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?

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Day In a Page

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'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power