Tag Archives: stelling

Soccer Saturday tour scrapped – Charlie Sale

Soccer Saturday tour scrapped… but no-one will say why

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UPDATED:

23:08 GMT, 13 November 2012

A theatre tour of Sky Sports’ cult programme Soccer Saturday, presented by Jeff Stelling, has been cancelled in mysterious circumstances.

Tickets for the four dates in Liverpool this week and Newcastle later this month as well as aborted shows at Wembley and Birmingham had been selling well after successful performances in Southampton and Bournemouth featuring Stelling and regular pundits Charlie Nicholas, Phil Thompson, Chris Kamara, Matt Le Tissier and Paul Merson.

But all the remaining tour dates were scrapped with no plans for them to be re-scheduled and refunds paid out to those who had already booked seats for the question-and-answer football chat.

Stopped: Soccer Saturday's theatre tour has been halted

Stopped: Soccer Saturday's theatre tour has been halted

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Charles Sale: No extra time for FA chief Bernstein's regime
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VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

Neither Sky nor the roadshow promoter Mike Osman would comment on why the project had been axed with the expectation of forthcoming legal action.

Sky denied the termination was due to executives’ concern that they had no involvement or control over entertainer Osman using the Soccer Saturday brand for his commercial enterprise. However, that might explain why Stelling did not promote the theatre tour during his TV appearances as Osman had wanted.

FA Trio hunting for Bernstein's replacement

The hunt for an FA chairman to succeed David Bernstein, who has to stand down next May after his 70th birthday, is being led by board trio Roger Burden, who heads the national game, Middlesbrough’s Keith Lamb and independent director Roger Devlin.

But Burden’s involvement does not necessarily guarantee his unfailing support for the next chairman. The former Cheltenham & Gloucester Building Society chief was also on the nominations panel that chose Bernstein, yet Burden famously said Bernstein had had a humour bypass in a pivotal speech supposedly endorsing an extension to his term of office before the FA council voted against the board proposal.

BBC gain from Fox failure

The fall-out from Fox Sports losing their Premier League rights in the United States to NBC will help the BBC in contract talks with Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker, who could have used Fox’s supposed interest in him hosting their PL coverage as a bargaining chip in his BBC talks. But the US rights from next season went to NBC for triple the money.

Benefit: The BBC might find it easier to keep hold of Gary Lineker after Fox lost the bidding war

Benefit: The BBC might find it easier to keep hold of Gary Lineker after Fox lost the bidding war

Blat to normal

The relationships between the FA and FIFA, which reached an all-time low after the 2018 World Cup vote debacle, have improved to the extent that the red carpet will be rolled out for Sepp Blatter when he visits St George’s Park next Wednesday.

FA chairman David Bernstein and his possible successor David Sheepshanks, chairman of St George’s Park, will be in Burton to greet the FIFA president. Next Tuesday, Blatter has invited Fabrice Muamba and Bolton chairman Phil Gartside for lunch in Zurich, where Muamba’s yet-to-be-decided role with FIFA will be discussed.

Leagues meet match

The Premier League and Football League have suffered a major financial setback with their joint venture company, Football DataCo, forbidden from charging media outlets, bookmakers and pools firms for publishing their fixtures.

The Appeals Court upheld the European Court verdict of March 1 that DataCo, which also involves the Scottish leagues, did not have the right to charge copyright fees for fixtures.

They're for everyone: The Premier League and Football DataCo lost in the battle to take copyright fees for fixtures

They're for everyone: The Premier League and Football DataCo lost in the battle to take copyright fees for fixtures

The decision, which will deny the football bodies hundreds of thousands of pounds, also ordered that any fixture fees paid since March be refunded as well as DataCo paying both sides legal costs of around 1.7million.

Quiet about Clive

Rugby World Cup-winning coach Sir Clive Woodward remains the elephant in the room at Twickenham, judging by PR advice given to stadium personnel before they were interviewed by Sky about England’s history in the build-up to the Fiji game. It is understood the RFU spin was that any memories of the 2003 triumph should stress the collective achievement rather than Sir Clive’s.

Ceefax sport tribute: Time before Twitter and Jeff Stelling updates

Farewell, Ceefax: Remembering the days before Twitter and Stelling on a Saturday…

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UPDATED:

16:33 GMT, 23 October 2012

Back when birds were the only thing that tweeted and live football was weekly rather than daily, there was a Saturday afternoon ritual that seems primitive now but for years brought instant knowledge, joy and despair.

