I love my television. It tells me what to think about things I wouldn’t otherwise be the slightest bit interested in. It is a bastion of social justice in this post-Whitehouse society, providing wholesome entertainment in an age of MTV music videos that might as well be underwear advertisements. It is a window to the entire world, a crystal clear anti-fog dream that threatens the very existence of all double glazing salesmen this side of the digilogue supermotorway.
Why, then, do they have to go and ruin it by screening a Wigan Athletic football match? And now I’ve pawned my left intestine for a cable box, do they really think I can afford the second rate ‘products’ eating precious half time airspace? Huh, ‘get Slow Sports’, they said. ‘Fund the Football League’, they said. Screw this, I’m putting Ceefax back on!
Cable Cat capers
In the absence of an ‘otherwise engaged’ Paul Jewell, Neil Mellor filled the role of Latics-biased ‘expert commentator’ for BSKYB’s lunchtime kickoff. As Jewellio was eating his dinner at the time, the constant clattering of cutlery was deemed unsuitable for public broadcast in this post-9AM timeslot. By the way, that might have been a jab at The Big Breakfast‘s quality standards – hah, no wonder it was replaced by that show for toddlers that isn’t Soccer AM!
As Premier League ref Neil Swarbrick tootled on his Premier League whistle to begin (League One) proceedings, the Latics players were every bit as excitable as their overexuberant fans. Though the match ball bore Rochdale FC’s initials (ball theft is obviously a real issue in the general vicinity of Spotland), they saw very little of it in the first ten minutes. And if Donervon Daniels and Craig Davies had nodded and slotted their respective attempts through Josh Lillis, the hosts might have spent the remainder of the afternoon chasing ‘wayward’ Craig Morgan clearances down Rochdale high street.
For now at least, Rochdale’s only legitimate tactic was to haul down their opponents before they reached the penalty area. David Perkins sprinted all the way from Wigan town centre to win one such free kick with his Bear Grylls beard, which Swarbrick clearly took a shine to. “Keep this up and you’ll have that supermarket Santa role you always wanted,” chuckled the (Premier League) referee.
Anyhow, Michael Jacobs swung over a hanging floater for Jason Pearce to defy the offside flag and bunt home at the back post. For one afternoon only, we had the luxury of instant replays (gasp!) to prove that the assistant ref screwed up, but… well, they proved nothing except the fact Sky Snooze have a frame advance function on their camcorders. Blasted technology.
Save *that* one, Mr Supporter
Though the hosts wrested back their oft-pilfered match ball, any attempts to work their way into the game were thwarted by some seat-shattering ‘shots on stand’. Yeah, they’re like shots on goal except they find the terrace behind instead. Ahh, Jussi’s favourite kind of effort on target!
By the hour mark, the visiting side were struggling to involve debutant forward Alex Revell in anything other than midfield drone work. But the penetrative Yanic Wildschut, still patrolling his left wing, was about to prove deadly. Snapping into the Dale area, he delivered a cracker – Jacobs added the cream, defeating Lillis via the underside of his own bar for Wigan’s surprise second. Sadly no ‘leaf blower up the kilt celebration, however. Boo!
(Also, I finally used the cracker pun. Boo!)
Predictably, the visitors slipped into their defensive ‘come and ‘ave a go’ mode. Not that the Latics supporters were concerned – they delighted in cycling through their entire repertoire of songs and chants at least three times as Jussi ‘Let The Ball Boy Do It’ Jääskeläinen indulged in a spot of Vigoroux style ball retention. Which the (Premier League) referee allowed.
A hare’s breadth
Jussi did have to make one more save when Joe Bunney bugged him with a smart left foot curler in the 77th minute. But since that was one of only two shots on target (as opposed to the stand) in 90 minutes of exasperation and irritation for Rochdale, the visitors could claim a relatively rare away win to consolidate their position within those densely populated League One playoff places.
…Yep, I mentioned the table. Even sceptics such as I are now HOLDing and unHOLDing Ceefax page 326 every five minutes to check for updates. There again, I do that automatically having performed the same action for over ten years now – the numbers 3, 0 and 2 on my remote were worn to finger numbing nothingness ages ago.
Right then, I’m off to watch women’s beach volleyball live from Rio De Janeiro – better make the most of this weekend cable TV subscription while I still have it!