- Soccer AM
Soccer AM Format Football/Comedy Starring
Helen ChamberlainJane Hoffen
Country of origin United Kingdom Language(s) English No. of episodes 541 (at 11 August 2009) Production Running time 120 minutes (240 minutes 1995-2001, 180 minutes 2001-2010) Broadcast Original channel Sky Sports Picture format 4:3 later 16:9 Original run 1995 – present External links Website
Soccer AM is a British Saturday-morning football-based comedy/talk show, predominantly based around the Premier League (though also showing clips from The Football League, Scottish Premier League and some European leagues). Originally presented by Helen Chamberlain and Russ Williams, the pair lasted just a year before Tim Lovejoy replaced Williams, where Lovejoy served for over a decade. He has since been replaced by Andy Goldstein and, more recently, Max Rushden. The show has been aired on Sky Sports 2 each Saturday morning of the football season since 1995 from 8 am or 9 am to noon originally and currently between 10 am and 12 pm. Since 2007, the show has been simulcast on Sky1, while in early 2009, the 500th episode was broadcasted. Although the show is filmed live from 2010 it has been broadcast on a momentary delay due to bad language and/or inappropriate content from certain guests.
The show's current sponsor is Procter & Gamble through their Head & Shoulders brand. The show was previously sponsored by Frijj, a brand of milkshake, after Dairy Crest signed a £2 million sponsorship deal.
Parts of the show have remained since the beginning, whilst new items have been introduced each season. In that respect, it is almost the same every week, the difference being new football footage and comedy skits. Every week sees a new group of celebrity guests, generally featuring at least one footballer who is free on the Saturday, and a mix of musicians, TV personalities, and other sportsmen.
List of crew members and jobs/characters:
- Helen Chamberlain – Co-presenter;
- Max Rushden – Co-Presenter;
- Tubes (Peter Dale) – Guest interviewer, 3rd in Dance Off 2010;
- Rocket (James Long) – Skill Skool presenter/That Is Life interviewer/2003,2005,2007,2009 Dance Off Champion; Soccerette Gag; Dec from A-league celebrity
- Chris Nutbeam – The C Word/Soccerette Gag/Angry Chris;
- Steve Sutcliffe – Writer; Celebration; Soccerette Gag
- Baby Elvis (Adam Smith) – Small Talk/Loose Men/Car-Park Goalkeeper/Soccerette Gag/2006 Dance Off Champion; Safety from the duo 'Health and Safety'/DJ David Ghetto/Frankie Fryer
- Trevor Giess – Referees Mark Battenburg and Jeff Winter/2008 Dance Off Champion/Brian the Bear/Man in the Caff/Kenneth the wembley groundskeeper
- Dave Morgan – Loose Men/Soccerette Gag/Health from the duo Health and Safety/Ant from A-League celebrity/Pat McGroin
- James Kirtland – 3rd Place in 2008 Dance Off/New Lad/Brown Coat Man Referee Peter Andre Marriner
- Lisa Hebden – Webcam, 2nd Place Dance off 2009 & Winner of Dance Off 2010/Cheryl Mole, 3rd place Dance off 2011
- Devlin – Dance off/Rookie Editor/Part 5
- Bobbie – Dance off/Pants/Brown Coat Man
- Scott Lavell – Newbie/Dance Off
- Ashley - Newbie/2010 Dance Off Runner Up/Volcanic Ash
- Raj - 2011 Dance off winner
- Gadzooks – 2000–01 Dance off Champion;
- Fenners (John Fendley) – Stan Hibbert/Barry Proudfoot/Mike Schweinberger/Referee Gallagher;
- Sheephead (Joe Worsely) – Topless Weather/Soccerette Gag;
- Neil Smythe – Autobiography Reader/Randy Wakeman III/Yorkshire News/Angry Fan;
- Robbie Knox – "That Is Life" interviewer/Fixtures Man/Tramp/2002 Dance Off Champion;
- Aldo (Mark Aldridge) - David The Letterman / The Terminator / Equalizer / CHiPs
- Jon Dyson – Writer/Yorkshire News;
- Tom - Forces/Returned for Dance Off 2010
- Colin - Forces
- Brian Regan – "Can He Kick It?" goalkeeper.
- The Helmet - Silent Man of Mystery/Tug of War Champion (on most occasions)
Fans of the Week
The "Fans of the Week" feature has been a mainstay of the show. Eight fans of a British football club come in as studio guests every week, seated in the "Luther Blissett Stand". They are featured in various aspects of the show, culminating in a team footballing challenge at the end of the programme.
Helen Chamberlain also interviews the fans, asks them to sing a song, and asks a few other questions.
The challenge, which takes place outside in the "Frank McAvennie Car Park", involves the fans attempting to kick a football through a hole as many times a possible within the time limit, generally sixty seconds currently the highest score ever recored on the challenge is sheffield Wednesday fans with a total of 15 shots through the hole. The challenge has been renamed almost every season, along with the props and background music for the feature. The other studio guests all have the opportunity to attempt to score as well. Its various guises through the years include:
- "Wembley 2011" (2010–11)
- "Hole of Glory" (2009–10)
- "Road To Rome" (2008–09) – Fans now have a much larger hole to kick the ball through. The set now features a large Champions League trophy surrounded by players such as Steven Gerrard, Ryan Giggs, and Billy McNeill. Other features of the set include Julius Caesar holding up a red card and a red carpet displaying the Champions League logo along with the city in which the final will be played, Rome.
- "Hollywood" (2007–08) – following David Beckham's move to the Los Angeles Galaxy, the game featured a Hollywood Walk of Fame-style "pavement" leading to the familiar target with a David Beckham mock-up alongside it. The stars included friends of the show with Jeff Stelling as the biggest star on the walkway. Noel Gallagher, Ricky Hatton, Mani, and Kasabian's Sergio Pizzorno also featured.
- "Road to Wembley II" (2006–07) – a revision of 2005–06's "Road to Wembley" – a tongue-in-cheek response to the failure of Wembley Stadium to be completed in time for 2006 FA Cup Final. On 26 August 2006, Kasabian guitarist Sergio Pizzorno scored what was hailed to be the best goal on Soccer AM by Helen Chamberlain – flicking the ball up in front of him and unleashing a spectacular right footed volley clean through the hole target whilst wearing cowboy style boots.
- "Road to Wembley" (2005–06) – the original edition was named to celebrate the return of the FA Cup Final to Wembley Stadium in May 2006, although remained unchanged despite The FA's announcement that the stadium would not be complete. The challenge was 'scoring' by hitting the ball through the hole in the letter "b" (of the inflated word "Wembley") as many times as possible in 80 seconds from 12 yards. Viewers are encouraged to text in and guess the amount of times the "Fans of the Week" will get the ball through the "b". This is done with the background music of "Que Sera, Sera". Teams who score seven or more times won an "Easy" T-shirt for each member.
- "We Are the Champions League" (2004–05) – celebrating Sky Sports' purchase of broadcasting rights for the Champions League, the central star of a 3D Champions' League logo was removed and made the target from 12 yards. The background music was, "Blitzkrieg Bop" by "The Ramones"
- "Feed The Iron Curtain" (2002–03) – fans had to kick the ball through the Iron Curtain as many times as possible in one minute. Meanwhile, the Eastern European substitutes (wearing red TCCCP tracksuits - a pun on the old CCCP shirts and TCP the antiseptic) would warm-up, a memorable moment from "Feed the Iron Curtain" was when one of the celebrities missed the "goal" and kicked the rebounding ball in frustration and the ball hit one of the eastern European substitutes in the face. This celebrity was Frank McAvennie and Tim and Helen loved it so much that they renamed the car park The Frank McAvennie Car Park in his honour.
- "World Cup 2002" (2001–02) – a giant face of Sven-Göran Eriksson with his mouth wide open was the target, with the background music of "Sven, 'Gor-don', Eriksson, tra, lala, lala!" (to the tune of Brown Girl in the Ring).
- "Feed the Goat" (2000–01) – the target being the mouth of a giant goat, with the background music of "Feed The Goat And He Will Score" (to the tune of Cwm Rhondda) – a popular terrace chant for Shaun Goater at Manchester City.
- "Lob Star" (1999–00) – The target was a large net, held up by a lobster. The object being to chip the ball into the net from distance. Notably, Neil Lennon successfully found the target, only to be told he had done so before the whistle. Following the whistle, he repeated the feat.
- "Chips" (1998–99) – As the name suggested, the ball had to be chipped into the target. This had to be done over a short "brick" wall. The ball boys at this time were American state troopers in the style of those in the popular TV show CHiPs.
- "Rob Jones" (1996–1998) – A round target with a head shot photo of Liverpool defender Rob Jones glued onto it. The target was on a spring sticking out of a small box. Each week Tim would joke 'because Rob Jones hasn't scored for Liverpool in the 2/3/4/5 seasons he's been playing for them'.
"Can He Kick It?"
Should one of the studio guests include a retired footballer, it is customary for them to take a penalty in the car park. A comedy character plays the role as goalkeeper, such as "Oliver Kahn't" (a parody of Oliver Kahn) and "Gianluigi Bouffant" (a parody on Gianluigi Buffon, played by John Dyson until 2005–06). The original keeper was former Brookside actor Brian Regan, who also featured in the show. Crew member Robbie Knox took over in 2006–07. The current goalkeeper is "Baby Elvis", another crew member.
Referees are also parodied in this feature. "Referee Gallagher" was a "merger" of former Premiership-referee Dermot Gallagher and Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher, who welcomed viewers "outside to the sunshiiiinnnnneeee".
"Hugh Dallas" was a cowboy and a parody on Scottish referee Hugh Dallas; "Paul Guerkin" used a penny whistle (a parody on referee Paul Durkin); and "Mark Battenberg" (dressed as a Battenberg cake, a parody on referee Mark Clattenburg). The 2010-11 season version is "Peter Andre Marriner", a combination of pop star Peter Andre and current Premier League referee Andre Marriner.
The Soccer AM Soccerette has been a feature of the show for several years, and is a young female modelling a Soccer AM T-shirt, which is redesigned each season and acts as a competition prize. Viewers can win the T-shirt by guessing the number of goals scored by the "Fans of the Week" in their team challenge later in the show. The Soccerette is introduced by the male presenter and is asked a series of questions that almost inevitably lead into premeditated gags and innuendo.
The Soccerette is asked about her marital status, which results in rampant cheers if "single", and boos if the Soccerette "has a boyfriend" or "married" (although the latter is fairly rare), and a crew member will run on without a shirt and react. Former host Tim Lovejoy used to declare that the Soccerette's relationship will "never last", regardless of how long they had been together.
The Soccerette is asked to play "Take it to the Max" with a choice of one of the "Fans of the Week". In the challenge, the fan must beat the Soccerette at her special skill (for example, breakdancing, volleyball, fire-breathing).
At the beginning of the 2009 season, a new game was revealed. Rushden Roulette consists of Max Rushden spinning a wheel, while Cheryl Mole stands by, and the fan and the soccerette answering questions. The winner of Rushden Roulette is asked to do 'The Lap of Onuoha' which involves the winner (not always the Soccerette) to sitting on the lap of a lifesized cutout of Nedum Onuoha's. Just as she sits down, the deep voice of an African-American soul singer saying 'Yaaaaaaaa.....'.On several occasions, the wheel has been stopped and tampered with to suit whatever is planned out beforehand or just for fun.
Unbelievable TekkersSee also: Andy Ansah
Unbelievable Tekkers is a segment featuring a clip of football action from the past week, usually the best goal or piece of skill of the week. The phrase was apparently first used by Andy Ansah on Wayne Rooney's Street Striker, with the word "tekkers" meaning "technique". The introduction goes "Some tekkers are good..." (with clip of a great Wayne Rooney overhead kick), "Some tekkers are bad..." (with clip of David Dunn miskicking and falling over) "but some tekkers..." (Andy Ansah clip) "Unbelievable Tekkers!" The 2010-11 season Soccer AM T-shirt also featured this phrase.
A nutmeg is the term applied when a player plays the ball between his opponent's legs and regains control of the ball after going round him. Another ever-present feature of the show, the weekly edition of "The Nutmeg Files" shows a clip from the previous week's football matches of a player being nutmegged, while the "nutmegger" is superimposed shouting "NUTS!", "¡Caňo!" (Brazil/Portugal), "Tunnel" (Italy) and "Petit Pont" (France), depending on which country the "nutmegger" is from. This feature is (very loosely) based on The Rockford Files.
Big Tackle is a feature that shows a hard, but well-timed tackle from the previous week, but there are no fouls shown. The clip of the tackle is played with soothing music, with a smooth French accent talking over it. The feature begins with the French person saying 'Big Tackle. Sponsored by Claude Makélélé. Featuring... (the name of the "tackler").' When the tackle happens, a smooth "Oooh la laaaaaaaa!" is said by the French person.
Kung Fu Academy
Kung Fu Academy, by contrast to Big Tackle, shows a particularly grievous foul that would likely result in an injury and/or a card. The feature is introduced as the perpetrator's team's 'Kung Fu Academy' and the foul is shown and replayed twice (for emphasis), accompanied by stock Martial Arts movie music and special effects.
Third Eye has been a feature of the show from its outset, and involves viewers sending in often-comical mishaps from the television (generally football matches) that may well have been missed by the majority of the viewing audience. These typically involve people falling over or being caught doing something stupid. A classic was a Mancunian woman trying to take pictures on her camera, realising half an hour later that the lens cap was on, or a Grimsby ball boy calmly heading the ball back into play whilst slouched on his seat (the boy later appeared as a 'Stranger On The Sofa'), or one where, during a match, Liverpool's John Arne Riise fell victim to the schoolboy empty chewing gum prank whilst sitting on the subs bench.
Jimmy Bullard has also made a few choice appearances in this feature, especially his goal mouth leapfrog incident. Another infamous Third Eye incident was Manchester United Assistant Manager Mike Phelan bursting a balloon in the dugout, frightening Alex Ferguson and causing him to swear. Another favourite one was when a Chelsea mascot went to shake hands with Steven Gerrard, but went on to wave his hands away and shake it in front of his nose.
The feature Taxi!, accompanied by the theme tune of the US sitcom, consists of yet more clips from the previous week's live football. The clips chosen are typically embarrassing displays of showboating gone wrong. The embarrassed player's name is then suffixed to the voice-over phrase "TAXI FOR...". Concluding with the quote "Taxi is filmed in front of a live stadium audience."
The male presenter (currently Max) and Helen highlight several embarrassing moments from the previous week's football, the worst comes last and is usually introduced with:
Max: "It's time for a trip to (stadium)".
Helen: "Taxi for (name)!"
Team Mates is the section at the end of the show where a player from a football team, is given questions, which they respond by telling which team mate, is more related to the question. The questions are as followed:
- Best Trainer
- Worst Trainer
- Most Skilful
- The Joker
- Most Intelligent
- Least Intelligent
- Worst Dress Sense
- Worst Taste in Music
- And...Who's the longest in the shower (a double entendre some respond in terms of a teammates length in the shower, in terms of time, and some respond in terms of a teammates penis length)
I love football
I love football is a new feature added to the show this season. Each week either a current or ex footballer will answer a series of questions related to football, such as "I love football fans because", My favourite piece of memorabillia was", "My footballing hero was". The list of names that have taken part in this so far this season include Wayne Rooney, Pelé, David Bentley, Nemanja Vidić, Gary McAllister, Ian Holloway, Emmanuel Eboué, Joleon Lescott, Deco, and Rio Ferdinand. The song played in the background of this feature is "Watch Me Fall Apart" by Hard-Fi.
The Crossbar Challenge
"The Crossbar Challenge" is a relatively new feature that footballing legend Mark Oliveira added to the show, and involves a weekly trip to the training ground of a British league football team. The entire squad, including willing coaching staff and managers, are filmed, one-by-one, introducing themselves and attempting to hit the crossbar of the goal from the halfway line. The feat is rarely accomplished - the majority of squads fail to hit the bar once. However, a successful strike generally provokes manic celebrations by the kicker and his team-mates. Normally, the background music is the instrumental "Seventeen Years" by Ratatat but was changed to "Smiling" by The Beta Band.
The current record is held by Wolverhampton Wanderers who hit the crossbar four times on 25 April 2009, beating the previous record of three set by Northampton Town, Hereford United and inaugural three time crossbar hitters Doncaster Rovers.
The current player record is held by Graham Stack who has hit the bar twice for two different clubs (Wolves and Plymouth).
Soccer AM aim to, at some point, visit every team in the league, although this is likely to prove very difficult as clubs such as Manchester United are unwilling to allow players onto shows such as these. However, other clubs like Chelsea, Manchester City (Christmas special) and Tottenham Hotspur have appeared in the past (Arsenal appeared on a French show that had copied the challenge). Players who appear as guests on "The Orange Sofa" are always shown their attempt at the challenge if it is one of the many on the database.
The first manager to actually hit the bar is former Huddersfield Town Manager Andy Ritchie. Wolves manager Mick McCarthy's shot hit the crossbar and then bounced off and struck the up-right when Wolves took part in the challenge. This feat has never been repeated.
A pre-recorded section where two members of a football team – usually a youth/academy side – pits their wits against each in showing off their best individual skills with the football. It involves a different side each week Rocket presents this part with the two opponents, surrounded by their team-mates, and with the appropriate drum and bass backing tune of "Don't Wanna Know" by Shy FX and T-Power. He begins by saying to the footballers (named Joe and Bob for example):
"Joe, Bob, Welcome to Skill Skool. You know the rules, three rounds, best skill wins. Let's get the lesson on!"
