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Tuesday, 05 February 2013

Outside the Box – Football on TV: Deadline Day drama as Simon gets angry and Peter gets lost


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The more attentive among you might have noticed we endured the annual manic torture–fest that is Christmas recently, indeed you may still be recovering from it’s stress-pounding effects even now. Probably the most excruciating facet of the festive period, aside from having to spend uncomfortable lengths of time with your family, and having to sit through an old gasbag’s five minute whinge just after dinner on Christmas afternoon (ok we get it Nan, you wanted a bottle of Scotch for Christmas, we’re sorry!); the worst seasonal tribulation is having to immerse yourself among the frenzied hoards of Christmas shoppers, desperately scavenging for bargain tea towels and shiny half-price iPods like subterranean wombles. Men are traditionally the worst offenders in this arena, particularly a stunted woeful excuse for a man such as myself, who leaves the gift-getting to the last possible moment and ends up scratching around the cheapest places on Christmas Eve frantically paying over the odds for anything that looks remotely functional. Well, in a completely unrelated matter, it was transfer deadline day last Thursday.

That’s right, it’s the twice yearly slobberknocker when the football world morphs into a bad episode of 24 in which heroic Jack Bauer is played by silver fox Jim ‘Let’s see what Harry’s got up his sleeve’ White during Sky Sports News’ mammoth Deadline Day coverage. White has somehow made deadline day is own personal baby and this particular January sale had been trailed in the run up more than ever, with promises of magical deals, headline names and Natalie Sawyer’s cleavage. Of course, the day itself is usually something of a let down: there’s a few deals made early in the morning followed by outrageous conjecture and lies upon lies on Twitter that Darren Bent has just been spotted at a Nando’s in Doncaster. The real edge-of-your-seat stuff though comes in the final few hours before the window ends, which is why good ol’ Jimmy doesn’t clock on until early evening rolls around.

Joining our in-the-know host were a couple of deadline day experts; sometime Sky commentator and giant man Niall Quinn and ex-Crystal Palace Chairman and current tosser Simon Jordan. The latter, who lets face it, isn’t the most revered man in football did his best to maintain the steady level of repulsion that we’ve come to expect with a raft of malevolent musings and stinging barbs. Indeed it seemed to me that the only reason he’d come on at all was to air his grievances over old sparring partners like Daniel Levy and West Brom’s Chairman Jeremy Peace. He wore a wearied cloak of doom throughout and greeted each developing transfer story with the same snarling cynicism. He bemoaned the fees, the players, the agents, Jim White, the wages, the FA, and even found time to have a pop at an old signing he himself made – Ade Akinbiyi. Although I’ll give him that one, Akinbiyi was awful.

Niall Quinn on the other hand was cheeriness personified; unfortunately this sunny disposition was accompanied by Quinn’s now patented nonsensical drivel – how that man ran a football club is anyone’s guess. In a masterful mish-mash of metaphors Quinn rambled something about QPR chairman Tony Fernandes “living in a goldfish bowl and swimming against the tide”. He also explained to us that “there’s a lot of bluff on a night like tonight”; I think you mean ‘guff’ there Niall, remember who you’re sitting next to.

The day’s biggest story of course was the continuing farcical saga at Loftus Road, where Harry Redknapp is well on his way to bankrupting another club. But there was oh so much more entertainment down QPR way on this occasion. That wholly hilarious spectacle of Peter Odemwingie driving his jeep around the car park like some deranged farmer, sporadically stopping to blather on to Sky about his genuine love for West Brom despite itching to leave them. Then of course Harry and everybody else at Rangers trying desperately to absolve themselves of any part in Odemwingie’s car park crusade and acting like he was the local nutter they have to keep away from the doors. In many ways, the Odemwingie affair encapsulated QPR’s entire recent history: inflated egos, magnificent incompetence and deception, obscene sums of money, and the faint sound of Neil Warnock laughing in the air.

Elsewhere we were treated to the usual deadline day fodder. The traditional grainy far off camera shots of stadium car parks: there’s some blokes in suits wandering around car parks, oh and there’s some blokes in tracksuits wandering around car parks, blimey there’s a woman wandering around a car park, what’s she doing there? Of course there’s also the multitude of Sky reporters hanging around like saddos outside the training grounds hoping to bag exclusive shots of potential new signings. It has become an unfortunate tradition at these sites now for the reporter to round up quite literally the ugliest bunch of plebs in the area to goon around in the back of the shot and generally make prats of themselves. Quite what this is supposed to add to the transfer drama I don’t know; perhaps it’s to distract the viewer from the fact that there’s not a great deal happening, or keep us mildly amused until the next time we get to see Natalie’s chest.

Deadline day will always be an easy sell to us simple football folk. Catching sight of your club’s new signing, pretending to be happy when it’s announced that your team has taken Jermaine Jenas on loan, the crushing disappointment when you realise that Titus Bramble is still on your club’s books. What’s not to love? The fact it only happens twice a year is probably a good thing. It keeps the whole glorious mess quite fresh for the viewer, and it means we don’t have to see Simon Jordan again for seven months. 

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Chris Pettitt

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