Monday, 4 February 2008

A Wright Wonderful Day

The attentive among you will have noticed that I don’t often blog about events in my life. Needless to say, you probably wouldn't care anyway.

However, as I sit here with an ice pack around my nether regions (slowly diminishing my chances at reproduction) I'm still buzzing about the last 24 hours and feel I need to document it somehow.

Today was my first day of a one-week work placement at TalkSport - the UKs number one commercial radio station - I don’t think it would be erroneous to suggest that, as a HUGE sports fan, I was in my element.

Having arrived at midday (one of the wonderful perks of a career in broadcast) I spent the early portion of my day reading newspapers scanning for any stories which may have made for good discussion on the evening drive time show. On this ery slow of news days, highlights included the rise in breast reduction surgery ...amongst MEN!

Drive time presenter Adrian Durham introduced himself to me. I was shocked at what a nice guy he actually was. Anyone who has ever listened to the station will have at least once in their lifetime been on the brink of launching their radio out the window or crashing their car after being totally infuriated by Durham's constant controversial, attention-seeking, outspoken views on football and life in general. Listeners up and down the country - myself included - have literally been reduced to shouting incoherently at their radio sets off the back of a single outrageous remark from one of commercial radio's most notorious baiters.

All this went out the window the moment I met him. Adrian Durham is mischievous in his demeanour. His voice is deceptive because without seeing him, he can easily be mistaken for sounding spiteful. In reality, Durham sits there with a permanent relaxed grin on his face basking in his ability to goad us unsuspecting fools into a reaction. No longer do you need to be fooled. He even asked me if I was up for joining them for a drink after the show. I sadly had to decline due to football commitments (more later!).

What capped my day though was meeting one of the people I admired most growing up; Mr Ian Wright. Regardless of who you support, there's no way anybody who watched English football in the 1990s could have avoided Wrighty's antics on the pitch. As a child, I, like many black inner city children, looked to Wrighty as a role-model. His own story - starting his professional football career reletively late following years of rejection to becoming one of the most deadly and feared players in the country was an inspiration to people like me. Wrighty epitomises the spirit of the working class hero.

One of Ian Wright's defining characteristics is his bubbly, excitable personality. Ths manifested itself on the pitch. Apart from the odd skirmish and brush with authority, Wright was one of the few players that always looked like he really enjoyed what he was doing and was rarely seen without his trademark smile.

He's lost none of his enthusiasm for the game despite his retirement in 2000. When Wright speaks, his presence and boisterousness make it seem like he's addressing everybody within earshot. What really surprised me was how down to earth he is. I often talk about footballers being self-absorbed, out of touch with reality and living in their own self-centred world but Wrighty seems very far removed from that. For someone who talks so much, he doesn't talk about himself a great deal.

The drive time show is officially the most popular at the station and the guys behind the scene have a big impact on that. I was working with them helping to screen text messages on the topics of the day. Today's show was a lot of fun. The discussion began with the plausibility of the concept of luck in sport. Durham was typically dismissive of the notion while Wrighty the idealist was hell-bent on convincing him that luck plays a huge part in not just sport, but also our lives - particularly cabbies who can suffer bad luck in constantly picking up low fares.

The latter part of the show was a very light-hearted look at favourite childhood cartoons. This invited a lot of callers to do their best Donald Duck/Popeye/Scooby Doo impressions live on air. Hilarious does not do this justice.

After this enjoyable experience, I shot off home to prepare for my first game at Powerleague Barnet in almost a year. After a long period of hiatus, recent weeks has seen our championship (albeit division 5) team had finally reassembled and we were ready to launch an assault on the league title (yes, division 5 again...) but as we joined midseason, we were taking over from another team who, by all accounts were not very good. We played and won our first 2 games which I had unfortunately missed. But was back this week! Psyched up and raring to go.

NOTE: Having not asked permission from the boys, I will have to use alias' from now on...

We took an early lead through OKOCHA, an incredibly skilful recruit and friend of team captain ROMARIO. However, complacency kicked in early as we haemorrhaged a number of goals to the opposition who exploited our inability to close them down by shooting - and scoring - from distance, a lot. In what was a poor first half, OKOCHA was our only threat. The opposition realised this and persisted in hacking him down. Our usual goal-getter INZAHGI was having an off-day in front of goal and TOTTI just couldn't get into the game. I continuously gave the ball away and MARQUEZ was frequently out of position exposing us at the back far too many times.

We went in 8-4 down at half time and really should have been further behind. Heads were down and there just seemed no way back.

The second half however, was a completely different story. We began to knock the ball around confidently and before long, I latched onto a quick free kick from OKOCHA to hammer the ball into the bottom corner at the keeper's near post to bring us back into the game. We grew in confidence, became stronger and were winning everything. OKOCHA scored another screamer leaving the poor keeper rooted and MARQUEZ scored from impossible angle to bring us right back into the game. A few lapses at the back allowed them to remain in front but we were in the ascendancy and knew even when they scored, we could score more. At 10-9 to them, TOTTI evaded challenge after challenge to score a great solo goal to level things up. They were on the ropes.

They went ahead once more but our heads didn't drop. TOTTI restored parity yet again before ROMARIO took centre stage to win us the game firstly with an unsavable Tracer rocket left foot shot from inside his own half and then sealing the points with a right footed angled drive into the bottom corner. The Sweetest of victories to cap off a great day.

P.S. The ice on my achy-breaky groin muscle has long since melted.

No comments: