The Gillette Soccer Saturday Experience

I had the pleasure this weekend of watching Gillette’s Soccer Saturday from Sky Sports for my very first time.

For those of you who don’t know, the show plays on Saturdays and brings viewers all of the latest scores and news live from the Premiership matches. While we in America are able to watch five real, actual live football matches on a Saturday, people in England can typically only see two of them on television that day.

So this means that most of the supporters who are at home have a choice of listening to BBC Radio Five Live or watching Soccer Saturday to find out the up-to-the-minute scores.

However, I must say that host David Bobin was pathetic. His fake sincerity was obvious and he went over the top throughout the broadcast as he tried to use his voice to create suspense and drama when announcing the latest developments in matches. By the way, Bobin often co-presents Sky Sports’s “Through The Night,” and the work he does on that show is far better.

Bobin was joined in the studio by analysts Charlie Nicholas (formerly Arsenal), Phil Thompson (formerly Liverpool) and Matthew Le Tissier (formerly Southampton). The debate among all three former players wasn’t that impressive. Also the site of the three men wearing big headsets as they watched three different matches unfold on their TV sets in the studio was quite silly. Phil Thompson’s reaction and lack of facial expressions was classic to watch when Newcastle went 2-1 up against Liverpool, his former side.

Overall, it gave me a deeper appreciation of how we experience the Premiership in America on Fox Soccer Channel and Setanta Sports. Instead of being glued to the TV and not seeing any footage from Soccer Saturday, but just reading the results on screen and listening to the football analysts, we’re treated to actual football matches where we can form our own opinions. If we have the added bonus of Setanta Xtra (available to DirecTV subscribers only), we have five Premier League matches on TV every Saturday and a tape-delayed one — numbering six in all.

America, what a country! Now if we could only get a show that has the football analysts dissecting the matches (sorry, but “Super Saturday +” does not do it for me).

9 thoughts on “The Gillette Soccer Saturday Experience”

  1. Gaffer,

    Im with you on all of the matches we get, and I would add Gol TV that brings in great la ligua matches and bundelsigua games. While the production values arent up to epl standards, the spanish league in paricular offer some great games!

    I would also add my concern over the production value of super saturday +. This past weekend perhaps sank to a new low, intorducing the wrong sound bites on a number of occassions, and it now seems just a 45 minute infommercial for thier crap italian games shown on sunday.

    I think you have some relationship with FSC and would encourage you to discuss with them the need to inprove the production values of their original progamming and their voise over or production of their own games. Its really not even second rate. If they dont improve they will never expand the base of hard core fans who will watch because they love the game and sadly just put up with what is all too annoying, intrusive shrill coming out of the booth.

  2. Sky Sports is renowned for its endless hype of the EPL. The presenters will even spin a 0-0 draw as an “end to end thriller” in an attempt to convince the viewing audience that Sky Sports and the EPL deliver non-stop excitement.

    It seems that most football fans are wise to this and are annoyed by it, so who knows why Sky insists on keeping it up. I suppose you could argue that it’s evidence of our “dumbing down” culture, where the audience is treated almost like a child. I haven’t watched the BBC’s Match of the Day since I moved Stateside, but from what I hear it suffers from similar problems: Pundits with zero insight, lame contrived gags, too much talk and not enough highlights, etc., etc.

    I am only too grateful for the large number of games I am treated to each weekend here in the US. So grateful in fact that I am willing to overlook the poor production values on FSC and those two idiots who present the phone-in show. Actually, idiot might be too harsh a word: They, and FSC in general, lack any real polish. However, oddly enough, I really do love the complete cheesiness of the Fox Soccer Report. I find it endearing in a strange sort of way.

    In my opinion, the best (British) football coverage I can remember is Channel 4’s Italian football shows during the 90s and the BBC’s programming during the same period. The reasons are manifold but the talent presenting played a big part. Channel 4’s (at the time) James Richardson is one of those rare presenters who appears as if he actually possesses a brain and can handle the odd ad-lib or two (an increasingly rare talent if today’s evidence is anything to go by). At the helm of the BBC’s coverage was housewives’ favorite Des Lynham. Again, the unflappable Lynham was a master of the unrehearsed ad-lib, and always seemed to strike the right tone. This is when you could count on the BBC to be the Voice of Authority. I’ll never forget his wry opening line during the titanic grudge match, the England vs. West Germany semi final during Italia ’90: “I suppose you’ve heard there’s a football game on” (or words to that effect). Unfortunately such wit and understatement is sadly lacking from today’s TV coverage, on both sides of the Atlantic.

  3. I would have to agree with the Gaffer on all points. It was an extreme disappointment to see what Sky does for the average English fan. In fact, the headsets were laughable, I thought they wore them for “effect” only.

    We no doubt have to be thankful for what we have here in America. We would be more thankful if we had a post game show with Bobby McMahon on. Why wait till Monday.

    I enjoy the radio call in show on BBC 5 Live which is available online after the main action on saturday and sunday.

  4. Soccer Saturday IS the Jeff Stelling Show. Watching it without him is essentially pointless and banal so no wonder you got the impression you did.

  5. I am amazed that David Bobin presented the show in question because I know he has never worked on that particular show in 30 years of TV! And I should know… David Bobin Sky Sports

  6. What a load of bollocks. David Bobin is Sky Sports best and most experienced presenter they have and puts the other teenage and bimbo presenters to shame…

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