The Fiver | Oscillating from the mindnumbingly banal to the downright tragic


The Fiver is a broad church, boasting devout parishioners from countries all around the world. This unsurprising global appeal is something we bear in mind before engaging in our daily bout of pulpit-thumping, lest the “jokes” for which our name has long been a byword should sail over the heads of foreign readers who might not get throwaway references to monuments of British culture with which Fiver fans closer to home are all too and often painfully familiar.

With that in mind, it behoves us to explain that The One Show is a daily topical TV magazine programme broadcast on the BBC at 7pm, fronted by Welsh presenter Alex Jones and what seems like a rotating cast of boys next door with nice teeth and hair, all of whom one suspects would feel equally at home sitting around a campfire trying to sell bored, eye-rolling teenage youth group members on the merits of one last rendition of Kumbaya My Lord over sneaking off to get wasted on Purple Tin and jazz cigarettes.

As edgy as a snooker ball, The One Show is famous for its wide variety of topics and none-too-subtle gear changes as it oscillates from the mindnumbingly banal to the downright tragic. A typical episode might feature pre-recorded VTs in which Giles Brandreth visits a teapot museum in Scarborough or Phil Tufnell learns how to train sheep-dogs, while celebrity guests pitch up to promote books, albums or films and are asked for their views on the issues du jour.

This week, Jones has been joined by another boy next door type in Jermaine Jenas. The former Tottenham Hotspur and England midfielder proved he may have a future in more cerebral and high-brow BBC programming during an interview with David Dimbleby. Presumably acting on the instructions of a terrified producer screaming in his earpiece, Jenas moved with a speed not witnessed since his Tottenham pomp in a bid to close down the doyen of political interrogators as Dimbleby began criticising the complete and utter dog’s breakfast the Tory government has made of dealing with the coronavirus crisis. The same Tory government who have made no secret of their intention to torpedo the good ship BBC and many of those who sail on her.

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“We seem to be just all over the place here and I think it’s the government’s fault,” said Dimbleby. “I think they began badly and they’ve gone on badly, and they’re floundering.” Cue Jenas: “David, we don’t really want to get into that, obviously people have got completely different views,” he said, toeing the party line and doing his prospects of getting the gig full-time no harm whatsoever. We’ll see how he gets on when Eidur Gudjohnsen visits the Royal Mint to meet the man who whittles the corners on to 50p coins, Ally McCoist goes in search of the Loch Ness monster and our stand-in presenter is forced to look on in horror as Niall Quinn and Kevin Phillips perform their new duet in praise of North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong-un.


“I was new to Liverpool and asked if I could join a seven-a-side game in Wavertree. Right at the end I scored a rabona. Top bin. I’m only 5ft 6 and one of my teammates was massive, about 6ft 7. He came running at me shouting: ‘You’re [eff]ing sick lad, come and play for us lad.’ I was scared. He was aggressive and I didn’t know what he meant. Was I sick? I was quite down afterwards and explained to my social worker what had happened. He started laughing. ‘Welcome to Liverpool lad,’ he said and told me that sick meant great or fantastic” – Jacob Viera, the talented Kenyan footballer who cheated death and became a referee in Liverpool, tells Andy Hunter his incredible life story.

Jacob Viera
Yes, Jacob! Photograph: Barrington Coombs/Handout


“Finally, irrefutable proof that Big Stars read The Fiver. Arsenal’s Mesut Özil has obviously taken note of my suggestion (Fiver letters, 24 Sept) that highly paid players donate part of their wages to other staff, or do the job themselves. Mesut, probably not keen on squeezing into a dinosaur kit, has offered to dole out some cash. (Although the some critics – not me – might suggest that the former option may have been the best way for him to get some on-pitch action this season)” – Rod de Lisle.

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“Re: John Robertson’s ‘no disrespect to the cattle’ (Tuesday’s Bits and Bobs) – are we worried about offending cattle now? My goodness – political correctness has gone too far. No disrespect to political correctness” – Shane Hart.

“To correct Mr Glendenning’s ‘If worst comes to worst’ (Tuesday’s Fiver). Really! Think about it. Try ‘If worse comes to worst’. You think you had trouble with your Stop Football campaign. I’ve been flogging this horse for over 60 years” – James Ring (and no others).

“Fiver Postal Ed? Clearly The Fiver has a very different philosophy on staff retention than Arsenal” – Andrew Want.

Send your letters to And you can always tweet The Fiver via @guardian_sport. Today’s winner of our letter o’the day prize is … Shane Hart, who wins a copy of Football’s Black Pioneers: the Stories of the First Black Players to Represent the 92 League Clubs [postage available to UK only, sorry – Fiver Postal Ed].


The sharp rise in the number of footballers concerned for their mental health has continued in 2020, according to the counselling body Sporting Chance.

To the surprise of no one, Nottingham Forest have bundled boss Sabri Lamouchi through the door marked Do One and welcomed Chris Hughton in as his replacement.

The Premier League, EFL, FA and WSL have written an open letter to the government calling for fans to be allowed to return to matches. “We need clarity for our clubs,” it said.

Stuart Armstrong has tested positive for Covid-19 and Arsenal’s Kieran Tierney has been instructed to self-isolate as Scotland’s preparations for their Nations League match agains Israel continue to go well.

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Barnsley defender Bambo Diaby has been suspended for two years for a doping violation. The 22-year-old was charged after providing a urine sample in November last year after testing positive for the natural stimulant higenamine, which is nevertheless on Wada’s banned list.

Ukraine have called called 45-year-old Oleksandr Shovkovskiy out of retirement for their friendly with France after three other keepers tested positive for Covid-19.

And like a vulture surveying wounded prey below, Manchester City’s chief suit Ferran Soriano, reckons the EFL crisis offers the Premier League a chance to stick its oar in. “Maybe the crisis will give us the opportunity [to introduce B teams] and will nudge us to get together and solve these issues,” he squawked, to the sound of coffee being spat out furiously.


You read about them here first: Next Generation 2020 – our talent-spotters run their eye over 20 of the best talents at Premier League clubs.

“Important players were breaking down in tears”. Former Macclesfield full-back James Pearson chats to Ben Fisher about dealing with the club’s demise.

Proper Journalist David Conn cautions that for all the Premier League’s transfer-window splurging, a financial crunch looms.

Who is the most recent Premier League footballer to own or run a pub? The Knowledge discovers former Newcastle full-back behind a bar in a Blyth boozer.

Olivier Bernard
Pint of mild please. Photograph: Iain Buist/Iain Buist/ncjMedia Ltd

“I never stopped believing”. The bang in-form Dominic Calvert-Lewin channels Journey as he chats about his England hopes and more.

Sid Lowe on how a bad transfer window reflected the absolute state of Barcelona.

Jamie Jackson on Manchester United’s muddled dealings and the 15 transfer windows of Woodward.

Oh, and if it’s your thing … you can follow Big Website on Big Social FaceSpace. And INSTACHAT, TOO!



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