17 June 2008

It's the ITV Football Drinking Game!

I've often read that soccer fans in North America would prefer to have more English commentators on TV coverage of games. I understand this - I know I'd be disappointed not to hear American voices calling the action at the Super Bowl, for example. However, if you are one of these people, and you get the chance to spend a bit of time in the UK, be sure to check out ITV's football coverage. You may well find yourself counting your blessings.

I know, I know - I really shouldn't complain. It's a free-to-air station and they do show some top-notch stuff (as well as the Euros they have the rights to Tuesday Champions League games). It just that it's so damned hard to concentrate on this wonderful fare when they're so intent on
smothering it with the most brain-drillingly irritating presentation imaginable. It takes all your mental resolve not to go all Luton Town v. Millwall, picking up your armchair and firing it through the TV screen, then realising that you're at home and that TV cost a fair whack and bugger me if that chair isn't heavier than I thought and I think I've done my back in.

It's with this in mind that I present the ITV Football Drinking Game. If you're going to be so driven to distraction that you can't focus on the actual football, you may as well make an evening of it, or at least stupefy yourself before they do it to you. So if during the next fortnight you find yourself with no option but to watch a match on ITV, here, at no cost whatsoever*, are the rules:

-Clive Tyldesley mentions the 1999 Champions League final - take a drink

-The first words out of David Pleat's mouth are "evening all" - take a drink

-David Pleat pronounces the same foreign player's name in more than one way - take a drink

-Jim Beglin says "ah, he made the most it" or "he went down a bit theatrically there" after a foul, regardless of the viciousness of the offence - take a drink

-After a free kick is awarded for a high foot, commentator says "of course, that wouldn't be a foul in the Premier League" - take a drink

-Peter Drury indulges in a meticulously scripted opening monologue - one drink for each minute's duration

-Peter Drury screams a player's name as said player scuffs a shot into the grateful hands of the goalkeeper - one drink for each eardrum ruptured

-During a Turkey game, the word 'Leytonstone' is uttered - take a drink

-Ad break! - take a drink

-At half-time, Steve Ryder describes a match of soul-stealing tedium as "intriguingly poised" - take a drink

-Commentator finds some way of shoehorning a mention of the English team into the commentary - take a drink

-Andy Townsend witters on yet again about the non-offside call for van Nistelrooy's goal against Italy, bringing up an example from the present match where a striker is off the field but wasn't given offside and how surely that shows that he's right, and what do UEFA think of
that then, eh?, even though it's completely, but completely, irrelevant to the issue - one drink for every notch you have to turn the volume down by

-Sam Allardyce - three drinks

-Commentator invokes a national stereotype, eg. "efficient" Germans, "cynical" Italians, or this, courtesy of Humble Football - take a drink

-Someone makes an insightful comment - you're hearing things - you're incredibly drunk by this stage, remember

-Commentator 'nudges you in the direction' of the highlights show at 2am on ITV 4 - take a drink

-Commentator mentions Cristiano Ronaldo - even though Portugal aren't playing - take a drink

-You find yourself wishing this match was on the BBC - you'd even be happy to put up with Gary 'Perma-tanned Smugness Factory' Lineker, Alan 'Gordon Brown' Hansen and Alan 'I'll just say what Hansen just said except I'll change the wording around a little bit so I can perhaps fool some of the British licence-fee payers out there into believing that a huge wedge of their hard-earned isn't being spent merely on providing Hansen, Lineker and Lawrenson with someone to make up the numbers for their pre-match fourball' Shearer** - you hate yourself - I think I have some Prozac in the medicine cabinet...

*Except the functioning of your internal organs. That's your disclaimer, by the way.

**Luckily I'm Irish and don't have to pay the BBC licence fee, so get it for free. Unfortunately we have to pay the RTE licence fee instead; if ever you feel the need to complain in any way about the Beeb, come over here and see the crap our money is spent on - and we still have to suffer the ads...


Steve 17/6/08 11:03 PM  

Please understand that it's admiration that motivates me here to invoke the stereotype of the drinking Irishman. I doubt many people outside your country could still stand after playing your new game. Maybe I'd last for a while with Lite American beer, but not with Guinness. And certainly not with Jameson.

Our own coverage has been quite good. We somehow managed to lose those less-than-savvy American announcers this time and replaced them with Andy Gray and Adrian Healey. Derek Rae and Tommy Smyth also feature. I wouldn't know their reputations over there, but it seems like a real trade up for us.

If I were putting a version of your excellent game together over here, the one repeated phrase that comes to mind instantly is Smyth's "back of the old onion bag." In fact, I'm getting a little bleary-eyed just thinking of the bibulous prospects.

fredorrarci 18/6/08 12:18 AM  

Hmmm...maybe I shouldn't have tried to kill off what meager readership I have less than a fortnight in...

I wouldn't worry about bringing up that particular stereotype, seen as many Irish people do their level best to live up to it as best they can anyway.

Actually, I seldom drink, and in fact take some pleasure in watching others do so and how they slowly unravel over the course of the night. Perhaps it's this impulse which led me to create this game.

The only name of those you mentioned I really know of is Gray, who is Sky Sports' main pundit. I only know of Rae and Smyth from those little clips that autoplay when you go to ESPN Soccernet - irrelevant unchecked factoid: Smyth's accent leads me to deduce that he's from the same general area of Ireland as me; so if you want to imagine my voice reading these posts (of course you do!), think of Tommy's, except younger and more handsome.

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