If it was 4.55pm, then thousands of thumbs up and down the land would be tapping out that familiar code on the remote control – 302.

And suddenly on the screen before you, in the most basic of pixelated forms, was everything you needed to know. The headlines, the scores and scorers, the tables, the vidiprinter – all in a computerised blend of white, blue and yellow letters.

The way it was: Ceefax was popular across the country but the BBC are terminating the text service

The way it was: Ceefax was popular across the country but the BBC are terminating the text service

Top of the table: Fans would turn their remote to Ceefax for the latest standings

And with it – happiness, elation, annoyance and despair.

Football fans who lived through a time without social networking, Jeff Stelling and Premier League highlights before last orders may take a moment today to reflect that Ceefax, the great information source of their generation, is no more.

This week, the last analogue television signals will be shut down in Northern Ireland and the digital switchover completed, meaning the last handful of Ceefax users will have to go elsewhere for their updates.

Those of a younger age who want – and demand – news of goals as soon as the net ripples will struggle to comprehend that people would sit for two hours on a Saturday staring at a black screen with a few lines of text on it, periodically pressing the refresh button.

If you were interested in everything that was happening, you might watch the scores ‘in vision’ where a flickering black box and vidiprinter would be superimposed over the British Touring Cars from Snetterton or whatever Grandstand were showing.

The numbers for Ceefax sport (p300) – football (302), Premier League scores (316), Premier League table (324), cricket (340), rugby (370) – were as lodged in the memory as your PIN or mobile number might be today.

Ceefax was launched in September 1974, in a time well before rolling news channels and the internet when the only other option was to wait until twelve or six or nine for the next bulletin.

This source of instant headlines and score updates was revolutionary and by the eighties, millions of Britons had upgraded their television sets on order to receive it.

In the nineties, a third of the population checked it at least once a week but for many sports fans it would have been far more often. Many hours were wasted looking up how your team was getting on and then waiting for the pages to click round when you got there.

When England played Tests overseas, long before it was beamed live by Sky, you could follow the action in pain-staking over-by-over updates. Sometimes it would take a little too long to refresh – ‘What on earth has happened’ you’d implore, bashing the reload button. ‘Four, six, wicket Surely not another wicket, England!’

All change: Most fans now tune into Soccer Saturday for updates from Jeff Stelling and co

All change: Most fans now tune into Soccer Saturday for updates from Jeff Stelling and co

And then it would come through your aerial and it would be a maiden over.

Grands Prix could be tracked in quarter-lap instalments, a constantly shifting list of names and sector times. There will be many people who’ll admit they spent two hours gazing at what was essentially alphabet soup.

The football pages brought their own delights. The scores and scorers were available league-by-league and the heart always beat a little quicker as the pages slowly cycled through and back to your side’s match. If there wasn’t a player’s name written in white underneath your opponent’s name, you’d breathe a sigh of relief.

I always admired the reporters who managed to mention every goal in a 4-4 thriller within the confines of four pixelated paragraphs and the sub-editors who squeezed multi-faceted and complicated stories into 20-character headlines. This was an extreme version of Twitter.

It provided great football anecdotes too – in 1997, Queens Park Rangers assistant manager Bruce Rioch found out about his sacking on Ceefax. ‘I am bitterly disappointed they didn’t have the courtesy to… phone me… before I read it on television,’ he said at the time.

Read all about it: Ceefax would break the latest sporting news throughout the day

Read all about it: Ceefax would break the latest sporting news throughout the day

Headlines: Bruce Rioch discovered he'd lost his job at QPR via Ceefax

Headlines: Bruce Rioch discovered he'd lost his job at QPR via Ceefax

Three years earlier, angry Wolves fans has besieged the club’s switchboard after a Ceefax April Fool’s Joke suggested manager Graham Taylor didn’t like the orange colour of the club’s kit and wanted to change it to white.

And in 2001, Roy Essandoh engrained himself in FA Cup legend when scoring the winner for third division Wycombe at Premier League Leicester – having answered the club’s appeal for players on the pages of Ceefax.

Unfortunately, Ceefax was never going to compete with modern ways of finding out what is happening in the world of sport – with breaking news in 140 characters, attractive Sky Sports News presenters and excitable Saturday afternoon correspondents reporting from the ground in high definition.

So the lines of text and crude blocks of colours have been consigned to the past like rattles and rosettes – but there will be plenty of sports fans out there today who will lament the passing of a faithful servant to sports news.

