Tag Archives: loopy

Jimmy White meets Everton squad

Snooker ace White gets stuck in at Toffees training ground ahead of Ronnie showdown

|

UPDATED:

13:05 GMT, 18 October 2012

Pot the reds then screw back for the yellow, green, brown, blue, pink and Jags.

Everton went all snooker loopy on Thursday as legend Jimmy White dropped by their training complex at Finch Farm.

Right on cue: White poses for a picture with Leon Osman and Phil Jagielka on Thursday

Right on cue: White poses for a picture with Leon Osman and Phil Jagielka on Thursday

Pictured with Leon Osman and Phil
Jagielka (see what we've done with the intro, there), Chelsea-supporter White switched his allegiances for the day
ahead of next week's exhibition clash with Ronnie O'Sullivan.

The 50-year old will face four-time world champion O'Sullivan at the BT Convention Centre in Liverpool on Thursday.

Edge of the box: England crash out as BBC boys arrive at tournament

Well that was worth the trip! The BBC boys arrive at the Euros… and England bow out

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UPDATED:

23:56 GMT, 24 June 2012

Well, the plan was to come into the tournament not doing it, but by the time Sunday evening came around, we just couldn’t help ourselves could we…England expected.

Equally, the BBC expected an absolutely massive TV audience so Lee Dixon went around and turned off all the lights, Alan Hansen switched off the gas, and Gary Lineker locked up behind them all in Salford as the Match Of the Day team headed off to Kiev for the quarter final game against Italy.

And again: England crashed out on penalties once again

And again: England crashed out on penalties once again

More from Mark Webster…

Edge of the Box: Premier League TV deal could turn American sports fans into basket cases if we lose NBA
18/06/12

Edge of the Box: BBC and ITV take pragmatic approach to England's charge at Euro 2012
12/06/12

Edge of the Box: Just when should we get excited about the summer of sport
03/06/12

Edge of the Box: Hodgson's outfit give Euro night a very English feel
27/05/12

Edge of the Box: Chelsea show the rest how to do Saturday night drama… and prove Britain does have talent
20/05/12

Stelling and Co provide perfect backdrop to 'Squeaky Bum Sunday' as Merson steals the show
13/05/12

Edge of the Box: The FA Cup is not what it used to be… but fair play to ESPN
06/05/12

Edge of the Box: Kings of The Crucible make sure we're all snooker loopy at the World Championship
30/04/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

Which in its own way proved a little disappointing.

Just as so often happens on those more elaborate stag weekends, the ITV boys had gone out to the party early and were having a right time of it on their Warsaw balcony.

It would have been nice if when the BBC lads showed up, they’d taken the room below them so we might have had the prospect of Adrian Chiles and Roy Keane climbing down from above and mooning their BBC counterparts.

Then again, perhaps not.

Instead, the BBC took their place inside the Olympic Stadium, in a booth that provided not only a splendid view, but also plenty of atmosphere. And when I say atmosphere, I mean noise.

Sound seemed to be prove to be a nightmare for their technical team all night long.

Class act: Andrea Pirlo of Italy was on top form

Class act: Andrea Pirlo of Italy was on top form

Admittedly they had to deal with a PA announcer for whom all the way through the build up, silence was never golden, but even then Lineker and his team of pundits often sounded tinny and thin.

Perhaps they can get that room double glazed if they’re planning to stay there for the duration

Acoustics issues aside, there was also the editorial question of quite how big to go with the build up for this game To which the answer pretty quickly was, without sparing the horses.

‘Dare we start to believe’ asked Lineker at the very start of the coverage – a question which proved to be just about immediately rhetorical as we were soon rallying around the flag to a spirited piece of hip hop called ‘3 little Words’ and a rousing speech delivered by the imposing tones of Terence Stamp.

Pals: Joe Hart congratulates Mario Balotelli

Pals: Joe Hart congratulates Mario Balotelli

It felt that if we were indeed to go further in the tournament, the BBC would have had to find a way to cause all our TVs to explode with excitement if they were going to top that.

Mind you, if you were worried that the tone was going to be too over the top throughout, you needn’t have worried for long, because come the kick off, Mark Lawrenson was on hand for co-commentary duties alongside Guy Mowbray.

Now I don’t expect Alan Hansen’s regular straight man to be some kind of tub thumper or cheer leader, but his, shall we say, low key way of doing his business can somewhat suck the life out of a situation.

That was something that became particularly pointed when from the second half onwards, England themselves were doing little or nothing to alleviate the problem. Which is also when his, ahem, wisecracks certainly weren’t helping either!

While the boys in white were barely hanging on in there, Lawrenson was working the room.

Opposite number: Hart's counterpart Gianluigi Buffon made a crucial save in the shoot-out

Opposite number: Hart's counterpart Gianluigi Buffon made a crucial save in the shoot-out

We got a joke about Federico Balzeretti’s ballerina wife wanting a ‘tutu draw’ and a zinger to Mowbray’s question ‘what has Prandelli got up his sleeve’ – ‘his shirt’ – that will no doubt have them rolling in the aisles when he starts his summer season in Great Yarmouth. That, or trying to set light to their seats.

