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The Darke Side: Commentary Gaffes

Ian Darke looks at some amusing slips of the tongue

21 May 2020

Commentator

“This goalkeeper should know his angles. He’s got a degree in maths… or is it English Literature? I can’t remember.”

That was this commentator’s howler on a Newcastle match in which keeper Mike Hooper was playing a blinder at Oldham.

It’s been replayed dozens of times on TV over the years and, well, you do have to laugh. It was English Literature, in case you were wondering.

Fans love these gaffes – and they have been celebrated for years in the satirical magazine ‘Private Eye’.

Some examples: “Twenty minutes gone and it’s already 0-0.”

“This cup final is being watched by a global audience of 200 billion – that’s twice the world’s population.”

Then there was the Boat Race commentator who solemnly declared: “It’s very close. I can’t see who is winning. It’s either Oxford or Cambridge.”

A famous Irish broadcaster sighed: “It looks like the ground will be evacuated because of a bomb warning. Let’s hope this is not another hoax.”

While nobody wants to become a laughing stock with repeated errors, there really is nothing wrong with the odd verbal slip.

"While nobody wants to become a laughing stock with repeated errors, there really is nothing wrong with the odd verbal slip."

Ian Darke

The commentators are guests in people’s living rooms. They should not become bores reeling off endless stats.

So a moment or two to raise a smile or a laugh is okay in my book.

I remember doing a terrible Monday game at Blackburn in pouring rain which ended 0-0 and thinking that if I was at home and not commentating, I would probably switch over.

At moments like that, the man with the microphone will grasp any chance to brighten up a drab show.

My favourite ‘gaffe’ story is of a guy giving a score flash from an African tournament game involving the Democratic Republic of Congo – usually written as DR Congo.

“And here’s a latest score from Group E,” said this luckless reporter. “It’s Egypt 2 Doctor Congo 0.”

A witty viewer wrote in asking if ‘Doctor Congo’ knew any remedies for his bad back!

This column first appeared in this season's Pompey v Rotherham matchday magazine.


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