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Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Outside the Box – Football on TV: Millwall, Chiles and Aguero ensure unedifying scenes all round, but let’s keep the One Direction boys out of it

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It was a weekend of football in which the seamier, more ugly side of the game sprang forth. A dispiriting reminder of a time we’d hoped had passed; a nightmarish collage of unedifying horror and depressing folly. Yep, Adrian Chiles was fronting the FA Cup again.

Obviously, the game on Saturday was marred by the disgraceful scenes perpetuated by a minority of Millwall supporters and it overshadowed what was a huge victory for Wigan to reach the FA Cup final. Chiles and his band of not so merry men were still talking about the crowd disturbances come Sunday before the FA Cup Semi-Final: Chelsea v Man City. Despite purporting the desire to speak about only football matters, Chiles began the coverage by talking of “Thatcher on the front pages, football hooligans on the back, it’s like the eighties”, which at least explains his dated style and crap haircut. We also got a chance to hear from a representative from the FA in the shape of General Secretary Alex Horne who called the scenes “deplorable” and promised to “take action”: quite right too Alex, enough of this God-awful ITV coverage, let’s get Chiles off our screens for good.

There was of course yet more bone-crunching horror to come during the game. Sergio Aguero’s reckless lunge at David Luiz was the latest venomous tackle in what’s becoming an alarming trend, and it has rightly attracted widespread condemnation since. What disappointed me most about the incident though, was as Luiz lay stricken on the ground toppled by an attack from a deadly foe, he was presumably counting on the assistance of a masked vigilante to come and avenge the attack. And it just so happens that Chelsea have one right now in the veiled face of Fernando Torres. Unfortunately for Luiz and for the rest of us, Torres was about as useful in valiant vengeance as he has been in front of goal this season; in fact it wouldn’t surprise me to learn that the Spanish striker missed the incident completely and was sprawled in a heap on the floor after tripping over his laces or something.

There were grumbles of a different kind earlier on during Sky Sports’ Live Super Sunday as Paulo Di Canio’s Christ-like image of himself seemed to transmit divine inspiration into the feet of his spluttering Sunderland disciples as they pulled off a remarkably convincing win at near-neighbours Newcastle. For once though it wasn’t the right-wing, pantomime dame nutcase Di Canio upsetting people but Sky co-commentator and man mountain Niall Quinn who’d somehow got everybody cross. His very close links to the Mackems see him occasionally lose his objectivity a touch and render him a kind of lurching peppy cheerleader. His honeyed eulogies for Di Canio’s men certainly caused quite a stir on Twitter, no more so than when the hoards of 12 year old girls tweeting about One Direction saw lots of abuse on the ‘Niall’ hashtag and leapt to his defence, not realising of course that the Niall in question was a slightly greying hulk who hasn’t been young and hip since about 1972.

The worst of the anti-Niall vitriol was predictably sourced from the bitter Newcastle fans who were so incredulous with rage at the perceived bias that several online petitions were set up calling for the ex-Sunderland man to be sacked from Sky. It is quite remarkable that in the week that the woman who is vilified for decimating the North of England finally shuffled off this mortal coil, half of the North East were more concerned with a lanky and now slightly podgy target man. I think it’s important though that we indulge characters like Niall Quinn a bit and allow a little love into our football coverage. Heaven knows we’ve got enough passionless mechadroids secreted in the various studios. Those Magpies fans so mercilessly bemoaning Quinn’s patronage might do well to remember that over in the BBC trenches, Alan Shearer hardly hides the black and white blood coursing through his veins or his Malcolm MacDonald tattoo does he? I notice too that there’s slightly fewer complaints whenever England are on TV and the partisan pundits barely acknowledge there’s another nation involved at all.

Niall Quinn isn’t everybody’s cup of tea, I get that. His warbling analysis and nonsensical musing can be irritating. But the more I see of him, the more I come to love Quinn. I don’t care that he wears his red and white heart on his sleeve, I don’t care that he wears his light blue heart whenever Man City play; I don’t even care that barely anything that comes out of his mouth is intelligible. I prefer him to a screechy Neville, a gruff Provan and above all a seedy Gray. So I’m here to say leave Niall alone, not just the fella from One Direction but Niall Quinn too. - Football News & Transfers
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Chris Pettitt



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