IAN HERBERT: It’s impossible not to smile at the TV gold of Saint & Greavsie… the legendary show is priceless more valuable than what we see these days
- Saint and Greavsie was an ITV show run by Jimmy Greaves and Ian St John
- Looking back at the legendary show now leaves you smiling involuntarily
The joke was not the most nuanced. A hapless Jimmy Greaves, driving his Ford Granada at Watford’s training ground, is put through the team’s fitness regimen by Graham Taylor and fails the test so dramatically that he has to be told he won’t start not in place of Mo Johnston against Everton in 1984. FA Cup final.
But it’s one of many scenes from Saint and Greavsie’s legendary FA Cup final shows that, looked back on now, involuntarily leaves you smiling.
There’s the way a slightly cardboard Taylor enthusiastically embraces his role in the scene, demonstrating to Greaves how he expects push-ups and a jump drill to be performed.
“You have to get your legs over that bar,” he told her. There’s Greaves, red-faced with effort, who can’t seem to execute a forward roll. And there’s the obvious enjoyment players take in being a part of it.
Ian St John and Greaves’ visit to the pair’s training ground became part of the FA Cup fittings on the final day when their show was at its peak in the 1980s and a compilation of the best pieces, to be screened on the morning of today’s finale, takes us back to that time.
Saint and Greavsie was a popular football show run by Jimmy Greaves (R) and Ian St John
Greaves was put through his paces in Everton’s preparation against Watford in 1984
Watching back the legendary show now leaves you smiling involuntarily because it’s TV gold
The milder form of comedy is something to cherish – Greaves’ silly hats, the appearance of double Sir Bobby Robson’s Spitting Image, operated by Greaves, St John having a ball hit in the back of the head by Jan Molby at Liverpool’s Melwood Training Ground. But equally compelling is the throwback to what football looked like before its commercial explosion.
Before the 1985 final, St John and Greaves traveled to Old Trafford together and at the site of what is now the Manchester United Megastore, near the Vauxhall Opels and Austin Allegros parked in the street, we see the ‘Red Devils Souvenir Shop’. Inside the poky place, scarves and 25p photos are the top selling items. “I wouldn’t want his ugly mug to come in the mail,” observes Greaves.
Saint’s light-hearted comments about the Scots – which are all part of the fun – have thankfully not been deleted.
Also watch out for young Gary Lineker at the pool table ahead of the 1986 Merseyside final. The serious striker was also a shot with a cue and says he has centuries of break behind him.
A match against Greaves, to Chas and Dave’s Snooker Loopy soundtrack, is a good way for him to help Lineker ‘sink some reds’. The unfortunate Greaves is on the receiving end of a 123-2 hammering.
St John gives United players team talk and annoys Ron Atkinson players to death. Greaves tells Norman Whiteside, who walks around in his underwear in the Cup final, that “these pants are a bit short”.
Millions are spent these days on player and team image management, but this was invaluably more valuable than all that. Everything was pure gold.
The Saint & Greavsie FA Cup special will be released at 10.25am on ITV4 and will be simulcast on ITVX. It is the first in a series of six S&G compilation shows.