PEOPLE mocked Phil Brown when he sang on the pitch following Hull City’s final-day relegation escape last season. Indeed, the way some people carried on, you’d have thought he’d never sung on television before. But he had. Oh, yes he had.
Granada used to show a football preview programme in the North West called Kick Off, which ran regularly through the 1970s, and then intermittently during the 80s and the first half of the 90s. At Easter 1993, the show ran a feature on Bolton goalkeeper Keith Branagan.
The feature’s hook, if you’ll pardon the pun, was that Branagan was a half-decent guitarist who had played in a band during his time at Cambridge United. Reporter Rob McCaffrey was sent along to Burnden Park to ask Branagan a few questions about his musical talent, and a few more about Bolton’s bid to win promotion from what is now League One.
Branagan comes across in the piece as a likeable, self-effacing chap. At one point, McCaffrey asks if he has ever considered taking up music professionally, and the keeper looks baffled, before saying matter-of-factly: “No. I’m not good enough.”
The feature might well have petered out from there, but for McCaffrey’s decision to deploy an emergency back-up plan beloved of every local TV news reporter in such situations. That back-up plan is this: If a human interest story is dying on its arse, make a tit of yourself to liven it up.
And so McCaffrey – along with a handful of Branagan’s Bolton team-mates – finishes the feature by murdering U2’s hit I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.
But can you guess which Bolton player of the period fills the centre of the screen, using a mop for a microphone, while Branagan plays guitar at his side? Yep, that’s right.
So that’s two songs in Brown’s repertoire. I reckon there could be an album in him yet.
Last night’s final match: Hull 0 Blackburn 0
Commentator: Steve Bower
Life is looking a good deal brighter for Brown these days after a pretty hairy 12 months. A run of one defeat in six has stabilised a club that looked a strong bet for relegation at the end of October.
This goalless draw against a Blackburn side managed by his old mate Sam Allardyce didn’t have an awful lot to recommend it – but this was a fixture Hull lost last season, so perhaps a draw represents progress of a sort.
Brown certainly thought so. “It’s always a good point in the Premier League; it’s a tough old league,” he said afterwards, before correcting interviewer Steve Bower on the number of clean sheets Hull have kept this season. (Bower said two, Brown said three. Brown was right, and rattled off the fact that the others came against Bolton and Portsmouth to prove it.)
Nikola Kalinic probably should have won it for Rovers, but then I was saying the same thing after they were last on Match of the Day against Liverpool a week ago. Blackburn fans can complain all they like about their team being on last for three successive shows, but they have had three successive Premier League goalless draws.
For Brown and Allardyce, the priority this season is Premier League survival. In both cases, they are Still A Long Way From Finding What They’re Looking For. Brown, though, decided against stating that in song form this time.
And that, unfortunately, denied MOTD presenter Gabby Logan the chance to try to match Elton Welsby’s pay-off line to McCaffrey’s Kick Off report all those years ago.
“A band on the run,” Welsby said of Brown and Co’s 1993 musical efforts. “Or at least they should be.”
1. Blackburn: 5 (GD: 1. 2L: 0.)
2. Portsmouth: 4 (GD: 1. 2L: 0.)
3. Everton: 3 (GD: 1. 2L: 0.)
4. Hull: 3 (GD: 0. 2L: 4.)
5. Stoke: 3 (GD: 0. 2L: 2.)
6. Wigan: 3 (GD: 0. 2L: 1.)
7. Gubba: 2 (GD: 2. 2L: 2.)
8. West Ham: 2 (GD: 1. 2L: 1.)
9. Wolves: 2 (GD: 0. 2L: 3.)
10. Aston Villa: 2 (GD: 0. 2L: 0.)
11=. Bolton: 1 (GD: 0. 2L: 4.)
11=. Fulham: 1 (GD: 0. 2L: 4.)
13=. Birmingham: 1 (GD: 0. 2L: 3.)
13=. Burnley: 1 (GD: 0. 2L: 3.)
15. Liverpool: 1 (GD: 0. 2L: 0.)
16. Sunderland: 0 (GD: 0. 2L: 4.)
17=. Arsenal: 0 (GD: 0. 2L: 1.)
17=. Chelsea: 0 (GD: 0. 2L: 1.)
17=. Tottenham: 0 (GD: 0. 2L: 1.)
20=. Manchester City: 0 (GD: 0. 2L: 0.)
20=. Manchester United: 0 (GD: 0. 2L: 0.)
GD = Gubba difference
2L = On second last (Last night’s penultimate match was: Burnley 1 Fulham 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.)