1986 WORLD CUP : NORTHERN IRELAND OFFICIAL SOUVENIR

In just under 24 hours time, Northern Ireland will be playing their opening match of Euro 2016, against Poland in Nice, exactly 30 years to the day (and it’s Pat Jennings birthday) since their last match in a major finals, against Brazil in the 1986 World Cup in Guadalajara.

When you’ve waited 30 years, what’s another day?

But what were Northern Ireland fans reading as they made their way to Mexico in 1986? It’s possible they were reading the official souvenir, which would have cost them £2.50, just over twice as much as the similar guide for Spain 82.

The cover star is Alan McDonald, towering over the skyline of Mexico City. Despite only playing twice in the qualifiers, McDonald became one of the icons of the campaign, after his post-match interview at Wembley where he politely suggested that anyone who thought the 0-0 draw was a fix was ever so slightly wrong.

As you open the publication, there is an advert for Belfast Telegraph, with Malcolm Brodie promising comprehensive coverage, as well as a preview supplement in the 6th May edition, and a Northern Ireland squad poster in the 10th May edition of Ireland’s Saturday Night.

IFA President Harry Cavan writes the foreward, where he states he is confident that Northern Ireland can reach the Quarter-Finals.

Ivan Little, co-editor alongside Billy Kennedy, just like in 1982, writes a double page spread on the logistics of Northern Ireland’s campaign, with one of the first tasks being for IFA Secretary David Bowen to inform FIFA that Northern Ireland wish to participate in the finals in Mexico.

Bowen also visited an Adidas factory to look at specially adapted kits to cope with the heat in Mexico, as well as ensuring the team had 10,000 bottles of water, and ensuring passports and visas were up to date.

There are full page player profiles throughout, the first being Sammy McIlroy followed by Pat Jennings. Jennings will be playing in Mexico on his 41st birthday, and comments that he spent his 21st birthday playing in Mexico, for Tottenham Hotspur in an end of season tour.

Jennings is back at White Hart Lane keeping himself in shape for Northern Ireland’s matches.

Danny Blanchflower gets a double page spread looking back at his World Cup memories, though he admits not remembering much of the 1930 tournament as he was only 4 years old. Blanchflower comments that Winter Winterbottom as England’s first manager instead of a committee inspired the IFA to do likewise with Peter Doherty, as well as suggesting that the increase of cars parked in streets as had a negative effect on the number of skillful footballers in the UK in recent decades.

There is a full page titled “The Road To Mexico”, listing the results and team line-ups of Northern Ireland’s eight qualifiers.

Jeff Powell of the Daily Mail gets a full page feature where he states that Northern Ireland are still being written off by many despite their success in recent years.

George Dunlop writes about his World Cup experience in Spain, and the daily routine of the squad, which included sports competitions on their day off with Milky Ways and Mars Bars as prizes.

Malcolm Brodie writes about Northern Ireland being happy to be based in Guadalajara, and getting a hotel 10 minutes from the airport and 15 minutes from the City Centre.

Despite not having played an international since 1977, George Best gets a profile. His involvement in this World Cup will be as a pundit for the BBC, having been one for ITV in 1982. There is also a mention of his son Calum, who has just developed an interest in football, but states that if he was to become a footballer, he could be eligible to play for England or USA instead of Northern Ireland.

There is a feature on the fans travelling to Mexico, most without tickets, such as First Shankill Supporters Club, though USA and Canada based supporters clubs are excited by the Mexican adventure, viewing them as virtually home games.

We return to player profiles, with one of Jimmy Nicholl, now Assistant to Michael O’Neill, and Norman Whiteside, who reveals that relatives send him Potato Bread and Soda Bread, which he can’t get in England, in order to make an Ulster Fry.

Whiteside also avoids talking about his love life, amid rumours he is soon to be married.

The summer of 1986 was going to be memorable for Nigel Worthington, as his wife is due to give birth to their first child at the start of July, meaning it could be touch and go for thim to make it home in time if Northern Ireland got to the final.