Sublime individual skills are shown by each competitor while being egged on by their team-mates. After each have completed 3 rounds, Rocket says:
"Joe/Bob, good skills. But there's only one winner.... Guys, give it up for Joe (cue cheering and applause). Give it up for Bob (bigger/lesser cheering and applause) Bob, you're the Skill Skool winner. Skills!"
Rocket proceeds to thrust the ball into the midrift of the winner, while the team-mates usually mob and even sometimes perform some prank.
In season 2008–09, the section has strayed away from youth sides to include different competitors. Young children from Africa (when Rocket visited a region to deliver football shirts to under privileged areas) were seen showing their undoubted abilities, and also when Chelsea Ladies were celebrating by bundling the winner to the ground, Rocket (in a comical attempt of male opportunity) joined in celebrations by diving on top of the ladies midway through celebrations.The only time when Rocket has not presented was when he took on Tubes (in which tubes won and the rest of the crew jokingly mimicked the normal crowd)instead Trev dressed in a Battenburg costume took his place
My Favourite Goal
A famous footballer is asked to name his three favourite goals throughout his career so far, and the choices are played (in reverse order) at various stages throughout the show. Notable appearances have included Thierry Henry, Wayne Rooney, David Beckham, and Ryan Giggs. Ruud van Nistelrooy in this section was only asked to pick his top three favourite goals for Manchester United. The song used during the older version of 'My Favourite Goal' is "Strange and Beautiful (I'll Put a Spell on You)" by Aqualung.
Terry V. Terry Shield
Introduced during the 2004–05 season, "the most important goals competition in football" as Soccer AM like to put it, focuses on the goalscoring form of Chelsea and former England captain John Terry and his older brother Paul, currently playing for Darlington. The winner would be the player who scored the most in a season.
Hunt V. Hunt Shield
Introduced for the 2009–10 season, focusing on the scoring of Irish internationals Hull City midfielder Stephen Hunt and Reading striker Noel Hunt.
Ferdinand Vs Ferdinand III
This features the two Ferdinand brothers – Manchester United centre back Rio and younger brother Anton of Queens Park Rangers – going head to head to see who can score the most goals in a premier league season. Only league goals count and whoever scores the most in the season will win the title of Ferdinand Vs Ferdinand, currently Rio has won all three seasons. There is now also a Wright-Phillips vs. Wright-Phillips, featuring Charlton striker Bradley and older brother Shaun of Queens Park Rangers and Caldwell Vs Caldwell between Birmingham player Steven and brother Gary of Wigan
Soccer AM's own goalscoring competition, the "Golden Shoe" is the show's light tug on the Golden Boot award given to the top scorer in a league or competition. This competition is based on a goals-to-game ratio. Only league goals count and a player has to have played in at least half of their team's league games to be in with a chance of winning the shoe. The Golden Shoe is open to every player in the English Premier League, the Football League and the Scottish Premier League.
The "Golden Espadrille" is the European equivalent to the Golden Shoe. The same rules apply, and the only real difference is that it is open to the English Premier League, the Scottish Premier League, Spanish La Liga and Italian Serie A players.
Leeds United's Jermaine Beckford is the new current holder of the Golden Shoe. Leeds United's turn on the cross bar challenge is also said to be the most entertaining one ever. Atlético Madrid's Diego Forlán is the new current holder of the Golden Espadrille.
Similar to the above but for goalkeepers in a Clean Sheets-to-games ratio, subject to the same restrictions as the golden shoe (only English Premier League, English football League and SPL players are eligible and must have played at least half their teams games and only league clean sheets count)
100 Greatest Goals
The 100 Greatest Goals from the Games that Nobody Remembers except our Panel of Talking Heads was introduced in 2006–07 as a sarcastic take off of the many "100 best..." countdown shows on TV. A piece of unremarkable football action is used, typically a scrappy goal from a lower division game in the 1990s, which is analysed in the same way as these shows tend to do, with the action interspersed with different experts views of it. Jamie Redknapp, Chris Kamara, Jeff Stelling, and Matt Le Tissier are a few of the people who enthusiastically talk about the goal as if it were the most amazing goal ever scored.
I Want to Be Like Bas
After seeing the on-pitch antics of at the time, ex Brighton & Hove Albion player Bas Savage, namely his moonwalk celebrations after scoring a goal, a feature called "I Want to Be Like Bas" was introduced in the 2006–07 season. If Savage scores in a game previous to the showing of Soccer AM, his goal and celebration is shown to the music of Michael Jackson's "Smooth Criminal", as the video also features moonwalking.
Celebration Steve's £10 Celebration
This includes crew member Steve, composing a brand new celebration for any player in the world to perform. The celebration is usually based on current event/s in the news or mimicking a famous person and their trademark pose/s. The first professional player in the Premier League or The Football League's (usually the lower leagues) to score their goal and celebrate exactly like or vaguely like Steve on the show will win the £10 prize money. If nobody uses the celebration then the £10 is rolled over to the next week. One of Steve's celebrations was a team photo (first of all score your goal, then get a few of your team mates, get 'em round you, lovely picture!). He previously made a £10 bet with Tubes that nobody would do his celebration that week so he picked one he thought nobody would do. During the following show, Steve was forced to give Tubes £10 in which he dropped the tener on the ground for Tubes to pick up. Towards the end there was a parody of this when comedian Paddy McGuinness went on the show and for one time only and created, Paddy's £10 celebration. It was won by Carlisle's Gary Madine. Steven Gerrard's "kiss the camera" celebration in a 4-1 win over Manchester Untied in 2009 was Steves £10 challenge
In this part of the show former footballer and current Sky Sports pundit Chris Kamara goes head to head with Mystic Ed, a horse that Soccer AM insist is magic and can predict the scores. Each week, Kammy and Mystic Ed must predict the score of a live game, usually from the Premier League.
