26 Feb 2010

OU academic to referee Monty Python- style Philosophers’ Football match

Open University academic Dr Nigel Warburton has been appointed match referee for the 2010 re-staging of the classic Monty Python 'Philosophers' Football' clash of 'Greeks' versus 'Germans'.

'Socrates Wanderers' versus 'Nietzsche Albion,' is scheduled to take place on Sunday, 9 May 2010 at Wingate & Finchley’s Harry Abrahams Stadium in North London. Inspired by the famous 1972 Monty Python sketch, and with the full backing of the surviving Pythons, this tribute/replay will bring together a range of well-known UK intellectuals, comedians, broadcasters, writers and journalists in aid of the theme of 'More reasoning and creative thinking for our children'.

Dr Nigel Warburton, Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at The Open University, said: “Philosophy isn't a spectator sport: in order to study it you have to do it - it's no use sitting on the sidelines and clapping politely.”

So far the team sheet includes comedians Mark Steel, Tony Hawks, Arthur Smith, Andy Hamilton and Ariane Sherine, as well as assorted footballers, sorry, philosopher! Julian Baggini, Nigel Warburton, Simon Glendinning, Dr Stephen Law, Angie Hobbs and Mark Vernon. Supporters on the touchlines include sociologist and Radio 4 Thinking Allowed presenter Laurie Taylor, the BBC’s John Humphrys, footballing legend Gary Lineker and educationalist and author Anthony Seldon.

Nigel continues: “I was more of a rugby league player than a footballer (GB students and Cambridge University), so it's probably just as well I'm refereeing rather than playing. I'm hoping I can rely on reason and argument to control the game. But philosophers and comedians specialise in being difficult, so I'm anticipating dissent. I'm extremely grateful Alex Ferguson hasn't yet committed to this match.”

Former England manager Graham Taylor will be managing the 'Socrates Wanderers' First XI side, while professional Philosopher AC Grayling, a man who cheerfully admits to never even managing the kids in his playground side, will be his rival on the opposing 'Nietzsche Albion’ team.

Speaking from the touchline as he put his squad through a strenuous regime of calisthenics and anti-Sophist argumentation, Graham Taylor comments: “As the sole genuine footballer in the Greek team, I’m definitely a surprise appointment. I’m well versed in tactical worries, but need to hone my approach to metaphysical concerns, clearly.”

Meanwhile, AC Grayling, claims to be unphased by the appointment of the famous England Manager. “The German squad have experienced team problems but I’m not worried,” he reports from his study, knee-deep in unwashed kit and copies of Also Sprach Zarathustra. “Having already beaten England's famous midfield trio, Bentham, Locke and Hobbes, I feel confident in their forthcoming performance. We Moderns expect to give those Ancients a good kicking – Taylor at the helm or no.”

The Philosophy Shop, who arranged the match, helps philosophy graduates conduct practical philosophy sessions for primary school children as part of a drive to boost their critical reasoning skills from a very early age. This is in order to better support young people’s learning and development and also enable kids from all backgrounds to enjoy the intellectual excitement that comes from doing philosophy.

Supporters' messages just in
"A great footballer achieves that status as much through his ability to think on his feet and read a game as it does from training or innate ability. How could anyone not agree that teaching children to think about everything in their lives wouldn't be just as useful?"
- Gary Lineker, Broadcaster, English Football Hall Of Fame Inductee. Reported to be planning move to top Brazilian team. Top Brazilian team as yet unaware of this.

“I didn’t think I would ever be managing the Socrates Wanderers. But the project is an important one, as well as being a fun event.”
- Former Watford, Aston Villa And England Gaffer Graham Taylor. Manager.

"Children are philosophers by nature and should be given every opportunity to think and enquire and become little Socrates in their own rights."
– Philosopher AC Grayling. Manager. Reported To Be Banned From The Touchline For Barracking The Fourth Official For Crass Determinism.

Further information and interview requests
Former England manager Graham Taylor is available for interview about the upcoming Philosophy Match. For further information and for interviews, please contact Amanda Jane PR (details right).

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