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Saturday, 13 March 2004

673: Masters 2024, #2

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by : Stephen Orford

Ring announcer: Introducing first is the host, fighting out of the specially prepared black and white corner, weighing in at a hefty 16 stone, and standing tall at 5ft 9, it’s the one and the only Sir Bobbbbbbbbyyyyyyy ‘The Legggeeeennd’ Robbbbbbsssoonnn.
The crowd go ecstatic.
Ring announcer: And to as a special treat we have two boys here tonight to lead Sir Bobby to ringside, please give it up for the kings of light entertainment, Ant & Dec!
Cowell: Oh no!
Simon Cowell holds his head in his hands as Ant n Dec burst through the ring curtain singing and dancing to their biggest hit ‘Let’s Get Ready To Rumble’, making their way to the ring.
Andy: This is awesome. I love this song.
Cowell: Really? I find it quite childish. There’s no feeling, emotion, or hint of a tune.
Andy: How can you say that with lyrics like ‘freaking it, sweating it, busting the mic, slamming it, jamming it, do what you like?’ not forgetting the classic line ‘your father, your mother, you’re sister, you’re brother, everyone’s got to be an aka lover’?
Cowell: Well when you put it like that, quite easily really!
Martin: It does mean there is a strong possibility that the Geordie duo will interfere in this matches for those with a bet on.
While Ant n Dec perform in the ring Sir Bobby is slowly making his way down the ramp and into the ring to a heroes welcome from the Newcastle faithful. Ant & Dec finish their performance to a thunderous applause.
Ring announcer: And introducing next is his challenger, fighting out of the red corner, weighing in at a trim 11 stones standing at 5ft 9, and wearing the red home strip of Charlton, it’s the Addicks long serving manager Alllllllllllaaaaaannn ‘Coooollldddddd As Icccceeeeee’ Currrrrrrbbbbissssshhhhhhllllley.
Curbishley strolls out from behind the curtains to the sounds of The Bucketheads ‘The Bomb’ as the St James Park faithful barrack the Londoner, while Ant & Dec make their way to the commentary table.
Martin: More guests?
Andy: I never asked them.
Simon: Well don’t look at me. It turns my stomach working with them on Pop Idol!
Ant & Dec sit down at the table.
Dec: Alright lads, what did you think of that then?
Ant: It was electric performing in front of our home crowd again.
Cowell: To be honest you didn’t really do it for me.
Andy: I thought you were superb. Any chance of a burst of ‘Crazy Cats’ or ‘Stepping Stones’?
Cowell: Oh purlease don’t encourage them!
Martin: I’d love to sit and listen to you squabble like children all day but wor Bobby has hit the ring.
Ant: Oh no, he hasn’t has he? I’ve told him before to splash out some of his money for a pair of specs but will he listen?
Martin: Not literally. I mean he’s in the ring and ready to fight.
Ant: Oh… right. I thought to myself even at his age he could see a big ring like that.
The bell rings and Bobby smacks himself in the coupon.
Andy: What on earth was that?
Martin: Bobby’s just punched himself in the face when the bell rang.
Dec: Why what’s Curbishley doing? … He’s crawling out of the ring … what for?
Alan Curbishley has rolled out of the ring and ran towards the bell keeper. He kicks the bell ringer to the ground and starts ringing the bell furiously.
Martin: Bobby’s killing himself! And look at Curbishley … he’s standing there smiling!
Andy: I know Bobby’s qualified for his free bus pass but when exactly did he lose his marbles?
Cowell: I’d say during that Uefa cup game when he dropped Shearer!
Ant: No, it must have been a few minutes ago … I found these outside the ring.
Ant holds out his hand and reveals a small collection of marbles.
Dec: Well don’t just sit there man … go and give him them back before we have the quickest fight in PMB history.
