I have a friend – let's call him Wyn because Matt, his real name, gives no clue as to which direction he's coming from – who is resolutely embarking on a fifth year of denying himself a Mars bar. Wyn likes Mars bars but the problem is that he is a dedicated member of the ABE brigade and when the confectioner threw in its lot with England before the last World Cup, Wyn took his sweet tooth elsewhere.
This is a tough time for Wyn and his ilk as the flood of adverts backing England or fronted by England players and managers past and present (and, for goodness sake, Chris Kamara) wash relentlessly across our screens. There is little relief on offer from the programmes after the ads either, and Wyn would be strongly advised to avoid Sky Sports News full stop for the next month or so.
England's departure for South Africa was given the full state occasion treatment, and spare a thought for the Sky employee whose role is to bash out the Breaking News strap that rolls across the bottom of the screen. Long before we get to 11 July (or probably the post-quarter-final stage, as England will be home by then – that one's for you, Wyn), it will probably ended up reading: "Sky sources: Aaaaarrrrgggghhhhh."
To begin with on Wednesday afternoon the bright yellow trail alerted us that "England depart for South Africa". After what felt like an hour of that breaking news it was updated to "England to depart for South Africa." Had they landed again because JT had forgotten his duty-free? It turned out they had never left and were actually still all on a big red bus driving around Heathrow. Glenn Hoddle appeared live on the Heathrow tarmac to add to the quickening sense of excitement. Then we saw the plane. It had red engines.
The pomp and ceremony of an England team departure is actually nothing new – a decent crowd and media presence used to turn up at Tilbury docks when England went off to bring home the Ashes, or at least they did on Bodyline, the fabulously one-eyed Australian TV dramatisation of the infamous series.
Fabio Capello took on the Douglas Jardine role at Heathrow as he stood at the bottom of the plane's steps for the traditional photo-call, exuding a sang-froid to freeze any uncalled-for jollity in an instant.
But nobody, it seems, can stop Crouchy from having a laugh as he joshed and joked his way up the steps. All elbows and knees, he seemed to appear in just about every frame and photo of coverage at Heathrow and always looking as if he was having the time of his life. There is something refreshing about Crouch. He may be off to play in his second finals but still exudes a relish for the experience and his good fortune in being part of it, as if he still can't quite believe it.
Crouch is becoming a ubiquitous presence on our screens. When he's not advertising crisps (have Pringles considered the ABE consequences of using him? Scotland after all is a nation that likes a potato chip), there he was on BBC3 as Richard Bacon's sidekick in the shockingly dire World Cup's Most Shocking Moments.
Crouch played the role of the buffoonish footballer, trying to get a TV picture on a microwave with ensuing hilarity etc etc. As the talking heads poured forth their supposedly witty anecdotes, Crouchy clowned around with Bacony and somehow rose above the dross. There is, it seems, just something about Crouchy, whether he's at work, rest or play, to coin a phrase.Reuse content