Karl Fuller: The only time I ever cried after a Town defeat
In his latest Ipswich Town column, Karl Fuller gets misty eyed as he recalls the golden era of football on the TV – and the only time he ever shed tears over a Blues defeat.
Another international weekend passed us by which despite being in League One, meant no game for us Town fans to enjoy.
There were plenty of international matches to watch but I just find TV saturated with too much football, which means I struggle to enjoy most of it on the box these days - be that live or highlights.
Call me old-fashioned but when I was a kid - ok, that is some 40 years ago now - you were lucky to find any footy on the box and that made it special.
So special that there was a highlights programme on a Wednesday night titled 'Midweek Sports Special' (MSS).
This, more than any other football/sports programme that you could come across - and they were scarce in the late 70's/early 80's - was what really forged my relationship with my dad more so than with my mum.
Forget that this was a bonding of a football nature that comes naturally to most fathers and sons, MSS was also the reason that for one school night per week, I could get away with staying up late. It helped of course that my mum's part-time job as a barmaid at a local pub coincidentally fell on the same night!
I never understood why it was called that as often, the only sport in sight was football. It should have been called 'Midweek Football Special' in my eyes.
I recall it being hosted by Brian Moore and then Nick Owen, but I guess it could have had other presenters during its time.
Most annoyingly, it did not start until 10.45pm and ran until 12.25am - about five minutes before my mum would return home from work. I don't know if dad ever confessed to letting me stay up to watch it, but I'm sure mum would have known by my Thursday morning yawns.
MSS was an educational programme as much as anything for me, given that it would show highlights of games played on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, often of the European variety featuring British clubs in Europe in a day before the Champions League - in old money, that's the European Cup, the UEFA Cup and the Cup Winners Cup.
All three were big competitions in their day too. The education I took was of the geographical sense where I learnt place names of many countries dotted around Europe.
I mean how else was a ten-year-old ever to know that Bucharest was in Romania, Kiev was in the USSR, Cologne and Hamburg were in West Germany and so on?
The Wednesday night games were the best ones because you never knew the scores and the highlights were therefore more interesting. The joy for me of course was that with Ipswich being a top European side in those days, I got to see lots of my heroes in action.
But it was also a good era to be a Nottingham Forest fan or a fan of Aston Villa as they too enjoyed heady days along with the then mighty Liverpool.
I have a little secret to end with - please don't tell anyone - but MSS remains to this day the only time I ever shed a tear over Ipswich losing, although technically I still disagree with the 'L' word.
Town had drawn 0-0 away to Grasshoppers of Zurich in a UEFA Cup tie and MSS showed highlights of the return leg which ended 1-1.
I was all set for extra-time when I heard the cutting words of the commentator say that 'Ipswich were out of Europe.....'
I protested to my dad that it couldn't be right as it was a draw - as it was in Switzerland - and there should be extra-time.
Until then, I believed that to win a game of football you had to score more goals than the opposition - but I burst into tears after my dad explained how the away-goal rule worked and do you know, I still hate that rule to this day!
Some would say that Sportsnight with Harry Carpenter was also a worthy watch at times. But I just got too bored of watching Greyhounds running around a track every week!
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