Foxtrot on the wing and not a fowl in sight
Sport on TV
Sunday 17 November 1996
Others with persistent malfunctions are Paul Dempsey and Martin Tyler, respectively front-man and commentator for Celtic v Rangers on Thursday night. Dempsey was the first offender. "This is Glasgow's night of judgement," he pronounced, as the rogue chip sparked somewhere in his cerebellum. "It means everything that that wonderful night of boxing meant to those who were there." A brief moment of panic for viewers, who wondered if he meant that they were obliged to pay through the nose to watch this as well. Not so. Perhaps all the Dempsoid meant was that there was going to be a scrap, or several.
The Tyler Mk1 Commentary Module was the next to succumb. The players hadn't even kicked off when a pain in the diodes down his left-hand side caused him to blurt: "Judgement Night Part Two: who will be Holyfield and who will be Tyson?" Brian O'Neil obligingly made sense of this piffle with a fine Tyson impression early in the game, falling on his backside without a punch to present Brian Laudrup with the only goal of the game.
Not that there was any lack of action for Tyler and his co-commentator, Andy Gray, to describe after that. There were missed penalties, great saves, clonking fouls and more yellow cards than a poker night in a custard factory.
But the star of the show was not Paul Gascoigne (who contributed a penalty that Alan Rough could have saved, let alone Andy Goram), nor Pierre van Hooijdonk (another penalty, ditto), nor even Peter van Vossen, responsible for the most criminal miss since Miss Scarlet did it in the conservatory with the lead piping. No, the star was a fox.
A malfunctioning nose led the unfortunate beast to believe that the newly rebuilt Parkhead was a sort of gigantic flood-lit chicken coop. Big mistake. For while there were fouls aplenty, fowl were there none, and you have never seen a pair of ears go back so quickly.
Once in, and on to the pitch, locating the way out proved something of a problem. The unfortunate animal hared down the wing like its Tottenham namesake, but unlike Ruel it did not deliver a cross from the byline but instead scooted round behind the goal looking for the "Wildlife Exit This Way" signs.
No joy, just a wall of whooping Glaswegians, about as friendly a sight to the foxy eye as the Beaufort Hunt in full cry. So off again down the near touchline, coat shining glossily under the lights, luxuriant brush flowing behind.
By this time Tyler, up in the commentary box, had had time to collect his thoughts. "What is it?" the eagle-eyed commentator enquired, "A fox?" "Ten out of ten for nature observation," Gray drily observed, as the relieved animal threaded a knot of policemen and escaped into the night, thinking: "Sod this `urban fox' stuff for a lark. I'm for the Highlands."
More animal magic on How Do They Do That? (BBC1) which introduced Richard "Max" Maxwell, described by Eamonn Holmes as "the man to send for when you have a harassed horse". Max has an infallible technique for inducing awkward nags to do what they don't want to, and demonstrated it on Geordie, a big bay with a wild eye who looked like he belonged on Cracker.
Max started out by shooing Geordie around a circular pen, waving a rope just in case the horse was having second thoughts about who was in charge. The key at this point, apparently, is to look the beast straight in the eye, puff out your chest and broaden your shoulders, a technique that Max may well have picked up during his time in the Household Cavalry.
A few minutes of this treatment and Geordie started to lower his head, a sure sign, we were informed, that he was prepared to acknowledge his subservience to Max. Remember this, the next time an ex-Guardsman comes at you brandishing a lariat.
Just when you expected Max to whip a saddle on Geordie and lead him in triumph off to the dressage ring, he turned his back, spurning the horse like an unpleasant acquaintance spotted across the room at a party. Did Geordie snort and trot off in the opposite direction? No: offended, he sidled up to Max and tried to make friends - and subsequently refused to leave his side. Not only tamed, Geordie now had had a crush on his trainer.
The other item of interest on the programme featured men who race hot- rods up mountainsides in Iceland. The question here was not "How Do They Do That?" but "Why?" and the answer lies in another question: have you ever been to Reykjavik?
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