Day: June 25, 2012

Time To Put Co-Commentators Out To Pasture

In the excellent football anthology “My Favourite Year,” the novelist and biographer DJ Taylor describes an emergency public meeting held after a boardroom putsch did for the previous chairman Sir Arthur South and installed the businessman Robert Chase in his place. According to Taylor, at this meeting an elderly woman stood up, fixed Chase with a steely glare and with tone of prodding verbal accusation, asked, “What I want to know is… who are yer?” It was a question that no-one at the meeting seemed to know the answer to and, almost a quarter of a century on, it’s a question that isn’t asked enough in many walks of life. The broadcaster Danny Baker once remarked that the primary role of the football commentator was to make his father rise from his armchair and shout “WE KNOW!” at the television screen. If only life were that simple these days. In the twenty-first century, the role of the commentator and his itchingly unctuous side-kick the co-commentator has been reduced even from telling us what we can see with our very own eyes. Commentators no longer commentate. They now drag us involuntarily into the dismal world of pub bore conversation, with a sprinkling of seemingly pre-rehearsed phrases thrown in for good measure. They seek to combine providing information with entertaining, and somehow or other manage to achieve neither. We no longer...

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Hopes, Dreams & Reality: On England At Euro 2012

The St George flags will be hanging limply this afternoon. It was after midnight in Kiev last night when the final kick hit the back of the net and confirmed what we all probably already knew – that this England side wasn’t good enough to reach the semi-finals of the 2012 European Championships – but there is little sense of recrimination in the air this morning, rather an acceptance that the “lottery” of the penalty shoot-out – and whether this is true or not is a matter for conjecture in itself – merely served to see that justice was done. We had seen the evidence of this with our own eyes over the preceding agonising one hundred and twenty minutes. Yet there they were, in the shoot-out itself in the first place, and thus in itself says something about the spirit of a team that has won a few friends back over the last couple of weeks, which had already played beyond what many of us assumed would be their capability in getting that far, and which had contrived to undo some of the badwill generated by the entitled, incompetent performance – or lack thereof – of two years ago in South Africa. England provided a little drama, occasional flashes of unexpected skill and a more positive headlines than negative this summer, and this is all the more surprising when we consider what...

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