, typically featuring former Premier League star Robbie Fowler, accompanied by a parody Australian commentary. While the football clip is playing, a guest attempts a "bushtucker trial" trying to find a star in "Georgie Thompson's box", a cardboard box with a picture of said Sky Sports News presenter on the front and shown to contain some form of unpleasant creature, a task at which the guest always fails. The end of the sketch generally sees "Ant" hit in the eyes by some kind of object or substance and shouting "I'm blind, Dec!", a reference to a scene from the teenage drama Byker Grove in which the real-life Ant and Dec first found fame.

Other past comedy features[edit]

Current, and former performing crew members include "Fenners" (John Fendley), "Sheephead" (Joe Worsley), "Tubes" (Peter Dale), "Rocket" (James Long), Neil (Smythe), Robbie Knox (TRAMP! is sung every time he is mentioned to the tune of The Champ by The Mohawks), Jon Dyson, Chris Nutbeam and newest member Steve Sutcliffe.

Tubes[edit]

Crew member "Tubes" (Peter Dale[2]) has had a regular feature on the show, where he has "one question and one question only" to one of the studio guests. Max asks "Who is your question for this week", and the answer results in a dimming of the studio lights and a spotlight on the questionee. After the question has been asked Tubes goes to shake the questionees hand thanking them as he does. Tubes' popularity has grown significantly - a public vote saw him being voted more popular than (crew member) Rocket - in part due to his woeful (but comic) rapping ability which he demonstrates every week before actually posing a question, his ability to keep a "straight" face is also one of his main attributes. Due to his weekly binge drinking exploits, Tim Lovejoy called for pub landlords across the country to ban Tubes from their establishments for his own good. Tubes' rapping has also been used in a parody of iTunes, where at the end instead of saying "iTunes", it says "iTubes". Some Of Tubes' Catchphrases include "Sickening" "Sick" and "Sickness".

The Dance-Off[edit]

Each year, the Soccer AM Dance-Off is held which is a dancing competition usually involving all crew members. The crew have 15 seconds each to dance before the next contestant goes on, and each dance usually receives good natured laughing and booing from the audience.

Former comedy features[edit]

Following Tim Lovejoy's departure, several of the crew members including "Fenners" (John Fendley), "Sheephead" and Robbie Knox also departed, which meant the end of some of the features of the show.

Small Talk[edit]

In Small Talk, Rocket and Arrogant Baby Elvis go around the streets of a chosen British town and asks a question related to a current event in the Football world e.g. in the episode from 13 September 2008, Baby Elvis asked people in Doncaster how they keep fit, following reports of Dimitar Berbatov being on an intensive fitness programme after his recent move to Manchester United.

Big Stan Hibbert[edit]

His catchphrase was "I'm Here All Week".[3]

Topless Weather[edit]

A topless man reads the weather, with frequent references to gravy.[3]

Brad Bobley[edit]

This is a sketch which was a parody of ex-Swansea manager Bob Bradley. The sketch is a light hearted take on the way Americans take "Soccer" and expressions used.

Other features[edit]

Soccer AM webcam[edit]

The Soccer AM Webcam was introduced in the start of the 10th season. Refreshing every 5 seconds, it gave viewers the opportunity to view a live feed from the Soccer AM Office. Due to popular demand, it was later upgraded to refreshing every 3 seconds. The webcam soon gained its own feature on the show - a soap picking out the best behind-the-scenes moments from the office, and concluding with a cliffhanger of a will he-won't he. The webcam broke in between seasons in the summer of 2006, but at the start of the following season the team announced that a new webcam had been installed with improved pictures as well as the ability for the team to zoom in on certain aspects of the office.

The Ten-Yard Bucket Challenge[edit]

Borne out of the link between professional footballers and golf, "The Ten-Yard Bucket Challenge" sees a professional footballer attempting to chip a golf ball into a bucket from a distance of ten yards. The football-golf link exists due mainly to the amount of free time footballers are allowed in the daytime after training sessions, and Soccer AM's homage to golf involves a single personality from the world of football who attempts the challenge. One notable attempt was from Ryan Taylor, then of Tranmere Rovers, who was not featuring in the challenge that week, but was accompanying team-mate Jason McAteer. While cameras happened to be rolling, he had a go and accomplished the feat in a single attempt. Many overconfident amateurs have been known to run tallies of well over a hundred attempts. The background music to the challenge is "Ladyflash" by The Go! Team.

Bullseye Challenge[edit]

A part of the show where two players from a club compete to see who can hit the bullseye of a dart board first. The current holder with only two throws is Emmanuel Eboue whilst he was playing for Arsenal.

