Brian Moore Saved Our Sundays by Matt Eastley – Review

Brian Moore Saved Our Sundays by Matt Eastley (1)

By Karl Hornsey

Matt Eastley is no stranger to writing nostalgic football books that look back on a time when money wasn’t king, when the FA Cup really mattered and when supporters seemed to have a greater connection to those playing then beautiful game, but even so, he’s really outdone himself here with this stunningly detailed account of regionalised football on TV during, mainly, the 1970s. It should come as no surprise and to no little delight that a sequel, moving the action into the ‘80s has already been promised.

And it’s the depth here that is the main selling point, as Eastley delves so deep into every aspect of the coverage, the presenters and commentators who became household names either regionally or nationally, and the sometimes almost amateurish ways in which the action made it to the screens, compared to today’s slick and ultra-professional scene. That the author has also managed to personally interview so many of those involved at the time also adds a gravitas and authenticity to the book, and helps to bring back many memories from the time. Eastley heads around the nation and tells the story of each region in turn, which is bound to be an education for even the most learned of readers, as viewers will have been familiar with coverage of clubs in their own region, but not necessarily beyond. For me, it took me back to watching and listening to John Helm on Yorkshire TV, and the ‘Sundays’ referenced in the title were indeed special, as televised football, even highlights, was such a rarity back in those days.

Brian Moore Saved Our Sundays by Matt Eastley (2)“Much-loved”

The use of Brian Moore in the title and as the chief focal point for everything that happened in regional football broadcasting in the 1970s demonstrates the key role that he had in raising standards and becoming a reliable, trustworthy and calming figure, as ITV tried, and succeeded, in offering something different to the rather more traditional, even boring, presentation style of the BBC. With the likes of the revolutionary Jimmy Hill on board and a host of forthright figures from within the game telling it like it was, in an era when media training and PC thoughts had yet to be even thought of, Moore and his fellow regional presenters offered something more personal and, clearly from this book, something more memorable.

While repeats of The Big Match these days are much-loved, this book reveals what was going on behind the scenes, when the likes of blackout strikes affected coverage, and when commentators and presenters could forge personal relationships with players and managers without a wall of media advisers to break through first. Eastley also offers up his tributes to those behind the cameras who helped to bring the shows to the screens, and even pays homage to the theme tunes used, whetting the appetite for the second instalment, which will see move into the 1980s, when the flag was very much still flying for regional football coverage. Before that one comes out though, I would very much recommend a dive into this initial offering.

‘Brian Moore Saved Our Sundays’ by Matt Eastley is published by Pitch Publishing


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