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Strictly speaking, Match of the Day is just recycled rubbish. And it's back!

AM writing this on train from Edinburgh.

Gary Lineker and the team, analysts in the same way that Ronald Reagan was an existential philosopher.  Picture: Andrew Hayes-Watkins
Gary Lineker and the team, analysts in the same way that Ronald Reagan was an existential philosopher. Picture: Andrew Hayes-Watkins

A guard passes by and with a suspicious gleam in his eye glances at my laptop and shouts: "Any rubbish to be recycled?"

This column takes great pride in being the first environmentally friendly wittering in that it constantly recycles the detritus of a life lived not so much in the slow lane but in the very layby of existence, the one that is inhabited by a rusty jack, an empty Coke bottle and a fox as flat as a Legia Warsaw supporter.

I take as my template Match of the Day, which will be 50 this year and is to original thinking what Richard Burton was to the sanctity of marriage and to the ethos of sensible drinking.

In short, MotD has been as open to change as a particularly observant Amish. I have watched it for 50 years. It just seems longer.

Once, like all football on the telly, it was brilliant. Men in sheepskin coats, roaring at other men with daft barnets firing muddied balls into corners which they swore had postage stamps but surely were just a smudge on the box. There was one game, maybe two, perhaps even three as MotD marched on.

It was all as predictable as an argument breaking out at the Debating Society Christmas night out. It had a cosy comfort and one did not expect much of it.

There was not much fitba on the box and one was glad of anything, even if the commentators were the sort of chaps who as schoolboys always had the hands up in class. One became famous by saying: "Interesting. Very interesting."

This is the sort of easily gained fortune that makes one think the bankers receive a bad press for merely trousering a gazillion for their Easter bonus.

But MotD has passed from novelty, to energetic irritation to supreme boredom in an effortless manner that suggests it has been imitating my life. It has been the snug bar of TV. A match flickering in the background as the camera pans in on a group of chaps determined to say nothing that may interest in a sort of sporting twist on that BBC favourite I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue.

There are some staples that have survived down the ages. There should be no arguments between the analysts, though they are analysts in the way that Ronald Reagan was an existential philosopher.

There should only be strong criticism when they player is foreign and hardly likely to either (a) watch the show; or (b) bump into said analyst at the PFA annual dinner.

There should also be sentences that nod to grammar in a way that Duncan Ferguson once nodded to opponents. These should be mere recitations of what one can see with one's eyes. As in: "He's gone over, passed that guy and crossed. There is Suarez lurking at the back post and it's a goal." And, sure enough, it is. What Mr Shearer, Mr Hansen and the rest have done is this: they have told us what we all have seen with all the insight and smugness of a two-year-old wean pointing behind him to show what is in his potty.

This is all overseen by a Mr Lineker who is smart enough to know that this is as crappy as that two-year-old's potty but only hints at this by making dreadful puns and occasionally raising eyebrows he has nicked from Roger Moore.

The saving grace is that it does show the highlights and goals from the Barclays Premier League. It is not the best championship in the world but it has more stories than a season of Parkinson.

Increasingly, though, MotD has seemed besieged. It has always been dated. But now is seems outdated. If one wants the goals, then one can access them on anything from a phone to a wall-sized TV.

If one wants decent chat, then there are perceptive analysts on other channels, sometimes even on BBC2 on a Sunday.

There is more than a suspicion that MotD survives because the BBC cannot decide whether it is a valued piece of old furniture that should be preserved or because they believe it is more entertainment than sport and talks to a captive audience.

In its kitsch, its tired formula and its professional camera work accompanied by amateurish efforts it is the Strictly Come Dancing of football. Or a Strictly Come Off It.

Contextual targeting label: 
Football

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