From The Terraces To The TARDIS - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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From The Terraces To The TARDIS

50 years to the day when England lifted the World Cup, Christopher Morley sets jumpers as goalposts and looks at the Doctor's many encounters with the beautiful game.

1966, a great year for the Second Doctor as well as English football. For while the England '66 squad were final bound the mop-top Doctor was facing The Evil of the Daleks. The story is sadly lost, with the exception of Episode 2 (one for the search & rescue teams to rectify post-haste, you'd think), but the 'present day' segments of Evil are set on July 20th that year, with Alf Ramsey's boys playing the game of their lives on the 30th.

But before the Doctor can think of taking Jamie for a quick TARDIS trip to Wembley to watch the Three Lions beat West Germany in ten days time he's got to use all his cunning to stop the human race from becoming mindless Dalek slaves & depriving themselves of the chance to watch their boys lift the World Cup.

Although we never got the chance to see the Second Doctor cracking open a few pints, watching Geoff Hurst & Martin Peters help England to their finest moment on the football field, and pulling his recorder out to lead everyone in a rousing chorus of the national anthem, the Doctor has had several other run-ins with the beautiful game.

The audio story The Apocalypse Mirror, also set during his Second incarnation, reveals that the Doctor sometimes likes nothing better than a spot of keepy-uppy to pass a little time, his record number of consecutive touches being a rather disappointing five. His games are abandoned after a stray kick sends the ball flying into the TARDIS console, damaging the harmonic resonator. Oh my word!

A love of playing appears to have returned by the time he reaches his Eleventh incarnation, as he shows not inconsiderable skill while putting in a solid 90 minutes for Craig Owens' Kings Arms pub team in The Lodger...

...No doubt helped by the fact Matt Smith showed quite some promise with a ball at his feet before an injury forced him to abandon a career in the game after spells with Northampton Town, Nottingham Forest & Leicester City. As an interesting side-note, just minutes after that particular episode finished the England vs USA 2010 World Cup match was just kicking off on ITV!

The Doctor also gets to show off some of his previous skill in The Power Of Three!

He'd earlier been involved, during his Eighth incarnation, in a mystery at a Delchester United match - part of the comic story Doctor Who & The Nightmare Game...

The character of Roy Stobbs, Delchester's team captain, could be inspired by Roy Race of Melchester Rovers from the Roy Of The Rovers comic series, Stobbs helping the Doctor & young United fan Billy Wilkins to work out what's growing under Delchester's stadium & stop two Morg which have taken the human forms of Milo & Frank Shakespeare from carrying out their plan after managing to hypnotise Stobbs's team-mates.

The Doctor also partakes in the enthusiastic use of a football rattle, just as he had four selves earlier to startle a horse in The Masque Of Mandragora.

And here's the Fourth again, sans rattle, but appearing in that other stalwart of Saturday evening viewing, Match Of The Day. That is to say, a closer look at last season's title sequence revealed the presence of the be-scarfed one amongst the footballing heroes of yesteryear!

It's not the only Match Of The Day he's featured in either, as it's also the title of a Fourth Doctor novel by Chris Boucher.

The Ninth Doctor, Christopher Eccleston's ambition as a child was to play football for his beloved Manchester United. Speaking to the Observer Sport Monthly, Chris once said,
"United are in my blood. I was born in Salford, about a mile from the ground. And it's a family tradition; my dad Ronnie went to see them from the Thirties. Some of my earliest memories are of my dad talking about the Babes, specifically Duncan Edwards. 'He was a man at 16,' he always said. He was a great guy but kept his feelings to himself, but at any mention of that team he suddenly became filled with emotion.
My mum was an Old Trafford trolley-dolly. She used to push a trolley round the inside of the pitch selling Bovril. Just recently she said, very casually, 'When we finished work we used to see Duncan standing at the bus stop after the game eating fish and chips.' Can you imagine Ryan Giggs doing that? My dad would talk about them as players while my mum talked about their personalities, like 'Roger Byrne's very good-looking but you can tell he's moody'.

My dad took me to my first match: Bristol City at home in October 1973. It was a night match, which made it even better. If I ever have a son myself I'll try and take him to a night match as his first game because it's more magical. I remember feeling my dad's hand on my shoulder, everyone looking serious, the ground being all concrete and ugly, how huge the arena was, and never having seen grass so green in all my life. Bestie played and had a penalty saved. I'm convinced Denis Law tried a diving header and we lost - at home to Bristol City!"

And although he didn't get to play during his tenure as Doctor, he did get to have a go at a spot of refereeing!

The comic The Forgotten reveals that the Ninth Doctor refereed the famous Christmas Day Truce match between British & German soldiers in the trenches of the First World War. He had also earlier confirmed to Mickey Smith that the TARDIS scanner could show coverage of matches during Aliens Of London, too...
MICKEY: How many channels do you get?
DOCTOR: All the basic packages.
MICKEY: You get sports channels?
DOCTOR: Yes, I get the football. Hold on, I know that lot.
The "gentleman's game played by ruffians" was also on Mickey's mind during Rose...
MICKEY: What're you drinking, tea? Nah, nah, that's no good, that's no good. You're in shock. You need something stronger.
ROSE: I'm all right.
MICKEY: Now, come on, you deserve a proper drink. We're going down the pub, you and me. My treat. How about it?
ROSE: Is there a match on?
MICKEY: No, I'm just thinking about you, babe.
ROSE: There's a match on, ain't there.
MICKEY: That's not the point, but we could catch the last five minutes.
ROSE: Go on, then. I'm fine, really. Go.
Perhaps little wonder she chooses to take the Doctor up on his offer of travels through the entirety of space & time!

But back to the 1966 World Cup final, and it turns out the First Doctor had a hand in one of those four goals England scored, in a roundabout way. During The Rag And Bone Man's Story, part of the Short Trips anthology, he and Susan found a Blessing Star, an alien crystal which was able to give whoever holds it anything they might desire. With the thoughts of the whole country filtered through it, it helped ensure that a goal was scored, and that captain Bobby Moore would get to lift the trophy after the Three Lions beat West Germany 4-2 in the final!

The same match that the Eleventh would later take Amy & Rory to in the comic story They Think It's All Over.

So there we have it, Doctor Who - From the terraces to the TARDIS. It's a funny old game...

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