Less Beckham and more Pettigrew, McQuade and Rougvie please

Aidan Smith is less than impressed by BBC Scotland’s choice of ‘classic’ cup highlights

Motherwell and Scotland's Willie Pettigrew in his pomp. Picture: SNS

Me and the TV are seriously going to fall out. Tellys are supposed to be intuitive now, and suggest programmes to their owners based on their previous choices, so what am I being offered in the midst of lockdown? A documentary – no, hagiography – called The Beckham Effect.

Why doesn’t the idiot-lantern know that what I’d really want to watch right now is The Pettigrew Effect or The McQuade Effect or The Rougvie Effect? Sadly, these shows only exist in my imagination.

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But footage of Willie and Denis and Doug should still be kicking around in the archives, so why doesn’t someone dig it out?

BBC Scotland are almost doing this. Almost, but woomph! They’ve skyed the ball over Tynecastle’s School End like Ernie Winchester used to do. They’ve decided to dust down highlights of old matches but the selection has been too random, too conservative, too recent.

Who picked the 2012 Scottish Cup final when unfortunately Winchester wasn’t playing for Hearts – some work-experience lad with a Jambo grandad? The project is a good one but it requires proper curation. Where is dear old Bob Crampsey when we need him?

There’s gold in them thar shelves, or at least there should be. I want there to be entire wings devoted to Sportscene – indeed, wings devoted to wingers – but rather fear there aren’t. All of TV, not just regional sports departments, has been shockingly reckless with its heritage, wiping recordings and dumping tapes. Social media does its best to save old football for the nation. For instance, if you want to 
see Dundee United 5, Hearts 6,
a phantasmagorical Scottish Cup tie from 1968, you rev up YouTube. It should feature in the Beeb series but probably won’t. Too ancient, too black-and-white, too blundering? I disagree.

At least Friday night’s offering was less predictable: United’s 1981 cup semi replay win over Celtic. What a poignant joy to see Roy Aitken charge into the back of Paul Sturrock again; to see David Narey, shirt outside his shorts, the coolest dude on the bare brown pitch; to hear commentator Alastair Alexander refer to “Paddy Boner” and “Murdo MacGleod”; to see Frank Kopel and Ralphie Milne and Johnny Doyle and Tommy Burns, all sadly no longer with us.

More like this, please, BBC. Yes, the 1991 United-Motherwell final was a classic but no one needs reminding of that. This game from ten years before was fascinating. Cameras were trained constantly on the football; there were no needless shots of the crowd or for that matter the managers. The ’81 cup was the first following the alcohol ban so the fans would have experienced shock privations of their own. A number of players had their socks rolled right down and I found myself marvelling at their strong calves. Funny how the lockdown affects you.