It's Up For Grabs Now
Saturday, May 13, 2006
The FA Cup Final on the BBC - as it happened
13:00 A very old style introduction with clips of final goals from previous years, cutting off at Ray Parlour's, before Gary joins us outside Wembley. We see, and as further illustration we get revoiced footage of the Wembley-opening West Ham 1923 final victory. Turns out Lineker was at the Millennium Stadium all along. Who knew? The usual selection of clips from Liverpool and West Ham final wins follows before Gary introduces his first guests. Usually they're people who won't be coming back to the TV studio later, which was what many would hope of Mark Lawrenson and Ian Wright, still looking out of the window at every opportunity. "We used to come on at about nine o'clock in the morning" Gary laughs, having introduced them as people with "an obvious connection" to the two clubs. Ian Wright at West Ham? Oh, first club you connect him with. They debate the day and the chances, Wright revealing that Pardew would "put lemon in his hair", shrugging off a horrible shake on the two-shot camera, among shots from outside - "some of them think Rafa Benitez is Mexican!"
13:08 Ah, there's some sort of Road To The Millennium Stadium this year, is there? No, it's following Chasetown during and after their near-shock against Oldham in the first round, finishing with a useless Alan Sugar cameo. Back in the studio Gary points out that Ian is sitting right in front of the BBC ovular logo and it looks like "probably the least deserved halo". The teams have already arrived, which ruins a lot of the traditional build-up for us, Gary pointing out Pardew's "pink number, the sort of thing you would wear, Wrighty".
13:15 "Some of this season's unforgettable FA Cup moments" sounds ominous, but in fact it's a Match Of The Day 2-styled, Chiles-voiced Top Ten, unfortunately played dead straight for the most part. Someone with slightly better West Ham connections, Sir Trevor Brooking, replaces Wright in the studio, wearing an FA Cup pin badge and dismissing the reaction to his headed goal as "a bit of fun". Gary points out he's not got the club tie on, Trevor reassuring us that he has badges and ribbons on his bag. Well, that's a lot of help. He also assures that neither he nor Brian Barwick will celebrate goals, which is begging for a cutaway shot or hundred.
13:26 Garth interviews Ricardo Villa, seemingly because he can.
13:34 That seemed a long time. John Motson reports from pitchside, pointing out that not only did the two meet in the 1981 League Cup final but Alan Hansen scored the winner. Gary still asks for a "stat of the day", the best he can immediately come up with being that West Ham's chairman's family were in the crowd for the 1923 final. Jimmy Tarbuck turns up in the studio, surely his first final visit since ITV abandoned his matchday bar, to talk about Bill Shankly and call Gerard Houllier an "autocrat". Brilliantly, he mentions the 1987 pre-game celebrity match (against Sir David's Tottenham Frostspurs, lest we forget).
13:42 Here's fun as attempts are made to link West Ham to their surroundings with the aid of Ray Winstone, Billy Bragg (taped at a recent gig at Barking, and who seems to have Winstone commenting on his interview), Billy Bonds, Alan Taylor, Paul Allen and Edward Hellaby ('West Ham fan since 1915') talking about Billie The White Horse again. Nobody seems to know how come they sing I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles, which seems right somehow.
13:53 As we get the first banners of the final Phill Jupitus shows up, his punditry predictive skills being about as good as expected. His badinage with Tarby is curtailed by a shot of Chris Evans being denied access without a ticket and wanly explaining "I left it on my helicopter". Should he not have some sort of BBC universal pass?
13:58 Gary's "great result for Grimsby there" can't help sounding patronising given the circumstances it's being broadcast from, but there you go. Adrian finishes off his round-up before Gary introduces the day's panel, "a bunch of has-beens now Shearer's retired" - he's between Hansen and Wright as the independent option.
14:08 Adrian's back to tell us about how we can rate the players during the game. Well, that's not going to be helpful. Mark Bright gets to chat to Nigel Reo-Coker in a well appointed home, not his own, with introductory Walt Whitman poetry, which seems to be putting a touch too much levity on things, even if he does talk up Sun Tzu's The Art of War and reveal he accidentally swore at Sven. Everyone wants a great game. Yeah, they always say that.
14:18 "Rafa the gaffer" talks to Steve Wilson, after which Hansen assesses "the dark days are over", which leads to some chat about Peter Crouch.
