BEST BITS from Soccer AM’s 30-year fun-filled run

Soccer AM has fallen but following the show’s cancellation the best of its product will live long in the memory as part of a major impact on UK football culture.

Across 30 years the show changed just about everything to adapt to the zeitgeist it found itself in, but it was also known for essentially producing memes long before social media or even the internet was a key factor in the spread of viral football content.

The programme was chaotic, raw and often littered with mistakes but its rough edge and laid back attitude was the perfect way to kick off a weekend at its peak.

While some of the sketches were huge misses there were plenty of hits along the way that continued right up until its cancellation.

Here Mail Sport looks at the best of them from down the years.

Soccer AM has been axed after a 30-year run. Pictured are former presenters Helen Chamberlain and Tim Lovejoy from 2003

 

Save Chip

One of the earliest features from the show was the Save Chip feature – which to many outside of the show’s following would have caused massive confusion.

I mean, who is Chip? Why does he need saving? And how comes he has such a big following? 

The origins of it were from presenter Tim Lovejoy’s friend called ‘Chip’ and casually mentioning how he couldn’t watch as much football as he wanted to due to a hectic homelife.

It took just weeks before it became a huge hit of a story and an on-running gag.

Supporters were often seen pinning up ‘Save Chip’ banners at football grounds while producers of the show would also end up finding the material as far out as Ashes cricket matches in Australia.

It was a classic case of football related content going viral in the 1990s well before the internet boom. It even appeared on a Football Manager game and centrum an episode of Eastenders.

‘Save Chip’ banners were often seen around many football grounds in the early 2000s

 

‘Easy, Easy, Easy’ 

Another football viral of its time. And yet it was such a simple design – consisting of just one word on repeat. 

Yet it caught on heavily. There were plenty of football grounds up and down the country in the late 2000s where when a team went 2-0… or even 1-0 up the chant of ‘easy, easy, easy’ would soon follow.

But that too spread out away from football. Soccer AM fans soon ensured darts venues would become embroiled with the chant, while even Jeff Stelling on Soccer Saturday couldn’t help but get caught up in the moment when his beloved Hartlepool United would grab a lead. 

 

Away days 

It wasn’t all just small references gaining a massive following, some of Soccer AM’s best content was educational as well as entertainingly fun, silly and downright bonkers at times.

Take ‘Franky Fryer’ and the ‘Away Days’ segment. From week to week dressed in that same brown anorak, jeans and far too much jewellery, Franky would go from ground to ground describing historical elements of the stadium, the club that played for and maybe even the region in general – all with a cockney accent.

It sounds ridiculous, and it often was, but it was damn funny too especially as the character’s actor Adam Smith would often play the role with huge exaggeration and over the top mannerisms like a child hyped up on lemonade. 

It would often conclude with Fryer saying ‘I know what time it is, you know what time it is’ before spewing out a diatribe of fast-talking rambling, where a local or well-known contributor would chime in with a well timed word or two.

The bit was a send of actor Danny Dyer’s own documentary series The Real Football Factories, and boy did it work. So much so, that the Eastenders and Football Factory star even appeared alongside ‘Fryer’ to cover his beloved West Ham. 

The hyper cockney character called ‘Franky Fryer’ featured often as part of ‘Away Days’

 

Tim Lovejoy strutts on the catwalk

Tim Lovejoy and Helen Chamberlain were key to the show’s success and presented the show together from 1996 through to Lovejoy’s departure in 2007.

One of Lovejoy’s (many) lasting impacts on the show though lived on well past his exit, including his strutt up and down the catwalk where guests would feature.

It was simple enough, and borderline dad-dancing but everyone was doing it and Lovejoy himself couldn’t help but look back fondly on the dance on Twitter recently.

He said: ‘Hands up if you’re keeping this dance alive’

Current food mood pic.twitter.com/HuHMwdqt2S

— Helen Chamberlain (@HellsBellsy) March 30, 2020

Tim Lovejoy (pictured at Glastonbury in 2008) and his team produced a popular segment with the annual dance-off

 

Third eye

Now any small thing that can happen at a sporting event an be picked up in a second on social media and be on everyone’s phone within minutes.

After all it only takes on eagle-eyed viewer to spot something unusual and as long as they have a smart phone, it’s instant video content that can be enjoyed by many. 

Soccer AM though had all of these already down to a tee with it’s ‘Third Eye’ feature, where they would take clips from football matches and spot the quirky elements of it you may have missed while watching it live – or if it was broadcast to the public at all.

Some of the classics included Manchester United assistant manager Mike Phelan scaring boss Sir Alex Ferguson by popping a stray balloon during a Manchester United game at Chelsea. Another also saw Rafa Benitez appear to spawn a Sky Sports graphic simply by making a tactical gesture with his hand.

 

Crossbar challenge

A very popular long running feature of the show and with good reason – it was brilliant TV.

Not only did it show that even the best technical players could make fools of themselves on camera, but it would also give an unsung hero at the club the potential to look like a genius within the same timeframe.

The premise was simple. Turn up at a team’s training ground and offer a team’s stars the chance to hit the crossbar from the halfway line. The teams clearly loved the element as well and it was often amusing to see their cackled laughter or group celebration pile-on depending on whether their team-mate fired one onto the nearest motorway or even minorly clipped the underside of the bar.

There was always at least one person that managed to do it, and often even some of the biggest names got it wrong. Looking back now it can be amusing to see that Chelsea’s Kevin De Bruyne was absolutely useless at it. No wonder Jose Mourinho sold him…

Kevin De Bruyne didn’t fare well on the crossbar challenge during his Chelsea days

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