Football Comedy – Ripping Yarns, Golden Gordon (BBC 1979)

BBC4 started re-runs of the classic comedy series from Michael Palin and Terry Jones, Ripping Yarns, last night.

Episode two of the second series of Ripping Yarns is ‘Golden Gordon’, a loving parody of a non-league football fan and Yorkshire football in general, filmed around Barnoldswick and Keighley.

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It is 1935. On a stereotypically cold, wet, windswept and bleak West Yorkshire hillside sits the Sewage Works ground, home to Barnstoneworth United. Once a mighty team in the Yorkshire Premier League, they have now fallen on hard times.

Barnstoneworth United haven’t won a match in six years. After losing 8-1 to Brighouse, depressed United superfan Gordon Ottershaw comes home and smashes the furniture in his house in fury (my Dad, half-jokingly, used to say that he came home and kicked the cat, Lofty [named after Nat Lofthouse] when Bolton lost). His wife Eileen (Gwen Taylor) quietly accepts this. She keeps trying to tell him that she’s having a baby, but he seems not to notice.

“Eight One – Eight bloody One! – And even that were an own goal!”

Ottershaw has been teaching his son (who’s first name is Barnstoneworth, middle name United) every detail of the club’s results, players and statistics (again, my Dad has an almost preternatural ability to recall the scores of every match he’s ever been to, dating back to the mid 1950s). Over dinner, having memorised the 1922 side perfectly, his father chimes in at the end, sighing as he speaks:

” Won none. Drawn none. One cancelled owing to bereavement. Lost 18.”

A die-hard supporter, Ottershaw laments the clubs latest troubles over his custard pudding:

”Centre forward’s off with boils, two half back’s are going to a wedding and the goal-keepers got a cold. Chairman’ll sort it out.”

The Chairman in question will definitely sort it out. He plans to sell the club to a scrap merchant and walk away from it all with some brass in his back pocket. His only opinion of Gordon Ottershaw is that:

”It’s a form of madness you know, wearing your scarf in bed.”

Barnstoneworth are in dire trouble. On the training ground you’re more likely to hear ” He’s got my shorts on”  and ” Can I go at half past six?” than you are any sounds of encouragement or tactical nous.  But Gordon has a brain wave. He will round-up all the best surviving ex-Barnstoneworth players for the coming Saturday’s cup tie against Denley Moor Academicals. That will save the club!

The idea comes to him when he’s visiting (nay pleading) with the scrap dealer not to buy Barnstoneworth United and sell his beloved club down the river.  The subject of when Barnstoneworth last won a game comes up… Quick as a flash superfan Gordon has the answer:

“October 7th, 1931. 2-0 against Pudsey.“

“Haggerty F, Ferris, Noble, Codren, Crapper, Davis, Sullivan, O’Grady, Kembell, Hacker and Davitt*. Davitt scored twice, once in 21st minute, once in 28th minute…”

”Davitt, he were hell of a player.” says the scrap merchant. ” He were bald weren’t he? Head like stainless steel.”

“That’s right. He once scored with the back of his head from 28 yards against Barnsley reserves in 1922.”

Saturday comes, and the Cup tie against Denley Moor Academicals kicks off. United only have four players (and three pairs of shorts), whereas the captain of the Denley Moor team is the famous Eric Olthwaite. Things look bad, but Gordon arrives with the old team who take to the field. Davitt opens the scoring with his bald head, and, shock of shocks, Barnstoneworth eventually win 8 – 1.

“8 BLOODY 1!”

‘Golden Gordon’ ends with Gordon smashing up his own home in celebration this time. Clock, photos, radio go flying out through the window as the Match of the Day theme plays. And it still hasn’t registered with him that his wife has been trying to tell him she is pregnant throughout the entire episode.

*The mighty Half Man Half Biscuit named their third album McIntyre, Treadmore and Davitt in tribute to this episode, and the front cover is a still from the programme.

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See also A Visit to Gordon Ottershaw’s House, by Merrick Cork, which talks about the Yorkshire footballing inspirations behind the episode.

WHO ARE YA? Tom Fieldhouse, Media Executive

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1) Who are ya?

Tom Fieldhouse, 23, born and raised in Yorkshire and obsessed with football.

2) Who do you support?

Leeds United

3) What was your first game?

Pretty sure it was when I was about 4 or 5 and my dad took me and my older brother to Elland Road to watch a game. I was so young I don’t remember much other than I got bored and wanted to leave early to my brother’s dismay. We heard the ground erupt as we approached our car. Needless to say we never left early again.

Football passed me by until I was about 8 when a friend of mine’s family kindly took me to watch Uefa Cup matches against the likes of Marítimo. European nights at a packed Elland Road are hard to beat and I’ve been hooked ever since.

4) What do you do for a job?

I’m a media executive at a marketing agency in Leeds called Intermarketing Agency. I plan and buy advertising space in magazines, on TV, Radio, Online – anything really! Really enjoy it and the agency is a fantastic place to work.

5) Have you played/worked for any football clubs?

Played – unless you’re counting Ripon City Panthers/Magnets U14-U18s – then sadly not.

Haven’t worked for a club but would love to work for Leeds someday. Being at a club that’s progressing very quickly (e.g Man City) would be very exciting as well so if ever an opportunity like that came up I’d find it hard to pass up – even with my Yorkshire upbringing.

6) How did you get into it?

I got into marketing because I liked the creative aspect of business, working in media came as a result as searching for a work placement as part of my degree. I didn’t have a clue what went in agencies, and would take any job available in that environment.

Luckily I landed a job I really enjoyed in an agency that was moving in the right direction.

