Monday, 12 March 2012

Football Punditry: A Rant

I watch a lot of live football on TV I will admit.  Premier League, Championship, FA Cup, Champions League, the odd Spanish league game and international tournaments.  I also listen to a lot of reporting and commentary on the radio, either BBC 5 Live or Talksport.  On top of that there are the highlights shows, Match Of The Day and The Football League Show.

Lots of football viewing like the above of course means lots of commentary, and lots of punditry.  I am getting older and more miserable generally, but I think a lot of this is being brought on by football punditry and football stupidity.

Certain phrases and trends have stuck in the football lexicon of late which are slowly making me want to hit things.  Football and the English language are having a major falling out and it's getting worse.

The phrase "The likes of" is now everywhere.  What does this mean?  "They have good players, the likes of Yaya Toure, David Silva and Sergio Aguero" opined John Hartson on 5Live yesterday prior to the Swansea v Man City game.  What he means is they have those players, not players like them.  So what the hell does the likes of mean?  Everyone uses this phrase now.  "The like of Wayne Rooney".  Arghh!  Just say Wayne Rooney!  It means nothing.  This is used not just by ex players but journalists too.  I want to shoot them all.

The word "Top" is also now part of the Football Dictionary, used by everyone.  Managers, players, pundits, journalists.  They are all at it.  It has replaced every other adjective.  "He's a top player".  Top of what?  And what if you really want to differentiate a very good player from the just good?  Well now that all other adjectives have been banished the only way out is to use "He's a top, top player".  That's right, the "double top" as I am calling it.  If you are a "top, top player" you are really good.  I blame the Redknapp family for this.  It is the only thing you ever hear Harry say about players, and Jamie on Sky Sports can't get enough of it.

Pundits are getting worse too.  Match Of The Day is now beyond awful.  The same tired banter and pointless "analysis" week after week from Gary, Alan, Mark, other Alan, Lee, and oh god I am losing the will to live just thinking about it.

Some can't even speak properly.  I have clearly heard both Chris Waddle and John Hartson refer to the word penalty as "pelanty".  Put that together with that other inexplicable phrase "stone wall"  and you have the classic "That was a stonewall pelanty".  Yes, the BBC are paying John Hartson to say this kind of stuff.  Unbelievable.  And don't get me started on Ian Wright.

I will continue to put up with this nonsense of course as I have no choice.  I am not going to stop watching football and cannot mute the TV.  Radio is as bad as TV.  I just hope that "the likes of" (!) Gary Neville get more playing time.  He has been great on Sky, avoiding cliches for the most part and actually being funny from time to time.  He's a "top, top" pundit.

Billy Connolly

Myself, my brother and my Dad went to the CIA (sorry, Motorpoint Arena) in Cardiff last night to see The Big Yin himself, Billy Connolly.

I've loved Billy for a long time.  I will always remember one Christmas having bought my Dad a Billy Connolly audio tape, and playing it on New Year's Eve with some friends around.  The scandalised look of my friend's mother as Billy started his swearing and ranting was priceless.

The CIA was packed out.  I would like to say it was a wide age range but generally it was 30 plus.  I fitted right in!  He came on stage just after 8.00pm and was straight at it, not stopping, no interval, for over two and three quarter hours, only telling everyone to f**k off just before 11.00pm.

Billy doesn't tell jokes as such (apart from a Frank Carson joke he told in tribute to the Irish comedian who died only recently) rather it's just stories, observations and rants.  All with amazing energy and power.  No one can shout quite like Billy.

His subjects were anything that seemingly popped in to his head.  It is meant to seem scatalogical and random but I'm sure it's not.  He will start one story, then veer off to something totally different, often coming back to the original thought some 30 minutes later.  It's probably a precision tooled act though so good is he at just coming back to earlier topics at will.  Brilliant.

He talked about Radio 4, the banks, his grandmother, flying in Mozambique, gigging in Glasgow and lots more.  The closing part about drinking in pubs in Edinburgh was genius.

I loved it.  I was often crying laughing and aching from being unable to stop.  I was exhausted by the end!  This was a great night.  He was everything I hoped he would be.  Cheers Big Yin!