Remembering When Mark E Smith Read The Football Scores

Music / August 20, 2015
by Steve Hill

On a November evening in 2005, the nation’s football-supporting public settled down in front of the telly for the familiar rhythms of the Saturday results.

They expected the comforting tones of Tim Gudgeon, but instead they got Mr Mark Smith of Prestwich, in Bury. Presumably the thinking was that he wrote the theme tune, sang the theme tune, so he may as well read the scores, despite a fearsome reputation as a notoriously volatile character. What followed was one of the stranger seven minutes of live television as Smith brought his unique intonation to the scores.

“It was good, wasn’t it?” recalls Smith. “In Ireland and Greece they follow them results a lot for the pools. I read the proper team names out and in Ireland and Greece they really appreciated that. Because when they come up it was like Bolton, Crewe, Chester, you know what I mean? The way it is now when you put a game on it’s like ARS versus URR. Why can’t they write the proper names up? And you’re supposed to know. That’s what the football results were like, if you remember, before me. Abroad, that’s why they love it. You get taxi drivers in Greece, their favourite team is Olympikakos but their main team is Aston Villa, you know what I mean? Or what’s the real name of Arsenal? Woolwich Arsenal. I gave it the full ‘Bolton Wanderers.’

And the Irish loved it, the Irish people love it ‘cos they hate ‘MAN U’, it’s Manchester United Football Club. They support them. They don’t have Olympiakos Football Club Of Athens, which is the full title. What’s wrong with that? It had like ‘Halifax 1 Huddersfield 0’, and I said Halifax Town, Huddersfield Town. That’s the f***ing name. And it just said Preston, I said Preston North End. It’s Manchester City FC, it’s not Man City is it? But I got it back to normal for a bit. Only I noticed it, in my madness, but a lot of Irish people and Greek people and German people did notice. Do you know what I mean?”

Yes, maybe. Smith’s reading of the scores predated the bankrolling of his team, Manchester City Football Club, who managed a tepid goalless draw at home to Blackburn Rovers Football Club on the day. He doesn’t necessarily approve of the new successful City, however.

“There’s no hatred in them,” spits Smith. “I f***ing hate it, me. You know the best match they played was against that Roma when they were all injured and the reserves played, in the Champions League. They put the reserves on and they beat them. I was out with some f***ing new City fans and they’re like Reds, the new City fan. You’ve never seen them before, they’re like 40-odd. We were doing the LP cover actually, and this d*** who was doing the LP cover, he goes ‘This is a foregone conclusion this game, Roma away. There’s no way were gonna win because Aguero’s out, so-and-so’s out, Milner’s out, that Dutch f***ing useless c**t, Kompany’s out.’ That’s what Reds are like. And they f***ing won! They won and he didn’t even notice. That’s what they’re like nowadays. In the old days, Mike Doyle or Malcolm Allison would have said, ‘Excuse me, we are the runners-up, and United are sh**.’ Mike Doyle used to hate Man United. He used to follow them and shout at them. He used to shout at George Best.”

It’s all a far cry from Noel Gallagher watching the match from a heated seat with a glass of champagne. As Smith says, “They should be thrown out.”

Image Credit: Rex / Shutterstock

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