IT’S hard not to have a sneaking admiration for Phil Brown’s dark sense of humour, following the incident on Wednesday in which the Hull manager talked a woman out of jumping off the Humber Bridge while taking his team for a walk.
Brown has played down the incident since, telling Radio Five Live this lunchtime that he couldn’t be sure that the woman was planning to commit suicide. But he couldn’t help but have a little dig at his own expense.
“She was considering her future, shall we say,” Brown said in an interview published in today’s Guardian. “But we saved this girl. Sweet talk, you can say.
“In the end, she tootled off back to wherever she had come from. I think she saw us and realised: ‘OK, at least it’s not that bad.’”
Brown has been Hull’s manager for less than three years, and yet it seems an awful lot longer. Talking someone out of jumping off a bridge may well be the most extraordinary event to have happened in those three years – but only just.
No other manager, for instance, can claim to have had his head superimposed on to a photo of David Brent’s body by a national newspaper less than 12 months after taking his team into the Premier League.
He will never be allowed to forget the half-time pep talk on the pitch at Manchester City last Boxing Day, or the singing in the centre circle after Hull scraped to survival on the final day of last season after winning one of their final 24 league games. Brown is aware his reputation is in need of some repair.
He may not have much time, if the bookmakers are to be believed. Hull are among the early-season relegation battlers, and with Private Eye having asked all manner of awkward questions about the club’s accounts in recent issues, there is a sense that they could probably do without the financial hit of dropping into the Championship.
Life’s never dull at Hull these days. And yet they have, more often than not, found themselves at the tail end of Match of the Day. Having been on next to last four times already this season, they were on right at the end for the first time tonight.
Tonight’s final match: Hull 2 Wigan 1
Commentator: Dan O’Hagan
Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink is a commentator’s nightmare. Not because his name is hard to say – it isn’t, particularly. However, he is the only player in English professional football with a seven-syllable surname. And that doesn’t really lend itself to the modern commentary trend of screaming a player’s name at full volume when he shoots or heads for goal.
And that was the problem facing MOTD commentator Dan O’Hagan when Hull striker Vennegoor of Hesselink nipped in to head home a corner quicker than you could say, well, Vennegoor of Hesselink.
“Vennegoor of Hesselink’s header!” the commentator shouted as fast as his voice would let him. It was a very brave effort; one which earned praise from Gary Lineker afterwards.
“I thought Dan O’Hagan did brilliantly with Hull’s first goal,” said Lineker after the highlights. “Vennegoor of Hesselink – he managed to get it out so quickly!”
By comparison, shouting “Geovanni!” for Hull’s second and “Scott Sinclair!” for Wigan’s consolation must have been an absolute breeze. I’ve no idea where O’Hagan goes for his summer holidays, but I’m pretty sure he’ll be steering clear of Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch.
Wigan’s defeat at Hull came seven days after they beat Chelsea. They’ve won at Aston Villa this season, yet lost at Blackpool. Having guided Swansea to eight consecutive draws last season, equalling a Football League record, Roberto Martinez has not drawn any of his first nine matches in charge of the Latics.
Martinez is no Phil Brown in terms of the way he presents himself – he cuts a much quieter figure. But if Brown does leave Hull, the Premier League might just find itself looking to the DW Stadium for rollercoaster thrills.
1. Wigan: 3 (GD: 0. 2L: 0.)
2. Gubba: 2 (GD: 2. 2L: 1.)
3=. Portsmouth: 2 (GD: 1. 2L: 0.)
3=. West Ham: 2 (GD: 1. 2L: 0.)
5. Stoke: 2 (GD: 0. 2L: 0.)
6=. Blackburn: 1 (GD: 1. 2L: 0.)
6=. Everton: 1 (GD: 1. 2L: 0.)
8. Hull: 1 (GD: 0. 2L: 4.)
9=. Bolton: 1 (GD: 0. 2L: 2.)
9=. Birmingham: 1 (GD: 0. 2L: 2.)
11=. Fulham: 1 (GD: 0. 2L: 1.)
11=. Wolves: 1 (GD: 0. 2L: 1.)
13. Sunderland: 0 (GD: 0. 2L: 3.)
14=. Arsenal: 0 (GD: 0. 2L: 1.)
14=. Burnley: 0 (GD: 0. 2L: 1.)
14=. Chelsea: 0 (GD: 0. 2L: 1.)
17=. Aston Villa: 0 (GD: 0. 2L: 0.)
17=. Liverpool: 0 (GD: 0. 2L: 0.)
17=. Manchester City: 0 (GD: 0. 2L: 0.)
17=. Manchester United: 0 (GD: 0. 2L: 0.)
17=. Tottenham: 0 (GD: 0. 2L: 0.)
GD = Gubba difference
2L = On second last (Tonight’s penultimate match was: Burnley 2 Birmingham 1.)
(NB. Teams will receive one point for every time they appear last on MOTD. Appearances on MOTD2 are not included. Teams level on points will be separated by Gubba difference – the number of times a team is on last with Tony Gubba commentating. Teams still level will then be separated by the number of times they appear second last on MOTD.)