Last on MOTD: Tony Gubba’s worst nightmare

A COUPLE of seasons ago, Bury adopted a brown and sky blue halved home shirt to mark their 125th anniversary. (OK, I may not have got the colour descriptions spot on there. I’m not Dulux, you know.)

It was a nice way to celebrate the club’s history, but it caused a hell of a lot of confusion. Several kitmen at other League Two clubs seemed to be under the impression that Bury were still playing in white. There were an awful lot of colour clashes.

Towards the end of the season, Port Vale became the umpteenth team to turn up at Gigg Lane with the wrong kit. As they had no alternative strip, Vale had to play in their training tops – which didn’t have numbers on them.

Those used to watching Vale week in, week out could probably have muddled through. The rest of the press box spent the entire 90 minutes in a state of bewilderment.

With half-time approaching, Vale got a penalty. BBC Radio Manchester decided to go live to their reporter at the ground, who described the resulting goal thus: “Port Vale have just taken the lead from the penalty spot. I’ve no idea who’s scored.”

A few years before that, I was assigned to cover a charity match at Macclesfield’s Moss Rose for a local radio station. A side made up of actors from Sky One’s football soap Dream Team played a Coronation Street XI, and the station I was working for thought it would be fun for me to go along and do live updates.

There was only one problem. I’d never seen an episode of Dream Team in my life. And while the Corrie XI were listed on the team-sheet under the real names, the Dream Team players were listed by character names. On at least three occasions, I had to run down to the dug-out after a goal to figure out: a) which player had scored, and b) what their real name was. By the time the score got to about 8-6, I had given up.

“A marvellous afternoon’s entertainment,” I flannelled, hoping that no-one would notice that I didn’t have a clue what I was talking about.

A few years before that, Tony Gubba (the man who is, in many ways, the father of this blog) was assigned to cover a World Cup group stage match between Romania and Tunisia for the BBC. As the teams emerged, he discovered to his great delight that the entire Romania team had dyed their hair bright yellow, making player identification almost impossible.

Such are the pitfalls of live sports broadcasting. I suspect that, even now, Gubba cannot look at a peroxide blond/blonde without a shudder. I believe he ended up giving away his entire collection of Billy Idol LPs.

Last on MOTD: Tottenham 1 West Brom 0
Commentator: John Roder

Gubba stopped appearing on Match of the Day at the end of the 2009/10 season, although he still keeps himself busy with the Football League Show and Dancing On Ice. One show is filled with C-listers sliding around haplessly to the derision of the viewing public, the other is presented by Philip Schofield. (Honestly, I’d be writing gags for Have I Got News For You if only I could crowbar in a few more gratuitous John Prescott references.)

And so, thankfully, he was nowhere near White Hart Lane on Tuesday night to witness Jermain Defoe’s new blond look. A tribute to Romania’s 1998 World Cup squad? A New Year makeover? An accident with a bottle of bleach? Honestly, even I don’t care.

Also absent from White Hart Lane was the bronze cockerel that normally adorns the top of the stand, taken down for safety reasons as high winds battered Britain. Both Gubba and the cockerel missed Defoe scoring a very smartly-taken second-half winner against West Brom, to add to the goal he scored in a 3-1 win at The Hawthorns in November.

Defoe has scored 10 times for Tottenham this season, but has struggled for regular games, with manager Harry Redknapp generally preferring to play Rafael van der Vaart off Emmanuel Adebayor up front.

The new hairstyle – allied to the goalscoring form – should ensure Defoe isn’t ignored. Well, as long as his team-mates don’t all follow suit. But that would surely never happen, eh, Tony?

Gubbometer 2011/12

1. Fulham: 5 (2L: 1, 3L: 2)
2. West Brom: 4 (2L: 4, 3L: 2)
3. Aston Villa: 4 (2L: 3, 3L: 3)
4. QPR: 4 (2L: 1, 3L: 1)
5. Swansea: 3 (2L: 3, 3L: 4)
6. Norwich: 3 (2L: 3, 3L: 1)
7. Sunderland: 3 (2L: 3, 3L: 0)
8: Wolves: 3 (2L: 2, 3L: 4)
9. Wigan: 2 (2L: 6, 3L: 4)
10. Blackburn: 2 (2L: 2, 3L: 3)
11: Liverpool: 2 (2L: 1, 3L: 3)
11. Stoke: 2 (2L: 1, 3L: 3)
13. Tottenham: 2 (2L: 1, 3L: 0)
14. Newcastle: 2 (2L: 0, 3L: 0)
15. Bolton: 1 (2L: 3, 3L: 4)
16. Everton: 0 (2L: 4, 3L: 4)
17. Arsenal: 0 (2L: 2, 3L: 1)
18. Manchester United: 0 (2L: 1, 3L: 0)
19. Chelsea: 0 (2L: 0, 3L: 3)
20. Manchester City: 0 (2L: 0, 3L: 1)

2L = On second last (Wigan 1 Sunderland 4)
3L = On third last (Manchester City 3 Liverpool 0)

(Teams receive one point every time they are last on MOTD. Teams level are separated by the number of times they are on second last, then by the number of times they are on third last. MOTD2 not included.)

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