A fond farewell to Ceefax

At around 11:30pm last night, a British institution was faded out into a small dot. Decades of history was brought to an end as the digital switch over was complete. For football supporters across the country it was all about reminiscence about a time where times were simple. Back in the nineties, Ceefax was the only way possible to pick up the football scores as they happened if you didn’t have a radio.

This was before the Internet boomed, before Jeff Stelling even thought about compiling stats for Morecambe, Boston United and Halifax Town’s last few months of fixtures and before we could set up a text service to our mobile phones to get an instant score line within seconds. Thinking back to that time seems pretty crazy now. I feel like I take for granted all the fantastic technology that we now hold dear for when we’re not at the match. To be able to stick with the news on the move makes every Saturday a time when we can feel involved from the start, meaning our spouses and families often get the brunt of faded communication for a couple of hours!

Twitter has made the match day experience even more interactive…following even one fellow supporter that’s going to the game gives you access to plenty of happenings from the moment a coach leaves through a pub stop and key moments in the game whilst also following fans from other teams gives insight into matches from across the country.

It’s mind boggling thinking about it and how I used to rely solely on Ceefax as a wee nipper. I used to go around a friends’ house every Saturday of an away game that we weren’t old enough to go to simply to watch the rolling ticker on Ceefax with a can of coke and some Wham Bars for company. We were happy and in our element. It was also pretty dramatic, if dull on a day of a goalless draw!

When not at a TV screen at home there was always a chance provided by Curry’s (other electronic outlets are available!) on a trip into town. They always seemed to have at least two screens on display televisions in the windows devoted to Ceefax football scores, meaning that groups of football fans would end up meeting outside the shop window, waiting patiently but anxiously at around 4:50pm on a Saturday for ‘page 2/3’ to load up and confirm a big win or to confirm an inevitable defeat.

Even when I was at university, when technology had moved on, I relied on it. Constantly disrupting housemates’ viewings of Eastenders to flick on the scores page was a staple for Tuesday nights. As the matches progressed you would have to wait longer and longer with scorers being added to push your teams’ results onto a new page. In tight games there was so much tension as clocks ticked down. When your result still didn’t have a ‘FT’ next to it by 5pm you had no idea why, when games kicked off late, likewise. In seasons where you’re pushing for promotion or battling relegation (most of the time for the Cobblers!) it was even more agonising.

It was a time of pure drama in your front room. When I try to explain to my wife the joys of ‘Soccer Saturday’ these days I often wonder what on earth she would have made of just the scores rotating on the TV via Ceefax in its glory days.

So it was with some sadness that it all came to an end last night. Admittedly I haven’t used the service for football scores for a few years now but it’s still a sad sight to not have it as an option now and again. I had to have a quick look last night and say a farewell even though I knew everything that had happened during the game (not much!) thanks to the radio commentary, tweets, interviews, comments on message boards and reports.

Life may not ever be as simple as what Ceefax provided for football fans but we can at least remember ‘the good old days’ like the old men we now are!

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2 thoughts on “A fond farewell to Ceefax

  1. Yes, many Saturdays and weekday evenings spent watching and waiting for the next page to turn over to see our score or any that were relevant. No idea if that 1-0 lead was totally against the run of play by a fluke goal in off the backside or a wonder goal from 30 yards after a spell of possession.

    The question is, how will things evolve in the next 10-20 years that we’ll be saying its sad to see the end of something we have now and rely on that will become the Ceefax of 2030?

  2. True…all that seemed to matter if you didn’t go to the game back then was the result…you could make it up if you lost 1-0 thinking that you probably hit the post four times to console yourself!

    I do wonder about the future too…scary to think where we could be in 20 years. Likely to see some sort of subscription service that lets you watch any game you want from your team online or something?!

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