THE tension! The drama! The excitement! And that was just Phil Brown singing. Is this really the best trip you’ve ever been on, Phil? Because if it is, that’s one hell of a high fear threshold you’ve got there.
I’m guessing that Brown meant “trip” as in journey, rather than as in acid, because the poor bloke suffered enough during the second half of the season, and I’d hate to think he was hallucinating giant purple elephants, fist-sized space rockets and buzzing polystyrene cubes as well.
I’m not a Hull City fan, and yet I still found their plummet from third place in the Premier League in October to the relegation precipice truly frightening. I don’t think I’ve been so scared by a piece of mainstream entertainment since the episode of C.A.T.S. Eyes around 1986 where Leslie Ash goes on a date with some bloke who drugs her dinner – and she starts seeing rivulets of blood pouring from a safe on the wall. Mind you, I was only a child then, so I was a lot easier to scare.
But Hull, like Leslie, survived their ordeal. And at the end of the season, the league table doesn’t lie. I know this because Brown and pretty much every other manager interviewed on tonight’s Match Of The Day said so, in one form or another.
Indeed, so truthful is the league table, that reports are surfacing tonight that it is considering standing as an anti-sleaze candidate at the next General Election. Several MPs are already understood to be worried.
Like the Premier League table, the Gubbometer doesn’t lie – and Hull, despite early promise in both, came nowhere near the top of either. But unlike the Premier League title race, the chase for Gubbometer honours went all the way to the final day.
Congratulations go to Fulham, who held off Wigan’s late challenge to finish top – thanks to Tony Gubba, Hugo Rodallega and a little bit of history repeating.
Tonight’s final match: Blackburn 0 West Brom 0
Commentator: Ian Gwyn Hughes
I’ll deal with the repeating of history first. You see, this whole thing about fans complaining that their team is always last on Match of the Day was born in 2004, when the BBC regained the rights to Premier League highlights from ITV and decided to start sending a commentator to every game.
Up to that point, fans had complained that their team was always relegated to a brief report at the end of The Premiership. This soon evolved into the question which peppered Premier League message boards around the country: “Why is my team always last on Match of the Day?”
Right at the start, when the new MOTD launched in August 2004, the first game to be shown last was: Blackburn v West Brom. And by a strange coincidence, that was also the game shown last tonight – all two minutes and 35 seconds of it.
The match marked Tugay’s final appearance for Blackburn, at the age of 162, before retiring to take up his new job as a Jimmy Savile lookalike. Blackburn keeper Paul Robinson made an outstanding save to keep out Chris Brunt’s volley, and Rovers striker Jason Roberts was red carded for an off-the-ball elbow. Most notably of all, West Brom (who have generally defended about as stoutly as a dam made of Weetabix) kept a clean sheet.
Neither Blackburn nor West Brom had any chance of finishing top of the Gubbometer, but Wigan did. Their game against Portsmouth was on second-to-last, but might have been on at the end, had it not been for Rodallega.
You see, the Colombian striker dashed Wigan’s hopes of being on last (and thus pipping Fulham to the Gubbometer crown) by scoring against Pompey. Had the game at the JJB Stadium finished 0-0, it might just have slipped to the end of the show. Ah, Hugo, you may just have cost your team a title.
With Wigan not quite on last, that title goes to Fulham by the slimmest of margins. At the bottom of my Gubbometer updates every week, there is a little note stating that teams level on points will be separated by Gubba difference – the number of times a team is last on MOTD with Tony Gubba commentating.
Well, none of Wigan’s nine appearances at the midnight end of the show featured Gubba on commentary. But one of Fulham’s did – the 1-1 draw against Manchester City at Craven Cottage in December. And so even though both teams were on last the same number of times, it’s Roy Hodgson’s men who triumph.
(Disappointingly, Gubba only covered the final game three times this season. The honour of being the commentator posted to the last match most often this season goes to Alistair Mann, who did it eight times.)
Not a bad day for Fulham overall, then, what with qualifying for the Europa League and all that.
“After 38 games, you get where you deserve to be,” said Hodgson after today’s 0-2 home defeat by Everton. I think he was talking about Europa League qualification. I mean, he couldn’t possibly have been talking about the Gubbometer. Could he?
Well either way, Roy, the league table doesn’t lie.
