Nothing much changes, even when you’re 5000 miles away from the comforts of home. I should have expected a 5.45am alarm call to cover for Alan Brazil at some stage, but of course it had to be after I’d worked through until midnight the previous evening. Ho-hum…it’s happened before and no doubt etc etc...still, it was enjoyable having Guillem Balague the highly respected Spanish journalist alongside me for half an hour to talk Torres, Villa et al. it meant breakfast from me was taken late but still very very welcome.
So I joined the gym up the road from our lodge yesterday, much against my better judgement, and I was soon feeling wholly inadequate as I unconvincingly puffed my way though several kilometres on a treadmill whilst, to my immediate left, Stanley Victor Collymore was ritually punishing himself on a hour’s continuous cardio-vascular blow-out, selecting gradients so tough, I can only assume he was simulating what it’s like to gallop up the North face of the Eiger in a pair of Dunlop Greenflash.
Stan’s been on a mission to get properly fit for some time now – when I worked with him at the Hull/Sunderland game for talkSPORT back in April, he’d eschewed the pre-match stodge served up in the press room in favour of some chicken fillet pieces in salad with a bottle of water. To be fair, he’s back at his fighting weight right now - and he’s sorted a program for me to follow on my treadmill in the coming days to help me shed a few pounds properly – not that I’m a fat b’stard, you understand, but that lycra KISS costume I wear in DRESSED TO KILL can’t conceal love handles too well, so I’m grateful for the structure I need to improve my own ‘structure’ as it were.
The pun is the commentator’s best friend and worst enemy at times – Stan & I were commentating on Italy/Paraguay on Monday night when Paraguay took a somewhat shock lead in the driving rain. As the South Americans piled on top of one another in the 6 yard box I strained to see who’d applied the final touch, eventually spotting the centre half Alcaraz as the man of the moment. “Alcaraz escaped from the Italians!” I exclaimed – Stan, gleefully joining in, believed the lad to be “the rock of the Paraguayan defence” and later De Rossi’s equaliser prompted me to say “after Alacaraz’ opener, De Rossi gets the Italians out of jail”.
You might say it’s a bit silly, but a good line is a good line, and I’m not cringing too much typing those lines out again on this blog. You want anodyne, sterile commentary? Course you don’t. And expect a shedload more prison puns from your friendly neighbourhood commentators when Alacaraz arrives at Wigan Athletic next season…unless the 3 we came up with are the only possible ones for him, of course.
More physical punishment exists at our lodge house in the shape of an outdoor tennis court that I have already christened ‘Wembley’ due to the somewhat errant nature of the playing surface. I’ve not seen many tennis courts with weeds growing through it, nor cracks that can turn a ball like Shane Warne against Mike Gatting without warning. But these are trifling concerns, and I do enjoy a good game of tennis, which Adrian Durham, the Moose and senior producer Liam have more than happy to indulge these last 2 days. I’d forgotten how horribly competitive I get on the tennis court.
South Africa vs Uruguay in Pretoria is the commentary for Stan & I today - for some reason I always think of Homer Simpson pronouncing the country as “You-Are-Gay”. I can’t imagine I’ll ever say it that way to their centre half Lugano, as he doesn’t seem to be a good-humoured sort of chap having watched him a lot for Fenerbache in the Europa League this season. Should be a good game to call though, straining our vocal chords yet again to get above those vuvuzuelas – and then it’s a day off!! Who-hoo!!! Unless……