I once knew a guy who liked putting ferrets down his trousers, a friend swears blind that Westlife are a real band, yet I have never met anyone who rates ITV sport.
Where once the third channel boasted the avuncular presence of Brian Moore for its football coverage, expertly presiding over a panel of maverick pundits that included the likes of Cloughie and Big Mal now it’s just an over-polished turd aimed at pizza-and-Carling ‘fans’ who amass their knowledge from Match magazine. Its very essence can be boiled down to Rooney and car ads.
But while the shiny suits and shiny studios with little to no substance contained within is annoying in the extreme the real dross lies with the channel’s personnel.
Glorified wallpaper such as Matt Smith or that Toby jug of warm piss Adrian Chiles swapping meaningless banalities with Gareth Southgate and now bizarrely Roy Keane whose pre-match analysis basically consists of ‘Here is this team’s best player. He will be a danger doing similar things to what we’re showing now on the screen’. All muttered in a bored Irish lilt.
It makes Gary Neville’s surprisingly superb dissecting over on Sky look like football CSI.
Then there’s the commentators; shouty Drury littering the 90 minutes with an array of pre-written soundbites or Tyldesley desperately seeking the slightest excuse to refer once again that ‘magical night in Barcelona’. And don’t even get me started on their co-conspirators Beglin and Townsend.
This insipid collection of the bland and the irritating have made football on ITV virtually intolerable so to that end myself and fellow Cutter writer Noel Draper decided to liven things up for last night’s Sunderland v Everton FA Cup clash with a drinking game. For every cliché uttered or annoying syllable that passes from these pointless cretins’ lips we will in turn down shots of stupidly strong liqueur.
What could possibly go wrong?
Rule one of the ITV Drinking Game is we never talk about…oh, okay, there aren’t any rules. Living miles apart we shall communicate via text and Twitter and leave each downing of a shot to our own discretion.
For each line that Noel is mentioned below he has taken a shot. Noel gets mentioned a lot.
Noel opts for something called Becherovka which sounds bloody horrible and this indeed turns out to be the case before switching to Fernet Stock.
I root through cupboards until I stumble upon a ¾ full liqueur bottle with a bunch of bananas on the front. It’s 21% proof, looks like Night Nurse and tastes like the emissions from a supped-up Corsa.
It’s 7.30pm and the programme begins….
Ste – The only decent thing about ITV is seeing the pure hatred in Roy Keane’s eyes whenever Adrian Chiles speaks. Noting that Peter Reid is the other pundit my liver sighs with relief. This might be okay after all. I make it through to the first ad break then realise that I’ve been lulled into pure boredom due to the trio saying nothing – absolutely nothing whatsoever – of interest. To signify this I take my first shot and recoil, my face gurning into Wilfred Brambell at the intoxicating heat.
Noel – Chiles and his general attitude means I knock the first one back. It’s a bit tart. Soon after Chiles again asks if “you can ever over state history”. What a t**t.
Ste – Return from ad break to footage of Peter Reid celebrating with the cup in 84. A man takes a tumble and Chiles says ‘There’s a man taking a tumble. I’m not sure what happened there.’ You’ve just f***ing said! Second shot down.
Feel a warm fuzzy glow and I smile as Keane and Reid indulge in some studio banter. Oh dear lord I am smiling at Keane. Is this the secret to enduring ITV Sport – potentially out-of-date hard liqueur with a strange colour and a name that sounds like a Panathinaikos centre-back?
Noel – Stubbs, being interviewed, says…”hard game tonight as it’s an evening game”. No s**t Sherlock.
Ste – You’re sure that Fabrice is watching the replayed Spurs/Bolton game are you Chiles? No, no, I’m letting this one go. Besides it’s time for a sarnie.
Sit back down to see a tweet from Noel informing me that Chiles has pondered ‘Can we over-state history?’ Retrospective shot
“And now it’s time to go to our boys in the gantry….” Please don’t be Townsend. Please don’t be Townsend. “…Clive Tyldesley and Andy Townsend”
The double-whammy. I fear a stomach pump may be required tonight.
7.59 – “Wembley is just 90 minutes away”. Down the hatch and the game hasn’t even begun yet.
Noel – Clive Tyldesley says it’s “cup final weather”. In Sunderland. C**k.
Ste – A particular bugbear of mine about the warty-faced Townsend is his obsession with ‘areas’. At the exact moment I’m jotting this down in my notes he says on cue, “They’ve got it into some decent areas”. Just as I’m reeling from my fifth blast of Corsa emission I have a worrying moment when there is a break in play. Tyldesley starts to ruminate upon the importance of the cup for both teams. Oh Christ no, not now you deformed pixie! Thankfully he refrains from anything too whimsical or clichéd.
Due to a cracking cup tie both commentators are getting caught up in it with little time to waffle. Half an hour into the game and I’m alright. Noel meanwhile appears to have a lower tolerance threshold for poor punditry…
Andy Townsend says “It beats the player by millimetres”. What a buffoon.
Clive says that “Seb Larsen is the best dead ball specialist in the Prem” just as he fires in a really s**t corner.
Clive again…”sharp upward curve”. What’s one of them then?
Clive shouting “it’s 0-0” in a high pitched voice before continuing “nothing to choose between these two”. Stating the obvious and sounding like a woman.
Clive to Andy…”Tim Cahill, 33rd game of the season, 2 goals. Explain.”
Ste – I spoke too soon. Leon Osman’s general scampering prompts Townsend to witter on about “finding areas” again. Shot.
Noel – Excessive use of the word ‘Gay’. I drink anyway as it’s 1-0.
Then realise Bridge is playing. Two for two.
Ste – ‘Oh shut up Townsend you dribble of cocksnot’. He never actually said anything but the collective build-up from his annoying voice requires an accumulative shot. He then strings some words together that are not compatible neighbours – ‘He gets about him’ – but I’m too f***ed from the last drink to even contemplate another. I’m waning.
Noel – Spot people leaving to go to the toilet. Drink. This is getting silly.
Ste calls a girl “Honey” on Twitter. Drink.
Ste – After the half-time commercial break an annoying ITV competition appears with Tyldesley doing an excitably squeaky voiceover. Sod it, it’s been a while….shot.
Chiles waffles something about Xmas, turkeys and managers. Head ringing from last shot and it didn’t make sense…Shot.
Andy moans about the rule where players go down so why should we stop. I point out in a loud voice that it’s down to the ref. Clive agrees.
Andy…”Seb has genuine technique” before said player hits the free kick well wide.
Switch bottles to Fernet Stock. Have a tester. Just as bad.
Ste – Checked this morning and my notes at this point simply reads ‘Hammered. Mention being lightweight.’
Noel – ITV ad time (black and white thing in the corner) amuses me. Drink.
Clive. 48 minutes in. “There’s time yet”.
Clive shouts Gay again.
Go to the toilet. Legs working. Scare myself with the hanging light switch.
Ste – ‘The FA Cup alive and well’. Jesus Tyldesley no!!! Shot.
Osman volleys into crowd. ‘That is as sweet a volley as Osman is ever going to strike’. No shot for this but still…really Clivey?
Townsend talking about Gibson ‘pinging it off the laces’. Oh I just can’t. Will you please stop talking nonsense just for five f***ing minutes!
Noel – Own goal. Funny one at that. Drink to celebrate.
Moyles running and skipping. I giggle like a girl. And then drink.
Jelavic misses one I could have missed. Erm…whatever…drink.
Ste – Finding it hard to make out what Townsend is saying because his droney voice is the exact same pitch and tone as the buzzing inside my head.
‘There’s a little tussle there between Heitinga and Bendtner off the ball. Best of friends’
Trademark Tyldesley there; a flippant one-liner that makes you want to cheese-grate you own skin off. Shot.
Noel – Notice that I’ve really slowed down now, vow to finish bottle before I fall over. Got 30 minutes left. Drink because Bridge comes off for Campbell who is now officially an England International. Christ.
Go for another piss. Floor appears wobbly. Larsen hits another rubbish free kick. Drink.
70 minutes in. Notice Bendtner looks all ‘phantomy’. Deserves a drink,.
Drink because Ste found the word “gay” funny as well.
Ste – Second mention for Manchester United (firstly reminding all that Tim Howard won the cup with them and then that Phil Neville’s medal collection went into ‘double figures’ during his time there) definitely warrants another shot.
78 minutes in – Gardner? When did he come on? Oh, he started.
Townsend says ‘pings off his laces’ for second time. He was warned the first time. Shot.
Noel – This is getting stupid. The game kicks off on 70 odd minutes but no drink as everyone is a bit…girly? Especially Bardsley. Seb Larsen dives in with his cultured feet fouling as always…now that deserves a drink.
Neville. Honest professional. One of the good guys. Not Gary obviously.
Gay off…being pulled off? No…missed a trick there Clive. Drink to celebrate being a better commentator.
86 minutes in. Townsend says “good shape, body shape”…even though nothing happens. Feel like I’m watching a different game. Drink.
Ste – Notice that the bottle of banana-ry stuff is getting low and is now swishable. Say the word ‘swishable’ numerous times on each occasion in a different voice but always accentuating the ‘ble’.
Noel – All over. Two bottles nearly finished. Small bottles granted. Drink because it finishes the bottle. 5 minutes extra? Really?
Tea. Sweet, sweet tea. Missus comes home. Declares that I “stink”.
Ste – ‘Wembley will have a Scouse accent come April 24th’ Tyldesley chirps. Ah go on then, a final one for the road.