Rugby Union: Carling kept off the ball
Stan Hey watches the former England captain drop anchor in the studio
Sunday 16 November 1997
Swapping the controlled violence of the rugby pitch for the neon-lit clamminess of a television studio is probably the biggest challenge of Carling's charmed life so far, for while the game itself seeks to make order out of a natural chaos, television coverage is all about control and the appearance of perfection. But leaving aside his obvious qualifications, Carling looked to have several other things going for him. He has been well used to the demanding glare of cameras, and the experience of having a producer shouting abuse and instructions into an earpiece would have been amply covered by his army training. Why, he even has a conveniently large dimple in his chin in which to nuzzle a microphone.
As he was groomed by the same agency that successfully guided the media careers of Gary Lineker, Alan Hansen and David Gower, Carling was plainly in good hands, leaving the speculation to fall upon his precise role. Would he be a roving reporter in a duffle coat, seeking instant responses from the lads in the buff after the match? Would he be hosting a party in the North Car Park, complete with Quorn casserole and claret? Or would he be wearing a badged-blazer of the old fart variety, harrumphing at the youngsters who had succeeded him in the England team?
Disappointingly, Carling's role was revealed to be merely that of studiobound anchor, sitting in front of a Clive James- style wall of television screens which suggested that he and his two experts, Bob Dwyer and Damien Hopley, were in the front window of a Rumbelows store. Clad in a sober Armani number, he welcomed those viewers who hadn't already seen the match live on Sky and reeled off a handful of routine questions. "Had the new team had enough time to gel?" he wondered, bringing instant attention to his new close cropped hairstyle rather than the matter in hand.
Once the match began Carling was left in mute isolation when his comments would surely have been more illuminating than Steve "Keep It On The Island" Smith. And although the garrulous referee was miked up, there was no live link back to Carling for his thoughts on England's willing but disorganised first half.
The half-time interval was largely eaten up by adverts but just when you wanted Carling's insight about what the captain might be saying to his lads, he was obliged to ask the questions rather than answer them. "Bit of a patchy first half, obviously due to the conditions?" Carling ventured, backing away from any criticism of the new England set-up. And then with time for only two more questions Carling launched into a summary of the First Division football results, which was a bit like getting Michael Fish to comment on Iraq and the United Nations during a weather forecast.Rather like some of the other England debutants, Carling looked like the right man operating in the wrong position.
Latest in Sport
Inside Lines: Others must take lead from Amir Khan’s courage
Manchester United injury news: Angel Di Maria unlikely to face Spurs as Marouane Fellaini's 'mystery illness' turns out to be rib injury
Arsenal vs QPR player ratings: Could anyone outshine new Gunners hero Alexis Sanchez and who was worse than villain Olivier Giroud?
Manchester City team news: Manuel Pellegrini hopes to have Vincent Kompany back for Burnley visit but hopes not to risk Stevan Jovetic
Neil Warnock sacked: Tim Sherwood fits role at Crystal Palace
- 1 The political parties aren't all the same – which means 2015 will be a 'big-choice' election
- 2 President of Argentina adopts Jewish godson to 'stop him turning into a werewolf'
- 3 ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
- 4 The 'Black Museum': After 150 years, public set to see exhibits from police’s grisly crime museum
- 5 Naomi Wolf reacts to Isis 'conspiracy theories' critism after she questions whether beheading videos are real
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
Immigrants make UK racist, says Ukip councillor Trevor Shonk
BBC director Danny Cohen: Rising UK antisemitism makes me feel more uncomfortable than ever
Katie Hopkins speaks out on childhood obesity: 'Parents of fat children should be prosecuted for child cruelty'
Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...
£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...
£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...
£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...