Worthington recalls how he discovered about his move from Ballymena United to Notts County lying in bed after a nightshift at a local factory, while revealing that he became interested in football after watching his older brother Ernie play for Coleraine.

Billy Bingham gets a double page feature by Billy Kennedy, stating he believes friendlies against France, Denmark and Morocco are perfect preparation for the World Cup.

Ian Stewart’s profile reveals that he wanted to be a popstar, forming a band in his youth, whose name was too rude to be published in this book, and performed a concert at Belvoir Community Centre.

He also reveals that he’s not to fond of playing for former Linfield player Iam McFaul, as he supports Glentoran, and writes jokes for a football magazine, using jokes about Linfield and Glentoran but changing them to Arsenal and Chelsea for an English audience.

John O’Neill states he won’t be leaving Leicester unless Liverpool or Manchester United make a bid for him, but he is hoping to be Brandywell bound to take in a Derry City match, in their first season in the League Of Ireland.

Jimmy Quinn reveals that the winning goal he scored in Romania came when he was wearing a pair of Jim Platt’s boots, having picked up the wrong pair at the Blackburn Rovers training ground before meeting up with the Northern Ireland squad.

Cover star Alan McDonald is profiled, where he declares he meant every word of his post-match interview at Wembley. He comes from a sporting family, with an older and younger brother playing for Crusaders, and another brother Jim (not that one) being a Basketball international.

McDonald took the place of John McClelland during the campaign, and it was revealed that McClelland, from Whitehead, was in the same school as the previously mentioned Jim McDonald.

Like his fellow Ballymena native Nigel Worthington, Steven Penney has a domestic arrangement scheduled this summer, with his wedding taking place two days before the final, which will be an awkward clash if Northern Ireland.

His wife is also from Ballymena, but they didn’t meet until mutual friends suggested they get together to combat loneliness in Brighton with her being a student at the local univeristy, and him playing for Albion.

There is a profile of Paul Doherty, Granada Head Of Sport, who is co-ordinating ITV’s Northern Ireland coverage, just as he did in Spain in 1982. He hitch hiked from West Germany to Sweden to watch Northern Ireland in 1958. He had good reason to, his dad was the manager, Peter Doherty.

His dad, now 72, is still active in football, working as a a Scout for Aston Villa.

Doherty is profiled as part of a feature on the media coverage. ITV will be showing the games against Algeria and Spain live, with Jackie Fullerton doing a live report on UTV’s teatime news.

If the name sounds familiar, that’s because he created Paul Doherty International, who produce commercial sporting DVDs, most notably for Manchester United.

Sadly, Paul Doherty died earlier this year.

BBC will show the final group game against Brazil, with Mike Nesbitt (Yes, the leader of the UUP) commentating on the network. That game will have BBC NI doing build-up from a studio in Belfast instead of the network coverage from London that viewers in England, Scotland and Wales will get.

Nesbitt will also be working as a reporter for BBCNI’s teatime news. Mark Robson will be doing Radio Ulster commentary on the games.

DISCLAIMER – The article says ITV broadcast the opening game of the tournament between Italy and Bulgaria. This advert suggests it was on the BBC. So it was either simulcast, changed after the publication went to press, or the article is wrong.

There is a full page feature on those hoping to make a late claim for a place in the squad, Darrin Coyle, Paul Agnew, Robbie Dennison and Bernard McNally.

Alan Snoddy gets a profile, as he aims to follow in the footsteps of Irish League referee Malcolm Moffett, who refereed Belgium v El Salvador in 1982, while Canada also get a profile, due to Terry Moore of Glentoran playing for them.

It would have been rude not to have a song, and Northern Ireland had two, with the players singing vocals on them, and comes complete with a lyrics sheet. The article suggests the songs were so good, that Duran Duran should step aside.

