I’ve had something of an explosive relationship with Sky Sports News over the years – sometimes I love it, sometimes I can’t stand it but since 1998 it’s been a staple part of the football addict’s daily diet.
I remember when dad first joined the digital revolution, opening my eyes to the thrill-a-minute world of sports news broadcasting. I was in immediate awe at the concept of a channel which provided my leather-cased brain with 24 hour access to football.
For the first year or two I watched nothing else. I even insisted on having it on in the background during Christmas dinner just in case there were any festive hamstrings that might compromise the fortunes of my fantasy team for the Boxing Day fixtures.
If Sky Sports News had been invented ten years earlier half the male population of the United Kingdom wouldn’t even know that the Berlin Wall had fallen. Instead all eyes would have been on Ray Wilkins, the prodigal son, crossing the Scottish border and making his long awaited return to the English game. Some say the two events were of equal political significance.
Of course, back then, Sky wouldn’t have had the luxury of all their modern gizmos. Rather, the progress of Wilkins’ move from Glasgow Rangers to QPR would have been reported using a globe and some finger puppets. It’s a far cry from the giant iPad they use these days.
For all the joy the channel had initially brought me, I finally grew tired of it.
They over-dramatise everything to the point where the terms ‘Breaking news’ and ‘Sky Sports exclusives’ have lost all meaning. At 28, in the twilight of my life, I no longer crave the frenzied excitable tones of Jim White, who greets the news of Everton signing an unknown Ecuadorian with the same level of anxiety as a layman might greet the apocalypse.
If, like me, you try to detach yourself from the Hollywood hype and hysteria that Sky Sports has brought to the world of football, then you should probably leave the country when transfer deadline day comes around.
Since its inception, I have protested vehemently against the restrictive transfer window system and the detrimental effects it has on the game. It creates unnecessary panic, promotes reckless expenditure, gives players too much power and has an adverse impact on youth development. Basically, it has helped to achieve everything it initially set out to prevent from happening.
Last season I boycotted transfer deadline day, thus demonstrating my opposition to the flawed system and the inflated, glittery, Americanised way in which Sky Sports presents its showpiece event.
But on the morning of August 31 this year something astonishing happened. Suddenly, as if by some omnipotent Kuwaiti force, I became all turned around on the subject!
He, who had once so proudly watched ‘Bargain Hunt’ and ‘Diagnosis Murder’ just to avoid Sky Sports’ deadline day coverage, was now fixated on Jim White’s meerkatesque eyes. The excitement of the Gold Rush atmosphere had gripped me and I was reconverted!
Was it the fact that I thought Forest might actually sign a player? Had my previous stance been the product of bitterness at the club’s consistent failure to sneak players under the window minutes before it shut? Do all our feelings towards Sky Sports News exist in direct correlation to how our club is prospering at any given time? In short, yes to all of the above.
It’s been a summer of exceptional business by the powers that be at The City Ground. Before the final day of the transfer window, Forest had made nine stellar signings. It’s been a progressive and exciting time to be a Red… our faith in football, and all that comes with it, restored.
But there’s something a little bit special about beating the deadline and getting that last important signature. So, from 7am on transfer deadline day, I held firm to my instinctive belief that the Al Hasawi family would deliver that long anticipated deadline day excitement.
It was compelling viewing from start to finish. I literally festered in my own juices for the entire day. I daren’t turn over, in case I missed a Range Rover with tinted windows being driven through the gates of a Premier League club. I daren’t turn over in case I missed the moment that Joey Barton finally got deported to France. But, most of all, I daren’t turn over, in case the yellow bar at the bottom of the screen finally read ‘Nottingham Forest’, after so many barren last days of August.
There was a brief moment of panic when I thought I’d sat on the remote control and switched over to watch ‘The Rise of the Planet of the Apes’ but it turned out they were just broadcasting live from a Premier League training ground, where the traditional flock of unruly adolescents had gathered. If you were glued to Sky Sports News all day then you’re sure to know exactly what I mean.
Even though they always seem to have the sort of faces you could grill fish on, their antics are an important part of the Sky Sports Mardi Gras. Lurking on the coat tails of a flustered reporter, whilst making explicit gestures towards the camera and chanting the name of the top flight journeyman whom they anticipate the imminent arrival of, these fanatical gawpers embody the spirit of deadline day … in their own unique way.
One of the most entertaining parts of the day was when Alex Ferguson declared that he had no idea where Dimitar Berbatov was. It led to a procession of texters claiming they’d seen him buying a boneless banquet at KFC near Colchester, or similar such deluded tales. As is often the case with missing items, Berbatov was probably in the last place we’d ever expect to see him … his own half.
His disappearance reminded me of the time that my little sister misinterpreted one of Sky Sports bite-sized team news summaries. It read ‘Stern John still missing’ and she subsequently spent the rest of the day roaming the streets looking for him with her pink plastic binoculars, putting posters of his face on telegraph poles.
Even though he’s 35 and has had more clubs than Lee Westwood, I would still have cracked out my champagne and funnel if Stern John had returned to The City Ground.
It was getting desperate; I was sure a signing would come … but time was running out.
Finally, as the day’s business drew steadily to a close, the famous Sky Sports yellow bar, so often the bearer of bad tidings in days gone by, was ignited. Breaking News from The City Ground!
Billy Sharp and James Coppinger had signed for us! Two players who have been such consistent thorns in our side over previous campaigns, two players of undoubted pedigree at this level, two players who will provide the invaluable competition for places that could well be the difference between success and failure.
I love transfer deadline day!
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