The curse of the commentator!
19th September 2015
Jack the Lad - Everton
Ashley Williams had just picked up the ball and was moving forward just inside his own half.
The Swans were trailing 1-0 to Manchester United at the Liberty, and I was reflecting on the previous 60-odd minutes and why the Swans were trailing in a game where they at least deserved to be level, if not ahead.
As Ash knocked the ball wide to Kyle Naughton, inside the United half, I turned to my friend in the stand and said something along the lines of: "I don't think much of Ayew today, he hasn't done much."
Just as I finished the sentence, Naughton was aiming a cross into the United penalty area, which was headed into the United goal by, yes that's right, Andre Ayew!
Once we'd calmed ourselves down after the stadium had erupted into wild celebration, my friend gave me a sideways look and said: "You were saying . . ."
To compound my glaring misjudgement, minutes later Ayew produced what was described later on Match of the Day as "the pass of the season" to set up Bafetimbi Gomis for the winning goal.
Hmmm, not much of a contribution was it? Just the equaliser and an assist for the winning goal against one of the most famous and successful club sides on the planet.
Sorry Andre, don't take my ill-advised and misinformed assessment personally, just take it from where it came from . . . a passionate, if clueless, fan!
I hope Andre "doesn't do much" for the rest of the season if it means he keeps on producing match-winning performances!
Now this little incident doesn't just highlight the fact that I know very little about the finer points of football, it also puts the spotlight on the dangers that football commentators and sports commentators in general face just about every time they open their mouths on air.
This peril is commonly known as the "commentator's curse".
Now I was lucky that my faux pas was heard by just one person, although I'm sure I'm going to be reminded of it countless times.
Proper sporting experts leave themselves open to this kind of embarrassment every time they put forward an opinion in public.
Fortunately for them, unlike me, they are professionals who have the safety net of a wealth of experience in their chosen sport, many having competed at the very highest level themselves.
But even these experts fall victim of the dreaded curse more often than you would expect.
There was a spectacularly impressive example earlier this year from none less than the former England cricket captain Michael Vaughan.
Vaughan was commentating on the West Indies v England Test Match earlier this year and discussing the poor run of form endured by the current England skipper Alistair Cook.
As Cook was taking his guard to face the next delivery, Vaughan was predicting the skipper was about to end his sticky spell.
His first words after settling down behind the microphone were: "I'm looking at Alistair Cook, and I know it's early and I know they will say 'commentator's curse', but I'm watching his movements and his movements are so much better now than they were last year."
Vaughan then told viewers to watch Cook's feet, which he said seemed to be moving far better than they'd previously been.
The next words spoken came from Vaughan's co-commentator Ed Smith. "Taylor, round the wicket. Cook. Caught!" as the skipper holed out to gully before taking the long walk back to the pavilion.
Nice one Michael!
Probably my favourite example of the commentator's curse came during the 1998 World Cup quarter-final between England and Argentina.
David Batty was stepping up to take England's fifth penalty, needing to score to keep his team in the competition.
Veteran ITV commentator Brian Moore turned to his summariser Kevin Keegan and the following exchange ensued.
Moore: 'Now, you know him better than anybody. Do you back him to score? Quickly, yes or no?'
Batty blasts the ball at the Argentinian keeper, who pushes it away to spark wild Latin American celebrations.
Moore: 'Oh and he hasn't!'
Keegan: 'Oh no!'
Oh no, indeed, Kev.
Poor KK had warmed up nicely for that one earlier in the tournament when England played Romania.
The former Liverpool and England legend and future national team manager confidently predicted: "There's only one team that can win this now, and that's England."
Five minutes later, Dan Petrescu fired in Romania's winner.
See how easy it is to open your mouth wide and put your foot in it, even for footballing legends?
Mind you, I will happily carry on making a fool of myself by making inaccurate doom-laden comments about the Swans if it means they are going to inspire the likes of Andre Ayew into game-changing performances every week!
C'mon you Swans.