Northern Ireland’s three group opponents – Algeria, Spain and Brazil get a profile, as do Denmark, who they would face in a warm-up friendly, before ending on adverts for IDB (What Invest NI was known as in the 1980s) and Bushmills.

MAGZINE ARCHIVE : SHOOT – 5.7.1986

We are in the final stages of the 1986 World Cup Finals, and Shoot are covering it, having a collage of images from the tournament so far as their cover image.

Gary Lineker’s hat-trick against Poland gets the double page treatment, as all three of his goals feature in a picture collage.

In The Editor’s Page, Peter Stewart goes behind the scenes at ITV’s World Cup coverage, presented from London by Brian Moore. But there was to be a twist for Moore, as he was to fly to Mexico City to commentate on the final, his first final commentary for television (He had covered the 1966 Final for radio)

Meanwhile, the big news that week, was that Lorraine from Sunderland was setting up a Nick Pickering fan club, and provided contact details for anyone wishing to join.

In 1986, Middlesbrough were a club in crisis, and on the verge of extinction before being saved by local businessman Steve Gibson. This story gets a page of coverage.

Meanwhile, Martin Cully from Kildare writes to Jimmy Greaves Letters Page to complain about Ian Rush not being in the England squad, which gets the predictable sarcastic response from Greavsie.

Talking of Ian Rush, he does an interview where he speaks of his impending transfer to Juventus (delayed by a year due to a ban on foreign signings by Italian clubs) and how he wanted to follow-up Liverpool’s double in 1986 by winning a clean sweep of English trophies in 1987.

Liverpool didn’t win a trophy in 1987, but Rush did score a goal in a League Cup Final defeat to Arsenal.

EUROBOLLOCKS – THE KNOCKOUT STAGES

The group stages are over and the serious stuff was ready to begin, as eight sides battled to be crowned the Champions of Europe.

First up, were Czech Republic and Portugal, in a game that was known as The Cristiano Ronaldo Show.

Christiano Ronaldo was on a one-man mission to get Portugal into the Semi-Finals, which he succeeded in doing, winning the game, and the heart of Jonathan Pearce, in a show of fawning not seen on the BBC since they wheeled out a load of 40 something minor celebs to reminisce about the Bay City Rollers and David Cassidy et al on the ‘I Love The 70s’ series during the early 00s

To give you an idea of the mancrush, when Ronaldo scored, Pearce let out a scream not heard since Volcanosaurus obliterated Titanorator in the 1999 Robot Wars final.

Meanwhile, Portugal had a penalty shout in the first-half, to which Martin Keown commented “It’s just like WWE”

You have to admire Martin Keown for his research, as most football commentators describe penalty area manhandling as “It’s just like WWF” which as everyone knows, is no longer the name for the Wrestling organisation.

Next up, was Germany v Greece, or, Christmas for people who like doing shit topical jokes.

You see, Germany are meeting Greece in the Euros (And I fucking hate that term, it’s the European Championship) and off the pitch Germany and Greece are in some shit about the Euro, the currency, or something like that.

Having covered the FA Cup for the last four years, ITV have perfected the art of being patronisingly biased towards an underdog, and my word, ITV made sure Greece were the mid table League Two side of Euro 2012.

ITV were so biased, if Greece won, I would have expected them to cut back to the studio, and Adrian Chiles is dressed like he is in Dad’s Army, and proceeds to sing “Who do you think you are kidding Angela Merkel?”

Thankfully, Jamie Carragher wasn’t on punditry duty for that game, and thus, we were spared him talking about the nucleus of the Germany team that plays for Beyyynnn Mooonik.

Greece were heroically holding the Germans 0-0 for a long period of time, promptong co-commentator Jim Beglin to remark that “Germany are struggling to break down the Greece wall” which was surprising, as if any country specialised in breaking down a wall, it was Germany.

The following night, Spain met France in a game which was boring, which prompted a debate as to wether Spain are boring.

Spain are boring, but it’s boring to say that Spain are boring, but it’s boring to say it’s boring to say that Spain are boring.