In the end, though, it was an older story than that joke that we were left with, and images of the two Ashleys probably the only thing that will be seen ad nauseam, and that anyone is ultimately really going to remember.

That is unless they decide it would be hilarious to make a commercial for a pizza restaurant, of course.

While Lethal Bizzle may want to consider altering a lyric in that ‘3 Little Words’ tune of his…to ‘not good enough’.

WEDGIES

Wednesday afternoon on Sky Sports News and the Spanish squad’s press conference took no chances in promoting their sponsors with tiny TV screens in front of their microphones rotating logo, and with giant bottles of Cruz Campo beer on the table…

Winner: Black Caviar (right) at Royal Ascot

Winner: Black Caviar (right) at Royal Ascot

Thursday on BBC 1 at Royal Ascot and Australia’s wonder horse Black Caviar’s amazing record is displayed on a graphic that includes the fact that ‘she loves swimming and going to the beach’. As I say, ‘Australian’ wonder horse…

BBC 2 on Saturday evening at the Olympic trials in Birmingham, and a victorious Dwayne Chambers goes on the charm offensive with a direct message delivered straight to camera. With perhaps just a bit too much emphasis on the ‘offensive’ part…

Edge of the Box: Chelsea Champions League win was real drama

Chelsea show the rest how to do Saturday night drama… and prove Britain does have talent

|

UPDATED:

19:05 GMT, 20 May 2012

The telly has always been a great thing to turn to if you’re looking for some heightened Saturday evening drama. Over on BBC1, it might come from the fictitious city of Holby, where a builder could well be reassuring his workmates ‘don’t worry lads. That roof looks like it will take all of our weight, no problem’.

Or perhaps on Channel 5, from within a house full of hopefuls, where you may find a skinny fella in even skinnier jeans called Max, clutching a bottle of beer and pouring out his heart to an orange-coloured girl called Minxy through a fringe the size of a 747’s wing.

Or it may even happen on ITV, where a performing dog called Pudsey has so captured the nation’s heart, a certain bear with an eye patch is furiously dialling his agent from his front room to find out if they can sue the multi-talented mutt for copyright, or unfair trading, or deformation of character, or something!

Real drama: Chelsea's players celebrate after winning the Champions League

Real drama: Chelsea's players celebrate after winning the Champions League

However, none of the above will ever likely match the real human drama that took place on Saturday evening inside a giant lampshade in Munich, when after a day of footballing thrills and spills, it came down to an extraordinary penalty shoot out to prove that Britain HAS Got Talent!

More from Mark Webster…

Stelling and Co provide perfect backdrop to 'Squeaky Bum Sunday' as Merson steals the show
13/05/12

Edge of the Box: The FA Cup is not what it used to be… but fair play to ESPN
06/05/12

Edge of the Box: Kings of The Crucible make sure we're all snooker loopy at the World Championship
30/04/12

Mark Webster: BBC show off the city during London Marathon ahead of Olympics
22/04/12

Edge of the Box: ESPN and ITV should deliver Cup cracker after Wembley warm-ups
16/04/12

Edge of the Box: BBC and Sky competition means F1 and the fans are the real winners
15/04/12

Edge of the Box: Masters is pure TV gold (and green, yellow, pink, purple) as Augusta National bursts into life
09/04/12

Edge of the Box: BBC4 go through the gears to deliver Rally's Craziest Years
02/04/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

Of course for both ITV and Sky Sports there were hours of fun to be garnered from their mutual coverage of the build up and Champions League Final game itself.

Of the former, the terrestrial channel had some really decent pieces, including Ned Boulting’s Arjen Robben interview, during which Ned told us Munich’s ‘flying wingers are barely on speaking terms’, that after Arjen had told him ‘I don’t want to talk about it’.

He does have an eloquent left foot though, Ned.

And there was also a really chirpy chat between Christine Bleakley’s ‘former TV husband’ Adrian Chiles and her actual boyfriend Frank Lampard.

Which had both men perched precariously on a massage table, during which a laughing Frank informed us ‘ear flicking has been around for ages’, whilst managing to resist leaning over and giving the Chiles lug hole a little tweak.

During the game itself, both Clive Tyldesley and Andy Townsend were as ever, on their game with the lead man prophetically suggesting ‘Chelsea really do need a hero now’ after the Bayern goal, and the former Chelsea man exclaiming of Drogba’s header ‘that is a bullet’, through what was left of the poor fella’s croaking voice’.

However, they couldn’t quite match Martin Tyler and Gary Neville’s response to the Chelsea equalizer over on Sky Sports.

