"Before you say anything, could you turn your radio down for us?"

In the infancy of Radio 5, someone had an idea. They were sick of the proliferation of the "what do you think of Barnsley's chances this year” and decided to create a show that mined the rich seam of stories that come from the Sunday League and lower division football. We had stories of insane goalkeepers smashing goal kicks against the underside of their own crossbar, yellow cards for retrieving a ball by running across a cricket square and a man ejected from a Leyton Orient game because his Borussia Dortmund short clashed with the linesman's flag.

However, someone had forgot to pay homage to the Gods of Sports Broadcasting - not enough banalities, clichés and lazy observations. The presenter was smote and replaced by someone who would worship at his feet. Either that or it was Danny Baker pleading with the public to hound referee Mike Reed in the street for awarding a penalty for Erland Johnsen's dive against Leicester in the Cup. What a thing to be sacked for!

We now have 6-0-6 and it's chavvier, more stupid cousin 5-0-5 on TalkDrivel. It gives us, the hoi polloi, our platform to be pundits for a few minutes. With the Great British public, with all its diversity, we anticipated a rich tapestry of styles of caller. We were disappointed. We now examine the basic rules & character traits of those of calling Alan Green, Ray Stubbs or, god forbid, Spoony…

The Pre-Amble

If you want to make the most of your air time you need to follow some basic rules. NEVER declare that you wish to “make two or three points” as you will only get time for one of your inane comments. If you do wish to talk about more than one thing then it is essential to do the following;

DON'T say hello to the presenter or ask about his health
DO immediately say "Before I go on to my main point…." This makes it clear that you're a someone with something to say!
DO fill the gap between Pre-Amble and Main Point with "…but that's not the main reason I phoned" to prevent being cut off.
DON'T be too critical of another team, even if they are your greatest rivals. I did this once and was chastised by Lawrie McMenemy!

The Regular Caller

How these people get through week after week is beyond me. Undeterred by minutes and minutes of hearing the engaged tone, they WILL be heard by the nation. You hear a name and a location and the heart sinks, as you realise a deranged five-minute tirade will follow. Normally on a one-man crusade to see the back of a manager, player or group of players - these men (it's always men) will stop at nothing until the board see sense and follow his advice and live in the false hope that the manager is actually listening to his "main point". These people are invariably totally unrepresentative of the opinion of the broad fan base. Martin from Chigwell, the Spurs fan especially.

The Unfortunate

This bloke has been waiting patiently on the phone for about an hour. His time has come. He is about to solve all his club's problems in his allotted three minutes, he hears his calling "and now we have Clive on the M6.." - and all the nation hears is "…ls…" Disaster has struck for Clive on the M6 - his phone as let him down when he needed it most. The presenter humours him by promising to call him back. He's lying. Clive has blown it.

The Mini-Bus Full of Non-League Supporters

It's been their big day out in the 2nd round of the Cup. They've managed a 0-0 away at Coventry. They are drunk. The least drunk one tries to be sensible. He is drowned out by cheering and shouting.

Depressed & Resigned To Relegation

These are my favourite types of call, enough to enliven even the dullest of journeys. They normally surface mid-to-late March when supporters of teams who have been in the relegation zone all season, after one 3-0 defeat too many have finally thrown in the towel. The players are still vowing to fight on, the manager refuses to give up until it's mathematically possible, but the fans have realised it's all over. They are going down. The unexpected draws away from home, the 2-1 home defeat of the league leaders are now distant memories and all that is left is defeat after defeat as their team just makes up the numbers. There will be no rage against the dying of the light - just them slipping silently away.

I laugh at their misery!

That covers the 95% of your post match entertainment on a Saturday. We also have honourable mentions for Token But Sadly Clueless Woman, The Qualified Referee and the hated Only Supporter Who Believes Their Captain Deserved To Be Sent Off.

I salute you all.


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