ENG 1 USA 1: England goal? What England goal?

MY mum took me on a day trip to Granada Studios Tour in Manchester when I was about 11. Our party saw replicas of the House of Commons and Baker Street, took a trip through a mock Checkpoint Charlie and walked down Coronation Street. We also had a talk from a chap who had worked on football matches for ITV.

This chap told a story of an FA Cup quarter-final Granada covered between Manchester United and Everton for a highlights programme in 1983. He said that, with a few minutes to go, and the game petering out, the director decided to stop the filming of the game to save a bit of money, because it was clearly heading for a 0-0 draw.

Then with seconds remaining, Frank Stapleton volleyed a winner into the top corner at the Stretford End to win the game for United. The Granada Studios Tour chap told us that, to get round this slight problem, the director had to go out on to the pitch after the game and recreate the winning goal himself.

I’ve long since suspected this story is apocryphal. I’ve seen the goal in question many times, and if it really was scored by Granada’s match director, then Ron Atkinson should have signed him up. He might have helped United win a couple of titles.

In any case, there are far more bizarre ways of missing goals in televised matches these days.

Watching live ITV coverage of England’s opening game against the USA in Rustenburg this evening, I didn’t realise anything was amiss until half-time. Then Adrian Chiles appeared with a muted apology. (He doesn’t really do screaming and shouting.)

“Apologies to those watching in HD,” he said. “I understand there was some interruption in your coverage.”

It didn’t take long to find out what had happened. I’ll let Richard Madeley’s Twitter feed take up the story. (I’ve written some odd things on this blog, but I never thought I would write that sentence.)

“Anyone watching on ITV HD – they played a commercial OVER THE FIRST GOAL,” fumed the former This Morning host and occasional Ali G impersonator.

And if you were watching in HD, that’s exactly what happened. One moment, Glen Johnson was taking a throw-in. Then, all of a sudden, we cut to an ad for Hyundai cars. The screen went blank, and then we returned to the match to see Fabio Capello looking very calm on the bench, and Steven Gerrard celebrating England’s goal.

Viewers like me, who were watching in standard definition, missed nothing. But quite a few pubs will have had the high definition version on (perhaps to counteract the effect of beer goggles). And the viewers there were not happy.

“There was pandemonium in the pub – it was outrageous,” Stockport pub landlord Andy Quinn-Williams told the Daily Telegraph’s website. I felt a bit left out at not having seen this cock up live.

It’s not the first time this has happened with ITV. They accidentally cut to an advert two minutes from the end of extra-time when Everton faced Liverpool in an FA Cup replay at Goodison Park in February 2009. In some regions, the coverage failed to cut back in time to catch Dan Gosling’s winner.

And three weeks ago, the cock-up happened the other way round, with the ad cutting out prematurely. During their coverage of the Champions League final, ITV accidentally cut off the final six seconds of a very expensive three-minute advert for Nike in several regions.

These mistakes can happen, I accept that. In a sense, ITV have been very, very unlucky. What I really, really, really can’t accept is ITV inflicting the wazzockry of James Corden, Simon Cowell and an insufferable hollering audience on the nation as I type this. What have we done to deserve that?

On the subject of mistakes, it was not a good night for England keeper Rob Green, who had what Clive Tyldesley accurately described as “a Scott Carson moment” in allowing Clint Dempsey’s hit-and-hope to squirm beyond him from 30 yards.

England huffed and puffed, and Gerrard looked lively, and Wayne Rooney looked dangerous in spells, and Emile Heskey won lots of headers without looking as if he would score in a month of commercial breaks. Green redeemed himself with an outstanding second-half save from Tweeter extraordinaire Jozy Altidore.

A repeat of Belo Horizonte 1950 it wasn’t, and England may still win the group, but they have to buck up their ideas. If they want a Motty-style omen, though, it’s worth remembering that Italy were held to a 1-1 draw by the USA in the group stages at the last World Cup, and went on to win the tournament.

“It’s one of them freak things,” Gerrard said afterwards, referring to Green’s error rather than ITV’s mishap. I think.

Still, we know how to get England to win the World Cup now. Get the TV coverage to cut out during the game, and Fabio’s men are bound to score. World Cup final here we come!

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One Response to ENG 1 USA 1: England goal? What England goal?

  1. Peter Reynolds says:

    http://peterreynolds.wordpress.com/2010/06/12/itv-cock-up-the-world-cup-immediately/

    From the comments I’ve had on this piece it seems that ITV drops the ball in its own net regularly.

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