A 24th minute free-kick by Craig Gardner (above) was the lone goal in Aston Villa’s 1-0 home win over West Ham United earlier today, a match that could well have attracted more attention than usual given that it was the only contest to begin at the once-traditional hour of Saturday at 3pm.  For Sportsitegeist’s Jamie Shoesmith, such a development is a threat to what used to be “the perfect knees-up weekend.”

Often, a football fan’s entire weekend is carefully crafted around seeing their team in action. Travelling to and from the ground is one aspect to take in to consideration, and a pre-match pint is vital for lubricating the vocal chords, the post-match pint to either revel in victory or drown one’s proverbial sorrows in defeat.

It really shouldn’t be rant against the premium broadcasters having God-like control over the Premier League, but poorly timed kick-offs are not popular for those who’ve paid good money to clamber through the turnstiles. The worst game I ever watched was Chelsea against Arsenal, not only because of a ghastly 3-0 defeat for the blues, but because the game kicked off at noon on a Sunday. Then-captain Dennis Wise started off his matchday programme notes with: “12 o’clock? It’s a bit early, isn’t it?! I usually like to sleep in ’til 12 on a Sunday.”

You certainly weren’t alone there, Dennis.

Maybe we’re reading too much in to it, but the social demographic of football is dependant upon the 3 o’clock kick off. It stems from the working-class fan base of the 18th Century and you can set your watch by it today. If indeed you feel things are getting too deep, I advise you to tune in to Match of the Day this Saturday. Even with an abridged running time of 45 minutes, it’ll be interesting to see how Gary Lineker can stretch to pad out just two games and September’s Goal of the Month competition.