Male-box: Is nothing sacred for us downtrodden men?

Ian Watson

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Women on TV
With regards your piece in today’s Mediawatch around Simon Kelner questioning the strategy behind Eni Aluko and Alex Scott being employed by ITV and the BBC – I think he’s on the money and you’re being, at best, naïve. It is tokenism, absolutely categorically is. One female per pundit team and then, of course, the BBC take it one step further by taking the abhorrent decision to have Vicki Sparks as lead commentator during the Portugal v Morocco clash.

You will immediately decry me for sexism because that’s the easy thing to do. But it really REALLY isn’t. I was one of an arbitrary number, let’s say thousands, who thought putting Ms Sparks as the lead commentator was an absolutely shocking call. I was one of (let’s say thousands again) who used the BBC facility of using the red button and having the 5-live commentary team talking over the visual aid. If that 5-live commentary team had been led by a woman then I would have muted it. As it was, we got the reassuring voice of either Jonathan of Champion or Jonathan of Pearce, can’t remember, and the dull archaic thoughts of the once great England leader, Terry Butcher. I would hazard a guess that Vicki Sparks has forgotten more about football than I know and, without doubt, could have delivered more refined strategic analysis than Terry Butcher but having a woman commentate on football just sounds wrong!!

Much the same as having Eni Aluko and Alex Scott in respective channels studios: both eloquent, both knowledgeable about the game and both definitely hold their own against cliché Keown and utterly boring Upson. But it just sounds wrong. The only female I’ve ever seen having any real involvement with male football is Gabby Logan but she’s never been the one answering the questions or being a lead commentator. She has used her hosting and anchor skills to skilfully and seamlessly lead an, for instance, episode of MoTD. To do that role you don’t have to be an expert in the discipline being discussed (not saying she isn’t), but you do have to be an expert in asking pertinent questions, controlling the pundit team and having an easy and calm air about you (she definitely does).

To sum up, both Aluko and Scott were/are very gifted female footballers and clearly have a lot of insight into the game. However, in this day and age when men are feeling downtrodden at every turn it would just be nice to have something sacred to us unchanged and kept safe from the infiltration of this #metoo crap permeating society.
Andy (no doubt I’ll be labelled as a Neanderthal. I love my Mum).
(Oh and p.s, it still isn’t sexism!! As an example: you get onto a plane for a flight to wherever and want to hear a calm, middle class voice advising you of the route to be taken, weather on the trip, ETA etc. Instead you get a gruff cockney bloke chatting bull at you over the internal PA system. How would you feel? Exactly.)



…Cards on the table, I usually give Mediawatch a wide berth, but I couldn’t help being lured in by the picture of Eni Aluko this morning and I have to say, that article by Simon Kelner left me staring in disbelief at my phone.

What a pile of absolute shite that article was! Was it satirical and I’ve completely missed the joke or something? Seriously, the brass neck it takes to commit something like that to paper and think ‘yeah, that’s not unadulterated sexism at all, I’ve made cogent points here’.

Why in the shuddering f*ck would the fact Eni Aluko has a law degree or two x chromosomes being in any conceivable way relevant to her ability to comment on men’s football? How did this junk get published? Christ if you need clicks that badly just post a picture of a women in a bikini under the heading ‘Find lonely swimsuit models in your area!’, at least then we’d know it was bollocks from the off.

What is this obsession with women having a say on a men’s football? No one bats an eyelid at Sue Barker talking about Federer or Claire Balding on horseracing – what is so newsworthy about a woman being asked her opinion on football??

Pretty sure Michael Johnson was BBC’s appointed chair of the Jess Ennis (Hill) fan club during London 2012 – what does that MUG know about women’s athletics? What insight could he possibly have into professional competitive sports?

Why is it so important to have played the men’s game before anyway? Give me Andy Brassel over Patrice Evra any day of the week, the man’s about as insightful as a wet paper towel. Sorry Patrice, that was mean, this isn’t about you anyway.

I just don’t understand this obsession with inferring ‘tokenism!’ every time someone ‘non-traditional’ – and lets be honest it’s generally women or POC – pops up on our TV screens? What are these people so afraid of? OK I know the answer to that but why on earth hasn’t this rubbish been consigned to the scrapheap yet? It’s embarrassing (worrying) how thinly veneered this chauvinistic bilge is nowadays.

See, this is why I steer clear of Mediawatch, angries up the blood too much.

Thanks a lot
Simon (embarrassed for my namesake) CFC


Losers don’t win in injury time
In response to Lee’s email suggesting that the England players lack of winning mentality was shown by their failure/refusal to harangue the ref for not giving them decisions – I would like to point out that they did actually win.

I’m not saying England will win the world cup or that they’ll go deep in to the competition but it really is a strange stick to beat them with considering the result. I would argue that persevering against a forever retreating opposition and getting a winner in injury time would suggest they at least have something about them.

I guess the sheer determination to find some negative in victory has to be applauded though.
James, Kent


Leaky Steve
Did Steve Holland really need to write down the team sheet for Sunday? It’s 2 changes ffs. It’s like me carrying a post-it note about with my PIN number scribed on it.
Glen, Stratford Spur


Too much change
Correct me if I am wrong but football is the world’s most popular sport by participation and audience. So why all the obsession with changing it?

I have tried watching American Handegg a few times and really couldn’t get into it, largely because it is so stop/start. My guess is VAR is there so that the US broadcasters can cut to an advert, like they seemed to do often in US when I was there. Extra countries in the world cup finals means more markets open… Betting is available on absolutely everything (which player will be the first to swat a mosquito?)…
Ah, now I see. Please don’t let them ruin our game! I wish they could be happy with the ridiculous amount of money they already make from it.
Rob, of Sweden (if Costa or Ramos had found the bird would we have seen an Ozzy Osboure moment?)


