Last on MOTD: Back to Birmingham, Jonathan

I’VE got a load of old football programmes at home that I’m thinking of chucking out. I never read them, and they take up too much space in the back room. Yet when I mentioned this to a couple of work colleagues the other day, they looked at me as if I was mad.

“No, no,” one of them said. “Don’t chuck them out – you could get good money for them. Stick them on eBay instead.”

Now I’d like to think I understand the football fan’s endless capacity for hoarding as much as the next person. But even I struggle to see much financial value in (and I’m picking out one at random here) a programme for Macclesfield’s Third Division clash with Darlington in March 2004.

(Flicking through that programme now, the first thing that really dates it is the article that begins: “If you took a census of football fans around the country, it is a pretty fair bet that Newcastle United would be the second favourite team of probably at least half.” The second thing that really dates it is, erm, the date on the front cover.)

Every so often, though, a delve into my old programmes throws up something a little more intriguing. Not so long ago, I dug out a Bristol City programme from December 1979, part of a collection sent to me by a dealer after I answered an advert in the back of Match magazine when I was about 11.

There are some remarkable pieces in this particular programme, produced for a First Division game against Tottenham. I particularly enjoyed the following segment on the ‘Club Report’ page:

Pre-match entertainment
Try saying this after the pubs close: “Shag Conners Carrot Crunchers.” Appearing under that tongue-twister name are five young men who will be providing our pre-match entertainment this afternoon. They certainly are a lively attraction.

I’d love to know what they actually did, but the programme, shockingly, doesn’t tell us.

There’s also a centre spread telling how teenage Bristol City full-back Paul Stevens found love with a Dutch girl called Jolanda during a youth-team trip to Holland two years earlier, accompanied by a photo of the young couple perched rather precariously on a wall high above Clifton Suspension Bridge. This article contains this extraordinary nugget of information:

Jolanda worked in an insurance office in Amsterdam but so far, despite speaking excellent English, has been unable to find a similar job here. So, at the moment, she is working in a shoe shop in Broadmead.

And there was me thinking that the ability to speak English might come in quite useful in a shoe shop too. What a fool I was.

A special mention, too, for the Robins Day-To-Day diary feature on page four, still stuck in late October even though the programme is for a match taking place on the second Saturday in December. Here’s the entry for October 25:

Beryl Fudge, who runs City Shop, reacts angrily to the sale of badges declaring ‘Division Two welcomes you Bristol City’. “In my opinion, they can only incite trouble,” she says.

You might think that this programme might struggle to top such levels of oddness. And you would be right. But there is one more item which catches the eye. Across pages six, seven and eight is an article about a Birmingham University student who had spent the last five years helping to film the club videos at Bristol City. The student’s name was Jonathan Pearce. Yep, him.

Last night’s final match: Birmingham 0 Stoke 0
Commentator: Jonathan Pearce

“Jonathan, keen to become a sports journalist, is studying English at Birmingham University,” the article tells us, accompanied by a picture of the young student. He’s recognisably the chap who would go on to become a senior Match of the Day commentator, although the hair is a little longer and he has a moustache.

Pearce certainly didn’t have a glamorous introduction to the media world, if the article is anything to go by. He had to cover one game while standing on top of some toilets. And while covering another match at a snowy Sunderland, it got so cold that his legs froze and he had to be defrosted before he could climb off the gantry.

(And to think I once moaned about covering a game at Watford simply because my view of one goal was largely obscured by a pillar.)

Still, all that dedication paid off, as Pearce isn’t doing too badly now. Indeed, there’s every chance he may get to call the next World Cup final for the BBC, now that Motty has retired from covering major international tournaments.

It’s certainly unusual for Pearce to get the final game on MOTD. And on his return to Birmingham, he would have had plenty of time to think back to his student days as he witnessed long periods of aimlessness punctuated by all-too-rare moments of excitement. (I’m referring to the match, not his student days. Although if they were anything like my student days…)

Most of the excitement at St Andrew’s yesterday seemed to be occurring off the pitch, with talk of Carson Yeung moving a step closer to a Birmingham takeover, and Peter Reid sitting in the stand amid suggestions that he is about to become Stoke boss Tony Pulis’ assistant.

On the pitch, Stoke keeper Thomas Sorensen made a terrific flying save to keep out Garry O’Connor’s header, while at the other end, Ricardo Fuller tried to score the Maradona way, and got booked. Oh, and it was the first drawn match in the Premier League this season.

Regarding Reid’s likely appointment, Pearce enjoyed the following post-match exchange with Pulis, man with his own footballing connections to the city of Bristol:

Pearce: Peter Reid was here today – in any sort of capacity?
Pulis: We’ve spoken to a couple of people and Peter’s one of them. So as soon as I find out what he’s going to do… I’ll tell you second after Sky!

Harsh, Tony, harsh. Carry on like that, and you’ll soon be last on MOTD every week…


1. Birmingham: 1
(GD: 0. 2L: 0.)
1. Fulham: 1
(GD: 0. 2L: 0.)
1. Portsmouth: 1
(GD: 0. 2L: 0.)
1. Stoke: 1
(GD: 0. 2L: 0.)
1. Wigan: 1
(GD: 0. 2L: 0.)
1. Wolves: 1
(GD: 0. 2L: 0.)
7. Bolton: 0
(GD: 0. 2L: 2.)
7. Sunderland: 0
(GD: 0. 2L: 2.)
9. Gubba: 0
(GD: 0. 2L: 1.)
9. Chelsea: 0
(GD: 0. 2L: 1.)
9. Hull: 0
(GD: 0. 2L: 1.)
12. Arsenal: 0
(GD: 0. 2L: 0.)
12. Aston Villa: 0
(GD: 0. 2L: 0.)
12. Blackburn: 0
(GD: 0. 2L: 0.)
12. Burnley: 0
(GD: 0. 2L: 0.)
12. Everton: 0
(GD: 0. 2L: 0.)
12. Liverpool: 0
(GD: 0. 2L: 0.)
12. Manchester City: 0
(GD: 0. 2L: 0.)
12. Manchester United: 0
(GD: 0. 2L: 0.)
12. Tottenham: 0
(GD: 0. 2L: 0.)
12. West Ham: 0
(GD: 0. 2L: 0.)

GD = Gubba difference
2L = On second last
(Last night’s penultimate match was: Hull 1 Bolton 0.) 

(NB. Teams will receive one point for every time they appear last on MOTD. Appearances on MOTD2 are not included. Teams level on points will be separated by Gubba difference – the number of times a team is on last with Tony Gubba commentating. Teams still level will then be separated by the number of times they appear second last on MOTD.)


2 Responses to Last on MOTD: Back to Birmingham, Jonathan

  1. Donna says:

    My workmate is a friend of Jonathan Pearce, I’ll try to sell that programme to her.

  2. mikewhalley says:

    I’ll start the bidding at five pence!

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