Belfast Telegraph

An eagle, Ravens and a big songbird

Billy on the Box

Glitz, glamour, razzmatazz, ladies in sparkly costumes, bombastic music and a bit of sinewy athleticism thrown in for good measure, the greatest sports show on earth hit our screens at the weekend. Oh, and some Americans were throwing a funny rugby ball around too.

I merely jest, for as peculiarly fascinating as Splash! was, even it had to give second billing as Super Bowl 47 (apologies to Mr Deane my Latin teacher as I can't remember the Roman numerals), took to our screens on Sunday night.

It was more Monday morning in fairness as the Ravens of Baltimore looked to rule the roost against the San Francisco XLIXers and this led to something of a dilemma as both the Beeb and Sky were showing the game live.

They both had the same pictures from the game so it was a straight choice between the respective presenting teams but as I couldn't decide I did a lot of flicking about.

I was brought up with gridiron on Channel Four so I have no loyalty but I started off with Sky with the bizarre opening sequence of presenter Kevin Cadle playing Guess Who with analyst, Neil Reynolds, while on BBC2 it started half an hour later with them telling us they were the Olympic broadcaster. Yes, yes, we know, move on.

Mark Chapman was the man in the seat, or perched awkwardly on a stool, and he promised us a match with 'more plot lines than an episode of Eastenders' to blank looks from Willie McGinest, former New England Patriot and clearly more of an Emmerdale man.

A game was desperate to break out but first we had to have Alicia Keys and the national anthem, but by that stage I'd have settled for Richard Keys playing it on the spoons.

Off we went and given the nature of the game there were a few breaks to fill on the Beeb so as an Olympic broadcaster it was natural they plumped for Mark Hunter. Who? He's a rower, has won gold and silver medals, but isn't Steve Redgrave or Katherine Grainger.

At half-time, Martin Johnson burst onto our screens, and I was slightly perturbed as we'd been promised Beyonce and never mind putting a ring on it could he just put a sock in it?

A quick flick, at least it couldn't be worse on Sky. Vernon Kay. The smell of chlorine and damp towels filling the booth as non-frock wearing half of the Splash! presenting team dropped in for a chat.

With Eddie 'The Eagle' Edwards having leapt to victory the previous evening, it was no surprise that the Ravens were flying high and then it was time for a bird of a different kind to shake her booty.

Songbird Mrs Z burst onto the stage, and very nearly out of her outfit, and just in the nick of time as the Zs were just about to start flying out of me as it was time for me to be in my Mick Luckhurst pyjamas and reading Gary Imlach's Big Boys' Book of Gridiron.

And Beyonce was jolly entertaining, like an episode of Splash! minus Jo Brand, and off we went again for the third quarter and then silence. Had Vernon's soggy Speedos blown a fuse? Had Martin trailed his knuckles and pulled out a plug? We asked 100 people but they didn't know.

This was the ideal chance to go to bed, the game was all but over, no-one from Sky or the Beeb could be seen or heard and there were just too many excited Americans shouting at me for that time of the morning.

But I stayed with it and what a good decision that was as an incredible game ensued and the greatest comeback of all time seemed possible.

It wasn't to be, the 49ers fell just short, unlike a true sporting god who, after a lifetime of sporting disaster and belittlement, finally found glory.

Well done to the golden Eagle and to the Ravens, the world champions of America.

Belfast Telegraph


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