WHEN television took over the Premier League schedules some years ago, there was a tongue-in-cheek suggestion that the magazine When Saturday Comes should rename itself When Saturday, Sunday and Monday Come.

In today’s climate, the expression itself has taken on a different meaning.

When Saturday comes, it no longer means getting out the hat and scarf, heading for the football ground, giving in your cash at the gate, buying a programme, and possibly a burger, and making your way to the terraces.

For Braintree Town fans, the last few weeks – before last Saturday – have involved heading for the computer, getting out the bank card to pay the streaming fee and then trying to make out what’s going on on the small screen.

Once the National League South was allowed to restart at the beginning of October, it has been the only way for Iron fans to follow their club. Even the brief interregnum, the very short window when fans were allowed back into grounds, was no respite.

After a meeting with local councils and emergency services, it was decided that the Cressing Road ground was not yet ready for crowds.

So when Saturday came, instead of wrapping myself up against the cold, putting two pens – in case one ran out - and two pencils – in case the pens didn’t work in the cold - in my pocket, I plonked myself in front of my desktop.

And waited.

Getting on to the streaming service has never been straightforward. All clubs seem to have a different system and finding a way through to the right screen and clicking in the right place something of a challenge.

Even when an appropriate screen appears, there’s an anxious wait until something actually happens – or in one case didn’t happen.

For the home game against Oxford City on January 12, the feed started at least five minutes after the match had started.

There was then an eight-minute gap during the second half. In the absence of a commentator or an on-screen scoreline, we had to hope we hadn’t missed anything important.

The frantic efforts by the Braintree players in the final minutes of the game suggested that the three goals we had seen – 2-1 to Oxford – were the only goals of the game.

But it was only by checking afterwards on the National League website that that could be confirmed.

At least we could mostly see what was going on. In the previous match, the excellent 2-1 win over leaders Dartford, the bright sun slanting across the pitch meant that the opposite side of the ground appeared to be enveloped in fog.

The fact that something was going on was clear only by the vaguely spectral figures moving around apparently in pursuit of a ball that we couldn’t see.

Fortunately we could see the goalmouths and there was no break in transmission so when the final whistle went we knew the score.

But not much else. I wrote that report by describing how Braintree Bloggs 1 scored the first goal and Braintree Bloggs 2 the second from a cross by Braintree Bloggs 3. Dartford Bloggs 1 scored from a penalty after Dartford Bloggs 2 had been sent off.

Identities were inked in once Iron press officer Dave Ward had produced a report for the club website and the Dartford press officer had done the same.

While Braintree have yet to find a commentator – and now of course may not need to – all other clubs have had someone to tell us what’s happening, some good some not so good.

Both Tonbridge and Maidstone’s representatives were very fair in complimenting Braintree on a deserved win, while castigating their own team’s performance.

Others identified only their own players with just an occasional reference to the fact that there was another team on the field.

We had, for instance ‘Kyel Reid crosses the ball and Braintree clear it’ or ‘Roarie Deacon heads for goal but is tackled by Braintree.’

Identifying people on a tiny screen where they could all be Subbuteo men is never easy. They rarely conveniently turn their back so you can see their number – if indeed the picture is good enough to see it anyway – and who got the last touch in a goalmouth melee is difficult enough to spot at the ground let alone on screen.

It is not helped by the fact that none of the players is yet familiar. There was virtually an entirely new team at the beginning of the season and then Ryan Maxwell brought in eight new faces for his first match against Concord and has regularly introduced more since.

Had this happened a few years ago we would have been able to recognise the reddish hair of Kenny Davis, the bulldozing run of Billy Burgess, or know that that tall player in the middle must be Sean Marks as that’s where Sean Marks should be.

But in today’s imperfect world we remain grateful for anything, however imperfect, especially after the silent screen on Saturday. And of course there is the added bonus that we no longer have to travel miles to see away games, just take a trip into the next room and turn on the screen.