Ten days into the World Cup and if Martin’s wife Bonnie is still holding out for a hero, the morning light has finally delivered. As we know, it’s during major tournaments that you really get to know players. More importantly, it’s when you really get to know your remote control.
And so, as Ghana and Australia surrendered our attention for an inexplicable moment, we pressed Help and selected Subtitles and there they were. These selfless miracle-workers. Typing in every last blessed word Gilesy and Didi and Razor splurged carelessly in their direction.
Real heroes. The stamina. The patience. The self-control not to storm the studio, shake Gilesy warmly by the throat and invite him to finish just one of the hundreds of sentences left… you see the thing about the Africans, Darragh… I know I’m repeating myself…Didi, you played in a World Cup…
Exhilarated by this triumph of the human spirit, we put on the BBC and there they were again. Only these lads were faced with Adebayor. And Mark Bright. And it was soon evident that the Broadcasting House heroes were a good deal less tolerant that their RTE counterparts.
So having lagged for a while ten sentences or so in Adebayor’s wake, our man decided that the deaf British public would lose nothing in some judicious summarising. For that matter, it was agreed that the hard of hearing had enough to contend with without reading another weak Lineker pun.
And once Brighty took over, let’s just say our man decided gems like “People like skills don’t they – especially in Africa.” and “Play it back to your goalkeeper. He is always the man behind you.” could be safely excised from the written record of the fixture.
These boys should be in charge of editing the universe.
In the end, overawed as we had become, it was a little reassuring when the odd finger of clay materialised. Like when Simon Brotherton applauded a “superb save from Marsh Water” in the Australian goal. Or when Didi’s unique brand of Scouse Deutsch earmarked Brett Holman as “the man who can herd Ghana.”
Sadly Didi has left us now, having emerged as another hero of the opening week with his research and his fancy ways, even if his permanently quizzical eyebrow seemed to act as something of a muzzle on Eamo’s wilder theories.
At times you felt Eamo might be all set to blame the peaceful nature of the Velvet Revolution for the late equaliser Slovakia conceded against New Zealand, or maybe simply tell us Messi is useless, only to glance at the Hamann Arch and think better of it.
Didi returns now to the dislocated bosom of MK Dons and maybe he’s gone before we truly got to know him at all. “Africans can drive you mad,” he thundered on his last day, having made sure the cheque had already cleared.
He is replaced by Ossie, another stiff test for the subtitles boys. And any man who fielded the Famous Five will clearly make his own rules. “When you’re talking about Mexico, you’re talking about Bolivia or Colombia.”
With a hint of bromance in the air, Liam Brady seemed happy enough for Ossie to reconfigure the world whatever way he liked. “You used to score goals like that,” offered Chippy coquettishly at half-time in Slovakia-Paraguay. “So did you,” blushed Ossie.
Ossie will soon learn, no doubt, that his colleagues will mainly be talking about England. The first official England inquest was conducted by Chippy and Souey on Saturday night, RTE sparing Eamo and Gilesy on the basis, surely, that there will be at least one more of these to come.
So instead of pointing the finger at Playstations and education for England’s horrors, Souey blamed their high-altitude base for starving English bodies of oxygen. The theory seemed to be based largely on his own experiences in Mexico ’86, when he couldn’t muster the energy to keep his perm in order, never mind kick Klaus Allofs.
But it was as good an answer as anyone across the water has managed yet.
In fact, many of them are still getting to grips with the question. Lee Dixon hasn’t even put a fair price on it. “What happens to them when they put on an England shirt,” wondered Lineker. “That’s the 64 dollar question,” came the shout from the bargain basement.
Poor Alan Shearer’s whole world has been turned upside down. “England have struggled to keep the ball, but Japan can do it and we don’t really know their players,” he whimpered, failing to acknowledge this criterion would rule out anyone outside the Premier League completing a passing movement.
On Talksport, Mike Parry wondered if England would encounter “Germany or Siberia” in the second round. Of those options, only Germany looks off the current agenda.
This article first appeared in the Irish Examiner