‘Fit of giggles’ – TV commentator on Stoke City midfielder’s mispronounced name and most boring game



Stoke City have given football commentator Gary Taphouse one of the most difficult afternoons of his career.

And a Stoke midfielder involved that day has given him one of his most memorable moments.

Taphouse has been trying to give an idea what his dream job is really like in an interview with Matt Lucas for the BBC podcast Bitch Bitch Bitch.

When he was put on the spot by Lucas about what the most boring match he has ever commentated on, he didn’t hesitate to know the answer – even if he was then thoroughly diplomatic.

He said: “I know straight away what it is…

“I should just say first of all that Peter Drury did a brilliant interview in which he said what is boring for us isn’t necessarily boring for the people at the game.

“It’s very disrespectful for me as a commentator to drone on about how boring it is… however.

“I can remember it so well. It was Wigan versus Stoke. It actually sounds boring!

“For police reasons it kicked off early, at 12.45pm, although it wasn’t live on TV. It was freezing cold, the stadium was half empty, there wasn’t a single shot in the first half and it ended 0-0.

“I was just stuck for things to say. That very rarely happens.”

The match was back in November 2008, when newly-promoted Stoke were finding their feet in the Premier League.

The BBC reported at the time: “When a team with the worst away record in the league visits a side with the poorest home record then, even three days after bonfire night, the most optimistic would probably have predicted a damp squib of a game. And they would have been right.

“The lack of sparkle in the first 45 minutes was summed up when, five minutes from the break, Mario Melchiot was penalised for a foul throw five metres from Stoke’s corner flag.”

And then Wigan boss Steve Bruce said: “I think it will be the last game on Match of the Day and rightly so because it was not a classic.”

Taphouse says he would always try to find a way to keep viewers or listeners interested.

He said: “It’s not so good for the Premier League if I’m slating their product – but you can only work so hard to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.

“If it’s bad, it’s bad.

“This is where all the research we’re talking about – 80 per cent of it you never use. You can go back to that and try to make things more interesting, try to find people in the crowd who are maybe a bit more well known, get a line out of that.

“But ultimately, if the game is bad, it’s bad.”

It can be a tough gig for commentators some times, particularly when it comes to pronunciation.

And one of the midfielders who was in that Stoke team which drew at Wigan proved harder to pronounce than most for one unnamed co-commenator.

Step forward, Seyi Olofinjana.

Taphouse said: “There is a problem in that someone like Jordon Ibe at Bournemouth, he wants it to ‘Ibe’ because it’s Anglicised but his day would say ‘ebay’ because it’s French.

“Whenever I say Ibe I get a load of Tweets from people in Africa saying I’m mispronouncing his name.

“I then have to reply saying, ‘No, that’s how he wants it pronounced.’

“It’s an utter minefield – and one that once resulted in a fit of giggles from the truck. Not from me because I’m ultra professional!

“It was Hull City when they had a player called Seyi Olofinjana, who you may remember, and the co-comm I was with just couldn’t get to grips with it. We’d practised it a few times beforehand.

“The first time he said it, it came out as, ‘Oily Vagina’.

“We had a female director and she was just in bits for the next 10 minutes.”





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