Ant storms into the ring and places the marbles back into the Toon’s manager pocket and, amazingly, Bobby stops punching his face. Ant pleased with his work races back to his commentary position.
Martin: I didn’t think that was going to work.
Andy: Neither did Curbishley by the looks of things.
Curbishley continues to bang the bell furiously stunned by Bobby’s reaction. He then grabs the bell under his arm, climbs back into the ring, and runs at Robson clattering the steel bell over his head.
Andy: Wow, he nearly took off Bobby’s head with that!
Bobby lies on the floor with blood squirting out of his forehead. Ant & Dec look on stunned as Curbishley beats on their unconscious manager.
Cowell: Well do something then you pair of pounces!
Dec leaps out of his seat and jumps into the ring, pouncing on the back of the Charlton boss. Ant then joins in and starts booting Curbishley in the guts.
Martin: I didn’t think they could punch their way out of a paper bag but this is quite impressive.
Cowell: To be honest, I’ve seen more fight from Audley Harrison!
The Newcastle crowd roar their pleasure as Ant n Dec open up the Addicks boss.
Martin: What an action packed brawl we’ve had so far and if you’re thinking that Bobby is out for the count then you’ll be sadly mistaken as the old timer is moving and using the ropes to get back to his feet.
Andy: Oh but for how much longer? Looks who’s making his way down the ramp?
The Geordie faithful heckle the 80’s comedian as he dashes to ringside.
Martin: Jim Davidson! What is he doing here?
Cowell: Oh come off it Martin, I thought you were stacked up with stats. He’s a Charlton supporter. Obviously he’s had enough of this two on one attack.
Andy: So it’s now turned into a battle of the entertainers too.
Cowell: You’re using that term quite lightly!
Davidson storms into the ring like a tornado and throws Ant & Dec off of Alan Curbishley, knocking them both out cold as they smack there heads against the corner belts. Jim tries to get Curbs up to his feet but the Charlton man is also out of it.
Andy: Experience obviously pays off as the two elderly statesmen in the ring are still standing.
Davidson sees Bobby on his feet and charges him through the ropes and on to the concrete below.
Martin: Wow … what a spear by Davidson … and then there was one!
Suddenly all the lights go dim and one big spotlight shines on Jim Davidson and somebody throws him a microphone.
Davidson: Oh right, well as I have the floor I might as well tell you a few jokes…
The home crowd begin jeering as Davidson rolls into his stand up routine.
Cowell: I’m not having this … this is a family show.
Simon Cowell throws off his headset and jumps into the ring.
Andy: He’s a bit of a weird one isn’t he? He doesn’t mind when there’s a bit of blood and gore but as soon as somebody hints at a bit of profanity he goes ballistic.
Martin: I don’t think it’s that, I think he’s like 99% of the British population who hate Jim Davidson!
Cowell grabs the Cockney by the back of the neck and drags his head along the top rope, burning his forehead.
Andy: That’s going to leave a nice mark.
Cowell keeps up his momentum and throws him into the turnbuckle before running into him like a speed train. Davidson’s tongue is hanging out which is like a red rag to a bull to Simon Cowell as he grabs hold of it with both hands.
Martin: Oh my gawd! Cowell is trying to rip Jim Davidson’s tongue out. This is horrific!
Andy: Horrific? Terrific you mean. No more Jim Davidson… Heaven!
Cowell finally yanks as hard as he can and whips out Davidson’s tongue, blood pours everywhere.
Martin: Eurgh, I think I’m going to spew.
Cowell holds up the blood-covered tongue like a trophy and the Newcastle fans cheer wildly.
Martin: Do you know what, this is all well and good, ridding the world of Jim Davidson and that, but I came here to see Alan Curbishley fight Bobby Robson. Where are they?
Andy: I’m not sure. I haven’t seen them in a while.
