In an ideal world this episode of Viva Video would hope to follow the example of our last two near premonition pieces and feature Doncaster Rovers’ famous FA Cup victory over Queens Park Rangers from 1985. Sadly though footage of that Belle Vue upset, when Third Division Rovers knocked top flight Rangers out the Cup continues to evade us. So instead, we have taken a very different path and gone left field. Very left field as we bring you a fantastic piece of archive mid 1990s Doncaster Rovers action. Not that Doncaster Rovers though, the other one.
Yep, for this week’s Viva Video we head down under to see footage of the other Doncaster Rovers, the one which hail not from South Yorkshire but from the Melbourne suburbs in Victoria, Australia. There are a few clips of the Aussie Doncaster Rovers knocking around the internet, but none have the appeal of this one which comes from Australian television’s 1995 Victoria Premier League highlights programme The Soccer Show.
As believable as a sketch as it is a genuine highlights programme The Soccer Show is presented by ‘Blakey’ Australia’s loud and excitable answer to Boris Johnson and the timid “Little Paulie Williams”. Its Blakey who gets us off and running with hand gestures as wild as his hair and the mannerisms and stare of a man who has often woken up after a night out in a roadside ditch wearing nothing but a dartboard. That may explain the Guidance rating which flashed up on the screen as the programme gets underway, unless Australian State Soccer is particularly violent.
Just in case the opening twenty-five seconds haven’t portrayed Blakey as Australian enough he seals the deal early by proclaiming the show’s guest Peter Allerton “a fair dinkum soccer legend”. You half expect to return to the studio after the titles to find Blakey wearing a corked hat and supping a can of lager. The titles themselves are glorious in what has been chosen to best represent all that the Victoria Premier League has to offer and they even manage the unbelievable feat of making the set look contemporary.
If you thought Match of the Day dragged out the dialogue around the match action its nowt on The Soccer Show, who keep us on our seats by beginning with their letters segment. Williams, noticeably distracted by Blakey’s hair’s refusal to get out of shot, reads out Kevin Christopher’s letter which has a number of suggestions for the show including my own favourite; “Line-ups of the teams displayed in a different and more imaginative fashion”. It’s hard to tell whether that’s meant as a damning indictment of the limited tactical innovation in Aussie State Soccer, or just a finicky argument about typeface. Never mind, time for some action as Paul Williams hands us self-consciously across from himself in the studio to himself at the game.
If you thought Williams was nervous in front of the camera, its nowt compared to his commentary as he reads through the team line-ups like a hostage being forced to answer the phone at gun point and tell the police that nothing untoward is happening. Once you hear his attempt to read out Springvale’s number 7 Jamie McMinimese you like me will get slightly giddy with anticipation as he build up to announcing the assistant referee Mr Josifovski. Also his confusion at finding that Peter Haloulous hasn’t been assigned a number is fantastic.
As for the match highlights themself, its pretty much as you might expect from a lower league game played out on a far from forgiving surface. Indeed on the subject of the pitch, keep an eye out at 10mins and 27seconds as a Doncaster forward seemingly falls down a hole attempting to control a goal-kick. Anyway, that’s enough of us, onto the clip. Real or spoof its hard to tell, but either way its an amusing 14 minutes or so. And you get to see Doncaster win too.