Saturday, September 18, 2010

Want to be Green-fingered? Tune into BBC Radio Tree...

Such are the inadequacies of life that on many a weekend you'll find me out and about in my car while there's live football on TV. Hardly ideal, but when there's shopping to buy and relatives to visit, it's not something you can easily avoid.

And so it was that I was driving back from Norwich to London earlier this afternoon while my favourite team, West Ham, were taking to the field to play Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium. Obviously I'd liked to have watched the game on Sky Sports as advertised, but no matter – I had BBC Radio 5 Live to keep me company in the car, and that was surely no bad thing.

How wrong I was. Oh it started alright, for sure. Nigel Adderley began the match in his usual capable manner as main commentator, and sat alongside him was former Blackburn and England goalkeeper Tim Flowers – himself a useful ex-pro to share commentating duties with.

The game started and all was well. West Ham were surprisingly on the front foot at first, giving the home team a few things to think about. A lively opening exchange from both clubs was reflected in Adderley's commentary and it seemed my 107 mile journey home looked set to fly by in the twinkling of an eye.

How wrong I was. After around 15 minutes, Nigel Adderley (like so many of his predecessors before him), handed over the mike to his co-commentator for the game, Alan Green. It was here that my focus on driving in accordance with the rules shown in the Highway Code started to wane somewhat.

Green's first words were "Well it isn't pretty." Strange that he should say that, true though it might have been, for Adderley had admirably described the game in a more positive light up to that point. Green went on to say that the only people who'd be watching a game like this were committed West Ham or Stoke fans, or perhaps people who should be committed 'full stop'.

A good start, then, by the Ulsterman. Within the space of a minute, he'd managed to negate every last word of positivity and enthusiasm for the match that his employers had pumped out during the previous hour or two.

Sensing the next half an hour might be just as boring, however, Green played what he must have thought was a tremendous trump card. It all began when the 58-year-old caught sight of a young man on his TV monitor who had climbed a tree to get a better view of the match at Stoke City's ground. Green pointed the man out to all the listeners, questioning, as he did so, the mentality of anyone who'd go to such lengths to see a game as apparently poor as this. Naturally he didn't stop to realise that a man outside the stadium wouldn't have the foggiest idea what the match was like until he had a clearer view of the pitch, but never mind.

Green continued to describe the tree-climbing action: "Now he's been joined by his mate" he said, reinforcing the notion that the pair of them must be utterly crazy. Not half as crazy as us listeners for putting up with such banality, I politely said out loud in the sanctity of my Toyota Avensis.

After a little more banter with Tim Flowers (who quite rightly kept out of the tree-related chatter for the greater part), Green came back to tell us that the tree-climber's mate had now left him to fend for himself. Wow, interesting news Alan… any chance you could tell us what was going on in the match? The crowd seemed to be getting very vocal by the sound of things…

Indeed they were. Mid-lecture, Green was forced to cut off to tell us that a cross had been lofted into the Stoke penalty area and that Scott Parker had tapped it in. 1-0 to West Ham, and with that Tim Flowers came in right on cue to give us his take on the goal. With that done, Alan Green once again took control of the commentating reins to tell us… that the man up in the tree now had his mate with him once again. You can say what you like about Alan Green – he knows how to maintain the excitement in a match.

Then came the big news we'd all been waiting for: no, not a second goal for The Hammers, but the kind of update Jeff Stelling would trade in his whole career for - there were now FOUR young men in or around the vicinity of the tree. Stunning.

If you think this is getting tedious, imagine how I felt, barrelling along the A11 while wishing I could send an angry text to the BBC. Surely Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross were relieved of their duties for less?

But wait, there was more… two of the tree-climbers had departed again and… what's this? Apparently a police car had pulled up at the scene, an officer had got out but then drove off having seemingly only given the climbers a verbal ticking-off. "What on earth was that all about?" asked Green. The answer was simple, and if you're reading this Alan, I'll tell you: in the UK, you can't be arrested for climbing a tree. If you were expecting the offenders to be hauled off for a lengthy spell in jail, then obviously a career in the judiciary is even less suitable for you than being a football commentator.

The final straw came shortly before the end of the first half as some buffoon succeeded in humouring the deranged broadcaster by texting in a message to the programme. They told Green that the police had been called in to remove the tree climbers – in fact they'd 'called in the Special Branch'. Alan Green thought this was without question the most hilarious joke he'd ever heard – in fact he went to the trouble of reminding Tim Flowers of the same gag a full three minutes after he originally read it out on air. Ho bloody ho.

"You see – we have intelligent listeners" said Green proudly. No Alan – just angry and frustrated listeners, many of whom have no option but to hear about the match via BBC 5 Live rather than see it elsewhere.

And that really is the point as far as I'm concerned. Alan Green all too often forgets that he's paid to tell the British public (and indeed some poor souls who tune in from around the globe on the BBC World Service) what's happening during a football match. What I heard for a solid half an hour were the inappropriate ramblings of a man who chose to describe how several football fans climbed a tree, stayed for a while and descended again at varying intervals.

I'm not joking – this really was a disgraceful show of unprofessionalism from a man who urgently needs to consider retirement in the light of this and many other previous misdemeanours. I've never heard such a poor commentary before and doubt I'll ever do so again.

If this is what our license fee is helping to provide, I'd sooner keep my money in my pocket.


jamiefjrooney said...

Green's "qualities" as a commentator are cynicism and criticism which produces a cocktail of bitter sacaism, delivered in a deflective vessel of  "I'm only saying what's happening"  

His football commentary is, and has always been, devoid of art; he's just a critic with an agenda in a position of mishandled responsibility.

I like this story, I like the fact you felt so impassioned to share it immediately.

The analysis is spot on. If only Green himself could be capable of such accuracies.

Darren Hooper said...

You;re wasting you time mate. Green is, and always been, an utter imbecile.

I should think Mr Murdoch is only person who still delights in the fact that Green is still employed by the Beeb. While Green is commentating, people will always screw themselves over and pay for Sky.

He's a buffoon of which their are no higher, and if he's doing a match, I will not listen, no matter how badly I want to hear it.

Get this clown off air, dropping the fool should save all of a £150 a week, and earn you a few more listeners again.

Apologies for the rant. He gets my goat and brutally murders it.

Chris O said...

Thanks for your comments, chaps. He really is an abomination of a commentator - so much so that I think even his colleagues at 5Live are embarassed about working with him.