This is simply, random facts about a certain aspect of football (e.g. managers, injuries, the South Wales derby) narrated by crew member Trev. The different volumes of facts are organised with Roman Numerals e.g. 'El Classico, Volume IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII..........'. The first few I's are followed with sighs and groans of fed upness. In typical Soccer AM fashion nothing is taken seriously and the last fact on Trev's list of facts is arguable, biased, or very funny (e.g. 'What is the worst injury in football?? The one the Irish'll give Thierry Henry when they get their hands on him!!')
Our Man In A Caff
This sketch involves crew member Trev, dressing up in a builders outfit, sitting in a café and reading the newspaper (presumably tabloid) and giving us his account of recent events in football and footballers all over the world, in a parody of James Richardon from Football Italia. This is a skit on the typical lazy English builder, having lunch in a café. As Trev rambles on about one of his views on football, images related to the word or subject he's on at that moment appear on the TV (e.g. when David Beckham is mentioned a snapshot of David appears for that split second or two, when the word scouser is mentioned, a picture if Steven Gerrard flashes onscreen). Just before Trev is about to swear, the waitress arrives and gives him his tea, he replies with 'Cheers mush' and sips his tea. Our Man In A Caff ends with Trev signing out with 'Over an Out' plus an added sign off from somebody or from somewhere (e.g. Over and Out or as my son would say, 'I'm not gonna turn out like you, am I??')
I'm an A League Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here
This weekly sketch involves two crew members playing the part of Ant and Dec in Australia as if presenting the ITV show I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here, who introduce football clips from Australia's A-League, typically featuring former Premier League star Robbie Fowler, accompanied by a parody Australian commentary. While the football clip is playing, a guest attempts a "bushtucker trial" trying to find a star in "Georgie Thompson's box", a cardboard box with a picture of said Sky Sports News presenter on the front and shown to contain some form of unpleasant creature, a task at which the guest always fails. The end of the sketch generally sees "Ant" hit in the eyes by some kind of object or substance and shouting "I'm blind, Dec!", a reference to a scene from the teenage drama Byker Grove in which the real-life Ant and Dec first found fame.
DJ David Ghetto
In this sketch, DJ David Ghetto (Baby Elvis) will sing a song about the fans of the week. He often says the line, 'Don't playa' hate, appreciate!' He sings about two or three of the team's players and the team's manager before singing about the fans. At the end, he will say '(team's name) fans, make some noise!' After which, the fans will start singing. One week, they had the Leeds fans on and when he got to Richard Naylor, he said 'it's Richard riki riki boom boom braca braca brap brap ooh ooh Naylor!' Now whenever Richard Naylor scores a goal, an own goal, has a good chance or makes a mistake, Max Rushden will say e.g. 'Big championship question of the week, who was it who scored against Watford last weekend?' and then DJ David Ghetto says the whole thing and then they show the clip.
Current comedy features
One of the strengths of Soccer AM is its talented crew members. Throughout the show's history, its various producers and researchers have contributed to comedy skits, playing various characters. The level of talent varies, but they are all excellent sports and likeable performers. The show's humour is generally of the corny, old-fashioned variety, but no less hilarious for that.
Current, and former performing crew members include "Fenners" (John Fendley), "Sheephead" (Joe Worsley), "Tubes" (Peter Dale), "Rocket" (James Long), Neil (Smythe), Robbie Knox (TRAMP! is sung every time he is mentioned to the tune of The Champ by The Mohawks), Jon Dyson, Chris Nutbeam and newest member Steve Sutcliffe.
Crew member "Tubes" (Peter Dale) has had a regular feature on the show, where he has "one question and one question only" to one of the studio guests. Max asks "Who is your question for this week", and the answer results in a dimming of the studio lights and a spotlight on the questionee. After the question has been asked Tubes goes to shake the questionees hand thanking them as he does. Tubes' popularity has grown significantly - a public vote saw him being voted more popular than (crew member) Rocket - in part due to his woeful (but comic) rapping ability which he demonstrates every week before actually posing a question, his ability to keep a "straight" face is also one of his main attributes. Due to his weekly binge drinking exploits, Tim Lovejoy called for pub landlords across the country to ban Tubes from their establishments for his own good. Tubes' rapping has also been used in a parody of iTunes, where at the end instead of saying "iTunes", it says "iTubes". Some Of Tubes' Catchphrases include "Sickening" "Sick" and "Sickness".
A VHS video from 2000 was recently broadcast showing Tubes, dressed as a sailor, dancing on stage to the YMCA song.
Each year, the Soccer AM Dance-Off is held which is a dancing competition usually involving all crew members. The crew have 15 seconds each to dance before the next contestant goes on, and each dance usually receives good natured laughing and booing from the audience.
It is usually held on the first Saturday in January each year, and viewers at home are encouraged to vote for who they thought was the best by texting in. However, they can also vote for "Don't care". The 2007 Dance-Off winner was Rocket, the 3rd time he has won the competition. In 2008 Trev won the competition despite being a 33/1 shot. Helen asked him how he felt about winning, he replied "It's alright I suppose." 2009 saw Rocket take the crown for the fourth time, however this win is debatable as Rocket used a prop (wheelies) during his performance. However, he was allowed to remain as champion in exchange for him 'Taking One For The Team' the following week, with all the losing participants taking a shot (all of whom missed). In 2010 Lisa became the first female contestant to claim the crown, with Max Rushden suggesting that she 'used her assets' well. Despite being the favourite, Baby Elvis did not even make the top three.
Soccer AM Dance-Off Roll Of Honour:
- 2000: Gadzooks
- 2001: Gadzooks
- 2002: Robbie Knox
- 2003: Rocket
- 2004: Tobes
- 2005: Rocket
- 2006: Baby Elvis
- 2007: Rocket
- 2008: Trev
- 2009: Rocket
- 2010: Lisa
- 2011: Raj
Take One For The Team
Take One For The Team is another new feature added to the show this season and takes place in the Soccer AM car park. Every time someone in the office, usually a crew member will have to let three other member of the crew kick a football at their backside. This occurs when one of the crew members makes a mistake. Rocket, Graham, Tubes, Jimi, Phil V and Dave all faced it last season and Tubes has faced again it this season. Tubes has the record amount of hits as he has hit 2 out of 3 shots.(Graham and Dave). On 9 January 2009, Rocket was forced to take one for the team but with every crew member getting a shot. Only Chris and Simon managed to hit the target.
The Big Tackle feature was added to the line-up in the 2008–09 season to celebrate the art of the "Big Tackle". The feature begins with the phrase "Big Tackle, sponsored by Claude Makélélé", said in a French accent. Indeed it was a truly funny section.
In Small Talk, Rocket and Arrogant Baby Elvis go around the streets of a chosen British town and asks a question related to a current event in the Football world e.g. in the episode from 13 September 2008, Baby Elvis asked people in Doncaster how they keep fit, following reports of Dimitar Berbatov being on an intensive fitness programme after his recent move to Manchester United.
A now running gag which started on the show on 12 March, which refers to Jeff Stelling on Soccer Saturday calling Scottish club Raith Rovers 'Roath Ravers,' the showing of the clip cues two ravers at the back of Max & Helen's sofa. Some Raith Rovers fans did their own version of this at their defeat in a title decider to Dunfermline Athletic on 23 April 2011
This is the part of the show when the members of the public send in their videos from their mobile phones of them and their mates doing something stupid and funny.
Former comedy features
Following Tim Lovejoy's departure, several of the crew members including "Fenners" (John Fendley), "Sheephead" and Robbie Knox also departed, which meant the end of some of the features of the show.
Big Stan Hibbert
Another popular feature of the show – Big Stan Hibbert was "Here All Week". Hibbert – a northern, working-men's club style comedian, played by Fenners – appearanced early in the show with his standard one quarter full mug of beer, and cracked a joke to rampant cheers (and jeers). After his joke, he declared "I'M HERE ALL WEEK!" before proceeding to spin around on the spot at high speed with his beer mug held out wide, and when nothing spills (not a given) stated "CENTRIFUGAL FORCE!".
Following the end of the "Big Stan Hibbert" feature, the week's joke was provided for the following season by former Northern Ireland, Manchester United and Everton player, Norman Whiteside, who is filmed in a pre-recorded sketch.
Soccer AM's response to European television's more lewd feature of the same name. Celebrated Bolton Wanderers fan and crew member Sheephead gave his "weather forecast" for Britain without wearing a shirt. During the run of Topless Weather, Southern England has yet to be forecast anything but "Light drizzle".
This part of the show was always introduced with a "sponsorship" message -
"Topless Weather, in association with "Gravy". Oooh, northern boys love "Gravy".
The background video of gravy being poured onto a plate of chips is a mimic of the television advertising employed by Bisto, where gravy is poured onto a traditional Sunday lunch with the voice-over "Ahh, Bisto".
Sheephead finished Topless Weather every week with "keep smiling, back inside to Mr. and Mrs. Lovejoy", upon which the sponsorship message is repeated, albeit with gravy now over-flowing from the plate.
When Exeter City were in the football league Sheephead would always forecast "Glorious weather at the Real St. James Park." This was a dig at Helen as she is a Torquay United supporter and Exeter are Torquay's rivals. This ended when Exeter were relegated to the Conference.
There was normally a mention of the Polish weather for Warsaw (Walsall) fans.
Due to popular request, from the 2006–07 season, Sheephead also delivers the weather for Ireland, and adds a new running joke. When forecasting, he points at Ireland, and says "Oh my god, it's Kilkenny" in reference to the Irish county of Kilkenny and a play on the South Park running joke, said in every episode when Kenny is killed.
However, Sheephead transferred to David Beckham's Soccer USA so topless weather is no longer running.
Allegedly separate from the show itself, Tim announces that "It's time for the news from your region." Regardless where you are (or so it seems), "Yorkshire News" appears on the screen, anchored by "Yorkshireman" Geoffrey Trueman (Dyson). This name is taken from the names of legendary Yorkshire cricketers Geoffrey Boycott and Fred Trueman. Recently, however, the 'regional' news was styled from Manchester. The headline story involves "yet another example that change is not good. The concept of change is almost certainly a gag at political correctness, and is usually blamed on "those la de da London-types" from the South. "Change" has come in the form of female employment, foreign cuisine, men dancing, and non-beer beverages, amongst others. A highlight of this feature was when a reporter went to Blackpool to question whether Bradford City striker Dean Windass had 'lost his bottle' after a poor run of performances- an 'irate' Windass charged at the reporter, tearing his own shirt off in the process. Another famous moment occurred when the topic of YouTube was mentioned.
Ending the news with "S'thee later", Soccer AM reappears with Helen saying "Welcome back to Soccer AM!"
On the 3 February 2007 edition of the show, Yorkshire News was replaced by "Manchester News" with the people of Manchester being asked what they thought of the new supercasino being built there. This led to an apology by Tim as apparently the Yorkshire region got the wrong regional news.
Amongst other fictional trivia, Yorkshire News has reported on:
- The reaction of Keighley residents upon a survey suggesting men take their wives and girlfriends out on a Friday instead of seeing male friends
- The reaction of Wetherby residents upon learning a local pub 'The Kings Head' has been converted into an 'American style sports bar
- A bake sale taking place in Follifoot
The interviewees on Yorkshire news are invariably working class northern streotypes.
Soccer AM's own little sitcom stars Barry Proudfoot (actually Fenners) as Barry, Pugsy as Pugsy, and Vikki as Vikki The Barmaid. Set at The Wheatsheaf pub in Perivale, Barry dresses in green seventies-style tracksuits and aviator sunglasses, and is known for his hatred of Northerners, and catchphrases "Oooh that's a right touch!" and "He's taking some right liberties". Some famous faces have appeared on this section of the show as well, including Tim, actor Tamer Hassan, West Ham fan Perry Fenwick (Billy Mitchell from EastEnders) and the band The Rifles. "Two-Hits" and "Bob the Glare" have also appeared on a few occasions as "bouncers" and in one episode brought out their own DVD.
Barry also appeared in a Patrick McGuinness stand up. McGuiness asked Barry to come on stage and tell a few jokes to his audience, composed mostly of "Northerners". Instead of telling "tasteful" jokes to the audience, Barry started telling jokes that would be offensive to "Northerners" and got booed off-stage.
Recently Barry has been on a Soccer AM edition of Partner Swap, (take of Wife Swap), where he was partnered up with Theresa O'Sullivan. After constantly making jokes about Teresa being Mother Theresa, Theresa confronted him, pleading him that there be no more of those jokes. Having been asked this, Barry said there would be none - (nun). That is a right touch.
The "Love it" song
A cameraman and a man with a microphone went round asking pretend cockneys, who were actually acted by crew members about the TV soap EastEnders. At the end they would say "We larve it, larve it, larve it, larve it, larve it." It was eventually released before the World Cup 2006 as a song by the Soccer AM crew and rap artist MC Neat, with all proceeds going to Barnardo's Children's Charity. Obviously, the song was edited as it focused on the England football team, rather than EastEnders.
Coventry City TV is inspired by the television channels of several of the larger clubs in British football. Set in the 1986/87 season, the fictitious channel brings us features which resemble Closed-Circuit TeleVision of funny and unusual behaviour. Usual topics of conversation include whether Keith Houchen should be selected by boss John Sillett, and that the club should never leave Highfield Road (which has of course happened with the move to the Ricoh Arena)
The channel is presented by Paul Gardner (Fenners) and Brian Kildare (Sheephead). The two presenters also ask every guest whether they have a 'genuine Coventry accent' and not a "Cod Birmingham" accent.
Introduced in the 2006-07 season Soccer AM have done their version of the BBC Two programme Dragons' Den. Basically every week Sheephead shows the Dragons an invention which already exists. For example, he recently showed them crisps where you put the salt on them yourself although this already had been done. One of the Dragons tells him "It's already been done"; he then responds by saying "Oh has it! Oh, I'll be back. You'll see!"
When a guest(s) or someone they talk to on the phone has written a book, Tim Lovejoy used announce, "I can't read very well, and neither can Helen or any of the crew, but Neil's a good reader, so we had him reconstruct the best bits", which Neil duly did, often exaggerating for comic effect. So far he has reconstructed scenes from the books written by footballer John Hartson, millionaire businessman and TV personality Duncan Bannatyne and Natalie Appleton and Nicole Appleton, ex-Liverpool and Real Madrid star Steve McManaman and horse racing jockey Frankie Dettori to hilarious consequences.
Soccer AM webcam
A new addition to the show, introduced in the start of the 10th season, is the Soccer AM Webcam. Refreshing every 5 seconds, it gave viewers the opportunity to view a live feed from the Soccer AM Office. Due to popular demand, it was later upgraded to refreshing every 3 seconds. The webcam soon gained its own feature on the show - a soap picking out the best behind-the-scenes moments from the office, and concluding with a cliffhanger of a will he-won't he. The webcam broke in between seasons in the summer of 2006, but at the start of the following season the team announced that a new webcam had been installed with improved pictures as well as the ability for the team to zoom in on certain aspects of the office.
The Ten-Yard Bucket Challenge
Borne out of the link between professional footballers and golf, "The Ten-Yard Bucket Challenge" sees a professional footballer attempting to chip a golf ball into a bucket from a distance of ten yards. The football-golf link exists due mainly to the amount of free time footballers are allowed in the daytime after training sessions, and Soccer AM's homage to golf involves a single personality from the world of football who attempts the challenge. One notable attempt was from Ryan Taylor, then of Tranmere Rovers, now of Newcastle United, who was not featuring in the challenge that week, but was accompanying team-mate Jason McAteer. While cameras happened to be rolling, he had a go and accomplished the feat in a single attempt (Taylor is also one of an elite few to hit the crossbar in the "Crossbar Challenge", and reportedly hit it in his practice attempt as well). Many over-confident amateurs have been known to run tallies of well over a hundred attempts. The background music to the challenge is "Ladyflash" by The Go! Team.
Soccer AM Bullseye Challenge
A part of the show where two players from a club compete to see who can hit the bullseye of a dart board first. The current holder with only two throws is Emannuel Eboue whilst he was playing for Arsenal. Fraizer Campbell and Bolton manager Owen Coyle are second with three. Phil Taylor hit with only one but seeing as he is a darts player and not a footballer, his record does not fully count. This appeared when more and more pro's appeared to start liking darts more than golf, thus replacing the ten yard bucket challenge.
"Show them the whole thing"
The part of the show, shown every week, where a member of the fans in the "Luther Blisset" stand do bodybuilding poses, and clips are sent in and shown of the public "showing them the whole thing" to the background music of "Oxygene 4" by Jean Michel Jarre.
The sketch apes certain well-known scenes from the 1970s bodybuilding documentary film Pumping Iron in which Arnold Schwarzenegger taunts Lou Ferrigno and mentors other gym users in poses.
When Tim left the show, this segment was replaced by "Lift Fun".
As its audience share grew, its influence grew in turn. Some of the show's notable influences have included:
- The Save Chip campaign saw large "Save Chip" banners appear all over the world, not only in football matches. The full tag line was "Save Chip... Don't Let Sarah win!". The campaign involved a football fan's plea to help save him from his girlfriend Sarah, who would not let him watch his favourite sport. It became a cult when banners appeared at countless televised football matches across the country and also made airtime in WWE wrestling events, rugby matches and many more televised sporting (and non sporting) events. The banner also appears randomly in the first screens of the PC video game Championship Manager: Season 01/02 released by Sports Interactive. Marc Bridge-Wilkinson also promoted the campaign after scoring the winner in the 2001 LDV Final for Port Vale, lifting his shirt over his head revealing a shirt underneath which said "Save Chip"
- Getting a golden star on the England football shirt. Sparked after France 98, when the French national team added a golden star to their shirt as soon as they won the Football World Cup, the Soccer AM team successfully campaigned to get a golden star on England's shirt to commemorate winning the World Cup in 1966.