Real excitement: Both ITV and Sky commentators showed their emotions when Didier Drogba leveled late on

Real excitement: Both ITV and Sky commentators showed their emotions when Didier Drogba leveled late on

Tyler managed to add at least 342 extra ‘a’s to the end of Didier’s surname, and was joined about half way through his ‘Drogbaaaaaaaa’ epic in near perfect harmony by the new England assistant coach, who let rip with the kind amazing primal scream that Tarzan would have been proud of.

Was it me, or were they quite excited

This sense of excitement, and indeed occasion was then owned, for me, by Sky’s men in the booth.

As Tyldesley rather abstractly threw to an ad break with the words ‘you won’t miss a single moment of the drama’, Sky’s anchor Jeff Stelling was setting up Jamie Redknapp, Ruud Gullit and Graeme Souness to bring a genuinely tense, emotional, first-hand insight into the theatre of the 12 yard stand-off.

Fully kitted out: John Terry wore his Chelsea strip to collect the cup despite being suspended from the game

Fully kitted out: John Terry wore his Chelsea strip to collect the cup despite being suspended from the game

Gullit admitted with a nervous laugh that he couldn’t stand ‘the walk from midfield to the penalty spot’, but added that when you get there ‘you must smash it as hard as you can’.

Souness then recalled that in his own Liverpool European shoot out experience, ‘(as) I put the ball down to take my penalty, I felt this is not a problem. Whether I was kidding myself..’

While Redknapp was analysing the players on the field and spotted an ailing Schweinsteiger: ‘(He’s) gone down with cramp. I’m sure he’ll want to take one (but) running up, I know it’s like a three or four yard run, but it’ll feel like a marathon’.

Heartbreak: Bastian Schweinsteiger is consoled after the game

Heartbreak: Bastian Schweinsteiger is consoled after the game

A ‘marathon’ in which, we soon discovered, the unfortunate German would fail to cross the finishing line.

From that point, both channels could of course share a fabulous kaleidoscope of images that ran through the full marathon of emotions: There was Schweinsteiger on his knees, head hidden in his shirt and buried in the grass.

Chelsea’s old guard of Lampard, Drogba and John Terry in an emotional hug (when I was a kid, I used to wear my kit under my clothes to go and watch football, too, JT).

Riding high: David Luiz and Fernando Torres celebrate on the crossbar of the goal

Riding high: David Luiz and Fernando Torres celebrate on the crossbar of the goal

Roman Abromovitch texting (‘on to Drogba’s agent’, quipped Neville).

Ivanovic riding the crossbar like it was a bucking bronco.

Ashley Cole, lip trembling, asserting ‘THIS is the reason I come here’;

Boswinga’s mambo through a Blue-shirted guard of honour; and Roberto Di Mateo lifted aloft by his players to hold the trophy even higher.

OK, so that little lot may not be a dancing dog, but it wasn’t half bad.

WEDGIES

Tuesday morning on BBC News, and Dickie Bird was at the Palace picking up a much deserved OBE and apparently explaining the LBW law to Prince Charles in the process…

Wednesday on ITV’s London Tonight, and Perri Shakes-Drayton not only helped Will Smith improve his hurdling technique, she also delivered a pretty decent rendition of the ‘Fresh Prince Of Bel Air’ theme…

Friday on Sky Sports from Lord’s and Bumble – stylish new hairdo on show – explained to Nick Knight how he knew fans had been queuing outside HQ since 4.30 am: ‘I’m always up once or twice in the night – it’s me age’…

Paul Merson and Jeff Stelling provided perfect backdrop as Manchester City won – Edge of the Box

Stelling and Co provide perfect backdrop to 'Squeaky Bum Sunday' as Merson steals show

|

UPDATED:

09:29 GMT, 14 May 2012

If it's the box for you on a Saturday afternoon rather than the being there, like many a football fan, the next best thing is provided by watching a bunch of gentlemen of a certain age, watching something you can't watch, for you.

I think it is safe to say for a format that was clearly borne out of sheer necessity, Sky Sports' Soccer Saturday coverage – on this Sunday, Gillette Soccer Special – is now a genuine telly phenomenon, led by the imperious plate-spinner of pundits, games and facts that is Jeff Stelling.

It has become compelling viewing for fans who want, yes, goal updates, but also a real sense of occasion to go with it.

Scroll down to watch Paul Merson's reaction to Man City's winner

What a scream: Paul Merson reacts to Manchester City's winner against QPR

What a scream: Paul Merson reacts to Manchester City's winner against QPR

Keeping it together: Jeff Stelling is the main man on Sky Sports' football show

Keeping it together: Jeff Stelling is the main man on Sky Sports' football show

More from Mark Webster…

Edge of the Box: The FA Cup is not what it used to be… but fair play to ESPN
06/05/12

Edge of the Box: Kings of The Crucible make sure we're all snooker loopy at the World Championship
30/04/12

Mark Webster: BBC show off the city during London Marathon ahead of Olympics
22/04/12

Edge of the Box: ESPN and ITV should deliver Cup cracker after Wembley warm-ups
16/04/12

Edge of the Box: BBC and Sky competition means F1 and the fans are the real winners
15/04/12

Edge of the Box: Masters is pure TV gold (and green, yellow, pink, purple) as Augusta National bursts into life
09/04/12

Edge of the Box: BBC4 go through the gears to deliver Rally's Craziest Years
02/04/12

Edge of the Box: Old Firm fire burns as strong as ever but Sky still turn up the heat for Rangers against Celtic
26/03/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

And what better way to finish yet another humdinger of a season than with, as Jeff put it as 3pm arrived, 'squeaky bum Sunday' – with titles, relegation and Champions League spots all up for grabs.

