Saturday Scenes

Wed 26 January 2011

Back to Square One

Filed under: #satscene —— Sylvia @ 23:23

On the 22nd of January in 1927, Arsenal played Sheffield United at their then home ground in Highbury. Henry Blythe Thornhill Wakelam (Captain Teddy), a former rugby player, sat on the sidelines in a small wooden hut that “largely resembled a garden shed”. He had a microphone and a plan of the pitch dissected into a grid of eight numbered squares, designed by producer Lance Sieveking. A copy of the plan was printed in the Radio Times so that Wakelam could refer to the squares and listeners could follow the action from home.

The BBC produced a world first that day: the first live radio commentary of a football match.

BBC SPORT | FOOTBALL  | Radio football down the years

The Division One clash between Arsenal and Sheffield United provided the entertainment for many families, who had eagerly tuned to their radio sets to hear the action. The match, played at the Gunners’ current ground Highbury, ended 1-1.

Indeed, this activity would have occurred much earlier if not for strict sporting authorities and Fleet Street – convinced that the new medium would draw away paying customers and newspaper readers alike.

Sieveking’s grid became a popular means of explaining a game on live radio. You can hear a recording of Wakelam using the numbered squares at the start of this clip from BBC Sport (.ram file). These early broadcasts may even be the origin of the phrase “back to square one”.

And on the 22nd of January in 2011, a very different grid was begun – a three-by-three grid of wonderful photographs so that we could enjoy seeing all the Saturday Scenes in one place. And here it is!

And these are the photographers who filled in the blanks:

Can I ask everyone who has participated this year to check the new Saturday Scenes list and make sure you are listed? It’s acting a bit odd and I wouldn’t want to leave anyone out.

(If you submitted last year, you should be in the 2010 Saturday Scenes list.)

And if you haven’t submitted yet – join us! Just take a photograph on Saturday and send the link to @SatScenes with the location! It’s easy and fun and we love seeing new sights.

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