Saturday, 19 November 2011

Tim Gudgin and 'coupon night'

Tim Gudgin retired today. He hung up his headphones.  That might not mean anything to many people, but it means a lot to me. His is a voice I’ve grown up with

Tim is the voice of Final Score, once the football results are all in on a Saturday, he’s the man you hear when they say ‘now here are the classified results’. His retirement has brought back all sorts of memories for me.

The classifieds were essential family viewing in our house. In the same way the Generation Game would be for some, the football results were for us. It was more than viewing and listening, it was a weekly family game.

Tim Gudgin has a way of reading the football results that is entirely predictable. He’s consistent with his intonation, so much so that you can guess the score just by the  highs and lows in his voice.

Brighton and Hove Albion 1 ………Arsenal…..?  the whole family would guess the rest.
But there was much more to it than that. My Mum and Dad were the local Littlewoods Pools Agents. (I’d almost forgotten this until today) They would collect the ‘coupons’ of every single person who took part in the village where I lived. It was the lottery of its day but with a door-to-door service. We’d collect your completed coupon (and your cash) and leave you with a new one. We might even throw in a spot the ball. The whole family helped collect, unfold, straighten, count money and bag.  Every Thursday, come rain or shine.

The football pools was about predicting football results. Home wins, away wins, draws and score draws. Fun if you’re a football fan but not that many of our entrants were football fans and most people stuck to the same numbers every week in the same way you do with the lottery. So rather than a game of skill, it became a game of chance.

Spot the Ball was even better. You were given a black and white picture from a football match, with players, pitch and goal, but no ball. You marked an X where you thought the ball would be. To be more accurate, you could buy (from us of course) a special stamp with lots of tiny tiny xxxxxxx’s on to increase your chances.

I owe my first foreign holiday to a win on the football pools (my Mum won, not me, I was only 4). We went every year after that.

So as you can see, Tim Gudgin reading the classified results was an important moment in our house. The moment we’d know if any of our clients had won.

We wouldn’t always be there on a Saturday, cos we’d actually be at the football. On those occasions it’s the unforgettable music of Sports Report that I remember. Getting into the car, cold or wet and switching on the radio. Brilliant.

It’s a sad day, the wonderful tones of Tim Gudgin will be heard no more and I’ll file my memories away in a safe place and rediscover them again in 20 years. 

Tonight I raise my glass to Tim Gudgin. I also raise it to my best childhood friend and fellow coupon-collector Andrea Hughes and the coupon-round of Green Street, Smithfield and Wrecsam Road.

Tim Gudgin retired today ages 82 yrs