14:27 It took them this long to mention the 1990 semi-final? Jonathan Pearce bases his Pardew chat at a pavement cafe and we get to see his suit measurement, a televisual entertainment that we thought had died out with the cup final single. Gary mentions his "heavyweight questions" afterwards. Of course we get the goal again as "it's always worth seeing a goal that Hansen's at fault for", Hansen blaming "zonal defence". Shearer makes a very strange noise, like a high pitched 'yippee', in amusement.
14:37 Steven Gerrard's turn to talk to Ivan Gaskell, referring to the white suits and seemingly claiming he needs to make sure "the microphones are at a consistent level" in his captaincy role. Gary asks Ian if he's "the sort of player you'd want your son to play alongside". He doesn't bite, luckily.
14:44 To the commentators, and as commentators get their own cutaway these days it allows us to speculate on who the unidentified woman in a headset next to them is. Abide With Me is delivered competitively by Lesley Garrett and a woman in a small top, backed, apparently, by "the Royal Band of Electrical and Mechanical Engineers", slightly ruined when a big fan close-up shot moves wildly just as the director cuts to it. Michael Ball, Prince William, etc etc etc. "He's big enough to play centre back, isn't he?" is Lawrenson's verdict on the royal guest of honour while Motson drifts into Brian Barwick's collection of antique Liverpool programmes before adding a hasty "don't try and burgle his house, by the way". Ohhhh?
15:00 "We're not going to see Roberto Di Matteo's record broken this year" Motson concedes fifty seconds in, as he probably will every year. Lawro claims Crouch is nicknamed "coathanger" without expanding while Motson attempts to make a rhyme out of "lecture for Fletcher" before both fail to think of punchline when Lawro mentions Cisse's different coloured boots. Fair to say there's not a great deal happening until...
15:20 "It's an own goal! It's an own goal!" Yeah, alright. Carragher puts it in with his standing foot and West Ham are one up. We're still wondering whether Lawro's "there I was thinking Scaloni might be the weakest link" is supposed to be a joke.
15:26 OK, we've seen it now.
15:27 "Fumble by Reina and has Dean Ashton got it? Yes he has!" You can't help thinking Liverpool are bringing this upon themselves...
15:32 ...but that from Cisse was brought about by themselves, everyone seemingly surprised despite it having been on the cards since the second goal, particularly a tight call on Peter Crouch. "They'll need a ruler in the studio at half time on those two decisions" Motson ponders, perhaps not aware of graphics developments, eventually working out that Cisse is comfortably onside from a slo-mo.
15:47 As we hear Motson put his mike down Gary concedes "we've been crying out for a great cup final, and we might just have one". Hansen thinks similarly but Wright is more circumspect, conceding "it must be great, if you're a neutral".
15:51 How did it take this long for anyone to refer to last season's Champions League final? Shearer finally wakes up, declaring "there's no such thing as nearly onside, Alan, you're either offside or you're not". That must be a private thing.
15:55 Just time to announce April Goal Of The Month, and "the winner was Alan Shearer's old mate Craig Bellamy". In case we didn't get it Gary back-announced with the message "Alan's just sending him a text to congratulate". Luckily Shearer can be heard joining in the laughs. Gary then goes through the user ratings but runs out of impetus halfway through the explanation - "text 81010... you can read the rest for yourself."
16:03 Full marks to Motson for spotting Kewell's injury, no marks to Lawro for thinking aloud "we all know what happened the last time he went off in a final" and Motson elucidating for the hard of thinking.
16:12 "Gerrarrrrrd! It's 2-2!" Motson does make a habit of elongating his surname, doesn't he? Lawrenson is surprised as "Liverpool messed the freak, er, free kick up a little". Well, Crouch did help set it up. Motson points out that "Steven Gerrard has scored in his last five cup finals. I have to be honest and say one of them was an own goal..." Well, yes.
16:22 "Ashton's in the centre, so is Harew...oh, it's gone straight in! Would you believe it?" Even Pardew seems stunned into silence. And, wouldn't you have guessed, "Liverpool know all about making it 3-3..." It's like Tyldesley around here.
16:25 "John? Alonso's signalling to the bench." They're certainly earning their keep in the box, although as Motson claims Crouch departing by predicted by "our reporter" it does raise a few questions. They're enjoying it nonetheless, Lawro enthusing "I want extra time here, I don't want this to end."