Liverpool mascot: Other classic creations

Mascot madness: Liverpool's dubious new creation inspired Sportsmail to look back at some other bemusing creatures

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UPDATED:

08:57 GMT, 10 July 2012

When you’re new to a club, it can sometimes be hard to fit in. Especially when you’re bright red, slightly podgy and your beak sticks out.

Variously described as ‘terrifying’ and ‘a laughing stock,’ it wasn’t the best of starts for Liverpool’s new mascot – Mighty Red – this week.

While the dancing Liver Bird won’t be shaking its feathers on the Anfield touchline just yet, it joins the bizarre motley crew of English league mascots that amuse and bemuse us every Saturday.

Sportsmail couldn’t resist picking out a few favourites from this posse of pitch-side entertainers.

Dodgy: Liverpool's new mascot has not been to everyone's taste

Dodgy: Liverpool's new mascot has not been to everyone's taste

The Political Animal

Made famous by Jeff Stelling, everyone knows the legend of the poor little monkey washed ashore near Hartlepool during the Napoleonic Wars.

Not knowing what a Frenchman looked like, the locals decided to hold an impromptu trial on the beach, fearing the hairy animal dressed in Gallic uniform was a spy.

Denied access to a translator and legal advice, the petrified animal was simply unable to answer the Hartlepudlians searching questions and was hanged from the mast of a fishing boat.

A cuddlier form of H’Angus later became Hartlepool United’s mascot, but this animal had loftier ambitions. In 2002, it successfully stood for Mayor on a ticket of free bananas for school children – a campaign pledge that wasn’t kept. Despite this, H’Angus – or rather the man inside, Stuart Drummond – was twice re-elected, enjoying a majority of over 10,000 votes.

Monkey hanging song

The Political Prisoner

We’re sure he wasn’t breaking the law in trying to gain his beloved Preston North End a small advantage, but the Deepdale Duck has the inglorious distinction of being the first mascot sent off at an English ground.

He had his wings clipped in January 2011 after taunting and giving the ‘V for Victory’ salute to Derby County goalkeeper Stephen /07/09/article-2171104-0016413100000258-40_468x286.jpg” width=”468″ height=”286″ alt=”Feisty: Cyril the Swan” class=”blkBorder” />

Feisty: Cyril the Swan

The Wolf and the Three Pigs

Taking the popular fairy-tale to new levels, this on-pitch scrap at Ashton Gate in 1998 became a YouTube classic. Wolfie the Wolf from Wolves took umbrage at Bristol City’s porky trio getting some help in a half-time penalty shoot-out and all hell broke loose.

But the three little piggies defended their house rather well against the big bad blowing wolf, before the whole lot were unceremoniously carted away by stewards.

The Incident as featured on Have I Got News For You

The Mascot of the Future

Some say he was forged from the studs used by Billy Bonds and Bobby Moore in the molten fury of Thames Ironworks. Others say he’s Optimus Prime with a latex face.

All we know is that West Ham’s Hammerhead mascot is uber-modern, something guaranteed to stand the test of time unlike the pirates, dragons and dinosaurs of other clubs.

Though the futuristic effect is spoilt somewhat when it starts gyrating its metallic limbs to MC Hammer…

Hammerhead makes his debut

The Scandal

The only female mascot in the top four divisions – Tracy Chandler – was sacked from her beloved job as Doncaster Rovers’ mascot Donny Dog after posing for saucy photos in the Sunday Sport for charity.

She was left astonished when the club started looking for her replacement after posing with the mutt’s cumbersome head in her lingerie.

But chairman John Ryan reinstated Chandler as the club’s mascot after ‘common sense’ prevailed.

Interview with sacked mascot

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

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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…

Summer of sport set to be exciting – Edge of the Box

Just when should we get excited about the summer of sport

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UPDATED:

21:46 GMT, 3 June 2012

I don’t know about you, but I’m finding it quite difficult not to peak too early. I mean to say, at what point am I meant to get REALLY excited about this summer’s events Should I have gone for it on the Jubilee Will that leave me enough for Euro 2012 Or do I hold some back for The Olympics Oh, and there’s the Test matches!

Or perhaps I just have a nice long lie down and wait for the start of the new football season

As I say, this weekend hasn’t helped. In fact, it hasn’t even finished! And on Saturday morning, there I was, tangled up in bunting and caught up in the emotional goings on at Epsom. Not so much with Her Majesty’s celebrations, but more with whether Clare Balding would explode with tension as the family horse Bonfire ran in the Derby.

