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Hunty's Column: Football On Television

Is there too much football on TV and is that making the sport feel less special? Hunty looks at the history of footie on the box.

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These days I'm sure you could find a match on TV be it live, highlights or a full repeat to watch 24 hours a day if you really wanted to. The coverage can feel as suffocating as having to live with your other half's parents for the rest of your life, and who wants that?

So let's go back to when football on television was very different...

Growing up in the 1970's & 1980's watching live games on TV was a treat that you enjoyed regardless of who played simply because it happened so rarely! One of those occasions was for the Home Internationals & living in Scotland it gave me great joy going to school after England used to beat them & their production line of useless goalkeepers on a regular basis. It was those moments that saw me first fall in love with football and with Kevin Keegan & his poodle perm.

European Cup Finals were also shown & I'll never forget watching Liverpool & Nottingham Forest dominate for a number of years when they were the real kings of Europe. This was back when there were no second chances.

FA Cup Final Day was a special family day with kids shows like Swap Shop starting the fun, before special editions of game-shows to further whip up the mood. From there it was live to the team hotels, before a glimpse on the team bus. From there you had the dramatic moment when the teams arrived at the ground and walked out on to that hallowed Wembley turf, and it almost felt like you were in the team!  The pride at the national anthem and the warm voice of John Motson to guide you through the game, what a day.

So when the game was over what next? Well you'd head out into the street or the garden and try to recreate Alan Sunderland's winner & celebration or Ricky Villa's dribble & wonder goal.

Bad hair, bad kits & beards, football had it all!

Away from the big showpiece games, for your weekly footy fix you had Match of the Day or The Big Match bringing you highlights of Saturday's action (yes all games used to kick off at 3pm for the younger readers) I was one of those people who would try and avoid finding out the scores so I could watch the games "Live" that night. Something that's almost impossible to do in today's internet era.

So what was it like trying to watch Reading on the TV back in the 1970's and 80's?

I've seen replays of our Watney cup tie v Manchester United in the early 1970's but this was an era without high tech analysis and detailed post match thoughts. I can only imagine what today's Sky duo of Gary Neville & Jamie Carragher would have made trying to work out the Maverick genius of Robin Friday!

Then in late 1980's there was the Simod Cup final against  Luton and what a game it was! The kids at my school used to laugh that I was a Reading fan but on that one day I had the last laugh... at least until we ended up relegated at the end of the season.

The 1994/95 season is well remembered for the whole country tuning in to see us beaten at Wembley by Bolton but who could forget other local televised games on ITV, that included a 4-2 win over Wolves, a win over Charlton or the play-off semi-final up at Tranmere?

All of the above are special moments from a era where it all seemed so innocent and fun.

Yet don't get me wrong, I'm not against modern technology, after all it's through satellite TV that I was able to witness magical moments from the 106 season all the way in Sydney. When you're an exile it's a brilliant thing to be able to watch us every week and truly be able to feel like a fan.

Life and football has moved on but personally I'm not sure it's all been for the better. Whatever happens in the future they'll only ever be one Jimmy Hill or Brian Moore, they were the voices that made football seem special in so many ways and I'll always cherish those memories.

So what do you think? Is there too much football on TV, or has modern technology helped improve your experience of watching and enjoying the beautiful game? Let me know in the comments section!

Thanks for reading as always!