Tim Lovejoy, personally, represents everything that is wrong with football.
You know: the glory hunting, the Diadora trainers, shouting ‘Taxi’ when anyone misses a sitter and wearing a Ramones T-shirt despite never owning an album by the aforementioned band.
That last point may have less to do with football than the others, but it showed Lovejoy for what he is: a smug imbecile who will jump on any bandwagon and laugh in your face if you were Ray Parlour or wearing a Cheltenham Town shirt.
And his book, ‘Lovejoy on Football’, displays that attitude perfectly.
From his rants about how football should be taken away from the ‘fanatics’ and given back to the public to dedicating an entire chapter on his sexist views, nothing else has shown Lovejoy’s character better.
In essence, he simultaneously has the character traits of two certain ‘Top Gear’ presenters by expressing “outrageously politically incorrect opinions” and being a “horrible weasel kid at school hanging around with the bullies, laughing at their jokes, in the hope they won’t pick on him”.
To celebrate this monstrosity of an ego, here’s 30 of the most insane quotes from his book – whittled down from around ten dozen.
If it provides a decent chuckle, the book may have some slight justification. And, if it doesn’t, at least the grammar is pretty decent.
“I have since decided that Jamie Theakston is, in all probability, the greatest goalkeeper in the history of the game” (p.172).
It’s nice to see that celebrity football tournaments are eligible in these sort of lists.
“The crowd must abuse anyone who walks on the pitch who isn’t a player, unless they are a former player/legend in which case they must be absolutely applauded” (p.140).
This is one of Lovejoy’s many uses the word ‘absolutely’ in the book.
“If Topman can bring out as many t-shirts as they want, then why can’t football teams? If they don’t sell them, that’s their problem isn’t it?” (p.256).
Lovejoy offers his thoughts on economics and football shirts.
“Let me start with a confession. I have always thought that women and football was, inherently, a bad combination” (p.110).
Richard Keys and Andy Gray would be proud of Lovejoy’s unsubtle sexism.
“Serge has definitely got something and I have nothing but respect for the bloke, even if Noel Gallagher reckons that he is now more famous for that moment than he is for his music. This is probably true. Again, the power of telly” (p.123).
Lovejoy on what he thinks Sergio Kasabian’s Pizzorno is famous for: kicking a football in a car park on ‘Soccer AM’.
“The lower down the league structure you go, the longer the throw-ins must be. In the Premiership, for instance, throw-ins never tend to be any longer than two yards, three at most, and usually consist of one player throwing the ball to a team-mate who then cushions a volley back to the thrower. They start getting longer in the Championship, and by the time you reach League Two the throw-ins are just missiles launched from wherever into the opposition penalty area” (p. 141).
Lovejoy talks about what throw-ins were like when Rory Delap was still playing in Championship.
“Why are coaches only allowed within the confines of that tiny little box? As far as I’m concerned, managers should be allowed to go wherever they want; right along the touchline, behind the goals, even on the pitch if they really need to” (p.42).
I can see that Lovejoy is a fan of player-managers.
“When I started writing the book, though, I secretly worried that I was a rubbish football fan. If anything now I think I may well be the BIGGEST FAN IN THE WORLD” (p.268).
The ego, with added capitals, has landed.
“I always advise girlfriends of mine, when they’re looking for potential problems, to make sure they ask the man what football team he supports. It’s irrelevant who they do support, but if they are into football in any small way, it’s a starting place for realising they’re halfway normal, and you have a decent chance of a relationship” (p.20).
Timothy P Lovejoy: an expert agony uncle.
“As a football fan, it is your duty to hate the most successful team of the moment” (p.96).
Okay. *takes a step back*
“The great thing about supporting England is that it gives supporters of smaller clubs a taste of the big time” (p.216).
Lovejoy used Hull City as an example for this. The irony of this is most amusing.
“I remember one England game against Andorra when our goalkeeper Paul Robinson must have touched the ball once in the entire 90 minutes. The following day, one paper gave him 7 out of 10 while another gave him 6. How does that work? Surely he should have got 10 out of 10 on the basis that everything he did was executed perfectly and England didn’t concede any goals? What was he expected to do? Come out of his goal and score a hat-trick?” (p.45)
Somehow, I get the feeling that this man doesn’t quite get the idea of player ratings.
“But I must admit that in the early days of Soccer AM we all used to watch women’s football and just absolutely wet ourselves. It was hysterical. Pure belly-laugh comedy” (p.111).
Here’s some more sexism from Lovejoy.
“Going to football is not just about watching the action, it’s also about making sure you’re dressed right” (p.29).
Some sage words about football culture, here.
“About half way through that first year at Soccer AM I realised that a) it was virtually impossible for me to carry on playing, and b) it may be more advantageous for me and the show if I started going to Stamford Bridge to watch Chelsea again. Purely for professional reasons, of course” (p.146).
Lovejoy talks about his hiatus from Stamford Bridge.
“Any haircut seen in the Premier League will still be widely visible in League One two seasons later, when it’s no longer fashionable” (p.142).
I, somehow, get the feeling that Lovejoy is not a huge admirer of the Football League.
“As a kid you’re always led to believe that if you’re going to make it as a professional you have to be truly gifted and stand out from the crowd but that night, as we drove home after a few beers (we got a lift home), me and Fenners agreed that there was absolutely no reason why we shouldn’t have been professional footballers” (p.230).
Lovejoy talks about training with Torquay United for a day.
“But it’s not called the beautiful game for nothing. Is there anything more breathtaking than watching a player like Barcelona’s Lionel Messi dance through the Getafe defence? For the millions of people who watched that clip on YouTube, it’s like a religious experience” (p.11).