Gubbometer – final standings
1. Fulham: 9 (GD: +1; CD: +1)
2. Wigan: 9 (GD: 0; CD: +2)
3. West Brom: 8 (GD: +1; CD: 0)
4=. Middlesbrough: 7 (GD: 0; CD: +1)
4=. Bolton: 7 (GD: 0; CD: +1)
6. Capello: 5 (GD: +1; CD: +5)
7. West Ham: 5 (GD: +1; CD: +2)
8. Blackburn: 5 (GD: 0; CD: 0)
9. Arsenal: 4 (GD: +1; CD: 0)
10. Stoke: 4 (GD: 0; CD: 0)
11. Gubba: 3 (GD: +3; CD: +1)
12. Tottenham: 3 (GD: +1; CD: 0)
13=. Newcastle: 3 (GD: 0; CD: 0)
13=. Hull: 3 (GD: 0; CD: 0)
15=. Aston Villa: 2 (GD: 0; CD: +1)
15=. Portsmouth: 2 (GD: 0; CD: +1)
17=. Everton: 2 (GD: 0; CD: 0)
17=. Sunderland: 2 (GD: 0; CD: 0)
18. Manchester City: 1 (GD: +1; CD +1)
20=. Chelsea: 0
20=. Liverpool: 0
20=. 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.)
Last on MOTD 2008/09: The complete list
May 24: Blackburn 0 West Brom 0 (Commentator: Ian Gwyn Hughes)
May 16: Stoke 2 Wigan 0 (Ian Gwyn Hughes)
May 9: Everton 0 Tottenham 0 (Alistair Mann)
May 2: Wigan 0 Bolton 0 (John Roder)
Apr 25: Bolton 1 Aston Villa 1 (Ian Gwyn Hughes)
Apr 18: Aston Villa 1 West Ham 1 (John Roder)
Apr 11: Tottenham 1 West Ham 0 (Tony Gubba)
Apr 4: Hull 0 Portsmouth 0 (Alistair Mann)
Mar 21: West Brom 1 Bolton 1 (Steve Wilson)
Mar 14: Hull 1 Newcastle 1 (Dan O’Hagan)
Mar 4: West Brom 1 Arsenal 3 (Tony Gubba)
Feb 28: Arsenal 0 Fulham 0 (John Motson)
Feb 21: Middlesbrough 0 Wigan 0 (Dan O’Hagan)
Feb 7: Wigan 0 Fulham 0 (Alistair Mann)
Jan 31: Arsenal 0 West Ham 0 (John Motson)
Jan 28: Sunderland 1 Fulham 0 (Ivan Gaskell)
Jan 17: West Brom 3 Middlesbrough 0 (Dan O’Hagan)
Jan 10: Arsenal 1 Bolton 0 (Guy Mowbray)
Dec 28: Bolton 0 Wigan 1 (John Roder)
Dec 26: Tottenham 0 Fulham 0 (Dan O’Hagan)
Dec 20: Fulham 3 Middlesbrough 0 (Simon Brotherton)
Dec 13: Stoke 0 Fulham 0 (John Roder)
Dec 6: Fulham 1 Manchester City 1 (Tony Gubba)
Nov 29: Middlesbrough 0 Newcastle 0 (Simon Brotherton)
Nov 22: Stoke 1 West Brom 0 (Jacqui Oatley)
Nov 15: West Ham 0 Portsmouth 0 (John Roder)
Nov 8: Wigan 0 Stoke 0 (John Roder)
Nov 1: Everton 1 Fulham 0 (Steve Wilson)
Oct 29: Newcastle 2 West Brom 1 (Alistair Mann)
Oct 25: Blackburn 1 Middlesbrough 1 (Alistair Mann)
Oct 18: Bolton 0 Blackburn 0 (Dan O’Hagan)
Oct 4: Wigan 0 Middlesbrough 1 (Martin Fisher)
Sep 27: Middlesbrough 0 West Brom 1 (Dan O’Hagan)
Sep 20: Blackburn 1 Fulham 0 (John Roder)
Sep 13: Wigan 1 Sunderland 1 (Alistair Mann)
Aug 30: Bolton 0 West Brom 0 (Alistair Mann)
Aug 23: Blackburn 1 Hull 1 (Alistair Mann)
Aug 16: West Ham 2 Wigan 1 (Roger Johnson)
For the 2007/08 complete list, click here.