Sport On TV: Dreaded certainty of the lawnmower man

BEFORE THE start of the second half of Lokomotiv Moscow v Leeds United on Thursday (Channel 5), the home side stood around for a few minutes waiting for the Leeds players - who, 7-1 up on aggregate, were presumably still in the dressing-room trying to decide whether it was worth coming back out or not. Back home in Britain, half the population was probably doing something similar to Leeds, slumped in the kitchen, tea brewed, while they wondered whether they could be bothered going back in the living room.

With Leeds 4-1 up from the first leg, even before the start there was something of a dead-rubber feel to the match, and three first-half goals killed it off. Add to that the end-of-term feeling in the Champions' League, and it was a fairly dispiriting week in Europe. As several commentators observed after last weekend's events on the rugby field, the lure of the unexpected is a large part of what makes sports-watching so compulsive, and there was precious little of it around. The burgeoning numbers of group games will only make things worse. When will Uefa realise that large doses of knock-out football are a necessary part of the game's lifeblood?

With the exception of events at Stamford Bridge, it was a desultory week all round. On Tuesday, we had Arsenal and Manchester United, both of whose games were meaningless in their different ways - that dread phrase "playing for pride" was uttered during the Arsenal match - and then in Thursday's second televised game (BBC2), Celtic, 1-0 down from the first leg, went another goal behind to render proceedings effectively meaningless. All the din that Parkhead could muster could not mask the dead weight of the occasion.

Possibly the most entertaining moment of that match, for me at least, was a mishearing (for which I have an unrivalled talent). "John Barnes has a false eye," I distinctly heard Barry Davies say as the teams took the pitch, though I now concede that it might have been, "John Barnes has a full side."

This propensity for getting the wrong end of the aural stick provides constant amusement. During the player introductions before one of the games in the baseball World Series recently, I was left wondering at "No 10, playing for space, Chipper Jones!" and "No 27, playing the field, Gerald Williams!" It was only after I thought about it for a bit that I realised the announcer had probably been referring to "playing first base" and "playing left field", though I preferred my version.

This happens to me alarmingly frequently. On a train to the Highlands, we were standing at Aviemore when a young rail employee walked up the platform past the two little old ladies sat at my table.

"Will you look at that tart in uniform? It's a disgrace," one of the little old ladies said. I looked at the tart in question. She seemed perfectly respectable. Then it struck me the little old lady had in fact said, "Will you look at that tartan uniform? It's a disgrace."

In a film in the Metroland London magazine series, "Five Men Went To Mow" (ITV, Tuesday), the Nicholls brothers plus assorted certifiable cousins and friends were making a disgrace of themselves, indulging their passion for lawnmower racing.

As they gather for a meeting at an agricultural show, it is clear they are not held in the highest regard by the great and good of the British lawnmower racing establishment.

"Their lawnmowers always seem to be a last-minute thought," said Howard Ansett, of the governing body. "I'm not sure how many races they've finished - there's always some problem, when something flies off the lawnmower."

The madness of cousin George is typical. "Possibly a bit erratic," says Ben, one of the brothers, of him. "An absolute nutcase. He'll fly past anyone and then smack into a corner." Unless it was clever editing, at that moment cousin George was doing just that.

"Silly mistake," said Ben as he surveyed the carnage. "We're going to beat him up now. He'll be absolutely gutted. What he'll be feeling now is... worse than anything he's got to go through later in life, worse than any of the divorces that are coming up, inevitably."

News
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Sport
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
football
Sport
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
News
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
Voices
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Sport
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
sport
News
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
life
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Systems Manager - Dynamics AX

£65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...

Service Delivery Manager (Software Development, Testing)

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established software house ba...

Day In a Page

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little