Wednesday, 2 September 2009

The Final Countdown

The FA has announced that it will investigate
allegations of hairpulling during the recent
intercontinental five-a-side tournament

The inexorable count down continues, whilst the steely faced correspondent stares sternly back at me. The whirlwind of speculation and conflicting reports whips up frenzied doubt and wide eyed disbelief in the masses across the nation who sit, like me, transfixed by the history unfolding before their eyes. The conveyor belt, heavy and luminous with breaking news flickers across the bottom of the screen as my eyes wildly follow it back and forth, back and forth. It confirms, it denies. The suspense, the contemplation of how our very existences will be shaped by the next few decisive minutes, hangs over me like an anvil ready to fall and obliterate the hopes and dreams of all in its path. And then it happens; the countdown reaches zero. As I close my eyes and hold my breath, it… cuts to a commercial break….

Yes that’s right, the apocalypse. Otherwise known as the transfer deadline day; followed by the second in glorious HD Technicolor by Sky Sports News. In truth, it was one of the least busy or interesting deadline days in recent years, but let’s not allow that to ruin our fun, shall we?

Sky Sports must have a broom cupboard where they keep emergency reporters (who incidentally all look the same) to bring out on such occasions as yesterday. Once dusted off, they stand like idiots outside the gates of every stadium/training ground in the country. Unfortunately for them, Premier League transfers were a little thin on the ground on deadline day, and instead they had to resort to deducing like sleuths the covert signs and meanings in the cars and people that went through the gates. At one point, I’m sure, the entire cleaning workforce at White Hart Lane were minutes from being unveiled as the new all-Polish defensive line up for the 09/10 season.

There were a couple of interesting movements yesterday, however. Harry Redknapp snapped up Kranjcar from Portsmouth, reportedly at a bargain rate, and Everton brought in Heitinga from Atletico Madid for £6m to plug a hole in the rapidly diminishing morale tank at Goodison Park. There were a couple more hardly worth noting, but other than that, it really was down to the chaps at Sky to fabricate the rest.

The excitable man outside Spurs’ training ground revealed that a vehicle had just passed through the gates, which may or may not have borne the initials of Matthew Upson, and that this could well mean the West Ham player would sign for Spurs before the end of the day. No more was heard of this rumour, and for all we knew the vehicle in question turned out to be a UPS van.

David James’s actions were watched closely all day, with zoom lenses picking up his afro every now and then popping up above the walls of Fratton Park. Again, nothing.
There was even wild speculation at one point that David Bentley was about to sign for Man City. I really hoped that there was some truth in that one. Not because of what his signature would do to boost City’s title hopes, but because of the potential hilarity of watching as his Mum gave him a lift to Eastlands following his driving ban last week. Alas, no joy there either.

All this was presided over in a very professional manner by the studio team; the spotlight of speculation was cast effortlessly from one corner of the country to the next by the handsome, stoical bloke and the blonde woman who as much as she tried, could kid herself no longer that she was hired for her sporting knowledge or journalistic skills.

As the deadline loomed, it became far more interesting to watch the gathering crowds of chavs in the background of the reporters’ shots, and in the case of the some of the more far flung pundits, the growing fear in their eyes as they began to be hemmed in by bmx bikes cycling in ever decreasing circles.

And then it happened. The picture was switched to Big Ben for the massively over-egged finale as the countdown reached zero, using the annoying ‘atmospehric’ effect of gradually monochroming everything but the clock tower, one that Sky Sports must have patented, such is its overuse. And then, when it was all over, the transfer anorak, who had for most of the afternoon been waiting patiently in the corner of the shot, informed us that because of paperwork and work permits, most of the confirmed transfers wouldn’t be announced for probably another hour an a half, and the bubble, which BSkyB had been desperately been trying to construct all day, burst with a wet pop.. Roll on January for more drama…

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