Belfast Telegraph

Monday 21 April 2014

Billy on the Box: To Russia with love from Blatter and a big pole

Picture the scene. It’s 6.00am in Zurich, Sepp Blatter’s alarm clock in his underground lair goes off to the tune of tATu before he sits down to a hearty breakfast of borsch and caviar all washed down with some vodka. The clues were there.

He is then transported to Fifa HQ by camel (more clues) as henchmen frantically continue the search for the missing ‘u’ from Qatar’s name and by 8.00am we’re ready for the day of World Cup surprises to begin.

Back in London, Jim White is in for a hype refit while Georgie Thompson gets her hair done and Ed Chamberlin stands on his own in Switzerland wondering how the BBC could justify sending so many people across.

Jonathan Pearce gets tucked into a Swiss fry, Gabby Logan goes round telling everyone ‘I’m Gabby Logan’ and caption writers curse that Matthew Amroliwala has been sent.

And we’re off, four hours of presentations, starting with the three country bid — Netherlands, Belgium and Holland — before it was Iberia’s turn. I’d never heard of this place, and it clearly has no football pedigree so it won’t be getting a World Cup anytime soon. A bit like Qatar. Oh, it’s Spain and Portugal. No oil you say, next please.

It’s ‘us’ next, ‘our’ big guns have been wooing the Fifa bigwigs all week, so this one is in the bag. Prince William, David Cameron and Lord Becks of LA, all upstaged by a YTP bloke from those perennial winners, Manchester City. More clues.

And then it was mother Russia to the stage and was that a snigger I noticed from Sepp? Typically, the Russians had invaded another country to boost their chances, bringing a Pole onto the stage.

Oh, she’s a ‘pole’ vaulter, big Olympic champ Yelena Isinbayeva all legs and alluring menace, while wee Andrei Arshavin wooed everyone with his boyhood tales in rudimentary English. A bit like David Beckham.

And that’s that, off for a quick beetroot supper washed down with lashings of camel juice (more clues) before the ‘voting’ begins, and as we approach 3.00pm, it’s time to unleash Jim on an expectant nation.

He and Georgie were joined by Martin ‘not Geoff Hurst’ Peters and former FA chief Mark Palios, while Georgie, or is it Sybil Fawlty, is sent to stand and look lovely and pretend to press things on a big plasma screen with ‘hot topic’ written on it. Alan Partridge was clearly unavailable.

Then it started, the never-ending round of ‘unconfirmed reports’ and Jim heading towards hype overload.

Turning to Sybil, he said: “It’s on a knife-edge and are England going to get it? You can hardly wait, you’re beyond yourself.”

“I know I’m going to have to sit on my hand because I’m so excited,” blurted out Georgie as minds boggled.

“The excitement here all day at Sky Sports News has been absolutely colossal,” Jim added as comrade, sorry, president Blatter appeared, a man who ‘could become a very, very popular man in England.’ May need to rethink that one, Jim.

Four minutes there were ‘quite shocking unconfirmed reports’ that England had gone out at the first round stage and we felt Jim’s pain.

“It’s hard to believe. Of course it’s hard to believe. Until we know definitely, we know nothing.” Now you’re making sense and then Jim finally morphed into David Coleman.

Increasingly high pitched he wailed and put his finger to his ear for ‘unconfirmed reports’ that ‘Russia has nailed 2018’ and to kick him when he was down when old Sepp finally opened the envelope we came back to Georgie.

“So those unconfirmed reports have proved to be very real,” she purred, while unconfirmed reports suggested Jim was out of shot smashing his Millie Clode Russian doll collection.

Never mind Jim, there’s always 2030 to look forward to.

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