- Getting the word "bouncebackability" into the English dictionary has been credited to Soccer AM. Its creation is generally accredited to former Crystal Palace manager Iain Dowie's reference to his team's return to form in 2005, and the Soccer AM team took it upon themselves to continuously refer to the subject until their feat was accomplished later that year.
- The Soccer AM regulars are immortalised in the computer game Football Manager 2005, as an unmanageable team called The Badgers. Amongst the 'players' are Rocket, Tubes, Sheephead, Paul Dalglish, Fenners, Phil Neal, John Wark and of course, Tim Lovejoy himself. All of the players can be signed by the player. They have also been featured in Football Manager 2012, featuring Max Rushden as captain.
- The World of Wrestling sketch exploded into British culture in 2005. After destroying his opponent in a public place (e.g. a swimming pool), the masked "red" wrestler began a chant of "Easy! Easy!, whilst clapping his hands above his head, before stopping telling an observer "You shut up!" and resuming his chant of "Easy! Easy!". The sketch is a parody and play on words of the World of Sport wrestling, which had been repeated on TWC Fight! starting in early-2004. In the sketch, the masked wrestlers are based on Kendo Nagasaki, whilst the chanting is taken from Big Daddy. This chanting action has since been reintroduced thanks to the sketch and is now seen across the UK at all kinds of events - sporting or otherwise.
- On the Christmas Day Special 2007, The Pigeon Detectives became the first band to play live in the studio. The performance, however, was dubbed and led to criticism of the show and the band itself.
- Tim Lovejoy offered five of "the queen's English pounds" to anyone who went to an English football match with a banner saying "Lovejoy is a legend", although he soon stopped after it ended up costing him too much money (mainly after Sky Sports's match coverage picked up on the competition, showing a number of banners before each match).
- Tim Lovejoy and Bradley Walsh were flown by helicopter after the show to do Sky's fanzone commentary for the Arsenal v Chelsea FA Cup Final in 2002. Lovejoy has been ridiculed on Soccer AM ever since for saying "Oh it's okay, it's only Ray Parlour" moments before Parlour's spectacular opener in the 2-0 win, to which Walsh replied "That is some goal!". Whenever Parlour is mentioned, they find some way to bring this up.
- Usually every time a Welsh celebrity or footballer is on the show they are required to say "Ian Beale" or "Ratatouille", and more recently "Caerphilly"
Another memorable aspect to the show was in 2000 when Tim started to tell the same gag every week. The gag revolved around steak and kidney pies, and the gag would normally see Tim and Helen discuss what they'd eaten. Invariably, Tim would announce that he'd had a "steak and kidley" pie, to which Helen enquired: "Don't you mean steak and kidney?" Tim would then reply "That's what I said did'll I". This running gag ran and ran, to the point where even fanzone commentators performed the gag. Following on from one such occurrence, Tim pleaded with Martin Tyler and Andy Gray to do the gag during a live game.
Another recurring gag is when someone with the surname "O'Leary" or "Riley" is involved. For example, Helen once announced that Dermot O'Leary was on the current show and would be talking about his role as Big Brother's Little Brother presenter. Tim then asks "Oh really?", to which Helen reluctantly replies "... no, O'Leary". This is clearly a pre-determined gag judging by Tim's reaction which gains much laughter when done.
Lovejoy actually had a few ongoing gags back in the day including famous one liners as "Is it a record?" "Oi fish head!" "Double sweet double douvet!"
One of the most popular mobile phone clips, sent in by Soccer AM viewers, is Crazy Dave. Crazy Dave is a young tractor driver who chooses to over take his Dad, driving another tractor, on a narrow strip of road - with hilarious consequences. He has many phrases which have achieved cult status amongst Soccer AM fans such as "but yeah, YEAH, I do fancy it, big time!" and "He's gonna have my f***ing pants down!". His antics have been parodied by many people which have also been shown on the mobile phone clip section of the show. One of the most notorious MMS clips was David Bentley kicking a ball from a balcony office and getting it into a skip.
Football League Trophy Play Your Cards Right
For the past few seasons, Soccer AM has had the privilege of being able to draw fixtures for each round of the Football League Trophy (formerly known as the LDV Vans Trophy, it is now called the Johnstone's Paint Trophy).
This is normally done - in the style of British gameshow Play Your Cards Right - by Max & Helen cutting oversized cards onto large holders, and turning them over one at a time to generate football matches, with Max normally drawing the Home teams first, and Helen drawing the Away sides. This process is overseen by independent adjudicator from the Football League Stuart Trigwell, now known to Soccer AM as 'face', ridiculing a column in the Daily Mail referring to him as the 'Face of The Football League'
The fans of the week are usually from a club that is in the draw.
Strangely, before the quarter final draw, Peterborough United fans were asked who they would least like to draw, to which they replied Bristol Rovers. The resulting draw then gave them an away game against... Bristol Rovers, which made the Peterborough fans boo Tim and Helen for their poor fixture making skills.
DVDs and music
In November 2004, Soccer AM released a DVD, which became a success, mostly down to being the ideal Christmas gift for men. Since this date, more DVDs have been released. The 2005 edition self titled, Soccer AM II included the 10 greatest players of the last decade, which included David Beckham, Ronaldinho and Alan Shearer. In June 2006, Soccer AM went musical by releasing a CD with music they use on the show with such bands as Hard-Fi, The Automatic and The Ordinary Boys. Later that year another DVD was released titled, Soccer AM III - the Greatest Matches of All Time which included a selection of 1982 World Cup games, 1979–1981 and 2006 FA Cup Finals.
In 2009 the fourth DVD called Soccer AM IIII - The Greatest Team in the World was released. This featured going through the best players in the world at the moment in a fantasty dream team. This DVD was the first DVD with Max Rushden.
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