View from the sofa: Manager’s tiny Cox and a ballboy’s fingers set the zeal on a great week

Knockout football - Various channels

Zeal: what a word. What a criminally underused word that fair zooms out of your mouth. It is also one that is ideally suited to describe the feeling of the best sporting occasions.

Like knockout football, which we have been treated to a feast of this week. Leyton Orient hosting Peterborough on Tuesday night in the League One play-off semi-final was bursting with zeal: played at a breakneck pace, with ample opportunities for the commentators to get their voices up to the threshold of pain and culminating in a mass pitch invasion. But the highlight was the post-match interview with Russell Slade, the home side’s manager, when he admitted his squad’s affinity for a small manhood.

OK, he was answering a question about the first goalscorer, a diminutive chap called Dean Cox. And his exact words were: “We love our tiny Cox.” But the misunderstanding was easy to make.

Then Thursday it was Rotherham and Preston North End’s turn to duke it out for the chance to face Orient at Wembley this Sunday. And again we were treated to all we love about the game: passion, overeager tackles, a peach of a free-kick and the welcome sound of a commentator who takes any chance he can get to blow things out of proportion. Ben Pringle had “stardust in his boots”, according to Daniel Mann, the commentator. That’s Ben Pringle. Who plays for Rotherham. That centre of stardust.

One wonders what Mann would have liked to say as he watched the belly of Steve Evans, the Rotherham manager, wobbling like a waterbed as he rushed down the touchline in celebration at Kieran Agard’s goal to seal the match for the home side. If the footage were a little more grainy, it could have passed for one of those “before” segments in a Weight Watchers promotional video. To his credit, Mann followed the commentator’s creed and said very little – the pictures told us enough.

Sandwiched between these two feasts of League One football was the Europa League final, on ITV 4. It was riveting, if you were a groundsman, because the best part of the coverage was that we got to watch two uninterrupted hours of the grass growing at the Juventus Stadium while Seville and Benfica jogged their way round it, doing their best not to kick a ball straight. As extra time drew to a close Sam Matterface was heard to groan: “How much more of this ‘excitement’ can we take?” You could clearly hear him raise his fingers to do a “speech marks” gesture when he said “excitement”. His cohort, Andy Townsend, merely grunted. Or perhaps he was snoring.

Yes, it was dire – and through no fault of the ITV bods. Matterface gamely tried to make proceedings sound interesting, but when things grew desperate he was reduced to making comparisons between the managers’ haircare regimes.

Of all the week’s knockout giants, special mention must go to the Rotherham ballboy seen in the background of the slow-motion replays of Joe Garner’s attempt at a late equaliser for Preston, furiously giving the visiting team the fingers. Zeal indeed.

Sport
Radamel Falcao
footballManchester United agree loan deal for Monaco striker Falcao
Voices
A man shoots at targets depicting a portrait of Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a shooting range in the center of the western Ukrainian city of Lviv
voicesIt's cowardice to pretend this is anything other than an invasion
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush
music
Sport
Louis van Gaal, Radamel Falcao, Arturo Vidal, Mats Hummels and Javier Hernandez
footballFalcao, Hernandez, Welbeck and every deal live as it happens
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
booksNovelist takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Arts and Entertainment
Al Pacino in ‘The Humbling’, as an ageing actor
filmHam among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
News
Fifi Trixibelle Geldof with her mother, Paula Yates, in 1985
people
Arts and Entertainment
Downton Abbey fans rejoice, series five returns later this month
TV
Arts and Entertainment
booksExclusive extract from Howard Jacobson’s acclaimed new novel
News
i100
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

Business Development Manager

Salary/Rate: £32,000/annum: M&E Global Resources Ltd: Description/Main Duties ...

IT Systems Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

Application Support Analyst / Junior SQL Server DBA

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established professional services...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Huxley Associates

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Huxley Associates are currentl...

Day In a Page

Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor