Belfast Telegraph

Billy on the box: Jackie takes the mic one last time

By Billy Weir

You join us as Jackie Fullerton's stealing of the show enters its fourth day at the Irish Cup Final, as the never shy but retiring master of the mic tells authorities he will let his final hostages go once they have spoken about him for just a few more days.

Then again if it is the local football authorities who are dealing with it, he could be there until the end of next season when this season may or may not be reaching the exciting conclusion it already reached a fortnight ago.

Confused? I don't blame you, and it was that sort of day on Saturday as two things on at once tested BBCNI like never before, with the sports department torn in two and tossed into different arenas.

The association football scruffs were at the National Stadium in Belfast with the rugby football types were at the Liberty Stadium in Swansea, many older folk wondering where either of these were and what had happened to Windsor Park and the Vetch Field.

This meant a lot of flicking about, I did say flicking, on my behalf, trying to keep one eye on Ulster's big game while also keeping abreast of Glenavon taking on Linfield in local football's showpiece.

It is the law that you use the word 'showpiece' in such times, the only other time that phrase is permissible is when a chubby bully is menacing a smaller child over what is in his lunchbox. I digress.

Over in Swansea Ulster Rugby Live was presented by its cousin, Stephen Watson-Live, for once allowed into the wide open air and joined by Andy Ward and Ian Humphreys, with Gavin Andrews, freed from farming duties on Home Ground to go to an away ground.

And it was lovely, Ward, or perhaps that should be Sward, commenting on the lush green, green grass of away, saying "it could be rolled out in your front room, it's like a carpet".

And while football has our Jackie, rugby has our Jim, with Mr Neilly (below) thankfully not following his old sparring partner in hanging up the mic just yet, adding his tuppence worth to what lay ahead.

"It is the most perfect day for rugby, a light breeze to cool the fevered brows and a firm pitch which is like a billiard table," he began, as we wondered what effect it may have on Andy's carpet, while younger viewers wondered what the hell a billiard table is.

To bring some oval-shaped class to proceedings it's always good to lob a big word in and Jim obliged accusing the touch judge of 'being a wee bit parsimonious there' but by the time I had found out what it meant the game was safe.

"Apart from the odd little wobble you can't fault Ulster's performance here," concluded Jim, and the same could be said for the BBCNI team although South Wales police are still questioning a man last seen trying to plant Kerr's Pinks beside a parsimonious touch judge.

Back in Belfast and our guide was Mark Sidebottom, which was a little worrying after his odd little wobble on Final Score last week, but forgive and forget I say, there were more important matters at hand.

"A big day for the fans, a big day for the players and a big, big day for our Jackie, Jackie Fullerton, getting a standing ovation," he said, as stewards did all they could to keep the fans from fleeing the ground.

He was ably assisted by another Ballymena man, although a slightly newer convert to the wily ways of the Braid, in David Jeffrey, but good to see it hasn't taken him long to get to grips with the purse strings.

"I'm not a betting man, I don't understand odds, but for me this is evens," he said, as we scratched our heads and wondered was he being parsimonious.

Kevin Braniff scored on the stroke of half-time to give Glenavon the lead but thankfully there was still enough time to squeeze in a bit of Jackie at the break, revealing the secret of his silky success: "As Roy Walker said on Catchphrase - just say what you see."

A second goal for Glenavon wrapped things up and as time ran down, Jackie asked his companion for his man of the match.

He plumped for Braniff for what was 'a holistic performance' as two fingers were sent in the direction of Swansea showing that the soccer chaps know a big word or two as well. We may not know what they mean but it wasn't long before Thomas Kane got a chance to catch up with the holistic one and fell into the biggest trap in local football.

"The Glenavon players are singing in the rain, congratulations to Kenneth…" he began, catching himself on before adding Branagh, although in fairness he managed to interview Peter Thompson earlier in the day without calling him Emma.

He had slightly more problems with Glenavon manager Gary Hamilton, taking a brief break from hugging everyone, to say a few words and one of them a very bad one.

"Apologies for the language, it was a live interview and emotions were running very high," said Kane, before Hamilton's sidekick Paul Millar joined in on making it a blue day with more potty-mouthed antics in his homage to Jackie, this time Sidebottom carrying the can.

"Apologies if any of your sensibilities have been offended during that interview," he said but by now most people in the ground had called the PSNI to start the rescue operation.

They are currently on the hunt for the National Stadium, they know it is somewhere close to Windsor Park, but have been distracted by the pasties in Beattie's chip shop, a distraction I have been distracted by myself many times, lovely and not a bit parsimonious.

"Can you believe it, we've come to the end of our time and your time," concluded Sidebottom, as Stephen Baxter and Chris Morgan were spotted trying to tunnel out of the studio, with Jackie protesting that he had another 29 years worth of tales to tell us.

No time for that, Jackie, come in Number One your time is up and you know something, it just won't be the same without you. Myth or legend, you decide, I know which side of the fence I'm on, but then again I could be talking out of my holistic side.

Belfast Telegraph


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