The camera turns its attention from Cowell on to searching around the arena looking for Bobby and Alan.
Andy: There’s Bobby! … But way is he talking to Chris Kamara?
Kamara: Alright there lads I’ve just been talking to Bobby and he seems quite sharp considering his age and the beating he’s taken so far in this brawl.
Martin: Really? What’s he been saying then?
Kamara: Well he’s been talking to me about how things have changed in football since he started out. Claiming that when he was a boy he did everything he could to avoid a roasting but now he’s amazed by the amount of players who love a roasting on a weekly basis. He believes that the players today lack discipline and respect and should take a leaf out of Alan Shearer’s book.
Simon Cowell sits back down at the commentary table and shakes his head in disgust at what he’s heard.
Cowell: What, promote a fast food chain turning our youngsters into big bloaters? Great example!
Martin: I don’t know who’s worse, Bobby or Kamara? Bobby I can forgive for his age but you Chris Kamara, you have no excuse. Cut him off!
Suddenly out of nowhere a blood soaked Curbishley tries to jump Robson from behind but an astute Bobby bends down and ties up his shoelace, leaving Kamara wide open for an attack by Curbishley.
Andy: Wahey Kamara’s down!
Martin: It looks like Curbishley has taken the brunt of it though. He may have broken his leg.
A huge bone is seen sticking out of Alan Curbishley’s leg and blood gushing out of the wound.
Cowell: Whoops, I think I’m going … to … faint.
With that Simon Cowell faints in his chair.
Andy: Oh well nevermind, he was starting to get on my nerves anyway.
Bobby gets up and sees Curbishley lying on the floor with the bone sticking out of his leg.
Bobby: Oh you ya thief. Give us that back. That’s my dogs’.
Martin: Oh no, he’s gone completely doolally now. He thinks Alan’s fibula is his dogs’ bone!
Bobby starts tugging at the extruding bone as Alan Curbishley screams in total agony.
Bobby: Just let go and it won’t hurt any more.
Curbishley: Bobby you old fool, that’s my leg! Get off!
Bobby then whistles up the ramp and a huge rottweiler pounds down the ramp. Smelling the blood it races towards Bobby and begins yanking at Curbishley’s leg.
Curbishley: Ah, no, no, no, get off … GET OFF!
Andy: This is absolutely sickening.
Martin: Yeah but where else can people see such horrific sights without having to watch Luke Chadwick?
Andy: Umm good point!
The rottweiler rips out Alan’s fibula forcing him to collapse with the sheer agony. Bobby then takes the bone out of the dogs’ mouth and whacks Curbishley repeatedly over the head as the dog tucks into the open wounds of the Charlton boss.
Martin: Ring the bell. This one’s over.
Bobby then strolls back into the ring where he is joined by Ant & Dec who have just managed to come round following their attack by Jim Davidson and end off the show with another rendition of their hit single ‘Let’s Get Ready To Rumble’.
Andy: So experience and age has prevailed in this Premiership Managers Brawl and Bobby Robson has thrown his name into the quarterfinal draw alongside the likes of Wenger, Ferguson and Bruce.
Martin: Next week sees the final brawl of this the first round and we finally see the long awaited debut of Chelsea’s Claudio Raneri who battles the youngest manager in the Premiership today Chris Coleman of Fulham. Both of them have had to fight against adversity. Claudio with the constant speculation surrounding his position at Stamford Bridge and Coleman with the consequences of that devastating car crash and scepticism over his managerial credentials.
Andy: It has all the makings of an awesome contest.
Martin: Make sure you’re with us in two weeks time to find out who will grab that final place in the quarterfinal. You never know, old Pop Idol Simon Cowell may be with us again.
Andy: Yeah if we can get him to come round!
Martin: Until then fight fans … keep it real.

