Praise or Grumble

It’s Saturday, it’s 5 o’clock, it’s Praise or Grumble. The programme is a Sheffield institution, but it’s also a candidate for an award for the most inappropriately named programme to grace the airwaves. Praise is generally in extremely short supply.

The format is simple: annoyed, grumpy and disgruntled fans, some sober, some under the influence of their half-time refreshments, ring in to BBC Radio Sheffield in order to get the opportunity to air their views about their team of choice. In theory they offer either a few words of praise or they can opt to grumble. But remember, this is Yorkshire; the inhabitants of God’s Own County are not renowned for their cheery dispositions, particularly where the beautiful game is concerned.

Of course last weekend was particularly important in my home city, being the date of an all-important Sheffield derby match.

Friends, Wednesdayites, Yorkshiremen, lend me your ears;
I come to grumble about United, not to praise them.
The fouls that players commit could count against them;
The goals would be scored with their boots;
So let it be with United. The noble Warnock
Hath told you United were ambitious:
If it were so, it was a grievous fault,
And grievously hath United played it.

And that’s just the Sheffield United fans.

Even the Wednesday fans are more moderate than might be expected in their praise for their team’s recent success against their old rivals. In fact, during the years that I’ve lived in Sheffield, I have noticed that this has always been the case: success is ephemeral after all, so there’s no point getting worked up about it, just smile knowingly and mutter “It won’t last…”

“The way I look at it, that’s just a few points we won’t have to struggle for to avoid the relegation zone at the end of the season”

Bob, a lifelong Wednesday fan,
after the team unexpectedly led the Premiership
at the start of the 1996 -97 season

Of course there is a joyous aspect to this. Praise or Grumble is so popular partly because football fans like it, but mainly because it is often hilariously funny. We may not have Rick Wakeman or Arthur Smith, but entertaining grumpiness is definitely on the menu.

Praise or Grumble is Sheffield’s original version of the soon-to-be-classic Grumpy Old Men. Enjoy.

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