Shamik Das

Monday, February 16, 2009

Bring back James Richardson! Bring back Gazzetta! Golllllllll-accccccccio!!!

WHAT a fantastic derby! The beautiful game alive and well; goals, chances, controversy and a plethora of stars... shame about the coverage!

This was a game made for Football Italia on a Sunday afternoon, not hidden away at night on one of the least watched channels in history. But, you know, small mercies and all that, I suppose we should be grateful the game was shown at all.

Remarkably, this was the first Serie A match broadcast in Britain this season; no one's snapped up the rights. Full marks then to the Beeb for televising the 270th Milan derby - albeit on BBC Three - but couldn't they have at least made an effort?

How much would it have cost to conscript James Richardson for the night? Less than Alan Hansen's heating bill I bet! Well, however much, it would have been worth every penny; arguably the best use of licence payers' money since The Simpsons' defection to Channel Four.

I doubt there's an Englishman alive who knows more about Italian football than Richardson, the face of Gazzetta Football Italia throughout the nineties and early 2000's, who, alongside such broadcasting luminaries as the legendary Kenneth Wolstenholme, brought European football to our screens in the days when the Champions League was but a two-par sidebar not yet embraced by England.

As well as Mr Wolstenholme, other regulars included Luther Blissett, Joe Jordan and John Barnes. The coverage was always more informative than showy, understated than overhyped, worlds apart from the tawdry cliche-fest of Richard Keys and Andy Gray over on Sky.

Richardson gave us a reason to wake up on Saturday mornings, watching in awe and no small jealousy as the Lombardo lookalike supped cappuccinos while bringing us the latest headlines from Gazzetta Dello Sport and Corriere dello Sport from a coffee shop in Mee-lan or Rome.

"What The Papers Say" Italian-style: James Richardson reviews the hot sheets while supping on a cappuccino

There'd be the occasional interview with Paul Ince or Gazza and highlights of the week's games, while Sunday was match day, with Richardson and friends pitch-side or up in the Gods, not stuck in some studio at TV Centre.

For those of us without Sky this was our only source of regular live football, not including action from the Ennnnd-sleigh Insurance League on ITV with Ian St John, but then Southend v Watford in front of three men and a chav hardly compares to Juve v Lazio from the Stadio delle Alpi now does it?!

Throw in Mezzanotte and the catchy theme tune and the gol-gol-gol-gol-gollllllllllllll accccccccio - which I misunderstood as golllllllll Lazzzzzio in times past - and you just know Four knew they were onto something.

But enough about the old days; what with events in the Caribbean and all that, rising unemployment, a recession and a bright young thing in the White House, these past few days do seem to resemble some kind of early nineties revival weekend. Whatever next, bringing back the ill-fated three foreigners rule under diktat of Gordon Griffin's ridiculous "British jobs for British workers" campaign!?!

To last night, and though Jake Humphreys' rehabilitation carried on apace since his poor showing at the start of Euro 2008, the boy just can't cut it at the highest level, showing why just as Auntie should have drafted Mick Luckhurst in to host the Superbowl two weeks ago, so they should have got Richardson in for their one-off Italian job last night.

His "expert summarisers" were no better: Hansen seemed below par, not quite himself, while Roy Hodgson gave every hint of a man with other things on his mind, namely the abysmal form of his Fulham side, outplayed, outpassed and outperformed by Swansea in the Cup 24 hours earlier, and Mark Bright was just, well, Mark Bright, annoying, illogical and over-promoted in equal measure.

That aside, it still couldn't detract from the majesty of the match, won by Inter with goals from Adriano and Dejan Stankovic, though they were given a scare by Milan's late rally which saw Pato reduce the arrears 20 minutes from time to set up a grandstand finish, the Nerazzuri holding on to go nine points clear and on all but wrap up a fourth straight title.

Inter 2-1 Milan: Highlights from the San Siro
Gazzetta Football Italia website
Italia Calcio blog


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21 October, 2009 20:41


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