I too like Simon was wondering how teams tied on points where going separated, whether on the more traditional goal difference or the sometimes used head to head. In my search I found this rather spiffing document on UEFA’s website. The answer to his question comes on page 29 and comes prior to the drawing of lots, it’s based on a team’s disciplinary record and reads like this :-

Fair play points system in which the number of yellow and red cards in all

group matches is considered according to the following deductions:

– first yellow card: minus 1 point

– second yellow card/indirect red card: minus 3 points

– direct red card: minus 4 points

– yellow card and direct red card: minus 5 points

Can’t be bothered checking on the Portugal or Spain’s scoring so far, do some work yourself…
Carl (51 days til the start of the season) Oldfield, Southport Ingerlund


VAR views
Couldn’t agree more with Peter Van. Had an absolutely blazing row with a couple of my mates on Saturday about VAR. it was a full day drinking and watching the World Cup, so it maybe went a bit over the top.

I think the opinions between those who watch football primarily on TV and those who go to games will never be reconciled. The two I was arguing with only really watch games on TV and enjoy the spectacle and the “fairness” VAR brings.

I hate everything about it. To the extent that I’ll pack in my season ticket as soon as it’s introduced into the premier league. Football is art not science. The way technology is going we may as well have Fifa determine the result of matches the next day over tea and biscuits.

I’m sick of this pathetic desire from some fans of the game to feel as if they have been cheated. That the injustice of a foul here or there is enough to warrant changing the fabric of the game itself. Can anyone actually name a trophy which a team has won purely off the back of refereeing mistakes? I doubt it



World Cup sh*thousery
Surely more needs to be made out of that “Boil on the Arse of Football” Pepe’s attempt to get a fellow professional sent off with an outrageous fall to the floor claiming he had been struck after a Moroccan had the temerity to pat him on the shoulder. Proper sh*thousery from the King Sh*thouse, why no one has tap danced on the turd’s head is a mystery.

Iran threw everything at stopping Spain by hook or by crook and with a little bit of composure in front of goal could of pulled off the shock of all shocks.

Absolutely loving this World Cup, there has been some great games, dodgy VAR stuff, referee incompetence and some banging goals (take a bow Nacho).

I need to now ask which World Cup player we all pretend we know all about will get a move to the Prem and do what is now known as a Porborski and flatter to deceive until riding of into the sunset to rip up the Turkish league.
Paul Murphy, Manchester


… Just read Jack’s letter and he refers to ‘stumbling deep into the competition by occasionally conjuring the dark arts’. Now we all now that in the modern game all teams occasionally cheat, feign injury, appeal for a throw-in when they know it’s not theirs, waste-time etc. etc. and if you want to be able to watch the modern game you have to somehow accept that this goes on without condoning it. However, what Iran did yesterday evening was not to occasionally ‘conjure’ the dark arts, their whole game plan was based on these dark arts. Feign injury whenever you can? Check. Waste time whenever you can? Check. Niggling fouls to break up play? Check. Try and get the opposition booked whenever possible? Check. Combine this with the fact that they regularly had 11 players in their own penalty area during open play and when they got the ball they just blindly hoofed it upfield, then you have to ask yourself, what is there to admire? They also left the best player in the Eredivisie (Jahanbakhsh) on the bench for 70 plus minutes, which is clear proof of their attitude when starting the game. That Spain also has players who are very adept at ‘conjuring’ the dark arts is totally irrelevant. Two wrongs don’t make a right. I just pray that Iran don’t progress, because if that is the future of the World Cup then I for one have better things to do.
Guy Thomas, The Netherlands


Who will be next, though?
I’m sure I won’t be the only one to let Vincent know that we won’t need to boycott the 2026 World Cup because Donald Trump won’t actually be in charge for it, two terms of four years are the maximum allowed to be served in the USA, so by 2026 they will have a new President.
Mikey, CFC (Is Sarri our manager yet?)


Spitting image
To end this discussion once and for all, Unai Emery looks like the butler from Mr Deeds (the Adam Sandler version).

On a completely non-Arsenal related note, the film involves both slapstick and the attempts of a money-hungry corporate leadership to sacrifice the historical good work of a company for their own nefarious ends.
Aidan, Dublin


…It’s Jean Dujardin.
Paul, Bournemouth Hammer.


Non-league to World Cup
I enjoyed Steven Chicken’s piece this morning, and I agree that there needs to be a cultural shift in terms of the perception of players and clubs outside the elite. Gareth Southgate has maybe instigated this with his comments last summer that players in the successful age group teams would be considered for the men’s team if they were playing regularly and playing well. Ruben Loftus-Cheek is the obvious beneficiary of this and hopefully – declaring my interest as a fan of a club who also benefitted – more young English players see being an integral part of a team as better for their careers than earning more money for less playing time higher up the table.

As an aside, the Evo-Stik League recently marked its 50th anniversary, and as part of the celebrations they’ve been counting down the 100 greatest players in the league’s history (Northern Premier League plus its regional first divisions), as nominated and voted for by fans. There were some familiar names and interesting stories throughout the list, but top of the pile was a striker who got his start at Stocksbridge Park Steels and then FC Halifax Town: Jamie Vardy. His story is remarkable for the speed of his ascension but it is also testament to what can happen when players are given opportunities to develop by playing regularly.
Ed Quoththeraven


It seems that while we’ve all been distracted by the World Cup Derby have gone and been renamed to Frank Lampard’s Derby County.
SC, Belfast