TV crew wilt in Miami heat
- Credit: PA
So there it is – with one of the best midfielders this country has ever seen and a top-class striker, the England team came up well short again in the final warm-up game before the World Cup begins.
Yes, thanks to the vagaries of the Miami climate (electrical storms are nothing new there at this time of the year) disrupting the 'friendly' against Honduras, ITV Sport managed to make a pig's ear out of a silk purse.
Adrian Chiles and Co were clearly already in some distress as the show went to air – it was hot and humid (again, nothing new) and while there were Union flags draped around the perimeter of the Sun Life Stadium, the crowd noise seemed remarkably like that of an Under-21s game, where most get in for free and then cheer all the wrong things. But when referee Ricardo Salazar halted proceedings midway through the first half, they really were in trouble. Chiles grabbed Lee Dixon, Glenn Hoddle (the aforementioned midfielder), ex-Gunners hitman Ian Wright as well as ITV's only two spare microphones, and headed for the bowels of the stadium.
Fair play to whoever was the 'grabber' – he grabbed everyone you could imagine for interview, including England manager Roy Hodgson, which is pretty impressive. But for 40 minutes stuck in the corridor with the Fab Four the only consolation for viewers was that at least we weren't treated to the wisdom of Andy Townsend, whose insight into the game was about as good as the view afforded by the cameras, which were on the highest possible vantage point and rarely varied. While the cameramen fled for cover, Chiles and Co sweated it out to the extent that poor old Glenn looked like he was about to melt.
A matchday official, who Chiles mistook for the stadium manager, was a charming chap, who talked about 'something we call thunderstorms' as if the ITV crew rather than the viewing public would perhaps not understand what he was talking about. He had a point.
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However, ITV's roving mic man Gabriel Clarke did his utmost to steal the show from Chiles with a couple of classics. Not only did he seemingly congratulate the referee on the fact it had stopped raining, he was also responsible for the following little exchange:
Clarke: 'We saw you in the radar room. What were you doing in there?'
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Referee: 'Just checking the radar.'
To be absolutely fair to the ITV crew, it was a terrible situation to be thrown into and one would imagine they shared our relief that, after 40 minutes, the football match finally resumed. But then came Townsend.
The former Norwich City player is a master at telling you what you have just seen, rather than why it happened. He is as far removed from the brilliant Gary Neville as you could imagine and while I have been given advice by all and sundry to change to another channel, or turn the volume down and put the radio commentary on, I feel a masochistic need to listen to Townsend. It adds colour when matches get a bit boring. I need to snap out of this because his isn't a job I could do – and there is an element of throwing stones in glasshouses.
And besides, Townsend was on the end of the best bit of commentary all night, when, as the thunder started to clap and the lightning strike, Clive Tyldesley said: 'Nothing quite like sitting among loads of electrical equipment once the thunder and lightning starts. Any final thoughts, Andy?'
Sadly, too many to mention.