New Weekly Sports Quiz
Much as I enjoyed the programme “They think It's All Over”, it was clear that the format was exhausted by 2006 (or earlier!) and I have a suggestion for a replacement. The title suggested is Best Ever, if this has no copyright issues with Geoff Boycott's book picking his best ever cricket IX. I'm sure G.B. cannot claim to have invented an idea which has been discussed in pubs since even before they were invented.
The first series would be restricted to football. Each week two celebrities with strong but contrasting views on football, perhaps from different eras, would put forward their case for their selection for Best Ever team, illustrating their choices with clips of the stars doing their stuff. Two celebrity judges (the same pair each week) would then discuss the merits of the two sides, with special regard to how they could knit together as a real team as opposed to just Fantasy Football Allstars and try to agree on a winner in a head-to-head game. A chairman, say Ron Atkinson, would have a casting vote if the two didn't agree but there would also be a public phone-in with the vote to be announced the following week.
As the series progressed there could be restrictions to eliminate any names already chosen 5/6 times but the series could build up to an accumulation of the public vote to give an overall The Nation's Best Ever. After football, other team sports like cricket and rugby would follow but also sports like tennis and golf could be included with a Davis/Ryder Cup team format.
Once the series was established as a hit, there could be scope to expand the concept with a spoof version – say Reeves & Mortimer doing a Worst Ever in fields unrelated to sport.
© Francis Benedict Granger
& Stephen Richard Barnett 2011
Pilot Programme Script
The Chairman is Ron Atkinson and the two celebrity guests are Jimmy Greaves and Ian Wright.
Chairman (C) – Hi there, soccer fans and other alien viewers. Welcome to tonight's show, the very first in a brand new series. I'd like to say it gives me great pleasure, - but we won't go into that now – to tell you what we've got in store for you. Is this the best show you've ever seen? We hope so but even if it's not it's still Best Ever cos that's the name of the show. Tonight our two special guests are going to choose their version of a Best Ever football team, but as you'll see their opinions are very different. Our two resident judges are going give their verdict but this is where you come in. We trust our viewers to come up with the definitive verdict and it's the guest of your choice who will go into the next round. At the end of the series we believe we'll have the Nation's Choice as to which 11 players would make the Best Ever Team.
So though they need no introduction let me bring on our two distinguished guests. As you see we have the less saintly half of that great double act of Saint & Greavsie, let's hear it for Jimmy Greaves.
And challenging him tonight we have, not every woman's version of Mr Right but that referees' favourite, Ian Wright.
Now perhaps it's no coincidence that one of our guests is associated with Tottenham Hotspurs and the other with Arsenal. At this point, I'm going to ask you two to shake each other by the … hand, then we can proceed to the traditional start of any footy match, the toss … up.
Jimmy (J) – Maybe we don't need that. In my day we believed in sportsmanship, fair play. I'm happy to play the white man and let Wrighty go first.
Ian (I) – Wait a minute. If I win the toss, I've the right to choose and can maybe make you go first!
J – OK if you insist, I'll go first. Imagine, an Arse-nal man but a gentleman!
C – Maybe he's pulled a flanker on you there, Ian but shall we let him go ahead?
I – Yer. Maybe he can score first but it's great coming from behind.
J – Well you'd know more about that than me. So let's start off with No. 1 the keeper. When I was at my peak, everyone raved about the great Lev Yashin and I admit he was suberb but for me the all time best, not just because we played together for England, has to be Gordon Banks. Let's see again this classic save against Brazil in the Mexico World Cup. That shows his athleticism, and incredible reflexes, but look as these saves. They show his positioning, anticipation, concentration and in this clip his distribution. Makes the save then sends his team away instantly on the counter-attack.
C – Great stuff, Jimmy.
J – Statistically this is how Banksy stacks up against Yashin and two other great keepers. Now if you were watching carefully that last clip you may have spotted my choice for left back.
I – Wait a minute, what about right back – No. 2?
J – You're a bit of an expert on No. 2's eh?