16:40 It's time for Motson to start asking the difficult questions. "Now, would you have taken Crouch off?" Lawro somewhat ruins the moment by beginning his response "yes, I think I would". As Motson starts worrying about Steven Gerrard's fitness the other end of the natural stamina scale gets ready, and again with the Tyldesley refracting, or possibly Pearce, as Motson thinks "it's ready, steady Teddy", a few minutes later seemingly genuinely shocked - "Oh! His first touch is handball!" Motson reckons "It's one of the best cup finals I've been involved in", although surely his involvement is relatively decorative. Notably he deems it "very sporting of Scaloni to put the ball back there", to which Lawro points out that "of course Liverpool have to get the ball back". Well, surely that won't matter now.
16:48 "Oh, it's four minut...GERRARD!" So much for that injury. Motson immediately labels it "surely the best cup final of modern times" and then ruins it by calling it "like Istanbul all over again". We've got that particular picture now.
16:52 "West Ham must feel the cup has been stolen from their lips" is Motson's curious verdict, presumably thinking of those photos of players sipping champagne/milk from the trophy, as we go "into over...into extra time". Reckoning rightly that "you and I have probably deserved a break" he hands back to the studio, where Gary admits "we were going to have a Goal Of The Season competition later, but I think we'll have to scrap it". Hansen is effusive, calling it "one of the great games I've ever seen" topped when Gerrard "hit one from about 75 yards". Shearer claims "someone needs to get hold of my legs, I've got cramp watching it" while Wright reckons "they should make a film out of it". Steady on. There's the usual self-referencing - "Ian, can you remember the last time a replay finished 3-3?" "There's not many who score two in a final like that".
16:57 Motson's full of the smaller details today, spotting two coin tosses at the start of extra time, one for penalties, and claiming "I know a man who had a bet on West Ham before the third round at 40-1". Not Ricky George, was it? Lawro has upgraded his opinion to "the best Cup final I've ever witnessed", Motson sticking with "the best since the 50s" as we enter what Lawro calls "regulation time". He's found his favourite, claiming "the more I see of Benayoun the more I think of Devonshire" "Interesting comparison, Mark..." is all Motson can say.
17:14 While everyone keeps a tally on numbers down some amusement is gleaned from the big bandage around Cisse's leg, firstly how it doesn't go with his day-glo boots and secondly when the physio claims it's merely cramp. "It's like a battlefield there" Lawro overstates, Motson wondering if with Harewood unable to stand and many others feeling their legs giving way under them "we'll have to send Alan Shearer down to take one". Bit late to put him on the team sheet now. Motson briefly wonders at a West Ham free kick "you don't think Sheringham will...", to which Lawro ascertains "if he does I'll throw myself off the balcony". He doesn't.
17:29 "Someone's missed it - it's hit the post... I don't believe Harewood put that wide" Motson screams before Lawro reminds him that he'd written his fitness off himself, which Motty admits on the replay. "Off the post, how close can you come to winning the cup?" he wonders, which is a moot point, before finally after 119 minutes pulling out the worldwide audience gambit. Name some station that are showing it, then.
17:32 The managers "need to get the pen and paper out" as, as Gary inevitably puts it, "3-3 and a penalty shoot out. Where have we heard that before?" Ian goes oddly Carribbean accented, demanding "look at Shaka, man! He's ready for this, man!", before Alan offers an almost wan "good luck, boys". As Gary quips, "You wait 124 years for one and then two come together..."
17:37 "Now the scene switches, or stays, here in Cardiff" Motson declares, and after two saves Sheringham appears to be the fastest man on the pitch when celebrating. "Alan Wiley's writing the score down on a red card, would you believe" says the ever, um, alert Motson.
17:40 "Oh, it's a poor penalty! It's a poor penalty!"
17:41 "If he doesn't score from this Liverpool have won the cup... They have won the cup!"
17:42 As Anton Ferdinand produces the image by collapsing to the floor and requiring three people to pick him up, Garth gives it the traditional overquestioning to Gerrard, who inevitably declares it "a dream day". Ivan Gaskell meanwhile makes for Reo-Coker, although attention is diverted by the officials hugging right behind him. All that's left is for Gary and the team to attempt to whisk through the entire game in two minutes flat and introduce a closing montage set to - but of course! - Hoppipolla of Cardiff's Cup final tradition, and we can all start getting our breath back.