Football's Top Of The Bill
The Morecambe and Wise Crosstalk
Introducing the most successful off-field double act of Eric and Ernie who hope to raise a few laughs, and eyebrows, too (apologies to Terry Venables) in their discussion about that other entertainment business, the world of professional soccer.
Football’s Top Of The Bill With Us
ERIC: I say, Ern. Do you realise that we’re guests of SHOOT magazine. They want us to talk about football, gracing the same pages as Bobby Moore and Kevin Keegan.
ERN: Isn’t that marvellous? But I don’t remember seeing Moore and Keegan at Finsbury Park Empire. Are they a new double act?
ERIC: I know you like to get a funny in early in the dialogue, but this time I realise you’re been serious. Your knowledge of soccer is abysmal. I suppose you think that Rodney Marsh is a place in Suffolk?
ERN: Not really, I thought if was in Northumberland.
ERIC: But surely you remember back in the fifties when comedian Stan Stennett and I formed the showbiz XI football team? You were there at the first game. In fact you held our wallets while we played.
ERN: Oh yes, that was the best part of the game. Now if I could do that every time, I would take an interest in football. Mind you, having had a house in Peterborough for many years I’m please to see my local team doing so well.
ERIC: Get off this page! How dare you talk about other teams when everyone knows Luton Town is the top club in England.
ERN: You only say that because you’re a director and can sit in the directors box smoking those huge cigars at every match. I bet you wouldn’t be so keen if you had to stand in the terraces like the rest of us.
ERIC: That’s all you know, clever clogs. I was a supporter of Luton Town before they made me a director. Many’s the time I’ve watched them play in torrential rain, gale force winds and freezing fog.
ERN: All right. I believe you, but please tell me how you managed to watch football in freezing fog?
ERIC: Oh, that’s easy Ern. I just turn up the brightness on the telly!
ERN: That’s typical of you. Can’t you be serious just for a moment? There can’t be one reader of this magazine that doesn’t know you support Luton. You make that perfectly clear every time you appear on TV. Even on our shows you embarrass me with your references to Luton. You’re becoming a Luton Town bore!
ERIC: Steady on, shorty. You’ve only sung the praises of Peterborough this season because they’re doing so well. Anyway, you don’t go to as many matches as I do.
ERN: Well, that’s because I have to pay!
ERIC: Rubbish! Unless you can find someone to give you a leg-over the fences you don’t bother. Anyway, I happen to know that you have lost all confidence in going to matches since you caught your wig on the barbed wire which Peterborough have installed as an Ernie Wise deterrent!
ERN: Oh, very clever. But what about the time you got carried away at Luton – by two big bobbies!
ERIC: That’s not fair! Why don’t you tell readers that you’ve always fancied yourself as a famous centre forward, but you’ve never been able to grow your hair any longer than Yul Brynner’s!
What about the time you were banned from the showbiz XI team because of your legs. It wasn’t that they drove the girls crazy. In fact, they were so knobbly and hairy that every time you ran for the ball you looked like a drunken gorilla.
You just had to go or become substitute goal-posts!
ERN: I suppose you’re going to tell everyone that you were nick-named ‘Schemer Morecambe’ in your soccer days? Well, I’ve beaten you to it. Here’s the real truth.
You managed to earn the name by going on football pitches wearing two shirts. The top one was your school colours, but underneath you wore the colours of your opponents. I bet you were the only schoolboy to appear on both scoring sheets in every match.
You were even known to impersonate referees in those days!
ERIC: It was all in the spirit of the game, Ern. You know what a bad loser I am. Many’s the time I collected a winner’s and a loser’s medal in a cup match. Everything changed when I had my glasses. Even I was able to see that it wasn’t quite cricket.
ERN: Cricket! Now that’s the number one game. I was in my element with a cricket bat and I still play the game today.
ERIC: Yes, you’re the only player in history to be bowled out for WBW – Wig Before Wicket. And I’ve heard it rumoured that they had to get your pads from Australia because that’s the only country where they make boomerang shaped pads suitable for your legs.
ERN: You’re at it again. Well, when it comes to football – just as with cricket – it’s Yorkshire, my home county, that’s top of the tree. Look at Leeds United with that great player Billy Brengun and one of the greatest managers in the game, Don Gravy.
ERIC: Very funny. Haven’t you heard of my county, Lancashire? Manchester City and United, Liverpool, Everton, Burnley. And what about Preston? I used to support them when I was young. Of course, today soccer needs an overall.
ERN: You mean overhaul!
ERIC: Do I? Then what about the wife’s wedding ring?
ERN: What’s that got to do with soccer?
ERIC: The brass band. They always used to have one to play before a game and at half time.
ERN: Yes, that’s what’s wrong with soccer. It’s only 90 minutes long. Why don’t they have entertainment for half an hour before the kick off and half an hour at the end of the game? There’s much more going on during a game of cricket. It’s a much more trendy game.
ERIC: Well, I don’t know. It’s much more sexy, I’ll grant you that. What with glances to leg and bowling maidens over. Not to mention catching them in the slips.
ERN: That’s much better than listening to a referee blowing his whistle. Come to think of it, there isn’t much else he can do with it.
Which brings me to the point that we ought to do something with this feature. If we keep on talking like this we’ll be running over into Bill Brengun’s page.
ERIC: You’re right again. Is there no end to this boy’s talent? Let’s finish off together.
ERIC & ERN: We both feel that the most important thing about football is that it is a form of entertainment to be enjoyed by the whole family. Indeed, the game is closely linked to show business inasmuch that supporters only pay to see good, entertaining matches.
More than ever nowadays it is drawing power that counts. Good entertaining soccer that produces an abundance of goals ensures good attendances. Leeds have proved it this season. So have Queens Park Rangers and Burnley.
The future of football is bright both in this country and the world. And this is the way it should be, for we both agree (at least on this point) that football is a fabulous game. Long may it remain so…
ERIC: Hear hear… Luton for the Cup in 1975! Up the Hatters!
ERN: Shut up!
© Shoot Magazine 1974