I ONCE made the mistake of sitting near the front at a comedy gig in Manchester. It was bad enough that the compere took the mickey out of me, but the first act then followed up by speculating about whether I took an interest in animal porn.
(Watch the number of Google hits for this blog rocket now after that last sentence.)
There are, I’m sure, people out there who enjoy being verbally abused by someone they’ve never met before. However, I’m not one of them, so I left. If you’re the sort of stand-up comedian whose entire act consists of performing character assassinations on a member of the audience, that’s fine, as long as your career quickly withers and dies afterwards.
(“Where’s your sense of humour?” people often ask me. “Telford,” I reply.)
Since then, I’ve made a point of never sitting near the front row at any event. If it’s risky at a comedy night, it’s positively dangerous at a football match.
I’ll never forget sitting near the front at Edgeley Park one Friday night in the late 1980s, when a particularly uncultured York full-back booted the ball out for a throw-in.
The ball whizzed about six inches past my head, and smack into the face of a young girl who had been reading her programme, understandably oblivious to the excuse for a game going on front of her. Fortunately, she was all right, once her face stopped stinging and she was able to stop crying.
Still, at least the players on duty for Stockport and York on that night in 1989 didn’t perform any elaborate goal celebrations. (I don’t think they would have had the energy.) I dread to think how much more damage they might have caused if they had.
Last night’s final match: Aston Villa 1 Stoke 0
Commentator: Dan O’Hagan
John Carew’s second-half header won what looked a lively game after Stoke striker Mamady Sidibe had, rather unluckily, seen a first-half header ruled out for offside.
Carew, who had come on as an early substitute for the injured Emile Heskey, kicked the corner flag into the crowd during his celebrations, and it landed inches from a young fan.
No one was hurt, though, and the Norwegian striker not only apologised straightaway, but picked out the fan afterwards and gave him his shirt. A nice touch.
“I got a bit too excited there, so hopefully nobody got injured,” Carew said afterwards. “The fan was just there where the flag landed, so I was a bit worried.
“I don’t think it hit anybody, but just in case, I gave him my shirt and said sorry. He looked really happy.”
You see? Who said footballers have no class? I don’t remember the player who accidentally booted a ball into a girl’s face 20 years ago going out of his way to apologise – although it could be that time has played tricks on the memory.
Anyway, there are two conclusions to draw from all of this: 1) Modern-day Premier League footballers are not necessarily the ogres they’re sometimes made out to be. 2) John Carew is far too nice to be a stand-up comedian.
1. Blackburn: 5 (GD: 1. 2L: 2.)
2. Portsmouth: 4 (GD: 1. 2L: 0.)
3. Stoke: 4 (GD: 0. 2L: 2.)
4. West Ham: 3 (GD: 1. 2L: 1.)
5. Everton: 3 (GD: 1. 2L: 0.)
6. Hull: 3 (GD: 0. 2L: 4.)
7. Wigan: 3 (GD: 0. 2L: 1.)
8. Aston Villa: 3 (GD: 0. 2L: 0.)
9. Gubba: 2 (GD: 2. 2L: 2.)
10. Bolton: 2 (GD: 0. 2L: 4.)
11. Wolves: 2 (GD: 0. 2L: 3.)
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. Tottenham: 0 (GD: 0. 2L: 2.)
18=. Arsenal: 0 (GD: 0. 2L: 1.)
18=. Chelsea: 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: Blackburn 0 Tottenham 2.)
(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.)