For the show, Stelling had his favourite far-from-flat back four in place: Charlie Nicholas in black jacket and grey tie, his sparkling diamond stud occasionally catching the studio lights from his left earlobe.

Phil Thompson, in a tie of the palest salmon pink; Paul Merson, man in grey, his neckwear featuring what appeared to be a 633 Squadron formation; and Matt Le Tissier, ever the cavalier, his shirt defiantly open-necked.

Mind you, in all of the days these
lads have had together, I think it's comfortable to say that they’d
never had one quite like this; a couple of exhilarating hours during
which Stelling continually endeavoured to update the standings.

But was more often than not
interrupted by a scream or a yelp from the panel as yet ANOTHER goal
went in to change the picture as it was being described.

And it all kicked off, well, when
they kicked off – the first few minutes of the day providing nearly as
much drama as the last (well..).

No more than two minutes were
underway when Merson, in the middle of describing how the Etihad Stadium was
'rocking', found himself rudely interrupted by the scream of 'it's a
goal' from his next door neighbour.

The team: (from left) Matt Le Tissier, Merson, Phil Thompson and Charlie Nicholas

The team: (from left) Matt Le Tissier, Merson, Phil Thompson and Charlie Nicholas

It's a goal! The temperature was raised early in the piece through after Adebayor scored for Spurs

It's a goal! The temperature was raised early in the piece through after Adebayor scored for Spurs

Thompson – covering the Tottenham game – who no sooner having crowed 'are you watching Arsenal', was trumped by Le Tissier with an even higher-pitched screech of 'oh Jeff, it's a goal', as Benayoun put Arsenal one up at The Hawthorns.

Fifteen minutes on, and Jeff managed to get in one he had prepared earlier, telling us it was Elvis day at Swansea, then adding 'but a little less conversation from me' as he threw to Charlie who confirmed 'squeaky bum Sunday had come alive' with United going 1-0 up. The day was indeed living up to its billing.

Indeed, so into it was Matt, at 3.30 the Saints' favourite son positively saw the light at The Hawthorns,
letting rip with a Gospel shout and raising his hands in praise to the
god of football as he proclaimed 'Oh Desmond! It's in. 2-2' (Tutu, for
the great unwashed).

In fact, there may indeed have been
Greater Forces operating when a few minutes later, Iain Dowie – over in
the Potteries – was suddenly frozen solid in his gantry and the screen
turned black as Merson brought us a City goal from the Etihad with a
quick, throaty burst of 'blue moon, you saw me standing alone'.

Stelling's explanation for this loss
of pictures was 'there's a lot of wind, I'm told. Not from Ian Dowie,
from Stoke' which raised a chorus of approving guffaws from his quartet.

That was pretty much it for a
scintillating first 45 – save for Merson saying Yaya Toure was so
crocked he was 'moving like Tiss used to'.

Drama! Makckie's goal put QPR in front at the Etihad Stadium

Drama! Makckie's goal put QPR in front at the Etihad Stadium

Of which Thommo pondered aloud, 'that quick' – and after a much-needed half-time breather, we were straight back at it.

At 4.08, the cry 'Goal! Goal! GOAL! The title race is back on again' went up, as QPR equalised.

Stelling then gave Nicholas an opportunity to describe the corresponding atmosphere over at United's game, but no sooner had he begun to wax lyrical on the subject, than the increasingly frantic Le Tissier was in again – hollering 'Oh my God, goal – shut up Charlie' as Arsenal took the lead and pushed themselves back into third place.

Never normally one to miss out on the melodramatics, Joey Barton was now to make his entrance stage left as Merson proclaimed 'red card Joey Barton.

This found Stelling in his pomp as he summed up the day so far: 'City-itis – will it strike again But QPR are down to 10 men, with barely a player on the field (Barton) didn’t assault'.

More approving laughter from his four top pundits.

Final result: City's late comeback sealed the title to send the fans into raptures

Final result: City's late comeback sealed the title to send the fans into raptures

Final result: City's late comeback sealed the title to send the fans into raptures

But of course this was not to be the end of the drama, which went all the way to the last few seconds of what Stelling breathlessly described as 'an astonishing, incredible, amazing day' – his team of pundits all now drawn to the screen bringing the final whistle, and thus the title to the blue half of Manchester.

'As long as I've been watching football, this is the most unbelievable thing I have ever seen', exclaimed a bemused, exhausted Merson.