Lovejoy discusses what football means to the masses.
“I remember as a kid being on the terraces at Vicarage Road and hearing people shout Lenny Henry’s catchphrase from Tiswas, ‘Oooooooh-kaaaaaaay!’ Many years later I like to think Soccer AM was the show that put the catchphrases in the stand” (p.66).
Lovejoy dreams about the possible legacy of ‘Soccer AM’.
“If you’ve ever watched a women’s game you’ll know that women goalies simply cannot jump. I have no idea why that may be the case, but they are absolutely hopeless. I said this once to one of the goalies at Charlton’s ladies side and I thought she was going to punch my lights out. But it’s true, if you aim for the top right hand corner or top left hand corner in a women’s game, you will always score. They can’t take goal kicks either. You watch. They’ll always get the centre-half to trot back and take it for them, just so the ball will actually leave the penalty area.” (p.111).
And here’s even more sexism from everyone’s ‘favourite’ broadcaster.
“I do still go to the occasional Chelsea away fixture but only if it involves going on a plane to somewhere exotic to watch them in the latter stages of the Champions’ League, like Rome, Monaco or Barcelona. If you’re going to do it, you may as well make the most of it” (p.25).
Lovejoy on what it is like to be a Chelsea fan in 2007.
“A couple of days after my contract ran out, I received a letter from Sky, informing me that my free Sky subscription would now be turned off as I was no longer an employee of the company. Some people get a carriage clock or some flowers then they leave a job they’ve been in for ages. Loyal football players get a testimonial. I got my Sky cancelled” (p.68).
I wonder what Lovejoy would have expected after 20 years of service at Sky?
“The sad thing about being a Chelsea fan is that we don’t really have a derby game to enjoy each season. Perhaps the closest we have, or rather had, was whenever we played Leeds United” (p.243).
It shouldn’t be a surprise that Tim Lovejoy does not have a degree in Geography.
“In fact this book got great reviews from everyone apart from a couple of football magazines who trade on the old fashioned ‘real fan’ ideals. However, these magazines don’t sell enough copies to fill Spotland (Rochdale’s stadium) so it doesn’t matter what they think” (p.5).
He seems bitter about a certain magazine’s infamous book review.
“Just as I was walking round the corner, though, there was this almighty explosion. It was pandemonium. People were crying and screaming and, suddenly, all you could hear was police sirens. When I go to Knightsbridge tube station, a policeman told me they’d closed it and all I could say was, ‘But I’ve got to get to Chelsea!’ Everyone around was in this blind panic. I was completely oblivious to the fact that an IRA car bomb had just killed six people and injured countless others. All I could think that I’d arranged to meet my friends in the pub and I was going to miss them” (p.31).
He’s a sensitive lad, isn’t he?
“If I was a footballer I’d definitely want to be Robbie Savage” (p.76).
You can see the logic behind this, can’t you?
“As a football fan you have to know the order of your silverware. When you’re challenging for honours on four fronts, like Chelsea, you often find yourself pondering which of the trophies you would rather win at the expense of others. For me, there is a clear pecking order in the importance of the trophies you would want your club to win and, unless you’re a modern day Liverpool fan who only cares about the Champions’ League, it goes something like this…
1. The Premiership
2. The Champions’ [sic] League
3. The FA Cup
4. The UEFA Cup
5. The Carling Cup
6. The Championship
7. League Two
8. League Three
9. LDV/Johnstone’s Paint/Autowindshields/screens (whatever it’s called that season)
10. The Rugby World Cup” (p.91)
Ah, the old trick of not knowing the names of the different leagues in English football occurs here.
“Whose idea was it to have 22 mascots being led out by the teams, instead of just the one lucky lad that it’s always been and why has no one ever questioned it? Now at the start of any big game, there’s a mascot for each and every player, which, by my reckoning, means that once you’ve included the four match officials and the TV crew there are well over 50 people waiting in the tunnel. Do we really believe this is helping to kick racism out of football?” (p.37).
He already lost the plot on page 37.
“I had many happy days watching Watford. I would play football for the school in the morning, and me and my brother would talk the tube or the bus to the ground, and we progressed from the Shrodells into watching football on the terraces, and I even bought a replica Watford shirt. I actually celebrated Watford’s promotion one year by going fully-clothed in the pond at the top of the high street with a thousand other Watford fans. My brother and me missed the last bus, and had to walk home thoroughly wet, trying to think up excuses for our mum as to why our Doc Martens were soaked through. Having been to games at Fourth Division Watford, watching players like Ross Jenkins and Kenny Jackett, the time had come to go to Stamford Bridge and watch my first love, Chelsea. It was like another world” (p.22).
The transition in becoming a First Division supporter, from a Fourth Division supporter, is discussed in great detail.
“The way I see it football is more important than politics too. After all, can you show me anything else that has so much power over the people of the world? It’s also a stereotype, but also true, that football unites people. Recently Iraqis celebrated winning the Asian Cup – and people normally at each other’s throats were out celebrating in the streets together. You want more proof? Ok, how many member states are there in the United Nations? I’ll tell you. There’s 192. Now, how many countries do you think tried to qualify for the last world cup? I’ll tell you again – 198. It’s an amazing statistic and one that, arguably, makes the FIFA President Sepp Blatter, and not Dubya, the most powerful man on the planet” (p.15).
Blimey. Just blimey. The man is clearly an idiot of the highest order.
This feature was self-published in June 2011.
Lovejoy, T. (2007) Lovejoy on Football. London: Century, Random House.