The Groundsman’s Shed


Euro2008 Marches On-Desailly shouting the whole way by groundsman
June 20, 2008, 4:19 pm
Filed under: BBC, football, France, punditry, pundits

Shed’s Note: Apologies for taking a few days off from my duties of diligently recording my idle observations on sport, but alas- the tainted tomatoes here in the U.S. got me, and I was confined to bed with food poisoning for a few days with nothing but an uncaring cat and even less sympathetic friends and neighbors to comfort me.

But that’s enough whingeing.  On with the tournament:

Last week, I asked for your round up of your favorite TV pundits, commentators, and hosts to form the Pundit’s Champion’s League.  Today, I would like to add another person to my illustrious list- the BBC’s Marcel Desailly, the former French national team captain. 

If you haven’t been watching the English coverage, Marcel just stands awkwardly inside the football stadium with some other bloke who’s only job is simply to ask him questions.  Because the unlikely pair are on the sidelines in a very full stadium, they are forced to scream at eachother- an interesting choice for a punditry setup, as Marcel’s English-as-a-second-language commentary is made better when he’s shouting it excitedly over the Austrian technopop pumped through the stadium speakers.   You may be able to barely hear or understand him, but with his genuine enthusiasm, uptown fade haircut, and quality international credentials, he’s a refreshing way to break up the clearly bored, clearly stuffy, and far too color coordinated Match of the Day team (excepting Martin O’Neill, of course.  He’s been fantastic this tournament).

Just wanted to note that.  I’ll be back in stride soon- still weak…must drink Gatorade.  …no, on second thought…champagne….



The Euro 2008 Pundit’s League by groundsman
June 14, 2008, 6:15 pm
Filed under: BBC, Euro2008, football, Gary Lineker, ITV, pundits, Setanta Sports, TV

As a football-loving American, I’ve often gone to great lengths to see broadcasts of live matches.  Justin.tv, Sopcast, various dodgy looking sites from China- I’ve scoured them all for English-speaking footy commentary at one time or another.   Though the Euro2008 matches are shown on ESPN, I would rather listen to vigorous elephant-on-pig action than hear Tommy Smyth’s often offensively ill-informed opinions, so I come to work to watch European television, or simply bask in the warm glow of my laptop. 

ITV and BBC are splitting the Euros coverage between them, and as one Guardian MBM commenter noted- there should be a tournament to decide who will continue to cover the matches, and who will agree to never appear on television again.  As we all know, a good television pundit is hard to find- and of course the term “good” is incredibly subjective (my apologies to anyone who worships at the Altar of Smyth), so I’m interested to find out who would be on your TV Football Pundit Dream Team.

My team?

Commentators: David Pleat (ITV) , Barry Davies (BBC-retired) substitutes: John Motson (BBC- I love old people), Mark Bright (BBC- gets emotional)

Pundits/Presenters:  James Richardson (Setanta Sports), Gary Lineker (BBC), Martin O’Neill (BBC), Rob Stone (ESPN), Andy Townsend (ITV),

Color/Feature Reporters: Adrian Chiles (BBC), Kelly Dalglish (Setanta Sports)

Yes, most of the BBC Match of the Day team are painfully boring and smug, ITV’s pundits are tolerable- but the inclusion of Sam Allardyce and his gold chains and ill fitting pants is distracting.  The only thing ESPN ever had going for its football coverage is Rob Stone, and even Andy Gray can’t do more than look upset at being stuck in Bristol, CT as an effort to cut costs instead of actually experiencing tournament action overseas. 

All said, who’s on your top team?



Everyone’s a little Oranje with Envy by groundsman
June 9, 2008, 5:30 pm
Filed under: BBC, ESPN, Euro2008, football, France, Holland, Italy, Manchester United, Romania, Spain, World Cup 2006

A cracker of a performance from the Holland team tonight in their match against Italy.   I was being forced to do some actual work during the match, but even I could recognize the level of play was a welcome change from the uninspired dirge that was the France-Romania match earlier today.  

Over on BBC, I’m guessing the dour men in black (the punditry team) were contractually obligated to compare France to an even more disappointing version of England- though um, I’m sure everyone at home was thinking, “At least they made it that far. ”

So we’re through group C now- have your picks for the winner changed?  I’m still supporting Spain throughout the tournament, but like everyone else- I figured World Cup winner and runner up, Italy and France, would at least make a strong showing.    

Next Up: Spain v. Russia and Sweden v. Greece.  I’m betting on a nice win for the 2004 Euro champs, and a scrappy and speedy match between Spain and Russia. 

Grounds Clippings:

-I’m not going to write about the drama surrounding Cristiano Ronaldo, how much money he’ll make, how furious his current employers must be, and the tactics used to woo him, because I don’t care.  I really don’t.  However, you might- so here’s the latest on that kerfuffle.

Tommy Smyth on ESPN’s soccer coverage makes me come out in a rash.  He panders to only the ignorant consumers of the game, is openly biased, and is possibly worse than any of the guys on Sportscenter when it comes to pessimistic, half assed attempts to encourage Americans to  like about the game.  He has an accent, and understands the offside rule, so he’s set with this gig for life- and I guess he doesn’t feel like he needs to try anymore.  I’m so glad I’m not the only one who feels this way.

-For those of you who like a little aural coverage of the tournament and a chance to experience some of the international flavour of the tourney- The Guardian is in the midst of their Football Daily podcasts for Euro2008.  It’s brilliant, and there’s even a bit of video (was anyone else shocked about Barry Glendenning?) thrown in for good measure. 

-On a very similar note: I hate BBC’s 606 show, but I think Danny Baker can be hilarious.  Thus, I encourage everyone to listen to the Euro2008 606’s.  The Beeb may have brought back Steve McClaren, but they made a good call with this decision.

-I keep telling people to go and check out The Offside for their Euro2008 coverage.  It’s varied, it’s funny, and it’s frequently updated.  Why aren’t you listening to me? Go!

-Notice the updates slowing down on this site?  I’m just one pretty lady, working to move this blog over to TheGroundsman.net, where I can have polls, and downloads, and all kinds of bells and whistles.  Also, it is warm and sunny out, and having a kickaround at the park with my neighbors is slightly more appealing than designing a new website right now.  Don’t worry, those feelings will fade soon.  Keep an eye on TheGroundsman.net! I’ll let you know when to officially update the bookmarks.

[Photo courtesy Hispaniola]