Something I can echo having thoroughly enjoyed watching it through his, and his fellow pundits eyes. Phew!

WATCH VIDEO OF MERSON'S MAGIC MOMENT

WEDGIES

Monday on BBC2, and John Inverdale and Sir Steve Redgrave are perched by the side of a river for the Rowing World Cup in Belgrade, like two anglers short of some tackle…

Tuesday night on BBC2 and Louis Saha was on Newsnight to bring some thoughtful reflections on the French election, whilst adding that in comparison to many countries, England 'was paradise for footballers of any colour…'

Wednesday on Channel 4, and the racing show from Chester spotted Michael Owen offering some tips to fledgling owner Wayne Rooney. Perhaps prophetically, his horse didn’t win…

Jeff Stelling and Co provided perfect backdrop to Manchester City title victory – Edge of Box

Stelling and Co provide perfect backdrop to 'Squeaky Bum Sunday'

|

UPDATED:

22:12 GMT, 13 May 2012

If it's the box for you on a Saturday afternoon rather than the being there then for you, like many a football fan, the next best thing is provided by watching a bunch of gentlemen of a certain age, watching something you can't watch, for you.

I think it is safe to say for a format that was clearly borne out of sheer necessity, Sky Sports' Soccer Saturday coverage – on this Sunday, Gillette Soccer Special – is now a genuine telly phenomenon, led by the imperious plate-spinner of pundits, games and facts that is Jeff Stelling.

It has become compelling viewing for fans who want, yes, goal updates, but also a real sense of occasion to go with it.

Rollercoaster ride: Stelling and the team brought all the thrills and spills

Rollercoaster ride: Stelling and the team brought all the thrills and spills

More from Mark Webster…

Edge of the Box: The FA Cup is not what it used to be… but fair play to ESPN
06/05/12

Edge of the Box: Kings of The Crucible make sure we're all snooker loopy at the World Championship
30/04/12

Mark Webster: BBC show off the city during London Marathon ahead of Olympics
22/04/12

Edge of the Box: ESPN and ITV should deliver Cup cracker after Wembley warm-ups
16/04/12

Edge of the Box: BBC and Sky competition means F1 and the fans are the real winners
15/04/12

Edge of the Box: Masters is pure TV gold (and green, yellow, pink, purple) as Augusta National bursts into life
09/04/12

Edge of the Box: BBC4 go through the gears to deliver Rally's Craziest Years
02/04/12

Edge of the Box: Old Firm fire burns as strong as ever but Sky still turn up the heat for Rangers against Celtic
26/03/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

And what better way to finish yet another humdinger of a season than with, as Jeff put it as 3pm arrived, 'squeaky bum Sunday' – with titles, relegation and Champions League spots all up for grabs.

For the show, Stelling had his favourite far-from-flat back four in place: namely (from right to left) Charlie Nicholas in black jacket and grey tie, his sparkling diamond stud occasionally catching the studio lights from his left earlobe.

Phil Thompson, in a tie of the palest salmon pink; Paul Merson, man in grey, his neckwear featuring what appeared to be a 633 Squadron formation; and Matt Le Tissier, ever the cavalier, his shirt defiantly open-necked.

Mind you, in all of the days these
lads have had together, I think it's comfortable to say that they’d
never had one quite like this; a couple of exhilarating hours during
which Jeff Stelling continually endeavoured to update the standings.

But was more often than not
interrupted by a scream or a yelp from the panel as yet ANOTHER goal
went in to change the picture as it was being described.

And it all kicked off, well, when
they kicked off – the first few minutes of the day providing nearly as
much drama as the last (well..).

No more than two minutes were
underway when Merson, in the middle of describing how The Etihad was
'rocking', found himself rudely interrupted by the scream of 'it's a
goal' from his next door neighbour.

It's a goal! The temperature was raised early in the piece through after Adebayor scored for Spurs

It's a goal! The temperature was raised early in the piece through after Adebayor scored for Spurs

Thompson – covering the Tottenham game – who no sooner having crowed 'are you watching Arsenal', was trumped by Le Tissier with an even higher-pitched screech of 'oh Jeff, it's a goal', as Benayoun put Arsenal one up at The Hawthorns.

Fifteen minutes on, and Jeff managed to get in one he had prepared earlier, telling us it was Elvis day at Swansea, then adding 'but a little less conversation from me' as he threw to Charlie who confirmed 'squeaky bum Sunday had come alive' with United going one nil up. The day was indeed living up to its billing.

Indeed, so into it was Matt, at 3.30
The Saints favourite son positively saw the light at The Hawthorns,
letting rip with a Gospel shout and raising his hands in praise to the
god of football as he proclaimed 'Oh Desmond! It's in. 2-2' (Tutu, for
the great unwashed).

In fact, there may indeed have been
Greater Forces operating when a few minutes later, Ian Dowie – over in
the Potteries – was suddenly frozen solid in his gantry and the screen
turned black as Merson brought us a City goal from The Etihad with a
quick, throaty burst of 'blue moon, you saw me standing alone'.

