Sport on TV: Write or wrong, Dunphy outshines dull Rangers

Eamon Dunphy, Millwall midfielder turned acerbic controversialist, is always good value – and so it proved on last Sunday's South Bank Show (ITV 1). In one of his occasional sporting forays Lord Bragg of the Big Quiff, Carlisle United fan turned Arsenal season-ticket holder, was exploring David Peace's dark, gritty novel about Brian Clough's 44 days in charge at Leeds, The Damned United.

Dunphy doesn't rate the book – caricature rather than portrait of Ol' Big 'Ead, he says, although as it's fiction I'd say its relation to reality isn't the point. He didn't rate the Revie years, either, it's safe to say.

"Leeds United were a boil on the face of the game," he says. "They were ugly, they were nasty, they were ruthless – and a lot of the reasons for admiring Clough is that he had publicly said what many people had felt but daren't say. He was against the cult of ugliness."

The programme went on to wonder at the long-standing reluctance of British writers to draw on football. They can't come up with much: Clough's biographer Duncan Hamilton remembers an Alan Sillitoe short story, while Alan Plater cites Bill Naughton's story The Goalkeeper's Revenge and Barry "Kes" Hines' novel Blinder, written from his experiences as a Barnsley apprentice. And how could they forget Terry Venables' They Used To Play on Grass?

But why so little? Dunphy: "Soccer [I think he means football] is a working-class game. It exists in a cultural ghetto. Although it's trendy it's not a place that writers and intellectuals gravitate towards. That ghetto is occupied largely by hacks, I call them. Newspaper hacks, mostly. Word machines."

Eamon Dunphy is a columnist for the 'Irish Daily Star'.

If Peace's novel can be described as an epic, Wednesday's Uefa Cup final (ITV 1), cannot. Except, sorry, it can if you're the match commentator, Peter Drury.

There have been more boring European finals – remember with a shiver the 1986 European Cup final, when Steaua Bucharest stifled El Tel's Barcelona and nicked it on pens – but not many. Which was Rangers' intention on Wednesday: cut out of the game everything remotely entertaining and hope for the luck of the penalty gods. But Dury begged to differ.

"To be here is extraordinary," he said as the game finally, mercifully, picked up for a few final minutes. "If Rangers do go down that should not be forgotten. It has been a privilege. Their hope, their final thrust. Two and a half minutes to find the goal to force extra time, to prolong the epic – and what an epic it has been."

I guess he was probably thinking of the whole campaign of 19 games (with five goals in the last nine). But from my armchair they deserved to lose. I'm glad I missed the other 18. Zenit created, Rangers spoilt. The footballing side won. Cloughie would have approved.

News
peoplePerformer had recently been diagnosed with prostate cancer
News
The surrealist comedian at the Q Awards in 2010
people
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Media baron Rupert Murdoch owns News Corps and 20th Century Fox
theatrePlaywright David Williamson is struggling to find a big name to star as the media mogul
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Russell Brand arriving for the book launch in East London
peopleRussell Brand cancels his book launch debate due to concerns about the make-up of the panel
Arts and Entertainment
JK Rowling will not be releasing a 'romance' novel anytime soon
books
Life and Style
tech

Of all the computers Apple has ever made there’s only one that Steve Jobs had to sell his car to finance

Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Dales attempts to sell British Breeze in the luxury scent task
tvReview: 'Apprentice' candidates on the verge of tears as they were ejected from the boardroom
News
One of the 'princesses' in the video
videoYouTube reinstates sweary video after takedown for 'violating terms'
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?