IT is a thing of wonder, really, that Taggart (the show) has managed to survive with Taggart (the character) for the best part of 15 years. It is a much, much smaller thing of wonder – but a thing of wonder all the same – that the Gubbometer has managed to survive without Tony Gubba for most of this season.
Gubba had, before last night’s Match of the Day, commentated on the final game just once this season – a 1-1 draw between Fulham and Manchester City in early December, memorable chiefly for the close-up shot of Robinho sitting in the stand listening to his iPod.
(As another TV commentator once remarked over a shot of a fan clamped to his portable radio on the final day of the season: “I bet he’s not listening to the shipping forecast.”)
Oh, he’s still been around, though. He’s popped up at Craven Cottage, at Upton Park and at the Britannia Stadium on MOTD on a Saturday, getting all excited over relatively uninspiring matches, then switching over to ITV on a Sunday to commentate on Dance As If Nobody’s Watching, getting all excited over whatserface ice skating with thingumabob in a relatively uninspiring fashion.
But he’s been missing from the MOTD graveyard slot for too long, and it’s good have him back. Welcome home, Tony.
Last night’s final match: West Brom 1 Arsenal 3
Commentator: Have you not read the last five paragraphs?
It’s been the custom this season, on midweek editions of MOTD, to put the Tuesday night games on at the end. So Blackburn and Everton were wasting their time playing out a dreary goalless draw at Ewood Park last night – as a Wednesday game, it was never going to be on at the end.
That meant that one of three games was going to be on last: the one involving Chelsea (who haven’t been on last all season), the one involving Liverpool (who haven’t been on last in the two years I’ve been keeping count) or West Brom v Arsenal.
As it turned out, it was a decent game at The Hawthorns. West Brom defend like they don’t need the money, which was just what Arsenal needed after four successive 0-0 league draws. Nicklas Bendtner scored either side of a Kolo Toure goal, and Gubba sounded thrilled to bits to be watching a decent game involving at least one team who will be playing in Europe next season.
West Brom won’t be appearing on MOTD (or at least its Premier League version) at all next season if they continue to let in so many goals, though. Manager Tony Mowbray used words such as “ridiculous” and “unacceptable” to describe his team’s defending.
Still, look on the bright side, Tony. As Derby proved last season, if you are mathematically relegated early enough, you can guarantee being last on MOTD pretty much every week. And that might just give your team time to catch Fulham at the top of the Gubbometer – especially now you’ve levelled their Gubba difference. Now if only you could get Fabio Capello to The Hawthorns a few more times…
1. Fulham: 9 (GD: +1; CD: +1)
2. Wigan: 7 (GD: 0; CD: +2)
3. Middlesbrough: 7 (GD: 0; CD: +1)
4. West Brom: 6 (GD: +1; CD: 0)
5. Capello: 4 (GD: +1; CD: +4)
6. Arsenal: 4 (GD: +1; CD: 0)
7=. Blackburn: 4 (GD: 0; CD: 0)
7=. Bolton: 4 (GD: 0; CD: 0)
9. West Ham: 3 (GD: 0; CD: +2)
10. Stoke: 3 (GD: 0; CD: 0)
11. Gubba: 2 (GD: +2; CD: +1)
12=. Newcastle: 2 (GD: 0; CD: 0)
12=. Sunderland: 2 (GD: 0; CD: 0)
14. Manchester City: 1 (GD: +1; CD +1)
15. Portsmouth: 1 (GD: 0; CD: +1)
16=. Everton: 1 (GD: 0; CD: 0)
16=. Hull: 1 (GD: 0; CD: 0)
16=. Tottenham: 1 (GD: 0; CD: 0)
19=. Aston Villa: 0
19=. Chelsea: 0
19=. Liverpool: 0
19=. Manchester United: 0
(NB: Teams level on points will be separated by Gubba difference: the number of times a team is last on Match of the Day with Tony Gubba commentating. If they are still level, they will be separated by Capello difference: the number of times a team is last on MOTD with Fabio Capello present.)