Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 September 2014

Billy on the Box: Another electric night of rugby at Ravenhill

There are many unsolved mysteries in the world but one that has confounded experts since the dawn of civilisation is just who are the continuity announcers on BBC1 NI?

We know they’re there, we can hear them, but we’ve never seen them, but they are clearly hidden to protect them as they are wise beyond their years with mystical qualities that can only be matched by a strange black-haired woman with a fringe. And I don’t mean Donna Traynor.

Ahead of Ulster Rugby Live, to be presented by older brother, Stephen Watson Live, the announcer told us after some posh programme with posh people that ‘we have something a little less genteel, with a bit more noise and a just a bit more muddy.’

This man is a genius with more foresight than a man called Bruce. Little did we know that minutes later, before a ball had been kicked in anger, the man of mystery would be back.

Not so much Austin Powers, as no power, as armed only with a ‘temporary fault’ sign and some awful music, he warned us that the rugby pictures had gone, thus reassuring us that we hadn’t lost the power of sight.

It turns out the electric had run out at Ravenhill, but there was a cunning plan. Noise and mud you say? Send for Ralph McLean to talk about his music collection and then join Darryl Grimason rambling across the Mournes.

As Ralph rambled on and on about his CD collection you just wished he’d rummaged about to find a bit of AC/DC or ELO to get things up and running again at Ravenhill.

When Ralph finished, back came our man again with his sign to say things still weren’t ticketyboo, so we were off on the beaten track up the Mournes with Darryl and Banjo Bannon. I don’t know about Banjo, but the electrics were clearly banjaxed.

“If you’ve been inspired to, pull on the walking boots and see it for yourself,” finished Darryl, I thought this may be the only chance of getting to see the rugby, but finally it came back on, to the hushed and comforting tones of Jim Neilly.

And to rub our noses in it, when Ulster did eventually score, who did we pan onto on the sidelines? The mascot, whose name is b****y Sparky! He’s have been better out trying to fix the fuse rather than dancing up and down the touchline. Then again, it was Friday night, the call-out fees would have been extortionate.

Thankfully things were fine as Mr Live switched codes and decamped to Mourneview Park for the CIS Cup Final the following day. Blimey, Lurgan and Augusta in the same week — jet-set stuff at the Beeb.

In the commentary box, Jackie Fullerton was joined by David Jeffrey, and they seemed to have a great time judging by the laughing, although one pained yell of ‘too (with 12 Os’) much information’ from Jackie as a chance went begging had me seriously concerned as to what was going on up there.

And as I have been threatened with physical violence if I mention his hair again, I shall refrain from doing so, but the real identity of Mrs Brown may now just be known.

Although just how Distillery (never to be called Lisburn) found 600 fans is a conundrum that Carol Vorderman couldn’t answer.

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