Belfast Telegraph

Billy on the Box: Past the post

Did you hear it on Saturday night? The huge audible sigh of relief emanating from the head honchos at Broadcasting House as the game between Cavan and Fermanagh didn't go to extra-time and thus avoided clashing with the Northern Ireland match in Italy.

Can you imagine the wailing and gnashing of teeth that would have ensued. It would have been more disturbing than Alban McGuinness' teeth on his election poster, and as bizarre as Diane Dodds going to step aerobics with Barbre de Bruin.

Stephen Nolan would have been wheeled into action, there would have been a tense stand-off between Austin O'Callaghan and Stephen Watson, bonfires would have raged on Ormeau Avenue burning effigies of Mark Sidebottom and Jackie Fullerton and it would have made Gordon Brown's current predicament look like a walk in the park — Windsor or Casement, take your pick.

Even those pesky Italians were at their work, trying to stir things up, although maybe the Beeb's graphics department were on holiday in Pisa, with IRL beside the scoreline. I could feel Jim Allister marching down from Strasbourg.

Back in Belfast, Watson-Live had hot-footed it back from the Isle of Man where he spent the past week mingling with men in leather, but thankfully Jim Magilton and Michael O'Neill hadn't followed suit.

The good thing about the Championship being on was that it gave the much under-used Gavin Andrews the chance to do something other than under-8 bog snorkelling from Swatragh, and he was off to Pisa in a forlorn attempt to track down fans.

However they seemed as rare on the ground as an Alliance voter, but he did track down two very tasty Texans, and we're not talking burgers here. Good work Gavin, you get my vote although I nearly lost my deposit.

Moving swiftly onto the game and we had the gloss of Lippi's men up against Worthy's Weans, a hastily knocked together collection of odd individuals who won't be around this scene for long. I think we're back with Alliance again.

At the Arena Garribaldi, it was Jackie who took the biscuit (sorry had to get that in somewhere) who started in great form telling us the stadium was born in 1919. I thought it was raisins, not dates in those biccies.

He recovered superbly, saying that he was born in 1919, and ‘that it's a crumbling edifice but the surface is a good one.' I think he was talking about the ground but with Lippi and Mascara on the scene maybe he was getting a make-over from John O'Neill.

Tragically we couldn't hear John, if only this would happen for our politicians, and then when his microphone was fixed it was drowned out by someone's mobile going off.

I just hope it wasn't an Orange one, otherwise there would have been complete meltdown. The only solution then is simple for the Beeb — vote Green, your choice of shade optional.

So in the end three people were celebrating, the losers going home to lick their wounds and return to obscurity — and as for the politicians...

Belfast Telegraph


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