C – Now then, Wrighty, remember you're not supposed to interrupt and if you do, I'll have to let Jimmy interrupt you when it's your go.
I – OK, you did say Wrighty, then, not Whitey?
C – Of course, you're right, as always.
J – So if I may continue in my own unorthodox way, at No. 3 rather a controversial choice, Terry Cooper. I know all the Italian waiters will be tearing their hair out shouting Maldini! And if Ian picks him, I'll say great choice. But look at these clips here. You see the fearsome tackling, great positioning and timing, the racing back after one of his forays up field , but especially for the speed of those overlaps, in this case actually scoring a winner for Leeds United and here with the perfect cross for Jones to score.
C – Classic stuff from a great player.
J – Now back to that No. 2. I'm gonna upset the Brazilians and all you samba dancers this time by leaving out Carlos Alberto and going for Lillian Thuram. Forget the girlish first name and watch this boy tackle, in these clips playing in his correct positon for World Champions France. Sorry to all you Juve fans – I was one myself – Thuram was not a No. 5 and he was almost over the hill when you were cheering him on.
Let's jump now to that No.5 where I've gone for my first Italian. Nudging out Thuram's partner Laurent Blanc, is the majestic Franco Baresi. Here are clips showing him not only superb at club level but also playing for World Champions Italy.
C – I should point out that there's a rule saying your final Eleven cannot be all World Cup final winners; we've set the limit at 10!
J – Well if you check my team at the end you'll see I've got only 6. Now skipping back to No.4, here in this clip you see my choice losing in a World Cup Final but what a game he had as usual – Johann Neeskens.
I –Who's that other guy with the pot arm? He looks like the guy with the false arm in Young Frankenstein.
J – Well that's better than looking like the Monster, though I believe he had his good points.
I – Or point.
J – In fact this highlights a reason to pick Neeskens which is hard to show on film – his great heart and dedication to the team. He knew the meaning of Total Football, which brings me neatly to my choice at No.8 Johann Cruyff. Long before he opened that business making cheese slices, he was widely recognised as the best player of his generation and the problem is not trying to find film of his genius, but deciding which few clips to show. I'm already starting to feel the time pressure so here are clips of my No.6, Daniel Passarella, another World Champion, as was Garrincha, so brilliant at right wing as to leave the great Sir Stanley on the bench.
I – Stanley who?
J – Not Stanley Knife, as Arsenal fans might be thinking.
C – Now, now, Jimmy. Go easy on the cutting remarks.
J – Time's running out on me so take a look at my No.9, Alfredo Di Stefano, who didn't win a World Cup Medal but was a mainstay of the Best Ever club side, which dominated Europe, Real Madrid, in the days when Madrid had a REAL team, not prima donna poseurs.
I – Thought you'd promised not to mention Maradonna?
C – I'm gonna have to give Jimmy some of your time if you persist with these interruptions.
J – Thanks ref. Di Stefano would probably pick Paco Gento at No.11 but I believe my choice is better, simply the Best. Here's Georgie the Belfast Boy working his magic and don't forget, he not only had enormous skill but also had bottle!
I – And you would know.
J – Thanks, I'll let you buy me a J2Oh after the match. Now we come to my No.10 – Pele. He has to have this number because the One is what he was, Numero Uno without a doubt and zero is the number of players who would stand any chance of replacing him in my selection for the BEST EVER. (Huge applause over clips of Pele magic.)
C – Ok Ian, you've got just 19 minutes to come up with a side to beat that.
I – Right let's step on the gas and start with my No.1. A goalie who broke the world record for international caps, a man who played a few games at White Hart Lane before seeing the light and moving to Highbury, the legendary Pat Jennings. Look at these saves but also this special goal scored against no less a keeper than Alex Stepney.
At No.2 Greavsie tried to put me off by mentioning him but I'm going for Carlos Alberto. You may remember these goals, attacking moves but look at that tackle – world class!
