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
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Sport
Harry Redknapp. Mark Hughes and Ryan Shawcross
footballNews and updates as Queens Park Rangers host the Potters
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
New Articles
i100... with this review
Voices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
New Articles
i100
Arts and Entertainment
musicHow female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
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

Cover Supervisor

£75 - £90 per day + negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Are you a cover supe...

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam