From The Cheap Seats – 20th Sept 2015

[This was my Sunday newspaper column for Fairfax press.

The version that ran on-line had an error in it I didn’t supply and one I might have. (Any further explanation would be resoundingly boring.) Anyway the version here is a marginal improvement.]


Mid-week, and everyone was wanting to talk about that UEFA Champions League equaliser Alessandro Florenzi scored for AS Roma. You may have heard a little about it. This was the shot from a fair way back. By now it’s probably being described as so far back Florenzi was still on the team bus outside when he hit it.

On the BBC World News soccer round-up, they pretty much had to talk about it. As became evident three or four match reports in, they apparently didn’t have access to UCL match footage for the report, so stills and the lively art of verbal description were the cutting-edge technological alternatives available to hand.

Quite the bracing concept in 2015. Almost “steampunk”, some of the younger media dilettantes might term it. Or “something out of the Ark” the older folk might say.

It wasn’t a particularly outstanding day for the English teams either, with one exception.

“The only Premier League side to pick up a single point was Chelsea, which picked up all three,” noted a BBC reporter with an apparent tendency to confuse the numbers one and three. One imagines a degree of suspense at his table at the pub, when it’s his turn to go to the bar and order a round of drinks.

At around the same time on Austraya’s own Fox Sports, their rolling news service was characteristically serving up absolutely any sport you liked as long as ‘rugby’ featured somewhere in the title.

However, in the spirit of generosity, the AFL finals made an appearance.

“Adelaide are eager to replicate the Eagles at the MCG on Friday night,” posited intrepid reporter, Tom Wilson, apparently foreseeing sorcery, cloning, or some other Dr Frankenstein-like procedure looming on the sporting horizon. Perhaps he meant “emulate”. Hard to know.

There was no time for such fanciful speculation during the first week’s finals proper, of course. The time had arrived for high intensity commentary and cold analytical steel.

Luke Darcy, Bulldogs v Adelaide, Seven:

“Everybody in the industry is zoned in on this game tonight.”

Luke brought his own episode of “Entourage” with him in his mind there, apparently. The jargon in this description set new peaks in the fields of both zowie-dom and nausea.

However, given that there was only one AFL match on Saturday night, you couldn’t fault the accuracy.

If something more repulsive was urgently required, a bunch of grown men in the commentary booth verbally genuflecting and suffering general kneewear in the pants area because Sir Richard Branson – of all the squirrelly bearded bandicoots, err, international business entrepeneurs – had deigned to show up, took a power of beating.

The power of beating was instantaneously supplied by Branson showing up on camera in full Western Bulldogs replica regalia so new it was remarkable he wasn’t obscured from view by price tags.

His Sirness then offered this charming bon mot:

“The Bulldogs are the underdog brand tonight.”

Not one motion sickness bag in the country remained under-employed.



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