Achievements[edit]

As its audience share grew, its influence grew in turn. Some of the show's notable influences have included:

  • The Save Chip campaign saw large "Save Chip" banners appear all over the world, not only in football matches. The full tag line was "Save Chip... Don't Let Sarah win!". The campaign involved a football fan's plea to help save him from his girlfriend Sarah, who would not let him watch his favourite sport. It became a cult when banners appeared at countless televised football matches across the country and also made airtime in WWE wrestling events, rugby matches and many more televised sporting (and non sporting) events. The banner also appears randomly in the first screens of the PC video game Championship Manager: Season 01/02 released by Sports Interactive. Marc Bridge-Wilkinson also promoted the campaign after scoring the winner in the 2001 LDV Final for Port Vale, lifting his shirt over his head revealing a shirt underneath which said "Save Chip"
  • Getting a golden star on the England football shirt. Sparked after France 98, when the French national team added a golden star to their shirt as soon as they won the FIFA World Cup, the Soccer AM team successfully campaigned to get a golden star on England's shirt to commemorate winning the World Cup in 1966.
  • Getting the word "bouncebackability" into the English dictionary has been credited to Soccer AM. Its creation is generally accredited to former Crystal Palace manager Iain Dowie's reference to his team's return to form in 2005, and the Soccer AM team took it upon themselves to continuously refer to the subject until their feat was accomplished later that year.
The "Easy" logo from the male T-shirt
  • The Soccer AM regulars are immortalised in the computer game Football Manager 2005, as an unmanageable team called The Badgers. Amongst the 'players' are Rocket, Tubes, Sheephead, Paul Dalglish, Fenners, Phil Neal, John Wark and of course, Tim Lovejoy himself. All of the players can be signed by the player. They have also been featured in Football Manager 2012, featuring Max Rushden as captain.
  • The World of Wrestling sketch exploded into British culture in 2005. After destroying his opponent in a public place (e.g. a swimming pool), the masked "red" wrestler began a chant of "Easy! Easy!, whilst clapping his hands above his head, before stopping telling an observer "You shut up!" and resuming his chant of "Easy! Easy!". The sketch is a parody and play on words of the World of Sport wrestling, which had been repeated on TWC Fight! starting in early-2004. In the sketch, the masked wrestlers are based on Kendo Nagasaki, whilst the chanting is taken from Big Daddy. This chanting action has since been reintroduced thanks to the sketch and is now seen across the UK at all kinds of events - sporting or otherwise.

Other content[edit]

  • Tim Lovejoy offered five of "the queen's English pounds" to anyone who went to an English football match with a banner saying "Lovejoy is a legend", although he soon stopped after it ended up costing him too much money (mainly after Sky Sports's match coverage picked up on the competition, showing a number of banners before each match).
  • Tim Lovejoy and Bradley Walsh were flown by helicopter after the show to do Sky's fanzone commentary for the Arsenal v Chelsea FA Cup Final in 2002. Lovejoy has been ridiculed on Soccer AM ever since for saying "Oh it's okay, it's only Ray Parlour" moments before Parlour's spectacular opener in the 2-0 win, to which Walsh replied "That is some goal!". Whenever Parlour is mentioned, they find some way to bring this up.

Football League Trophy Play Your Cards Right[edit]

For some seasons, Soccer AM had the privilege of being able to draw fixtures for each round of the Football League Trophy.

This was normally done - in the style of British gameshow Play Your Cards Right - by the presenters cutting oversized cards onto large holders, and turning them over one at a time to generate football matches. This process was overseen by an independent adjudicator from the Football League Stuart Trigwell, known to Soccer AM as 'face', ridiculing a column in the Daily Mail referring to him as the 'Face of The Football League'.

DVDs and music[edit]

In November 2004, Soccer AM released a DVD, which became a success, mostly down to being the ideal Christmas gift for men. Since this date, more DVDs have been released. The 2005 edition self-titled, Soccer AM II included the 10 greatest players of the last decade, which included David Beckham, Ronaldinho and Alan Shearer. In June 2006, Soccer AM went musical by releasing a CD with music they use on the show with such bands as Hard-Fi, The Automatic and The Ordinary Boys. Later that year another DVD was released titled, Soccer AM III - the Greatest Matches of All Time which included a selection of 1982 World Cup games, 1979–1981 and 2006 FA Cup Finals.

In 2009 the fourth DVD called Soccer AM IIII - The Greatest Team in the World was released. This featured going through the best players in the world at the moment in a fantasy dream team. This DVD was the first DVD with Max Rushden.

The Soccer AM Stadium[edit]

In July 2014, Soccer AM announced a partnership with non-league Basingstoke Town F.C.. The club's Camrose Stadium was renamed 'The Soccer AM Stadium' as part of the partnership – with the club featuring regularly on the show. "Soccer AM" producer, Rob Wakeling said "We’re really pleased to be supporting Basingstoke Town FC from now on – and we’ve got some very exciting things planned over the coming season".[4][5]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "DS Forum". Retrieved 26 September 2015. 
  2. ^ "Soccer AM - Watch TV Show - Sky Sports". 
  3. ^ a b Martin Kelner (8 November 2004). "Bouncebackability gives young ones the edge". Guardian. Retrieved 21 December 2012. 
  4. ^ "Introducing the Soccer AM stadium". Sky Sports. 
  5. ^ "The Soccer AM Stadium". Basingstoke United Official Site. 

External links[edit]