Martin Hardy: Ooh, those jolly japers with their ticklish sense of fun. Laugh? I nearly did

Saturday night football BBC1

Handlebar moustaches and Match of the Day. The perfect Saturday night. "Your 'tache is real. It's tickling me from here," said Gary Lineker.

He was talking to Mark Lawrenson, who then said, "Darling". He really did. It was hilarious. You can't write this stuff. Surely. Carry On Football.

Michael Owen had the best moustache; he looked so proud. Owen has played 35 Premier League games in the last four seasons and you really can't buy that sort of insight. Though somebody did. Us, probably.

"Once again United came from behind," Lineker told us after we'd watched Manchester United come from behind.

"If they go ahead you never fancy them to get clawed back and if they go behind you fancy them to come back," said Owen. Brilliant.

Queen's Park Rangers had made changes because changes had to be made, we were told. "It must have worked because even [Djibril] Cissé came back," said Lawrenson. Somebody laughed. Or cried. Viewers maybe.

"Is he the right appointment at the right time, Michael?" Gary asked Michael. They were talking about Harry Redknapp. More closing time than Question Time.

"Certainly. I don't think they can get a better appointment really."

You'd really think Harry was on the MOTD payroll. Really.

"Twenty-six points and third in the table [we'd moved on to West Brom], even the most avid West Brom fan [there you go] could not have seen that coming, Dion."

Steve Harmison's opening ball in the 2006 Ashes would have been more troublesome. "They deserve to be where they are," said Dion Dublin. No, seriously Dion, go easy there. "I think Steve Clarke, in his wisdom, has tweaked the team," piped Lawrenson, like a grandad sitting in the corner at a family party.

"I watched it live and I thought it was a penalty," said Owen. Talking about a penalty. "You watch a couple of angles and you think, penalty."

And Lineker said, "No you don't."

And they nearly discussed football. But then Owen said there was another angle, and he [Liam Ridgewell] dived and it wasn't a penalty.

The banter was relentless. "You're an Everton fan, deep down," Lineker said to Owen. "When you played for them," said Owen straight away, as quick as he used to be.

"Do Stoke bully people?" Lineker asked a Stoke player (Owen). "We certainly do," said the Stoke player. "It's part of the game, but I wouldn't go as far as say bully."

Although you did.

"Great debuts," said Lineker. "I almost said great Dublins." The joke was still not up.

They made their debuts for England together as well, which went equally well. England lost to Chile, under Glenn Hoddle. Karma comedians.

"Sir Alex Ferguson signed both of you," said Lineker. " He got rid of both of you as well."

That would explain the statue.

When it had finished, The Football League Show came on. They showed a lot of football. No banter. No moustaches. Just football. They've finished the set. The scaffolding has gone. Manish Bhasin has stopped giving himself the come-to-bed eyes. The idiotic texts have ended. A bloke who was 100 met Steve Bruce at Hull and said Steve Bruce was better-looking in the flesh.

Now that was funny.

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