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viva video

Viva Video LXI

This had been noted down as episode thirty of Viva Video’s second incarnation and therefore the day our use of Roman Numerals to tally off this feature comes back to haunt us, albelled as it was Video XXX. Subsequently a fair number of ultimately disappointed single men will have accidentally stumbled across our website having set out looking for gentlemen’s literature. Those men would’ve skulked off back to the search engines as though this week’s video offering is a good one, it was probably not going to ultimately satisfy their pressing needs. Not unless they had an enjoyment in mid 1990s lower league football verging on the perverse anyway. Besides, we’ve found our old clips now so its now more correctly labelled as episode sixty-one.

Anyway, now we’re rid of the seedy interlopers, let us get on with the show. It may come as a surprise to some of our younger readers, but Doncaster Rovers’ weekend opponents Reading were not always the shiny stadiumed team from the league’s upper tiers that they are today. Until as recently as 1994 The Biscuitmen (never The Royals on this website) and their old Elm Park ground had witnessed just seven seasons above the Football League’s bottom two divisions. Kicking around the lower leagues in their hooped shirts, these underachievers were, well, they were a Southern version of us.

The 1993-94 season was where it all started to go right for Reading as they stormed to the Division Two title (that’s League One for the kids, the Third Division for the dads), and it is from early in that campaign that today’s Viva Video – footage from September victories over Barnet and Cambridge – comes. Back then Reading were still pottering about between the terraced houses at Elm Park, with Mr Madejski happy enough to see his investment honoured as kit sponsor or by virtue of giant advertising boards at the back of the terrace. Chances are they didn’t even frisk people for cameras on the way in too.

Like Reading, this week’s video also shows how televised football coverage was not always a shiny, overstated, corporate affair. In a world where every match ever televised is flanked by dramatic music and hyperbolic pretensions it is refreshing to see football coverage narrated by a man who seemingly couldn’t care less. For all the enthusiasm and excitement shown he could just as easily be doing the voice-over for a documentary on the properties and uses of the colour beige. His unimpressed tone does however enable him to deliver a scathing criticism of the Cambridge United goalkeeper, through nothing more than a devastating use of the word ‘competently’.

Yes football was a different world back then, so far from the money-soaked game of today that Reading manager Mark McGhee was forced to take a second job as a television producer. One thing that has remained constant, up to the point in time of this video and beyond is of course Jimmy Quinn’s appearance. Here we see him seven years before he would be satisfyingly punched by Barry Miller and his hair was the same even then. He must be the only man in the world to have had a receding hairline, before he had even begun to grow hair.

Before the clip gets under way, here are a few other things to look out for. First off there is the Barnet fan in a suit celebrating their equaliser by chastising his fellow fans with a spot of Dennis Taylor-esque finger wagging. The horrific yelp given by the injured Tom Jones, which does sound like the editors have dubbed in the infamous horror film staple sound effect; Wilhelm’s scream. And whilst we wonder why Mark McGhee only refer to Tom Jones by his full name?, let us at least remember that as McGhee himself points out Tom Jones isn’t just for Christmas, he’s for this season and beyond this season too.

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