Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 2 October 2014

Billy on the Box: Animal crackers at Northern Ireland v Czech Republic

As football games go it was, as they say in stupidland, a bit of a damp squid, but it wasn’t the only fishy thing going on at Windsor Park on Wednesday night.

Northern Ireland emerged reasonably unscathed from their trip to Setanta and popped up again on Sky where there was hardly a mention of England.

Well, apart from Lawrie Sanchez that is, who, is morally obliged to mention that he was in charge when we beat the world’s greatest team in waiting.

Freed from the shackles of Setanta’s sofa, Sanchez was making his first trip back to Windsor since upping sticks.

“It’s strange being back here, it’s the first time since I left,” he said.

Well, nobody forced you to go, did they?

When Mr Little, Graham, not Sid, asked him why Windsor was such a fortress, he referred to the fans who were ‘not buying prawn crackers’.

I think he may have meant sandwiches, but having frequented the Manning Inn, and we’re not talking Bernard here, on the Lisburn Road on many occasions, I can reveal that prawn crackers do indeed exist in south Belfast.

And talking of crackers, Mark Robson was back doing Northern Ireland games - what next Mike Nesbitt?

He was intent on comparing as many players as he could to wildlife, with one Czech player’s work-rate compared to a ‘hamster on a wheel’.

There were bigger beasts to come, George McCartney referred to as having ‘arms like an orangutan’, and from one long throw he was going to ‘spear one into the box’.

This came just moments after Petr Cech had been described as having arms like Steve Backley. He also has legs like Fatima Whitbread, but that’s another story.

And talking of 80s icons I was getting a bit confused as to who this Cheryl was from the Czech Republic.

Could it have been Baker, just about to shoot on goal and someone ripped his shorts off, but he dallied too long making his mind up and if he thought shooting from that angle was sensible he really was living in the land of make believe.

Gerry Armstrong urged caution, saying that if we pushed too far forward we’d be ‘caught with our pants down’. Must be Cheryl again.

Sadly it wasn’t Mrs Cole either, that would have been too good to be true.

All we had was a Mr Colley, a gangly gingerly challenged man who was on the sidelines for Sky looking nervously over his shoulder with every mention of Rosenthal.

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