Stelling's explanation for this loss
of pictures was 'there's a lot of wind, I'm told. not from Ian Dowie,
from Stoke' which raised a chorus of approving guffaws from his quartet.

That was pretty much it for a
scintillating first set of 45's – save for Merson saying Toure was so
crocked he was 'moving like Tiss used to'.

Drama! Makckie's goal put QPR in front at the Etihad Stadium

Drama! Makckie's goal put QPR in front at the Etihad Stadium

Of which Tommo pondered aloud, 'that quick' – and after a much-needed half time breather, we were straight back at it.

At 4.08, the cry 'Goal! Goal! GOAL! The title race is back on again' went up, as QPR equalised.

Stelling then gave Nicholas an opportunity to describe the corresponding atmosphere over at United's game, but no sooner had he begun to wax lyrical on the subject, than the increasingly frantic Le Tissier was in again – hollering 'Oh my God, goal – shut up Charlie' as Arsenal took the lead and pushed themselves back into third place.

Never normally one to miss out on the melodramatics, Joey Barton was now to make his entrance stage left as Merson proclaimed 'red card Joey Barton. Oh no, as he’s going off, he's knee-ed Nasri, he's head-butted De Jong' – thus being absent when QPR took a remarkable lead.

This found Stelling in his pomp as he summed up the day so far: 'City-itis – will it strike again But QPR are down to ten men, with barely a player on the field (Barton) didn’t assault'.

More approving laughter from his four top pundits.

Final result: City's late comeback sealed the title to send the fans into raptures

Final result: City's late comeback sealed the title to send the fans into raptures

Final result: City's late comeback sealed the title to send the fans into raptures

But of course this was not to be the end of the drama, which went all the way to the last few seconds of what Stelling breathlessly described as 'an astonishing, incredible, amazing day' – his team of pundits all now drawn to the screen bringing the final whistle, and thus the title to the blue half of Manchester.

'As long as I've been watching football, this is the most unbelievable thing I have ever seen', exclaimed a bemused, exhausted Merson.

Something I can echo having thoroughly enjoyed watching it through his, and his fellow pundits eyes. Phew!

WEDGIES

Monday on BBC2, and John Inverdale and Sir Steve Redgrave are perched by the side of a river for the Rowing World Cup in Belgrade, like two anglers short of some tackle…

Tuesday night on BBC2 and Louis Saha was on Newsnight to bring some thoughtful reflections on the French election, whilst adding that in comparison to many countries, England 'was paradise for footballers of any colour'…

Wednesday on Channel 4, and the racing show from Chester spotted Michael Owen offering some tips to fledgling owner Wayne Rooney, Perhaps prophetically, his horse didn’t win…

ESPN FA Cup coverage was good – Edge of the Box

The FA Cup is not what it used to be… but fair play to ESPN

|

UPDATED:

07:16 GMT, 7 May 2012

There’s no denying it, they have been screaming it from the rooftops for years. They probably even had a bit of a yell about it from the twin towers when they still stood proud at the top of Wembley way: the FA Cup isn’t what it used to be.

Ask anyone who knew their football before the blue chip days of the Premier League and satellite games, and Cup Final Day was not just about the two teams who made it to north-west London (and the lucky blighters who could get a train home afterwards!) – it was a football beano for all the fans.

Football feast: ESPN's FA Cup Final Day coverage was extensive

Football feast: ESPN's FA Cup Final Day coverage was extensive

More from Mark Webster…

Edge of the Box: Kings of The Crucible make sure we're all snooker loopy at the World Championship
30/04/12

Mark Webster: BBC show off the city during London Marathon ahead of Olympics
22/04/12

Edge of the Box: ESPN and ITV should deliver Cup cracker after Wembley warm-ups
16/04/12

Edge of the Box: BBC and Sky competition means F1 and the fans are the real winners
15/04/12

Edge of the Box: Masters is pure TV gold (and green, yellow, pink, purple) as Augusta National bursts into life
09/04/12

Edge of the Box: BBC4 go through the gears to deliver Rally's Craziest Years
02/04/12

Edge of the Box: Old Firm fire burns as strong as ever but Sky still turn up the heat for Rangers against Celtic
26/03/12

Edge of the box: F1's TV future is in safe hands with Sky Sports
18/03/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

And it was A DAY; broadcasts starting in the morning from team hotels and on the coaches to the ground, and including the fun and frolics of special shows like It’s A Cup Final Knockout and Question Of Sport – memories so engrained that even the most hardcore fan can still get a little misty-eyed at the thought supporters trying to score penalties past a keeper on a trampoline.

Well, they may be the new kid on the block here regarding football coverage, but that has not stopped ESPN deciding that the spirit of Cup Final Day was not only up for grabs, but worth placing both hands firmly upon, and on Saturday at 8am they launched into a marathon of FA Cup broadcasting – culminating in ad free coverage of the game itself.

