Tag Archives: Paul Robinson

ITV on the rise but will Sky scrape the barrel? And what of John Swift?

27 Mar

There was mixed news on the International front last night. Despite many enjoying the 3-2 win for England in Germany, it was the performance of the U-21 team that saw potential bad news for Brentford where Chelsea loanee John Swift limped off less than half an hour into the game with a bloody foot. Elsewhere (and I need to thank the statistical demigod that is Luis Melville for his Twitter tip-off) there was terrifying news from the Daily Mail.

But first, England. What a night – primarily because the alleged  Supporters’ band couldn’t be heard over the TV speakers. Were they even in Berlin? Who cares! The lack of jingoistic parping from their off-key trumpets was music to my ears. If I wanted to hear the theme tune to the Great Escape I’d simply watch TV on any Bank Holiday.

That was my on-field highlight. Yes, of course the goals were wonderfully taken although if you want any form of match report than, as ever, I’d suggest the BBC. The said, the win was hard fought with the ITV commentary team doing their best to jinx it at the death. Eric Dier’s injury time goal was met with declarations of “A winner in Germany” and “a winner on his debut”, despite there still being 90 seconds on the clock.

The other plus point was the performance of Lothar Matthäus  in the punditry position. Channelling the look of Paul Robinson – Neighbours, rather than Birmingham City or Burnley – he was that rare example of an ITV pundit who it was actually a pleasure to listen to. Dead pan humour, common sense and a great reading of the game. Let’s hope they snap him up for the Euros over the summer.

Kit wise, just about everybody has said their piece on this already. England opting for traditional red with burgundy sleeves and blue socks (very much Dagenham & Redbridge 1995, as one Twitter observer noted) whilst Germany elected to wear two tone black/dark green(?) with lighter green sleeves. And don’t forget the white stripes down the side from armpit to hem that looked like a somewhat unsightly deodorant stain.

Screen Shot 2016-03-27 at 19.02.18

As the regular reader will (should one exist still) be aware, I’m all for the unusual and a bit of variety in team kit. These, however, both looked like the product of a “What might go well with jeans?” marketing meeting. And those blue socks should never see the light of day again.

For me Clive, this has surpassed the 1994 effort (oversized flappy collars, all those subliminal badges and a shade heading towards burgundy) as the worst ever England away shirt.

As a final thought on the game, what was with all the adverts for ‘Hooch’ that kept flashing around the pitch? Surely that died out in the 90s with Global Hypercolour t-shirts, VHS cassettes and ‘Eat my shorts’ ? Or are Student Union bars (three of the most terrifying words in the English language, to rank alongside ‘Rail Replacement bus’) about to see a resurgence?

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No longer the worst England away shirt

Next up, John Swift. With Josh McEachran still being reported out injured (and the club saying nothing to deny these stories, unless I’ve missed it) there would have been heart in mouth when he got injured last night. Despite my best searches of the internet – and it is frustrating how often a search for his name is thrown off track by: Taylor Swift, Dear John – the most we know so far is that he has a cut foot judging by the pictures circulating on Twitter.

How bad this is remains to be seen although I am sure we’ll learn more today. Whilst he has, for the most part , divided Brentford supporters during his loan spell from Chelsea, one thing we can all agree on is that another injury is the last thing we need at this pivotal point in the season. We all recall how Chris Long’s nasty gash impacted him at the tail end of the previous campaign and so let’s hope this isn’t a case of déjà vu.

I’m not a hypocrite. I don’t think Swift has had the best start to his career at Griffin Park. An over indulgence on the showboating and tendency to lose the ball has been a frustration yet, at the same time, he clearly has ability as we have seen in patches. The Wolves game in particular highlighted what he can do when we get his ‘A game’. Besides, you don’t get called up for the England U-21’s unless there is something there.

Equally, and as we are reminded time and again, he IS a young player who is still learning his game. These skills and judgement calls will come as his game develops. John has become an easy target in some circles but at a time we need everybody pulling together, let’s hope his substitution was a precautionary one and we have him back, on top form, this Saturday.

Ok. The Daily Mail. Or, rather, Mailsport online have run a disturbing story to suggest Sky will be revamping Friday night football next season to make it, what seems to be, a bit more ‘laddish’. Nuts magazine does football if you will, as guest presenters are suggested to include – brace yourself – the likes of James Corden and Holly Willoughby.

Before anybody mistakes this for any form of misogynistic rant, let’s be 100% clear. I’ve got no issues with women presenting football. Quite the opposite. I think Kelly Cates has been the shining star in the (initially at least) car crash that was Football League Tonight whilst Gabby Logan has been doing her thing, brilliantly, for almost twenty years.

And, of course, who could forget our own Natalie Sawyer who has had her feet under the presenter’s desk for so long that she probably knows more about the beautiful game than most of us put together. (Perhaps Sky should be looking ‘in house’ where, of course, Natalie has also shown her punditry skills on Football League coverage?)

