Monday, 17 November 2008

The News that Never Was

Saturday provided the story that never was. Roy Keane did not walk out on Sunderland - but enough people believed that he might have done to keep my phone buzzing. Setanta are based in Dublin and much of my freelance work is for their Irish service, including Saturday's match between Blackburn and Sunderland. With so many Irish personalities involved at Sunderland there is terrific interest in anything that moves at the Stadium of Light.

So as rumours spread that Keane had quit, I was receiving calls on Friday evening and Saturday morning from Setanta producers anxious for me to find out the truth.

It didn't take long. A chat with Sunderland's media team was followed by evidence with the naked eye that Roy Keane was indeed with his team at Ewood Park, where they went on to win 2-1.

But it wasn't just Setanta who were on the case. Everyone was asking the same questions, making the same checks, and afterwards, putting the same questions to Keane - questions which, it has to be said, Keane dealt with in an admirably patient way. In this business, no-one wants to be left out when a story breaks. Even if it turns out to be a red and white herring.

Saturday, 8 November 2008


The first half of Wigan v Stoke was the least eventful 45 minutes I've watched in a long time. Happily the action perked up in the second half when Wigan were unlucky not to win it (0-0 was the result, as most pundits predicted). Two players caught my eye. Wilson Palacios showed terrific determination. The Wigan midfielder was one of the smaller players on the field, especially in comparison to Stoke's team of giants, but he didn't allow the physical pressures of an over-crowded midfield deter him from putting on very creative display which deserved better reward. Arsene Wenger, take note. In the Stoke rearguard Abdoulaye Faye had an excellent game - although he lost his cool with his own teammates towards the end.
Only problem for me was that my line to Dublin went down just before I was due to give my live report after the final whistle. By the time the guys had Setanta had restored communication the slot had passed and I was stood down. My report for Setanta's UK channel made it on air but - a bit like Wigan and Stoke - I had to settle for half a loaf.
Meanwhile Chester's 0-3 home defeat to Millwall in the FA Cup means we have won just seven matches in the last 12 months. In just over half those matches we have failed to score. It's becoming embarrassing.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Lewis is tops....isn't he?

Lewis Hamilton's F1 World Championship win is the top story tonight...or maybe not, depending on which TV channel you're watching.
While ITV led their news bulletin with Lewis's dramatic victory, the BBC only ran the story at number six.
The reason of course is that ITV are the rights-holders for F1 while the BBC are not (yet). Editorial judgement seldom operates in a vaccuum and this was a classic example of journalistic decisions being influenced by matters of contract, finance and technology.
ITV seized the chance to maximise their exclusive UK rights to live coverage of F1 with a report which included a one-on-one interview with Hamilton and shots inside the McLaren garage. The BBC had to make do with audio of Hamilton lifted from BBC radio and a piece to camera from reporter Adam Parsons which showed so little of Interlagos that it might as well have been shot alongside the M25.
Expect F1 to feature somewhat more prominently on the BBC's news agenda next year - when they take over from ITV as UK rights holders.

That sinking feeling

Sports journalism contains some challenging tasks. Being the commentator who provides live audio coverage of Fulham's away games for the club website has to be high on the list. One point from 15 on the team's travels this season doesn't provide much to get excited about. He was in the next seat to me yesterday for Fulham's latest defeat, 0-1 at Everton. He parked his car in an unofficial car park on waste land near the stadium. The cheery attendant took his fiver and directed him to a space where the car promptly sank halfway to the axles. "Don't worry," says the chap, "leave me your keys and I'll have it sorted for you by the time the game's over." Fortunately our man hasn't allowed the trials and tribulations of Fulham's season to overpower his better judgement. "Good offer but in all fairness I've only just met you and I'd rather keep the keys and sort it myself."
After setting up his kit in the press box he nipped back out to see if he could rescue the car - to find the cheery attendant and his mate being escorted away by constables from Merseyside Police for operating an illegal parking facility. Happily, without my pal's car keys in their pockets.
The match was likewise a close call, Everton edging a disappointing affair despite Fulham hitting the woodwork twice.