For their Big Day Out, the broadcaster decided not to go for a Grandstand finish; namely base everything at an HQ and include a range of features. Instead they themed each segment, often with a version of one of their staple programmes, and like a good midfield general, left no blade of grass uncovered in the process to bring us the FA Cup Experience.

In the space of about eight hours, ESPN were everywhere, exemplified perfectly in their Breakfast Show.

At one extreme, they were deep inside the arena with the amiable Jason MacAteer who walked us from the Chelsea dressing room to pitchside – taking in a smart ‘kitchenette’, John Terry’s tiny shin pads and some scrunched up newspaper that had apparently been inside Didier Drogba’s wet boots on the way.

Back in AVB’s days, this may also have given Frank and Fernando something to read as they warmed the bench.

Key: Frank Lampard (bottom left) might have been on the bench under AVB

Key: Frank Lampard (bottom left) might have been on the bench under AVB

Then at the other extreme, we were thousands of feet about the stadium as (if ever there was a) roving reporter Nat Coombs revealed from inside the cockpit that the pilot of the Goodyear balloon steers it with his feet. Two good one’s he had, too, it has to be said.

In the space between bowels and blimp, there was, let us not forget, lots of hours to fill before their well-honed pre-game coverage – given an impressive dry run last time they were at Wembley for the semi finals – took over proper, and I suppose it should come as no real surprise that it didn’t always necessarily ripple the back of the net.

The fact is there are just so many ex-footballers and archive clips you can see and hear, and only just so many ‘why is it so special’-style questions a presenter can ask before you start to get that dj vu feeling all over again. And after nigh on nine hours of it – and again, even!

Beaten: Viewers saw Chelsea beat Liverpool

Beaten: Viewers saw Chelsea beat Liverpool

Nevertheless, this does not preclude the fact that each programme definitely brought something to the party; and each with their own individual variation on the theme retained in spite of the unfamiliar surroundings (so that you’ll still easily recognise them when they return next season.

Aha – you see what they did there!). The only one that suffered there, I felt, was Talk Of The Terrace which was at the back end of the coverage and flitted between Mark Chapman and Kelly Cates chatting with guests (and because of the time they were on, revisiting questions and clips for the umpteenth time) high in the empty stands and a live band in a hospitality suite playing what looked like their worst gig ever to about half a dozen slightly bemused fans.

Spot on: The Brunch show with James Richardson and Robbie Savage (above) was perfect

Spot on: The Brunch show with James Richardson and Robbie Savage (above) was perfect

Getting it spot on though was the Brunch show hosted by James Richardson with Robbie Savage.

This mixed a literal roundtable chat (Alex Stewart revealing he wore number 4 for England as a tribute to his football hero, John Hollins) with a bit of cooking with Wembley chef 'Cockers' and the resultant scoffing.

It was the kind of relaxed atmosphere
and jaunty jibing that sat perfectly in the day – and left you with a
real hankering for scallops marinated in lime.

Also
of particular merit was the documentary Kings For A Day, which
beautifully analysed the magic of the Cup through the eyes of
giant-killing heroes and football minnows. Or as Fleetwood’s Micky
Mellon put it ‘if it’s David and Goliath stuff, we’re David’s little
brother’.

This was a show that underlined the fact that the FA Cup is competition, institution and a special date in the calendar all in one. And well played ESPN for setting out early and going all the way on the day to remind us of that fact.

WEDGIES

Monday Night Football and the Manchester derby provided its own little set of mini Unmissable Wedgies namely: Monday lunchtime on Sky Sports News and Jim White refereeing a battle of words between Gary Owen at the Etihad and Norman Whiteside in the city centre, rendered totally bizarre by the sound delay.

Later in the afternoon, there were more words from the streets of Manchester, this time with a fruit stall owner who while explaining why he had no red fruit on display, had an orange nicked by a passer-by who raised it triumphantly like a winner’s medal.

Guest: Didier Drogba appeared on the Graham Norton show

Guest: Didier Drogba appeared on the Graham Norton show

Minutes later, Jim White was even more excited than normal as the groundsman let him paint on a penalty spot.

Friday night on BBC1 and Graham Norton welcomed Didier Drogba to the show (‘you’re surprised!’, cracked Graham) and made Julie Walters' night by doing the ‘Drogbacite’ dance with the host.

Edge of the box: ESPN FA Cup coverage was good

The FA Cup is not what it used to be… but fair play to ESPN

|

UPDATED:

22:00 GMT, 6 May 2012

There’s no denying it, they have been screaming it from the rooftops for years. They probably even had a bit of a yell about it from the twin towers when they still stood proud at the top of Wembley way: the FA Cup isn’t what it used to be.

Ask anyone who knew their football before the blue chip days of the Premier League and satellite games, and Cup Final Day was not just about the two teams who made it to North West London (and the lucky blighters who could get a train home afterwards!) – it was a football beano for all the fans.