7) What do you get out of it?

It’s great to learn more about the new developments in marketing, and how one subtle change to a marketing budget/campaign can maximise efficiency. I really enjoy being able to work on really creative ideas as well!

8) What advice would you give someone wanting to follow in your stud marks/footsteps?

Work hard and leave no stone unturned when looking for an opportunity. If you can make a process more efficient, do it and prove it works instead of waiting for permission. Most importantly though, be nice and friendly and treat everybody with the respect you’d like to receive in turn. You never know when that intern might finally get that tech startup off the ground and become the next Zuckerberg.

9) If you could do it all again what would you change?

Tricky one… It’s got to be: have a proper crack at becoming a musician. And actually spend time practising guitar when I had the time in my teens.

10) Who’s your footballing hero?

From a club perspective it’s got to Kewell. He had it all. As a left footed player Leeds had a great pair of idols for me in Harte and Kewell but Kewell’s skill was immense and his goals weren’t bad either.

Overall though, I can’t look past Henry. For me he changed the way the game was played – brought a style and flair to the pitch I’d never seen before. He optimised Wenger’s brand of football and that’s a style of football I love. It wasn’t simply about winning but winning with style and boy, did they do that.

WHO ARE YA? Roy Mason, Steeton AFC Manager

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Roy Mason, Manager of Steeton AFC

1) Who are ya?

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Steeton AFC crest

Roy Mason, manager of Steeton AFC, I am, despite the youthful looks, 44.

My role as manager involves much more than the running of the club. I get involved in the commercial side, website updates and helping write the clubs programme – non of which the Premiership managers would dream of, but it’s part of the job at this level. As manager I need to generate my own funds to push us on more professionally and also help publicise the club at any opportunity. Those who know me would say I never miss an opportunity to get the club into the local media!

2) Who do you support?

I support Bradford City, a club that has had its ups and downs. I was there on that fateful day on May 11th, 1985 [GM – the terrible Bradford City fire tragedy, where 56 men, women and children lost their lives] and the bond the supporters have with the club is second to none. Last season was a just reward for all those who have stuck with the club throughout the years. They are the most local club to me and I firmly believe you should support your local club.

I also take a keen interest in all West Yorkshire’s non-league sides.

3) What was your first game?

It was a home game against Walsall in the early 80’s. Bobby Campbell was the main man in those days. It was a 0-0 draw but enough for me to go back and the next game saw them beat Wigan 7-2 and I was hooked!

4) What do you do for a job?

I am a footwear buyer for a mail order company; my job takes me all over the world and has allowed me to see the odd game abroad. I’ve visited Barcelona, FC Porto, Fenerbache & Fiorentina to name a few clubs. So, I’ve sometimes been able to combine my work with hobbies. I’ve done a bit of TV guest presenting with work and this has caused much amusement from my players over the years!

It can be hard juggling both jobs and sometimes you leave yourself with no spare time!

5) Have you played/worked for any football clubs?

Not professionally, however I played for Steeton before I became manager, and Keighley Phoenix as well as a couple of Keighley’s succesful Sunday sides, Druids Arms and St Annes Celtic.

6) How did you get into it?

I’ve always been interested in off the field activities as well as those on the field. I became assistant reserve manager, before taking on the position of player/manager with the reserves. After a season doing that I then took over the first team and have guided them to become one of the top WRCA Premier Division sides and in my tenure with the help of a great backroom team we have transformed the club.

7) What do you get out of it?

I love being involved with grass roots football and working with people who feel the same and devote a lot of hours for nothing. I live in the village [of Steeton] and I’m proud to be putting something back into the community as well as pushing myself to be the best I can as a manager.

8) What advice would you give someone wanting to follow in your stud marks/footsteps?

Go for it – local clubs are crying out for help at all levels. Get involved you will make so many friends and get a great deal of satisfaction from it and you have no idea where it could take you.

9) If you could do it all again what would you change?

Not a lot really – a broken leg at 24 cost me 18 months out of the game and if I could wind the clock back I would have ridden the tackle instead!!!

10) Who’s your footballing hero?

Playingwise, it’s Stuart McCall – a man who gave 110% in everything he did. He was a fine example to any player in always giving your all for the club. I was very disappointed when it didn’t work out for him at Bradford City when he returned as a manger. Maybe he was too close to the club…

Managerwise, I admire Bill Shankly and Brian Clough a lot for their grasp of the basic principles. Their method was keep the game simple and be honest and upfront with players.

In the modern day, Jose Mourinhio seems to have a great man management style and the players want to play for him.

Many thanks, Roy.

You can follow Steeton AFC at www.steetonafc.co.uk

WHO ARE YA? Pete Stajic, FC Halifax Town

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Pete Stajic

1) Who are ya?

Pete Stajic

2) Who do you support?

FC Halifax Town

3) What was your first game?

Can’t remember to be honest…

4) What do you do for a job?

Area Manager for H.B.Clark Brewery

5) Have you played/worked for any football clubs?

Yes, three years worked at Halifax and now working part time for no pay

6) How did you get into it?

Always been doing things around the club but applied for the job

7) What do you get out of it?

Tremendous satisfaction from having built sponsorship up from nothing, as no one had done anything in 30 years at the club, plus the buzz it gives me.

8) What advice would you give someone wanting to follow in your stud marks/footsteps?

Make 100% sure you are going to work for the right people. There are a lot of dodgy people in football (GM – very true).

9) If you could do it all again what would you change?

Nothing

10) Who’s your footballing hero?

I have a few but Zola always stood out to me.

Many thanks, Pete.