Sunday, 17 February 2013

England XI v Thames TV XI advert, 1979

While some people these days prefer to idle away their spare time pondering who they'd invite to their fantasy dinner parties, we football fans of a certain age can opt for something more enlightening. What better, you might say, than to put together your fantasy celebrity football team? Not much, we hear you cry.

Imagine, if you will, those heady days of the 1970's when a Pro-Celebrity Charity football match seemed to take place somewhere in the UK every other week. You could barely move for celebrity teams back then. TV commentators, politicians... everyone was at it. Rest assured the great, the good and the attention-seeking were all to be found pulling on a cheap Bukta strip at a neglected local football ground throughout the 70's, and to prove a point, here's an ad from surely the decade's biggest event.

The date was May 13th 1979 and the venue, ironically, was just down the road from the BBC TV studios in White City given that it featured a team of Thames TV All Stars. This, however, wasn't any ordinary charity football match. This was a match featuring the legendary figures that made up the 1966 World Cup-winning team, albeit with one or two absences. A high profile match indeed, and all to raise money for the Newsvendors Benevolent Institution, whatever that was. Probably an excuse to fund the bar at Thames TV's Euston Road studios, we shouldn't wonder.

Anyway, the ad shown gives us a couple of clues as to who was playing, namely Dennis Waterman (just starting out in the series Minder) and Richard O'Sullivan (still playing the role of Robin Tripp in Robin's Nest). But in the absence of actual written details, who else might have been playing for Thames TV that day? To put it another way, who would we like to have seen playing that day?

Beginning at the back, how about Kenny Everett in goal? Well they do say you have to be made to play in between the sticks... In defence, perhaps the wily experience of Eamonn Andrews, the height of Magpie's Mick Robertson, plus, in the spirit of the Charltons and Nevilles of the England team, how about the O'Connors - Tom and Des?

In midfield, intelligence and quick minds are needed, so my pick would be Hywel Bennett (Shelley), Brian Murphy (George and Mildred), Geoffrey Hayes (Rainbow) and Michael Aspel (Give Us A Clue). Not all of them would have intelligence AND a quick mind of course, but you can't have everything. That just leaves the lethal strike partnership up front of the aforementioned Dennis Waterman and Richard O'Sullivan.

Clearly I've had a misspent youth and too much time on my hands, but there it is - my fantasy Thames TV XI. If you've got any fantasy showbiz teams you'd like to put together, share them with us - admin [at] thefootballattic [dot] com. We'll do our best to display them here on our website!


  1. Geoffrey Hayes, superb choice. Perhaps Bungle could be the mascot and wind up the opposition supporters.
    This is a much better side than the showbiz eleven they mustered up for the Porridge spin off feature length special. They pinned all their hopes on getting The Goodies and ended up with a weatherman.

    1. Good shout re: Bungle, Al!

      I must admit, it's been years and years since I saw the Porridge film and can't recall the bit you mentioned. Must seek it out on Amazon! :)