Sport on TV: Eddie in a league of his own until fans put the boot in

It's ironic that Super League should have adopted all its razzmatazz, with fireworks and booming pop songs and dancing girls, 20 years after 11,000 rugby league fans petitioned the BBC to remove Eddie Waring from the commentary box because they thought his showmanship denigrated the gritty northern game.

It was because they couldn't see the difference between his rugby rantings and his It's a Knockout ravings. Some of them signed their names in blood, but there would be no substitute for Eddie. League may now have picked up the sponsor's ball and run with it, but it's no longer the mainstay of Saturday afternoon viewing. Like the fat men in tights who cavorted on ITV, they've gone to the happy grunting ground in the Sky and all but disappeared from view.

Eddie Waring – Mr Rugby League (BBC4, Tuesday) showed he could be very wearing at times. But like a prop forward covered in mud, league fans could not see the guiding force behind the game's progress, always pushing, pushing... No doubt Waring was pushy but this was the man who brought baseball, tractor-racing and Cossack dancing to West Yorkshire. It was enthusiasm on a grand scale, and rugby league might have been grateful that he concentrated most of his remarkable energies in that field.

From the Queens Hotel in Leeds, he almost ran the game single-handed, striking contractual deals for the players while fulfilling all the media commitments – and no doubt letting the players empty his minibar. No wonder the BBC backed him; they would have been deep in the league mire if he had checked out.

Apart from his expertise, there's the quality of his delivery. His nephew Harry confided that Eddie received a letter from a "lady" who said that his "commentary was just like an orgasm". Now that sounds like quite an achievement.

So what if he drifted into caricature at times? Few people pilloried Brian Johnston for sounding absurdly public-schooly on Test Match Special, or decried Murray Walker for actually sounding like a Formula One car. Waring may have accentuated his northern-ness but you might say that he was glorifying his roots where others couldn't see the wood for the trees.

His nephew said Eddie's attitude to his viewers was that "he felt like he should act in a polite and courteous manner, as if he was walking through their front door". What a shame that so many saw fit to slam it in his face.

Talking of polite pundits... One of the most popular these days is John McEnroe, the former enfant terrible of tennis. Few could have foreseen that while he was yelling at umpires. As the comedian observed on Alan Davies – Teenage Revolution (Channel 4, Thursday), in the 1980s McEnroe "just drove my dad bonkers, he was a bad man, possibly evil, and should be thrown out". His father said: "He typified everything that was wrong about youth attitudes to the establishment." Jeff Tarango, another harangue artist, is also part of the BBC establishment's coverage of Wimbledon. Can we look forward to unrivalled analysis from Wayne Rooney in 30 years' time? Probably not, but he might be asked on to one of those daytime agony shows. No doubt it will be hosted by Coleen.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
election 2015The 10 best quotes of the campaign
A caravan being used as a polling station in Ford near Salisbury, during the 2010 election
election 2015The Independent's guide to get you through polling day
David Blunkett joins the Labour candidate for Redcar Anna Turley on a campaigning visit last month
voicesWhat I learnt from my years in government, by the former Home Secretary David Blunkett
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (B2B) - Romford - £40,000 + car

£35000 - £40000 per annum + car and benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager...

Guru Careers: Senior Account Manager / SAM

£30 - 35k: Guru Careers: A Senior Account Manager / SAM is needed to join the ...

Guru Careers: Management Accountant

£27 - 35k + Bonus + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Management Accountant is needed ...

Guru Careers: Recruitment Resourcer / Recruitment Account Manager

£20 - 25k + Bonus: Guru Careers: Are you a Recruitment Consultant looking to m...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'