Colin Illingworth
12/03/2004The year is 2024. As ratings slump to an all-time low Sky Sports decide to revive the Masters Football tournament which enjoyed brief success at the turn of the century. Four regional teams representing the North West, the North East, the Midlands and the South are set to do battle in a round-robin tournament, with the top two contesting a grand final. In this, the first game of the tournament, the North West take on the Midlands.

An incredibly hairy man who used to present breakfast television and the odd football game on a Sunday sits in a television studio. The light goes on. He's live. Ever the professional, Richard Keys begins another faultless link to yet more live top level sport on Sky.

Keys: And so now it is over to our match commentators for this fascinating encounter, remember we're live and interactive here on Sky Sports, it's Rob McCaffrey and Chris Kamara.

McCaffrey: Thanks very much indeed Richard and all that kind of stuff (bangs microphone three times). Yes, here we are at Old Trafford for the first of what should be a pulsating series of matches here at the Masters 2024. Alongside me as always I've got Kammy, Kammy what are your first impressions of the atmosphere inside Old Trafford today.

Kamara: Absolutely unbelievable Rob. You would not believe the atmosphere in here, fantastic.

McCaffrey: Yes, well, you said that even before any of the fans turned up didn't you? Anyway, today it's the North West, hot favourites for the tournament, squaring up to David O'Leary's Midlands outfit. Take us through the teams.

Kamara: Well, North West manager Gerard Houllier obviously doesn't want to give anything away Rob. He's picked quite a defensive formation for this opening game. There's something of a surprise in goal, with Tim Howard getting the nod ahead of Brad Friedel. Apparently Houllier doesn't rate Friedel too much. Anyway, in front of the big American is a back five featuring Gary Neville, Stephane Henchoz, Mickael Silvestre, Rio Ferdinand and Sami Hyypia. Ahead of him you have a defensive midfield player in Dietmar Hammann who you can expect to just sit in front of that back four and add a bit of protection. Alongside him you've got Roy Keane of course, Steven Gerrard, and Ryan Giggs offering a bit of width.

McCaffrey: Honestly, it amazes me. How long has Hammann been getting away with walking around sideways offering 'protection' to the back four? You would have to question the wisdom of having a 'holding' player when you have got five at the back wouldn't you?

Kamara: This is Gerard Houllier we are talking about, Rob. Up front he's paired Michael Owen with Ruud Van Nistelrooy. Owen is not as quick as he used to be, but those two should still provide a real threat to the Midlands defence.

McCaffrey: And how do they line-up?

Kamara: Well, I tell you, it is absolutely unbelievable Rob (McCaffrey yawns). They have been hit with a late withdrawal. Christophe Dugarry was due to appear but has decided against it at the eleventh hour. That'll be a huge blow to the Midlands side who bring in Clinton Morrison as his replacement. Elsewhere they have Maik Taylor in goal, a fat, sorry flat back four of Delaney, Barry, Cunningham and Upson, the three across midfield are Izzet, Dunn and Koumas, while a three pronged attack is made up of Angel, Vassell and Forsell.

McCaffrey: That's a lot of 'el's' mate.

Both McCaffrey and Kamara burst into fits of laughter at this point, and there is yet more audible tapping going on. An irate producer reminds McCaffrey of how expensive the equipment is and how they do not have the budget that they had in the halcyon days of Premiership football. The laughter stops.

McCaffrey: Let's have a quick look at who is on the bench for these teams today then.

A caption flashes across the screen listing the substitutes for both teams. The North West have Friedel, Rooney, Okocha, Anelka and Saha, while the Midlands have named Sorensen, Irwin, Savage, Crouch and Morrison.

McCaffrey: That North West looks awfully top heavy. Houllier seems to have left himself almost without any defensive options.

Kamara: Well that's right Rob. Absolutely unbelievable. All of his defenders are in the starting line-up and so Gerard will probably be hoping he won't have to make any changes. Wouldn't want to ruin that nice clean scoresheet would he?

McCaffrey: Quite. Well, we're all set for what should be an absolute cracker of a game.

The game kicks off. Almost immediately there is controversy as Roy Keane flies in late on Darius Vassell. The referee has a quiet word, but takes no further action. As Dunn curls the free-kick in toward the North West penalty area there is comic chaos in their defence. Stephane Henchoz falls over, touching the ball with his hand accidentally at least twice. Eventually, Rio Ferdinand calmly mops up the danger. Gary Neville stands around with his arms in the air blaming everyone else for the mishap.

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