Football feast: ESPN's FA Cup Final Day coverage was extensive

Football feast: ESPN's FA Cup Final Day coverage was extensive

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VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

And it was A DAY; broadcasts starting in the morning from team hotels and on the coaches to the ground, and including the fun and frolics of special shows like It’s A Cup Final Knockout and Question Of Sport – memories so engrained that even the most hardcore fan can still get a little misty-eyed at the thought supporters trying to score penalties past a keeper on a trampoline.

Well, they may be the new kid on the block here regarding football coverage, but that has not stopped ESPN deciding that the spirit of Cup Final Day was not only up for grabs, but worth placing both hands firmly upon, and on Saturday at 8am they launched into a marathon of FA Cup broadcasting – culminating in ad free coverage of the game itself.

For their Big Day Out, the broadcaster decided not to go for a Grandstand finish; namely base everything at an HQ and include a range of features. Instead they themed each segment, often with a version of one of their staple programmes, and like a good midfield general, left no blade of grass uncovered in the process to bring us the FA Cup Experience.

In the space of about 8 hours, ESPN were everywhere, exemplified perfectly in their Breakfast Show.

At one extreme, they were deep inside the arena with the amiable Jason MacAteer who walked us from the Chelsea dressing room to pitchside – taking in a smart ‘kitchenette’, John Terry’s tiny shin pads and some scrunched up newspaper that had apparently been inside Didier Drogba’s wet boots on the way.

Back in AVB’s days, this may also have given Frank and Fernando something to read as they warmed the bench.

Key: Frank Lampard (bottom left) might have been on the bench under AVB

Key: Frank Lampard (bottom left) might have been on the bench under AVB

Then at the other extreme, we were thousands of feet about the stadium as (if ever there was a) roving reporter Nat Coombs revealed from inside the cockpit that the pilot of the Goodyear balloon steers it with his feet. Two good one’s he had, too, it has to be said.

In the space between bowels and blimp, there was, let us not forget, lots of hours to fill before their well-honed pre-game coverage – given an impressive dry run last time they were at Wembley for the semi finals – took over proper, and I suppose it should come as no real surprise that it didn’t always necessarily ripple the back of the net.

The fact is there are just so many ex-footballers and archive clips you can see and hear, and only just so many ‘why is it so special’-style questions a presenter can ask before you start to get that dj vu feeling all over again. And after nigh on nine hours of it – and again, even!

Beaten: Viewers saw Chelsea beat Liverpool

Beaten: Viewers saw Chelsea beat Liverpool

Nevertheless, this does not preclude the fact that each programme definitely brought something to the party; and each with their own individual variation on the theme retained in spite of the unfamiliar surroundings (so that you’ll still easily recognise them when they return next season.

Aha – you see what they did there!). The only one that suffered there, I felt, was Talk Of The Terrace which was at the back end of the coverage and flitted between Mark Chapman and Kelly Cates chatting with guests (and because of the time they were on, revisiting questions and clips for the umpteenth time) high in the empty stands and a live band in a hospitality suite playing what looked like their worst gig ever to about half a dozen slightly bemused fans.

Spot on: The Brunch show with James Richardson and Robbie Savage (above) was perfect

Spot on: The Brunch show with James Richardson and Robbie Savage (above) was perfect

Getting it spot on though was the Brunch show hosted by James Richardson with Robbie Savage.

This mixed a literal roundtable chat (Alex Stewart revealing he wore number 4 for England as a tribute to his football hero, John Hollins) with a bit of cooking with Wembley chef 'Cockers' and the resultant scoffing.

It was the kind of relaxed atmosphere
and jaunty jibing that sat perfectly in the day – and left you with a
real hankering for scallops marinated in lime.

Also
of particular merit was the documentary Kings For A Day, which
beautifully analysed the magic of the Cup through the eyes of
giant-killing heroes and football minnows. Or as Fleetwood’s Micky
Mellon put it ‘if it’s David and Goliath stuff, we’re David’s little
brother’.

This was a show that underlined the fact that the FA Cup is competition, institution and a special date in the calendar all in one. And well played ESPN for setting out early and going all the way on the day to remind us of that fact.

WEDGIES

Monday Night Football and the Manchester derby provided its own little set of mini Unmissable Wedgies namely: Monday lunchtime on Sky Sports News and Jim White refereeing a battle of words between Gary Owen at the Etihad and Norman Whiteside in the city centre, rendered totally bizarre by the sound delay.

Later in the afternoon, there were more words from the streets of Manchester, this time with a fruit stall owner who while explaining why he had no red fruit on display, had an orange nicked by a passerby who raised it triumphantly like a winner’s medal.

Guest: Didier Drogba appeared on the Graham Norton show

Guest: Didier Drogba appeared on the Graham Norton show

Minutes later, Jim White was even more excited than normal as the groundsman let him paint on a penalty spot.

Friday night on BBC1 and Graham Norton welcomed Didier Drogba to the show (‘you’re surprised!’, cracked Graham) and made Julie Walters' night by doing the ‘Drogbacite’ dance with the host.