My No.3 is no stranger to today's fans Ashley Cole. Again look at the lad's tackling as well as the goal and crosses. Jimmy made a bold claim for the old Real Madrid but in my book the present Barcelona team could take on and beat those old masters. And it's to Barça I'm going for my No. 4, YaYa Toure . Hugely imposing powerhouse with the touch and balance to make and score goals (he
s an extremely cool and accomplished finisher) and the speed and stamina to get to wherever hes needed on the pitch .
J – Worth getting your Ya Ya out for!
I – Knew you'd say something like that. At No.5 I'm going to upset the ladies who might prefer the looks of Cannavaro by picking the less beautiful Lucio. Admire the beauty of these clips of the great man. And if he's not big enough for you then how about my No. 6, Gerard Piqué. The old saying that a good big one is better than a good little one is certainly valid when they are as good as this one.
J – I'm keeping my mouth shut on that one.
At No. 7 no great surprise, Cristiano Ronaldo.
J – You've got to be joking! You know why he runs in that weird way? His coach at school made him wear a pencil skirt to slow him down a bit and he never grew out of it.
I – Running in skirts wasn't a training technique used at Highbury.
J – Not what I've heard.
C – That's enough of the sledging, Greavsie.
I – Thank you ref, if I may be allowed to continue. My No.9 will raise a few eyebrows maybe but I'm going to give him this strange number maybe because I want him in my team, Zidane. Forget his notorious last action in international football and look at this man's magic.
He can't have the No. 10 shirt as I'm saving that for …. Diego!
J – Maradonna! You are joking. You just like the way he's handy with his fist. If you insist on having a one-footed dwarf in your team then Hagi is your only man.
C – Now, now Jimmy, that d word is no longer politically correct. I believe you have to say, altitudinally challenged.
J – But that would include Ian Crouch.
I – Are you saying Crouchy's no good in the air?
J – Not at all but then so was Douglas Bader.
C – For our younger viewers I'd better explain that Douglas Bader was the legendary legless Spitfire pilot in WW2.
J – Are we still allowed words like legless?
I – I think we can make an exception in your case. So shut it Jimmy and look at these clips of Maradonna magic.
So who gets my last shirt? No prizes for guessing this one – it has to be the one and only Lionel Messi. You see him off the pitch and you think who is this guy but see him on it and you see a soccer god.
C – Well thanks, Ian, that's a pretty formidable line-up so let's move on immediately to judging, from our resident experts, the Old, John Motson, and the Newish, Jeff Stelling. ( Or Graham Carr???)
JM – Let's have age before beauty so I'll start with my analysis, looking in particular at head-to-heads. Di Stefano, a brilliant player but against Lucio and Piqué? Maybe a combination that could stifle his genius. And the same for Carlos Alberto against Best, a star to eclipse a superstar.
JS – Sorry Motty, I thought we were here tonight to talk football, not complete balls. Bestie would cause Carlos so many problems it would neutralise his attacking flair. And Di Stefano would be getting service from Cruyff and Pele, Neeskens and Passarella, crosses from Best and Garrincha. I can't see Lucio lasting 90 minutes without Alf netting at least one, even if only from the penalty spot. And if this team got 2 up, he'd be looking for his hat-trick.
JM – Point taken about this team going on the rampage if they got ahead and I think this team would be bound to score in 90 minutes. In the midfield, I think Greavsie's lads would just have the legs on Ian's and would out-manouevre them with greater flexibility and in the vital cases of Cruyff versus Zidane and Passarella v. Pique they'd have a crucial edge in pace.
JF – That's spot on Motty even if not everyone would agree with that. But are we agreed that tonight's winner is Jimmy?
JM – Sorry Ian but I think that's right.
C – Let me say at this point that my 'casting vote' only comes into it if our two experts disagree. But remember, though tonight's studio winner is Greavsie, it's the vote of you the viewers at home that really counts. So get on the blower, on the Twitter, on the internet and let us know your verdict before midnight Friday. Your choice is the one that goes through. And don't forget to tune in next week to hear the result and to see Bobby Charlton take on his brother Jackie for the next thrilling installment of BEST EVER.
Ends (2759 words)