Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 12 July 2014

Billy on the Box: Keeping it reel

There seems to be an ever-growing number of ‘sports’ creeping onto our sports channels — and I’m not talking about the Philistines who point an accusing non-chubby finger at the likes of darts and snooker.

The main culprit for this is obviously Eurosport 2 where in the past we’ve had timbersports, big hairy men waving their choppers about, and looking for backpackers to kidnap.

Sport is not necessarily about entertainment or enjoyment; as a Ballymena United fan of 30 years standing it has been hardly a roller-coaster ride filled with constant champagne and sky blue ribbons.

Then this week we reached a new nadir — paintball monthly, table football and streetdance — none of the above are sports and I don’t care who says otherwise.

Paintballing serves two purposes — to provide a couple of hours distraction for a drunken stag party from Cullybackey and secondly a chance to team build for civil servants in between ordering paper clips.

Streetdance. Enough said.

Table football. I spent much of my younger years on my knees in my bedroom flicking things and gained immense pleasure from it. I also owned Subbuteo and Striker — the latter the much superior of the two games — and was never happier than when pressing down on Steve Coppell’s head to deliver an incisive pass to Joe Jordan but it isn’t a sport as at no stage did I envisage being handed a gold medal by Seb Coe in 2012.

Then we have the never-ending hand of poker with all channels going all-in, although I’m guessing that Poker After Dark is about cards and not an instruction.

Picture the scene at the same Olympics when Tony Gubba loses all control as Devilfish slaps down Mr Bun the Baker.

And this brings me neatly to my point — at long last I hear you cry — Robson Green’s Extreme Fishing on Five.

This was an hour’s journey to Canada with the amiable Geordie who isn’t Ant or Dec.

Mind you I had to look twice to make sure it wasn’t Oz from Auf Wiedersehen Pet as he spent most of his time swearing like an angry trawlerman with crabs on his rocks.

He was on the hunt for sturgeon and salmon but would have been better off following Richard Hammond to Morrison’s, rather than traipsing all the way to America’s most northern state — home of the snowbadger, maple syrup and Celine Dion — and he would have got the chance to see Denise van Outen.

I digress.

It was thoroughly entertaining, although you did expect Jerome to pop up from behind a beaver at some point to start warbling Unchained Melody.

All in all a good show but no more a sport than Ker-plunk, Buckaroo or throwing your Action Man out the landing window strapped to an empty Stewarts bag.

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