Tag Archives: light entertainment

Millwall’s Danny Baker: Redemption of a Leeds-Hater – by Rob Atkinson

Baker: Machiavellian Machinations

Baker: Machiavellian Machinations

Last August I was forced to publish the shameful revelation that Danny Baker – word-smith extraordinary and the planet’s only intelligent Millwall fan – was guilty of the heinous crime of match-fixing, blatantly fixing his show’s legendary “Sausage Sandwich Game” such that the hapless Leeds United fan got beat by the evil, sneering, plastic Man U armchair supporter he was up against.

Today, though, another Leeds fan was on the show and, glory be, he won through to the whitewashing extent of 3-0.  Not against a glory-hunter this time, but a humble Cambridge United fan.  Still, even though it was through gritted teeth, Mr Baker ended up congratulating Leeds on a clean-sweep victory. On this occasion of Danny’s redemption, then, I publish again my account of last year’s tawdry and shameful event, together with my appreciation of a Millwall fan who has somehow managed to climb out of that gutter and give us an irreverent and entertaining view of football and the world in general that elevates him above the common herd.  Read on now, as Baker was bang to rights as a Leeds-hating match fixer – for shame, Danny!

(Article below originally published 31 August, 2013)

This week’s Danny Baker show on BBC Radio Five Live thankfully lacks the sinister Machiavellian overtones of last week’s offering.  This week, all is sweetness and light, fun and games with the characteristic chirpy wit of Britain’s favourite Millwall fan. It’s Baker’s Banter that makes his show such required listening every Saturday morning and which makes the task of the boys from Fighting Talk, the unfortunate forced comedy offering which follows DB, so very difficult and thankless.  Fighting Talk lacks the effortless knockabout originality of Baker, so it has to settle for a gang of moderately famous, moderately funny desperadoes, sound effects so that the listening audience knows when to smile wanly, and of course some mutually supportive, falsely raucous studio laughter as they congratulate each other in those special “comedy voices” that so make the teeth curl. It’s pretty unedifying stuff, particularly straight after the unique offerings of Danny and his cohorts. So Baker rules the Saturday morning airwaves – and rightly so.

But last week, a serpent entered this light entertainment Eden.  The iconic and pivotal “Sausage Sandwich Game” (SSG) has been the comedy mainstay of Danny’s show for many a moon now.  Last Saturday, though, as the competing fans in the SSG metaphorically donned the rival colours of Leeds United and Man U – a horrible reality dawned on the minds of those attuned to examples of media prejudice where Leeds United are concerned.  At first, it was just too distasteful to contemplate, or to allow to grow into a fully-formed conclusion.  But ultimately, there was no escaping the dismal truth.  The Sausage Sandwich Game – humorous cornerstone of the whole Danny Baker legend – was FIXED.  (Sensation, gasps of horror).

I forget all the grisly details.  It may well be that my mind has blotted out the finer points of the dastardly deed.  That’s quite understandable, as my innocent appreciation of a regular Saturday morning humour-fix was being corrupted into something foul and repellent.  Suspicion turned to certainty and my paranoia circuit glowed into activity.  The Leeds lad hadn’t a chance – the game was bent against him, warped so that there was no possibility that the Man U contestant – smug, complacent article that he was – might have to walk away empty-handed.  And so it panned out; Man U won 2-1 in last week’s thoroughly rotten-to-the-core SSG, and my child-like belief in Danny Baker and all his ways collapsed into a pile of rubble, ruined beyond hope of reconstruction.

Well – not really.  It’s still Sir Dan for me, Millwall fan that he is and his frantic game-fixing activities notwithstanding.  Seldom can there have appeared such a thoroughly original wit from the ranks of genuine old-school football fans, and long may he continue to thrive.  A cancer survivor and irreverent observer of the game of football’s many quirks and blots, he has my admiration and esteem on both counts. It’s a shame he has to be devoted to that particular Bermondsey club, and therefore has to be counted among its not-so-pleasant (on the whole) supporters – but we’re none of us perfect, and each of us has our idiosyncrasies. Overall, Danny Baker adorns the airwaves in a way that most other BBC “comedy” personalities signally fail to do.  He’s a breath of fresh air to start our Saturdays, before all the self-important nonsense of the Premier League gets underway again.  He hasn’t always been the BBC’s favourite son, but they must know, down the Corporation, that he’s by far the best they have when it comes to raising the giggles and snorts that pay the Light Entertainment rent.

Danny Baker – cockney wide-boy, cheeky and chirpy as any jellied eel-reared costermonger cliche, you are gold-dust on our wireless sets.  Do keep it up – but take it easy next time a Leeds fan is up against one of them lot from Devon that supports the Forces of Darkness from the Theatre of Hollow Myths.  We Leeds fans have a sense of humour – honest – but we take that kind of thing very seriously.

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New Era of Success for West Ham Could See End of Leeds Obsession – by Rob Atkinson

New Plans for Allardyce and West Ham

New Plans for Allardyce and West Ham

After a long history of flattering to deceive, West Ham United, doyens of London’s East End as the locally-famous ‘Appy ‘Ammers, are at last about to embark on a period of real achievement – by the simple expedient of switching their priorities away from the stony ground of league football, in which any seeds of success have stubbornly failed to flourish in the 119 year history of the club.  It’s a bold move – but the feeling is that something has to be done, as football has never been a happy environment for the Hammers or for their long-suffering fans, many of whom would rather talk and write about true giants of the game, such as Leeds United – rather than waste any time on the Boleyn Boys.

In that long history, there has been the odd Cup success, including – as many Hammers fans would have you believe – the World Cup in 1966.  But league success – that true indicator of a big and successful club – has eluded the East London hopefuls.  Their best top-flight finish was third, 29 years ago.  A symbol of the club has been the bubble, famously linked to West Ham by their “Forever Blowing Bubbles” theme song.  Like the bubble, they can be pretty, and they can promise to fly high – but again, as with the delicate and fragile ephemeral phenomenon that is that glistening envelope of water, they tend to flourish only briefly before bursting abruptly and disappearing from view.

Now, the club’s owners, highly respectable porn barons Sullivan and Gold, have had enough of all that bubble stuff, and they intend to seek success where it might more feasibly be achieved.  A source close to the two dirty old men was quoted as saying, “The guys see us as having more potential in the field of light entertainment, rather than plodding around a football field with a load of rough boys, getting kicked and invariably losing.  So the plan is to switch targets for this coming season; we’ll be entering a team into Strictly Come Dancing, and we might possibly stick a couple of likely solo acts into BGT or maybe even the X-Factor.  But all of that is just the beginning.  If this goes as well as we think it might, we’ll be pulling out all the stops and giving it the full 150% for The Big One.  Yes, folks – watch out.  The Hammers are going all out to win Eurovision in 2015!  We just have to do something – win something – to get our fans talking about us – instead of bloody Leeds United all the time.  It’s humiliating…”

A source at the FA was cautious when asked for a reaction to this.  “It’s quite unprecedented for a club to pull out of league competition and concentrate on light entertainment, dancing, crooning, acrobatics, prestidigitation – that sort of thing.  We did have that time when Man U pulled out of the FA Cup to go poncing about on a beach in South America, but …”  Our man scratched his head, bemused like.  “We’ll have to see what the full committee make of it.  I suppose if any club were to make this sort of switch, it’s more likely to be West Ham than anybody else.”

The mood at Upton Park, though, is one of grim determination.  “By the time we switch to the Olympic Stadium, we want some silverware on the sideboard,” said our source. “Dancing, magic, tricks with dogs, anything. Singing, certainly.  Look at the bearded lass who won Eurovision just the other week.  Dead spit of Billy Bonds, she were – weren’t he?”  When asked whether the Hammers would still be playing football at their new venue, our man was cagey.  “There’s more to life than bleedin’ football, you know! There’s lots we could do there to make a crowd like ours happy.  Dancing on ice, all sorts.  Just watch us go, once we start winning stuff. You wait and see, mate, you just wait and see – starting with ‘Strictly‘.”

In related news, the club are expected to announce that the iconic “Forever Blowing Bubbles” song is to be dropped, with immediate effect, due – it is said – to those connotations of fragility and ultimate disappointment. Instead, and to signal an era of success unknown in the ‘Ammers’ ‘Istory, the club tune will be “Stranger in Paradise” from the start of the 2014/15 “Strictly Come Dancing” season.  It is anticipated that new lyrics will be sung by the Upton Park crowd, beginning “Hail Fat Sam, He’s a Walrus Called Allardyce”.

The Hammers’ two surviving World Cup winners, Martin Peters and Sir Geoff Hurst, have issued a joint statement, reading simply: “It’s Bobby Moore that we feel for.  If he was alive today, he’d be turning in his grave.”

Alf Garnett is 95 (and supports Spurs).