I don’t know what position to take in this debate.

Sunday night, the one we are all waiting for, England v Italy.

Italy of course, are in decline with their worst ever team, there should only be one winner.

Before the match coverage had even started, modern journalism hit a nadir, as journalists queued up to provide live coverage of the England team getting off the bus at the stadium.

Yes, live coverage of people getting off a bus.

The pre-match analysis focused on the job Roy Hodgson had done with England, with Alan Hansen commenting on his ill-fated spell at Liverpool “It was the first time he’d managed a big club”

In Alan Hansen’s parallell universe, 18 time Siere A champions and 3 time European champions Inter Milan aren’t a big club.

Any big match these days isn’t complete without a wanky pre-match montage, and England v Italy didn’t disappoint. It wasn’t the worst one of the tournament though, as the BBC previewed England’s match against Sweden with a Joe Hart montage.

No harm to Joe Hart, but he’s a goalkeeper. You know a team is crap when the goalkeeper gets a montage. Prior to England’s opening game, the BBC had a montage of Stewart Downing prepared but had to scrap it.

It wasn’t the fact that Downing wasn’t selected for the game against France that saw the montage scrapped, but the fact that they couldn’t find any footage of him scoring or setting up a goal for Liverpool.

Italy is of course, the home of dirty tricks, and they pulled a real dirty trick by unveiling a player nobody had ever heard of before, Andrea Pirlo.

Apparantly, Andrea Pirlo has two European Cup winners medals and a World Cup winners medal, while Scott ‘Scotty’ Parker starred in a McDonalds advert. Amazingly, Pirlo turned out to be a bit better than England’s midfield.

England were in trouble, and Alan Shearer had a cunning plan …… that England should bring on Andy Carroll as “Italy won’t have played against a player like him”

In Alan Shearer’s parallell universe, there are no tall players in Siere A.

Ironcially, when Andy Carroll did come on, the only person who struggled with him was commentator Guy Mowbray, who kept calling him ‘Ashley Caroll’

And so to penalties, the most frustrating part was that Italy’s Christian Maggio didn’t take a penalty, purely for the commentator to say “So here’s to you Christian Maggio, a nation turns it’s lonely eyes to you …….”

So, England lost, and the end credit montage music was an acoustic cover version of ‘In The End’ by Linkin Park. Hadn’t England fans suffered enough?

The first Semi-Final between Spain and Portugal was boring, which wasn’t surprising as Spain are … wait, what’s the official line?

As the game was in extra-time, Martin Keown spoke for no-one when he commented “Nobody wants penalties”

Fuck off! When a game we don’t care who wins goes to extra-time, the thought of a penalty shoot-out is the only thing that keeps us going throughout extra-time.

The following night, as Italy went 2-0 up against Germany, Jonathan Pearce described it as “A major upset”

Yes, four time World Champions Italy now reduced to that status of a League Two team in the FA Cup 3rd Round.

Balotelli’s two goals against Germany made Alan Shearer look stupid (nothing new there) who dismissed him as “Having done nothing in his career”

When this was brought up in the build-up to the final, Shearer um ahhed that he meant at international level.

Fair point.

In an unrelated note, Lionel Messi has done nothing of note in his career*

(*In Irish League football, how many County Antrim Shields has he won?)

And so, to the game itself, Spain go 1-0 up through David Silva, prompting Guy Mowbray to quip “Silva strikes Gold for Spain”

No mater how many times you say it, it’s a pun which just doesn’t work.

I’m not even sure what the final score was, as I was too busy watching the match on CBBC.

Yes!!! CBBC showed the game live with various stars commentating on the game, including Hacker T Dog, who unsurprisingly made more sense than Mark Lawrenson and Andy Townsend combined.

If only this had existed in past European Championship finals.

Just imagine Saturday Swapshops’ Noel Edmonds and Keith Chegwin commentating on Panenka’s chip, or a Dream Team of Sarah Greene, Edd The Duck and Gordon The Gopher commentaing on Marco Van Basten’s goal against the Soviet Union.

And so, that was it, Euro 2012 was over, there was only one more battle …….. the end credit montage-off.

ITV had ‘Tonight Tonight’ by Smashing Pumpkins, while BBC went with an acoustic version of ‘Thriller’ by Michael Jackson that was so depressing, it was almost as if Mark Lawrenson was singing it.

Fair to say, ITV won the montage-off.

Gary Lineker signed out on “The reign of spain continues in Ukraine”

I’ll go fucking insane if Gary Lineker tries a joke like that again.

EUROBOLLOCKS – WEEK 2

The second week of Euro 2012 began in Donetsk, then stopped for an hour, then started again, with the farcical Ukraine v France game.

With live coverage of the Ukraine v France game getting in the way of their preview of England v Sweden, it was almost as if ITV prayed for an abandonment, and God replied “You want to talk about England for three hours? FINE! You bloody well talk about England for three hours”

I’d like to think if ITV did do a deal with God, it would involve them begging for forgiveness for Andy Townsend’s Tactics Truck, and just Andy Townsend in general.

With airtime now needing to be filled, ITV had the right man in their presenting chair, as all ten of Daybreak’s viewers can testify, Adrian Chiles is an expert at inane chatter and utter bollocks.

You can’t help but imagine what it would have been like if this game was being used as the punchline in a French version of The Likely Lads where they try to avoid the score in a football match that they have recorded.

UEFA’s rules state that any abandoned or postponed match must be replayed the following day. This would have been problematic for England if their match was abandoned or postponed with them due to fly to Krakow after the game, meaning they would all need to find a hotel for the night at short notice.

I’m kind of imagining it being like The Jolly Boy’s Outing episode of Only Fools and Horses where they all split up into different groups to try and find a hotel bed for the night. You could possibly write a sitcom about it. I’m already imagining John Terry in the Trigger role, standing alone, wearing a sombrero and carrying a toy donkey, saying “Alright Dave” everytime he sees James Milner.

England began with a 1-1 draw against France, despite one of their most high profile performers being unfairly banned by UEFA. Not Wayne Rooney, but the England Supporters Band. They were back with avengance against Sweden, managing to do an even worse version of Seven Nation Army than Marcus Collins.

With an hour gone in the Friday night game, Sweden led England 2-1, with the most unlikeliest of names on the scoresheet. Andy Carroll.

With England in trouble and facing elimination, Theo Walcott is brought on off the bench, but Mark Lawrenson was even more unenthused than usual with the change.

“Walcott’s been living off one good performance four years ago” said Mark Lawrenson, living off winning a few trophies with Liverpool in the 1980s

One goal and one assist later, we clearly see why Roy Hodgson is an international manager and Mark Lawrenson isn’t.

The following night, Greece shock Russia 1-0 to go through to the Quarter-Finals. As the Greek players celebrated at the full-time whistle, Mark Bright remarks “That it’s a case of Deja Vu from Euro 2004”

Hmm, Greece beat Portugal, drew with Spain, then lost to Russia in 2004 to reach the Quarter-Finals. In 2012, they drew with Poland, lost to Czech Republic then beat Russia to reach the Quarter-Finals.

It’s not really a case of Deja Vu is it?

The only real Deja Vu with Euro 2004 and Euro 2012 was that Mark Bright as probably talking bollocks in Portugal as well.

In the other game that night, Poland were eliminated with a 1-0 defeat to Czech Republic. In the post-match analysis, the BBC did a live OB with Damien Johnson, at a rather glum fanpark in Gdansk.

When handing over, Gary Lineker remarks “It was …… murder on Gdansk floor”, a joke that was trending on Twitter in reference to Republic of Ireland getting passacred by Spain. It wasn’t funny then, and it wasn’t funny when out of context two days later.

In Lineker’s defence, it is the second best Sophie Ellis-Bextor related football gag after the one about her being found dead at the home of a French footballer. Police said it was ………. Murder On Zidane’s Floor.

That’s the level of shit PUN-ditry you should be aiming for Gary.

Meanwhile, the fate of Group C went right down into injury time, or should that be injurytime.com?

Yes, Mark Bright managed to stoop to a new low towards the end of the Spain-Croatia game by saying “The game is going into the lastminute.com” and a nation collectively screamed FUCKOFF.COM!!! at their TV screeens.

I’m not a fan of product placement, so I won’t be using this blog to plug employment agencies that Mark Bright can use for work seeing as he won’t be commentating on football matches any more.

That match was on BBC 1, with Republic of Ireland v Italy moved to BBC 3 in another sickening act of British opression over Ireland, which somehow passed as a story in the Belfast Telegraph.

This is the last European Championship with 16 teams, as the competition expands to 24 teams from 2016 onwards.

Pundits and journalists have been quick to complain about this, that the quality of the competition will decline, if teams who finish 3rd in their qualifying group reach the finals. They’ve got a point. Just imagine how rubbish Euro 2008 would have been if England were in it.

The most bizarre incident of the tournament came when Niklas Bendnter was banned and fined for exposing his underpants with the brand name of a bookmaker after scoring a goal.

I watched the incident and was shocked at what I saw ……. Niklas Bendtner scored a goal.

On Tuesday, England faced a vital game with Ukraine where they needed to avoid defeat to ensure reaching the Quarter-Finals.

In the first-half, England were struggling and lucky to be drawing 0-0, with Wayne Rooney looking lethargic and off the pace after his suspension.

Early in the second-half, England get the vital goal through Wayne Rooney, looking refreshed and rejuvinated after his enforced break.

This set up a Quarter-Final with Italy. Italy shouldn’t even bother turning up if the pundits are to be believed, as they appear to have taken on the Germany role of being “In decline” with “Their worst ever team”

Quite what Emiliano from Milano, ITV’s star of Week 1 would make of that, is anyone’s guess.

Next week’s Eurobollocks will be fun, focusing on the fallout of Italy’s dramatic 1-0 win with a 93rd minute handball goal from Mario Balotelli, stood in an offside position.

Wonder will ITV’s panel be quick to describe it as “A bit of luck they deserve” and that “These things even themselves out” as they were when briefly discussing Ukraine’s wrongly disallowed goal on Tuesday night?

EUROBOLLOCKS – WEEK 1

We are now one week into this “Festival of football” which is harder to win than the World Cup, and always guarantees heavyweight clashes in the group stages.

Not only that, it guarantees bullshit punditry. I haven’t watched every game of the competition, but what I have watched hasn’t failed to see me bang my head against the wall at some of the punditry.

In the opening game between Greece and Poland, Mark Bright commented that neither side should provide too much concern to the players of Russia and Czech Republic “Sat in their hotel rooms with their feet up watching this” – Despite the fact that there was less than an hour before kick-off in that game.

As the game meandered to a draw, both commentators spoke about how “The opening games in tournaments are always draws” without any statistical analysis to back it up, suggesting that they were just spouting off cliches as the game entered the stage “When it is all about who wants to win it” and “Both teams will settle for a draw”

During the Poland-Greece game “Sir Chesney” trended on Twitter, in reference to Mark Bright’s pronounciation of Poland’s goalkeeper rather than Chesney Hawkes getting an overdue knighthood. At the end of the game Gary Lineker joked about it. It’s enough to make you want all analysis to be a blank screen with a compilation of tweets appearing on the screen.

The following day was Group B, taking on the role of “The Group Of Death”, though not literally.

BBC’s intro to coverage of Holland v Denmark began with a montage of previous “Groups of Death” which was hopelessly flawed. The montage included England’s Euro 88 group, though possibly because they were shite and lost all three games, and ignored the fact that the other Euro 88 group (Spain, Italy, West Germany, Denmark) was actually tougher.

Other “Groups of Death” ignored were the Euro 92 group with both Euro 88 finalists and the 1990 World Cup winners, and the Euro 2000 group with the Euro 96 finalists competing against the winners of 84, 88 and 92.

If you’re going to do a montage, at least do it right.

The Holland v Denmark game took place in Kharkiv at a stadium, which according to Jonathan Pearce, “Cost 50m Pound Euro to build” – I literally have no fucking idea what that means. Is it some sort of supercurrency he has created?

Denmark ended up getting a surprise 1-0 win, which some commentators seemed to equate with a non-league side winning at Old Trafford in the FA Cup 3rd Round.

Denmark, currently 9th in the FIFA Rankings, have reached the European Championships 7 out of the last 8 times, won it in 1992 and reached the Quarter-Finals as recently as 2004 ……. and yet BBC’s pundits and commentators viewed their win over Holland as a massive shock.

ITV have taken the step of hosting their coverage in the middle of Warsaw, doing their pre-match analysis of Spain v Italy in a cafe. You were kinda hoping the guy in the table behind them would be looking at porn on his laptop. Instead, we got Emiliano from Milano to give his opinions.

When talking about Italy, we are informed that “This is not a great Italian side” and “Italian football in decline” as Italy now appear to take on the Germany role of the footballing giant that pundits lazily declare as in decline with their worst ever team.

Meanwhile, Gordon Strachan’s analysis of Croatia v Republic of Ireland suggested that Republic’s players would be more hungry for this game, having not been in a tournament for ten years, and that Croatia players might be blase at always reaching tournemants. Croatia failed to qualify for the most recent international tournament.

Meanwhile, on Monday night, co-hosts Ukraine beat Sweden 2-1 in a game which, according to Lee Dixon “Had everything – two World Class players on the scoresheet”

Yes, the game that “Had everything” had two players scoring. That was it.

The “Had everything” is of course, a classic Shearerism, and not to be outdone, our hero reeled it out after a timefilling montage of Holland v Germany matches.

According to Shearer, Marco Van Basten “Had everything – pace and power”

Yes, according to Shearer, the player who ‘had everything’ only had two skills, basically running very fast and charging past people.

ITV, based in the centre of Warsaw, quite literally in the thick of the action as Polish and Russian hooligans beat seven bells out of each other nearby meant everytime Gordon Strachan opened his mouth, he was immediately drowned out by police sirens.

Last time there was that number of police sirens blasting out on ITV in the evening was in the glory days of The Bill.

Talking of grudge matches, the BBC weren’t slow in hyping up Holland v Germany. Somehow, nobody told Mark Lawrenson who sounded underwhelmed throughout.

Arjen Robben’s reaction to being subbed brought Lawrenson to life as he managed to fit in a bad pun that doesn’t really work that “There’s no Arjen team” – Geddit?

Amazingly, it got worse, as he morphed into full David Brent mode, proclaiming that TEAM means “Together Everyone Achieves More”

If the match lasted ten minutes longer, he would have started dancing to Disco Inferno and started singing ‘If You Don’t Know Me By Now’ by Harold Melvin

Mark Lawrenson : Friend first, Entertainer second, probably a Football Commentator third

Talking of bad puns, Tuesday’s Daily Mirror (There was a copy lying about in the cafe I was having my lunch) backpage headline led with “KINGS OF JOLOEN” in reference to England’s draw with France.

I’m just as confused as you are

Talking of bollocks in the written press, today’s Belfast Telegraph led with a story about shameless bandwagon jumper Gary Lightbody being “attacked online” for cheering on the Republic of Ireland in Euro 2012.

The report had no examples of this ‘Abuse’ nor did they quote any of this ‘Abuse’

Typing ‘Gary Lightbody’ and ‘@garysnowpatrol’ into Twitter doesn’t bring up any abuse. Strange that.

It’s almost as if they pre-empted a story which didn’t happen. Pretty fucking pathetic if you ask me.