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21st Oct 2016

Remembering the time Garth Crooks gave Mr Blobby football lessons

A confusing presence on anything football-related...and Mr Blobby.

Tom Victor

Be honest, we had you at hello, didn’t we?

Mr Blobby is one of those elements of British culture that’s impossible to explain to someone from overseas. You know, like boiled sweets, or bovril, or castigating people for showing compassion or empathy towards refugees, or twiglets.

If you watched 90s TV staple Noel’s House Party, you’ll remember the pink and yellow giant cavorting around the set for…reasons. He didn’t seem to have a tangible origin story, he was just there.

Oh, and did we mention he had a number one single. Don’t try to rationalise any of this, just embrace it.

For some reason (again, don’t ask questions) he was given his own segment on the show in which, by the looks of things, he was just tasked with confusing celebrities. You know, like a low-budget Chris Morris, if Morris took the form of one of those Fruit Salad sweets you used to spend your coppers on at the corner shop down the road from your primary school.

And while we’re on the subject of comedy characters who got a surprising amount of airtime on the BBC, one of his guests was football formation maverick Garth Crooks.

We find it tough to gauge what’s going on in Crooks’ head at the best of times, but this is on another level.

Does he know it’s a skit? Has he been told about it ahead of time? Does he even know who Mr Blobby is? So many questions, so few answers.

It’s an impressive progression from the softly-softly opening to the outright laughter, like a zero-to-sixty of bad parenting. It’s almost as if he’s allowing himself to have fun from the minute he’s mentally sacked his agent.

And as for that ‘welcome to English football’ tackle – Crooks is no mug, he knows how important it is to stamp your authority, whether your opponent is a top-flight defender, an inflatable nightmare, or the concept of a functioning midfield.

In fact, after rewatching the clip we’ve begun to view Mr Blobby in a different light.

The play-acting. The shying away from good old-fashioned British challenges. The indecipherable language. He’s clearly meant as a depiction of the archetypal Johnny Foreigner, who Crooks has been told to demean by simply refusing to take any of his exploits seriously.

The big reveal at the end. where Blobby’s head is removed to reveal Noel Edmonds underneath? That’s right, those foreign fancy dans are just the same as us deep down.

Really, we should be lauding Edmonds for single-handedly attempting to reduce the stigma over foreign imports to top-flight football. Could the Premier League have reached its current status without him? I think you know the answer to that.

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Finally, a moment for the coup de grace, John Motson’s mini-documentary that caps off the film.

Sure, some of it could use a bit of work – we get it, Bobby sounds like Blobby – but the commentator redeems himself with possibly the best ever one-liner committed to film.

“There’s lots of talk these days about who’s the better player, Gazza or Blozza. Well for my money, there’s only one winner in that argument, and that’s football.”

Beautiful. Just beautiful.

Thanks to Tom Rouse for sending this in our direction. If you have any similar gems, send them to [email protected].

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