Will Hawkes: Pearce provides champagne moments but Lawrenson needs a few beers

The View From The Sofa: Euro 2012 Draw, BBC2

I don't know if you've noticed, but England don't tend to do that well in international football tournaments. In truth – and I apologise to Celtic readers, who may hold a quite different view – the highlight of any such event is the draw. Friday's draw for Euro 2012 gives us six months to dream before the grim reality kicks in: England easily mastered by teams who, controversially, have worked out how to trap and pass the ball. Still, we'll get there one day.

Kiev was the venue for said draw, and what a feast for the senses it was. There was Cossack dancing (which, as folk dancing goes, is right up there), there was an improbably attractive Ukrainian woman, there was Michel Platini chatting in French. Not that the BBC really entered into the spirit of things. Gary Lineker – who hadn't got the memo about Movember being over – was joined by Martin Keown and Mark Lawrenson, who had a particular downer on proceedings: "I've sat through too many of these," he said. "Boring as hell."

Jonathan Pearce, the man charged with guiding us through the draw, disagreed. So excited was he that his eyes seemed ready to burst out of their sockets beforehand, and we soon discovered why: this was a prime opportunity to show off his language skills. First there were Platini's opening words. "Pologne et Ukraine ont travaillé d'arrache-pied pour realiser un tournoi fantastique," Uefa's chubby supremo told us. "He is saying it's going to be a fantastic tournament!" Pearce said breathlessly, and not entirely accurately.

Later he had a go at Ukrainian, when the president of that country, Viktor Yanukovych, made his over-long address. "He's speaking in Ukrainian," Pearce said, "but I'll do my best. Basically, he's saying ..." What he was saying turned out, not entirely unexpectedly, to be boring, so Pearce delivered some properly valuable information. "If you're coming," he told us, "a bottle of beer will cost you about 80p."

Unfortunately, Pearce's language skills do not stretch to Russian. As Olga Freimut – the aforementioned Ukrainian woman – interviewed Viktor Ponedelnik, one of the USSR team that won the first European Championship in 1960, he admitted defeat. "I wish I could tell you what Viktor is saying," he sighed. "Unfortunately I haven't got the foggiest."

By now even the most patient of viewers would have been wondering when, exactly, we would get to the draw. Back in Manchester, Lawro was probably directing snippy, slightly camp remarks at the TV in the studio. By my watch, it took 56 minutes from the start of the broadcast to the first ball being drawn out of the plastic bowl.

All this build-up did mean that when the draw finally came we were well prepared. Not only had Keown earlier advised us what England and Ireland wanted ("You want to avoid Spain," he said, no more than six or seven times) but there was an incredibly lengthy explanation of how the not-actually-that-complicated draw worked.

Gianni Infantino, Uefa's general secretary, supervised the draw and risked a headbutt by repeatedly telling Zinedine Zidane, one of those responsible for picking the balls, to slow down. Marco van Basten, too, seemed impatient to get things done and by the time it was over you had started to sympathise with Lawrenson. Ever the grumpy old man, his final words were downbeat: "It's going to be tough for England's supporters because they've got to go to Ukraine," he said. Cheer up, Lawro. Have you not heard about the 80p beer?

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee