Johnny & Al's Fantasy Football League On TV

It's time for a bit of nostalgia from Johnny and Al as they look back at Baddiel and Skinner's Fantasy Football League. It only lasted for two years, but it was marvellous...

Last Updated: 28/03/13 at 15:34 Post Comment

Latest Articles

Saints Alive Despite Death Knells...

Post comment

An awful lot of cash has been thrown in Southampton's direction for a collection of players with itchy feet who took them into mid-table. This is not a crisis; it's excellent business...

Youth Development Has To Be The Future

Post comment

A varied Mailbox has thoughts on transfer targets, youth development, the obsession over 3-5-2, some innovative Blackpool suggestions and why Real bought Kroos...

All Articles

Broadcast on BBC2, the David Baddiel and Frank Skinner football-entertainment show 'Fantasy Football League' coincided with booms in what we came to call 'Lad Culture' and football's marketability beyond its working class core. This probably came to its zenith with Euro 96. By this point, England had a football team and a manager that people generally liked, the Premiership had exciting foreign talent but still enough relatable English players of the old skool and attending a match was not the physically hazardous business it had been in the 1980s. The era of the Baby Bentley/Spit-Roasting 19-year-old multimillionaire sociopath footballer of today's popular imagination had not yet begun, and while football was slickly and successfully whoring itself to sell any product you like, it hadn't yet achieved the all-pervasive corporate cynicism of the ensuing couple of decades.

Rather like the biggest band of the mid-1990s, Oasis, FFL had a swagger and a rough-and-ready around the edges charm that hid an intuitive intelligence. The format had initially been based on the idea of fantasy football, getting celebrities to talk about their teams and picks, but later evolved into a chaotic but often successful chat show and sketch show.

It only ran for two years and three series from early 1994 to mid-1996. In the popular imagination, it seems to have been much longer, its impact perhaps echoing long after it had finished. There were other David and Frank incarnations for various special occasions but the original and the best was a relatively short-lived affair.

While we were told at the time that there was a revival of lad culture, many of us couldn't quite see how the new lad culture was any different from old lad culture, centred as it was and still is around drinking, women and sport. FFL was, at the time, seen as an expression of this; an off-shoot of the Loaded generation but the one thing that strikes us as we re-watch it now is just how un-laddish it really is. It's more nerdy and childish than alpha male and happily so.

The attitude to the football notably lacks bitterness. There was still some love towards the pro footballer in 1994-1996 and there was much less preciousness about it all. Even when showing this fantastic 'tackle' by Eric Cantona the presenters do what many of us do: they laugh at it. There was no use of the word 'horror,' no furrowed brows, wringing hands or fear of a Twitterstorm for 'endorsing' cruelty or violence.

There's no doubt that some of the features are cringeworthy and the whole Statto thing grates after a while. Three series was probably enough of it but it was fun and it was pretty original. Only 'Standing Room Only' with the estimable but now disappeared Shelley Webb and him off of Brooky touched the same territory. Given football's ubiquity, it seems strange that there haven't been more entertainment shows based around the nation's sport. The Saturday morning yelping of 'Soccer AM', the bantz of 'They Think It's All Over' and 'A League Of Their Own' have only tangentially attempted to take up the mantle of football entertainment, and with varying degrees of success.

Like a lot of successful TV shows, we reckon that the slightly shambolic, studenty vibe of FFL made it look a hell of a lot easier than it actually was, and that's testament to the excellence of David Baddiel and, especially, Frank Skinner. The WBA fan occupies a unique place for us in managing to be genuinely funny, filthy and somewhat risk-taking while occupying the same comic mainstream as the likes of Michael McIntyre and John Bishop. It took two very talented comedians to create FFL, which may be why, in the intervening years, so few other examples of funny football programmes have emerged.

John Nicholson and Alan Tyers

Read Johnny's book, 'The Meat Fix' here

Alan's football and cricket books are all in one place here

Follow Alan on Twitter here

or Johnny here.

Football365 Facebook Fan Page

The Football365 fan page is a great place to meet like minded people, have football related discussions and make new friends.

Most Commented

Readers' Comments

I

think all those names linked to United exits make sense. Kagawa has never really looked like hitting the form he had at Dortmund and Fellaini is radioactive after last season (even though I think he's been unfairly singled out for criticism). Nani and Anderson have had more than their fair share of chances so they are done, and Hernandez deserves better than warming a bench.

ted, manchester
The Insecure Gossip

H

e'll be off to Spurs (or better) in January and I don't blame him. Looking forward to re-signing Grant Holt as his replacement though.

notalentjones
Benteke ignoring speculation

I

n fairness, he does look absolutely shattered in that photo.....

FairyNuff
Shaw told to shape up

Latest Photos

Footer 365

Premier League: Ross Barkley signs new four-year contract at Everton

Everton midfielder Ross Barkley has signed a new four-year deal with the club.

Transfer news: Southampton's chairman says Jay Rodriguez and Morgan Schneiderlin will stay

Jay Rodriguez and Morgan Schneiderlin will not be sold, according to Southampton chairman Ralph Krueger.

Transfer News: Reported Manchester United target Arturo Vidal 'happy' to stay at Juventus

Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri is convinced Arturo Vidal will remain with the club for the forthcoming season.

Mail Box

Youth Development Has To Be The Future

A varied Mailbox has thoughts on transfer targets, youth development, the obsession over 3-5-2, some innovative Blackpool suggestions and why Real bought Kroos...

Don't You Worry About Southampton...

We can't help but agree with one mailboxer who tries to calm the crisis-mongers gathering around Southampton, while we have mails on Man United's squad...

© 2014 British Sky Broadcasting Ltd. All Rights Reserved A Sky Sports Digital Media property