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Natalie at the Sky Sports desk – feet not pictured

My issue is with novelty presenters. Comedians great. Football great. Just please don’t combine the two. Nobody needs another ‘Russell Brand’ guesting on Match of the Day.

Football punditry is three men or women, who know about football, sitting on a sofa and talking about the game. You don’t need to jazz it up anymore. We’ll still watch.

Will anybody, honestly, say: “It’s Chelsea – Leicester City tonight. I was going to give it a miss but Gary Neville is busy with Valencia so Holly Willoughby is presenting. Get the Hooch in and make room on the sofa” ?

Aside from the fact that I’ve got more chance of managing Valencia than Gary Neville next season I can’t believe that situation is going to play out anywhere. Who needs Lothar Matthäus when we could have the host of Surprise Surprise, This Morning and Streetmate (don’t remember that one)? I’ve nothing against Holly per-se but when her sporting pedigree peaks at ‘Celebrity Wrestling’ and ‘Dancing on Ice’, perhaps one to give a miss.

Comedians, alleged or genuine, don’t mix well on football

Nick Bruzon

Will Lewis become Paul Robinson or Mr Udagawa?

10 Oct

With Brentford not playing until next weekend’s home game against Rotherham United, things have been somewhat quiet. There’s been no real news out of the club, beyond the 2-1 development squad win over QPR that featured that happiest of things – an appearance from Glasgow Rangers old boy Lewis Macleod (along with a goal). So the mind has been wandering.

Mr. Udagawa. To TV viewers of a certain age (i.e. late 80’s Neighbours fans) he was THE face of international sophistication. By day – Japanese businessman. By night – staple of the Erinsborough dinner party scene as the Ramsay Street residents did everything possible to promote Lassiter’s Hotel and, to a lesser extent, Helen Daniels’ ‘Home James’ chauffeur service.

Des Clarke got the sack from the Pacific Bank after a hilarious mix up that involved a shambolic attempt to learn Japanese, whilst Paul Robinson engineered a fake marriage to then secretary Gail without even having the good grace to inform her of his plan in advance. These were the lengths people went to in order to try and clinch the highly sought after ‘Udagawa deal’.

(l-r) Clarke, Udagawa, Robinson. Titans of international business

(l-r) Clarke, Udagawa, Robinson. Titans of international business

Mr Udagawa rarely appeared on screen although, when he did, he inspired fear. This was one man not to upset despite everybody giving it their best shot to do. All plots around the character usually involved the carefully laid plans to impress him crashing to the floor in a series of misunderstandings as a seemingly doomed deal would subsequently be saved by nothing simpler than a home cooked meal.

He was, if you will, the Keith Stroud of his generation. Everybody wanted to stay on his good side as failure to do so would mean swift and terrible retribution. So why mention him now?

Quite simply, his name came up on Absolute Radio this week during an interview between breakfast show DJ Christian O’Connell and ‘Don’t it make you feel good‘ singer Stefan Dennis.

Dennis is probably better known for playing Paul Robinson on Neighbours over the majority of the show’s thirty year run. Whilst talking about that aspect of his career, mention of the name Mr Udagawa brought about the acknowledgement of the character being “TV’s most powerful cameo”. And that’s a line that has been playing on my wandering mind.

Stefan Dennis – come for Neighbours; stay for the synth-driven pop

With Lewis Macleod now fit enough to play following the injuries and twig-gate that have blighted his time at Griffin Park since joining ten months ago, Brentford fans have now been given a little teaser. But what next?

How far is he from the first team? Can he live up to the potential that saw then manager Mark Warburton sign the player from Rangers and upset Barry Ferguson to hilarious levels of sour grapes?

Injury meant that Lewis' previous appearance had been with the signing shirt

Injury meant that Lewis’ previous appearance had been with the signing shirt

Most importantly, what will he do for the Bees? So far, much like the legendary Japanese businessman, the vast majority of his career has seen Lewis playing a role that is no more than an off-screen mention. Now, he has the chance to establish himself, Paul Robinson style (although without the philandering), as a mainstay in the team.

Ideally, a mix of both would be the winner. A player who ends up with the same level of respect and fear-engendering aura of Udagawa that causes opponents to fall to pieces around him but, equally, one who now has the longevity of Robinson.

After these recent weeks of uncertainty and upheaval, it’s great to have something positive to aspire towards once more. Lewis has the weight of expectation on his shoulders but, equally, he has nothing to lose.

A goal and an assist in Tuesday’s night’s win at Loftus Road isn’t a bad way to start.

Now don’t that make you feel good?

P.S. : To listen to the full Udagawa inspired interview, aswell as voting for a charity competition winner, you can do so at the Absolute Radio website, here. Truly an enthralling, albeit unusual, conversation…

O'Connell and Dennis provided a surreal, but enthralling, conversation

O’Connell and Dennis provided a surreal, but enthralling, conversation