I’M delighted to announce that I made a brief appearance on last night’s Match of the Day. It was during the game between Tottenham and Manchester City, which means I was on second. That was before Arsenal, before Liverpool, and well before Bolton v West Ham.
Even if you’ve Sky-plussed it, or recorded it on video or DVD, or filmed it off the telly using your mobile phone, or downloaded it using some kind of illegal file-sharing program, you haven’t got a cat in hell’s chance of spotting me, so I’ll tell you where I featured.
I was at White Hart Lane last night covering the game for the Manchester Evening News. (For various reasons, I didn’t get home until nearly 5am, which is largely why it’s taken me nearly 24 hours to update the Gubbometer following last night’s MOTD.)
The press box at Tottenham is almost at pitch level, right behind the two benches. So when the TV cameras show a close up of either manager, you can invariably see assembled hacks in the background scribbling, or tapping away at laptops, or shouting excitedly into a microphone, or picking their nose.
And so just after Jonathan Pearce had told the MOTD viewers that Tottenham and City were like the Christmas fairy lights (full of sparkle, by liable to go out at any moment) and run through the teams, there was a close up shot of Harry Redknapp and Mark Hughes shaking hands and taking their seats for kick off.
I’m there – four rows behind Hughes, sitting just to the left of a white rectangular TV monitor, head partly hidden by my laptop and by the head of the person in front of me. It looks as if I’m biting my nails, but I don’t remember doing this. Perhaps it’s camera trickery. Or perhaps I’m just more nervous that I thought I was.
To my knowledge, it’s the first time I’ve ever appeared on Match of the Day. I should point out that the top half of my head did show up on MOTD2 in August 2005, when the show did a feature on Wigan chairman Dave Whelan, who was sitting about three rows behind me at a game against Sunderland as his team recorded their first ever Premier League win. But that’s MOTD2. It’s just not the same.
There’s a part of me that wonders what I’ll do if I ever make an appearance during a game that last on MOTD. Should I start including myself on the Gubbometer? Would I need to start making smart-arse comments about myself? Should I set up an internet message board claiming that I’m always last on MOTD, and that the BBC must have some inherent bias against me?
It’s not something I need to worry about, anyway, as I wasn’t at Bolton on Tuesday night.
Last night’s final match: Bolton 3 West Ham 1
Reporter: Ivan Gaskell
I was, though, at Bolton last Saturday, when they drew 3-3 with Manchester City in a game that had just about everything – great goals, lucky goals, outrageous refereeing decisions and a brilliant celebration by Ivan ‘he had two kidney transplants, you know’ Klasnic.
Bolton striker Klasnic turned up for Saturday’s game wearing a pair of sunglasses. In the process, he became possibly the first person ever to wear shades in Bolton in December, and was promptly mocked by his team-mates.
When the Croatia international scored the second of his two goals, he raced to the bench to collect his shades and put them on to celebrate with his team-mates, thereby becoming the first person ever to wear shades in the dark in Bolton in December. It topped the celebration for his first goal, which he marked by sucking his thumb.
“Ivan is a very complicated man and I am not sure even he knows what he is going to do,” said his team-mate Gretar Steinsson afterwards.
Klasnic proved Steinsson’s point with a very amusing post-match interview in the press room at the Reebok Stadium. Asked if a draw against City was a good result for a team in the relegation zone, Klasnic said: “No. The important thing is that we must soon get three points from a game to get us out of this small shit.”
Three days later, Klasnic did his bit to help Bolton out of that small shit by scoring a decisive goal against West Ham. It helped lift Wanderers out of the bottom three – but there was no sign of the shades this time.
Klasnic’s goal did have a shade of fortune, though. Hammers keeper Robert Green inexplicably fumbled a tame Tamir Cohen header straight at Klasnic’s feet, and the striker tapped the ball into the net. West Ham had been level at 1-1 at the time. Gary Cahill’s header soon afterwards sealed a 3-1 defeat.
If Bolton were in a small shit, West Ham are in danger of being engulfed by a titanic turd. They have dropped below Bolton in the Premier League, and lie next to bottom, three points clear of Portsmouth.
The highlight of last night’s show, though, was surely a three-way exchange between Gary Lineker, Alan Hansen and Lee Dixon regarding the number of times Liverpool are last on Match of the Day. I give you the best bits:
Act one – before the Liverpool v Wigan highlights
Dixon: Liverpool game’s on now.
Hansen: They’re always on last. What’s happened to Match of the Day that Liverpool are always last on? Is it because of you?
Lineker: It’s because they’re mid-table these days. It’s not quite so interesting. Next, it’s struggling Liverpool, Alan, against unpredictable Wigan…
Act two – after the Liverpool v Wigan highlights
Lineker: Your mob back to winning ways. They’ll be sneaking up the programme.
Hansen: Well, they’re sixth now, and I’ll tell you something else – that’s the best they’ve played in the last 20 years. I’m going to make a prediction. They’re going to go 20 games undefeated, and round about late March, they’ll go top. Try putting them on last then.
Lineker: Don’t point at me! I don’t decide the order!
Dixon: He’s gone mad!
The first sad thing is that someone, somewhere, will have heard Hansen’s tongue-in-cheek comments and thought: “He’s absolutely right.” Even though Liverpool have been last on MOTD once in the last two-and-a-half years. The second sad thing is that I know that statistic.
But that still doesn’t explain why I’m always second on Match of the Day.
1. Blackburn: 5 (GD: 1. 2L: 1.)
2. Portsmouth: 4 (GD: 1. 2L: 0.)
3. West Ham: 3 (GD: 1. 2L: 1.)
4. Everton: 3 (GD: 1. 2L: 0.)
5. Hull: 3 (GD: 0. 2L: 4.)
6. Stoke: 3 (GD: 0. 2L: 2.)
7. Wigan: 3 (GD: 0. 2L: 1.)
8. Gubba: 2 (GD: 2. 2L: 2.)
9. Bolton: 2 (GD: 0. 2L: 4.)
10. Wolves: 2 (GD: 0. 2L: 3.)
11. Aston Villa: 2 (GD: 0. 2L: 0.)
12=. Birmingham: 1 (GD: 0. 2L: 4.)
12=. Fulham: 1 (GD: 0. 2L: 4.)
14. 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: Birmingham 2 Blackburn 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.)