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.

Arts and Entertainment
Lou Reed distorted the truth about his upbringing, and since his death in 2013, biographers and memoirists have added to the myths
musicThe truth about Lou Reed's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths
News
people
News
Ed Miliband received a warm welcome in Chester
election 2015
Life and Style
Apple CEO Tim Cook announces the Apple Watch during an Apple special even
fashionIs the Apple Watch for you? Well, it depends if you want it for the fitness tech, or for the style
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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

Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace