After more than 20 years on air, Sky Sports have put Sunday Supplement out of its misery. As of next season, the round-table chat show will no longer exist. The person who will feel most hard done by here is host Jacqui Oatley. She only got the gig this year, a rare sign of progress in the football media.
In the early days the show was dominated by gammon-faced men in Pringle sweaters. A few of them seemed like decent blokes (Brian Woolnough springs to mind), but many came across as odious and self-important. Those in the latter camp reminded me acutely of Stewart Lee’s description of Adrian Chiles: “Like being trapped in the buffet car of a slow-moving express train with a Toby jug that somehow learned to speak – a speaking Toby jug filled to the brim with hot piss.”
And that’s the show right there: Hot piss, hot air, hot takes. Freshly squeezed orange juice. Croissants.
It started life (1999) as Jimmy Hill’s Sunday Supplement. The show was filmed on a set designed to look like Jimmy was actually in his kitchen talking passionately about Saturday’s action with a couple of golfing buddies and a bowl of fruit for company. The avuncular Hill hosted from his fake kitchen until 2007, when he was replaced by Woolnough, who was, like his predecessor, a generous and likeable presenter. Five years later, Woolnough sadly died of cancer, and Neil Ashton took over hosting duties. Gradually the show modernised, with a wider selection of journalists invited on, some of whom were under the age of 35. The old school gave way to fresh young voices. Even online journalists got a look-in.
Ultimately though, Sunday Supplement was flawed by design. If it was on in the background, you might find yourself listening to it by accident, perhaps as salve for a raging hangover, but it wasn’t something you actively watched. Talking about football works best on the radio or down the pub.