Football: Outside Edge - Footy hype rivals Oscars

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The Independent Online
ARE YOU like me? Square-eyed from all this footy on the box? A channel hopper virtuoso? Great life, isn't it? Why, no less an aficionado than Alan Shearer reckons there'll never be a better time to be a couch potato.

Take the other night. A choice of 78 live games plus the classic footy film Escape to Victory. Not to mention a chilling Alan Hansen expose about Taribo West's barber. Some night for us footy vegetables, eh?

Or was it?

You see, being a bit of a film buff, I chose Escape to Victory.

The special Widescreen Edition it was. You know. The one that manages to squeeze in the whole of Mike Summerbee's nose. Anyway, as Mike and his follow pros were busy giving a good, honest account of themselves, it struck me how sharply their unassuming demeanour contrasted with the attitudes and glamorous lifestyles of today's prima donnas. How, within the space of a few years, the game has been transformed beyond recognition.

I mean, can you believe it was only as recently as the mid-1080s that a player such as Everton's Mick Pejic was in the running for the prize of Britain's Most Handsome Footballer. Okay, so it's true the chairman of the judging panel was the legendary Blues icon, Blind Lemon Sole. And they reckon he would have awarded first prize to a pot-bellied pig, provided it was wearing an Everton shirt.

Even so, how starkly it demonstrates the way perceptions have changed. I mean, these days you'd be more likely to find our Mick gurning his way across Westmorland than striding the beauty circuit.

It's not just the changes, though. What is also rife these days is the hype.

Take the current Luvvies' darling, Vinnie Jones.

Now, I've nothing against the guy, but I ask you. Does he really think he's going to blow Al Pacino out of Hollywood? Are we truly looking to Vinnie to clean up at next year's Oscars? I mean, come on. If you ask me, I doubt very much whether even Bernard Bresslaw is looking over his shoulder, let alone Al Pacino. And poor old Bernard's been dead for six years.

Let's face it, if simply wearing a leather overcoat and snarling a few times at old ladies qualified you as a movie star, then our milkman would have made it to Hollywood years ago. And he was a pretty tidy footballer, too.

No, the way I see it, Vinnie's best ever chance of landing a meaty role was that time he grabbed hold of Gazza by the bollocks. And even then he let the opportunity slip through his fingers.

And what about golden boy David Beckham? Pretentious or what? Naming your baby after a bridge. Where do these people come from? So they made love dangling over the Hudson River. Big deal.

Let's be honest, it's all gone a bit far, hasn't it? The next thing you know every footy fan will be talking like Garth Crooks and pretending they're experts on current affairs. And do you know what? I'm not sure I want to be around when we get to that stage.

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