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Football finals

Yesterday I watched almost consecutively the Play Off and Champions League Final. Strangely enough I could have attended both. The greatest obstacle in watching the Champions League final is not a ticket but a hotel room. My wife’s South African niece is touring Lake Como and had a hotel room and I anticipated watching Brighton in the final with Ivan so I might have attended both. Having spent my professional life on trains with drunken yobs, got back in the early hours, endured the know-alls in the press box I was more than happy to view both from the comfort in my living room. I’m in the stay camp in the Rust debate.

I also find it interesting to see how the games will be covered. SKY  have definitely raised the bar with excellent camerawork. I like the way the panellists wear a suit, I’m no torn jeans, preenng Robbie Savage fan. Don Goodman is a superb summariser. He knows the championship, does his prep and notes little nuances of play the viewer may miss. The game between Hull and Sheffield Wednesday was not brilliant, Hull were always the better side and but for some fine keeping  by the Sheffield Wednesday keeper Westwood the result would have been more comfortable. I would give SKY 8 out of 10.

BT SPORT, who covered the Champions League Final  between Ateltico Madrid and Real Madrid, are new kids on the block and have brought in experienced hired hands Gary Lineker and Darren Fletcher. They like a face and Rio Ferdinand surprised me with his acute  analysis. Owen Hargreaves needs to learn the grammar of summariser: avoiding the word ‘there’ and don’t state the bleedin’ obvious.  The best summarisers help the commentator and add as value to the viewer. Darren Fletcher is by background a radio man, opinionated, lacking a resonant voice and turn of  phrase. They were all assisted by an enthralling match. I wanted Atletico to win. I know Alan Tanner is a fan after the 2010 final with Fulham when the two sets of fans got on well. I advised Pargie to back them each way – as I did – in the final stage stop so I was looking at nice few quid too. My support was enhanced by the dislike of the antics of Real’s Pepe who twice went down clutching his face in an contrived reaction to get a player sent off . Oddly enough it was Simeone the Atletico manager who  did this famously to Beckham in 1998. I would like to see retrospective action by UEFA for this. With nothing to divide the teams it went to penalties which Real won 5-4. I thought Atletico did deserve the win as they won the tactical battle, got themselves off the floor after a dismal first half and looked the stronger side. BT Sport coverage and presentation 6 out of 10.

When it comes to commentary nothing beats TMS in cricket. Where else would you be asked the question “What is the only tube station which does not have a letter from mackerel in it?”: St. John’s Wood.


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About Rex Mitchell

Rex Mitchell is a Brentford supporter from childhood. This has not prevented him having a distinguished Fleet Street career as a sports reporter and later deputy football editor. A widower, Rex is a bit of a bandit golfer off his official handicap of 20 and is currently chairman of his local bowls club. More Posts