Sky’s Own Goal

News that Sky Sports News is to be removed from Freeview should come as a bodyblow for, among others, fans of Jeff Stelling (in general), Dean Windass’ inability to describe what just happened on the pitch behind him, and Chris Kamara (in full).

This decision – financial, natch – leaves people, pubs and smaller clubs stuck with the inferior Final Score. Yes, Garth “Ribena Mascot Head” Crooks and his meandering sentences and forced metaphors. Remember how Kevin Keegan struggled commentating during the World Cup 1994? That’s what we are left with. Him and Gaby “I’m a sports presenter, me” Logan and Jake Humphries, the walking yet barely talking Top Gear presenter job application.

It’s enough to force viewers to the nearest stadium to watch a match. Which is exactly what I intend to do.

And now, of course, *that* Chris Kamara moment….


Celebration consideration…

Don’t tell James Murdoch, but if there’s one thing SKY does far better than the BBC – and indeed, one thing from which the BBC should be banned from broadcasting – is live football results services. We may have memories of the VidePrinter at the end of Grandstand, but if it ain’t Jeff Stelling it ain’t worth watching…

…Kind of. This Saturday just gone provided a rare slice of television gold when Mark Bright took on the wisdom of Garth Crooks. I wager “wisdom of Garth Crooks” has no results on Google.

The topic, but of course, was Emmanuel Adebayor and his passable impression of Usain Bolt which made up one component of the ex-Arsenal player’s contentious goal celebration. Traditionalists can put away their complaints that players these days should do nothing more than raise a hand before jogging back into position; those days probably never even existed. Over in Nottingham they’re waving corner flags in the faces of opposition supporters, why should we be surprised when Ade decides to slide Rooney-esque in front of four-score-and-plenty very vexed Gunners supporters with hand movements suggesting something to do with shaking coffee-beans. Or maybe javelin. Something needing a grip, anyway…

Over on the BBC, Garth Crooks – for whom everything is a matter of unshakable fact even when it clearly is not – decided that players were effectively being stopped from ever celebrating goals again by a shadowy panel of Health and Safety Suits, a kind of Sarah Palin style Death Panel for football. His eyes bulged, voice squeaked, hands gesticulated; “That’s it, that’s what you’re saying, players cannot celebrate any more…” It was like a radio phone-in with pictures, opinions to the wind even if facts were still being untethered. Brighty – for whom everything is a matter of principle – suggested Garth had better look at the screen, taking note of the shower of missiles and felled stewards. Garth did not. Principle is one thing, having an argument for the sake of it is quite another. Until placid Gabby Logan finally brought proceedings back round to something more important – her face hadn’t been on screen for a couple of minutes and that is against current BBC charter rules – the prospect of fists flying remained tantalisingly in the air. I suspect Mark Bright actually seethed through his teeth, it may still be there on iPlayer.

Adebayor was clearly going to score against his old club, for it is written in the great storybook of footballing stories that such narratives must occur for the sake of headline writers everywhere. His sprinting celebration was ill-considered. Some Arsenal fans throwing whatever they could into the head of a steward was downright idiotic. All things considered, mind you, one known slightly hyperactive player being a cocky so-and-so in front of his former fans should not equal punitive sentencing from the FA. His treating von Persie like a balloon at a party, now that’s something.

If there was one celebration worth sentencing it was at the Britannia stadium ( Let the FA ban Ade for his attempt to bring eye-gauging to the football field. I don’t fully fall behind Crook’s libertarian attitude. If the goal deserves it let there be all the choreographed fervor one can muster. FIFA want them curtailed, after all, which surely is the best reason to ensure every match has them even when games end 0-0.

Except that Stoke celebration. That one kills football. And don’t tell James Murdoch anything about the BBC, he probably won’t believe you…