Stunning summer: Camelot won the Derby at Epsom on Jubilee Weekend

Stunning summer: Camelot won the Derby at Epsom on Jubilee Weekend

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Given the circumstances, the horse whose name you might well associate with the blowing up Parliament losing out to the fabled Kingdom of Camelot was probably the right result.

1-0 to the Englerland was also the right result from Wembley, as we swapped from BBC to ITV, and from three-year-old colts to Three Lions on shirts. The game gave us a chance to cheer the team off on their quest in Europe, and also to get a glimpse of the newly installed experiment of Hawkeye goal line technology. And before the game kicked off we were given a glimpse of the camera, so far from the goal, it appeared to have been mounted on the Hubble space station.

We also heard at half time from David Beckham – judging by the extraordinary new face furniture, entering into the spirit of the weekend by coming as the French Envoy to the Court of Elizabeth l – and it felt as odds on as Camelot that he would also figure in much of the rest of ITV’s coverage for the evening, as sport remained very much on the entertainment agenda.

Strangely enough, the genuinely funny, deadly accurate impressionist Alistair McGowan didn’t break out his celebrated Becks for the first episode of his new ITV series, You Cannot Be Serious. In fact, you might sniffily argue that the best impression he did in his new half hour topical sports show was of Harry Hill, because much of this looked and felt like the now sadly departed ITV staple, TV Burp.

This, though, was no coincidence because it was made by the same company – one of the sharpest on the block, too, Avalon – and executive produced by Hill himself. So in this case, imitation deliberately set out to be the sincerest form of flattery.

Welcome return: Impressionist Alistair McGowan is back on our screens

Welcome return: Impressionist Alistair McGowan is back on our screens

Because it relies on still warm material – Frank Lampard’s Euro withdrawal was referenced, for example – McGowan steered the ship from a desk, and flitted between neat one-liners (‘Better check. Ah, Petr Cech!’), You Tube clips, running gags, guest appearances (Carl Froch and Duncan Goodhew in the house) and of course, razor sharp impressions –both from where he was sat, and in more elaborate pre-recorded sequences.
Now you may ask why and how David Mitchell and Jedward can justify making an appearance on a topical sports impressions show And of course the simple answer to that is, well he does them really well.

However, it’s also likely that it’s because this is prime time ITV, and you’ve got to get all the family involved – which is not necessarily something the keenly honed Colin Murray or Brendan Foster are going to do.

It will be interesting to see, accordingly, how the show fares in this slot, and also just how much fun he can have with his rather epic Roy Hodgson impression over the next few weeks!

If you were having Beckham withdrawal symptoms during that show, it wasn’t long before the commercial channel provided you with a fix – with a show about commercials. Although this may be a lot like them having their cake and eating it (after all, we do stop looking at adverts so that we can watch some adverts), The Greatest Footie Ads Ever did provide some proper entertainment, albeit of the feather-light variety.

Star: David Beckham was a regular feature on our TV screens on Saturday

Star: David Beckham was a regular feature on our TV screens on Saturday

The fact is, lots of money, talent and creativity is thrown at commercials, and football seems to be a particular beneficiary of that. Soccer sells. And with the sheer range of ads that have tapped into the game across the decades, if there was a dull moment, it was gone in 30 seconds.

Paddy McGuiness was the ideal ‘bloke’ to host such a show – filmed inside his ‘pad’ – even though he was often man marked by a pretty journeyman script (‘they’re the best ads on the box – as impressive as Wayne Rooney’s hair transplant’), but with the players he had around him, he was always on to a winner.

There was some great vintage stuff with George Best, Bobby Moore and Brian Clough ( ‘jogging down to his East Midlands Electricity Shop’), those often, slightly bewildering foreign imports, lots of Beckham (naturally) and an Umbro ad so rude, I can’t even begin to describe it.

/06/03/article-2154220-1366DCC8000005DC-743_468x295.jpg” width=”468″ height=”295″ alt=”Fears: Sol Campbell is concerned about racism in Ukraine this summer” class=”blkBorder” />

Fears: Sol Campbell is concerned about racism in Ukraine this summer

Wednesday on BBC 4 and a host of top turns told us ‘How to be England Manager’. Main conclusion: ‘thick skin’, although Al Murray added ‘look into your pension and severance arrangement’.

Channel 5’s Mega Builders on Friday told the inside story of the construction of the Olympic Aquatic Centre, with chief steel erector Paul Frampton setting about the 3-crane lift anchor truss T9 with his pocket tape measure.

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

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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!

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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…