By Sir Hardly Anyone
As a rule, the football journalist doesn’t do anything which might be considered by the general population to be related to the concept widely known as “thinking” during the hours of daylight.
Upon waking he or she will stroll to his or her favourite public house, order up a few short ones to get the day going, and then relapse into a state of coma, from which said member of the press elite will emerge occasionally in order to type some meaningless lines into a laptop, or talk to random passers by about the difficulty honest newspaper men and women have these days in staying awake long enough for the next story to arrive.
Now I must admit I did once catch sight of a football scribbler who did stumble on a piece of genuine news during the period between 2pm and 5pm which is widely known as the “afternoon recovery period”, and I must say he bore the startled expression of a down and out, who on bending down to pick up a stray fiver that had fluttered into the middle of what he took to be a deserted footpath, found that the area in question was not so much a London docklands walkway between two bars, but the fast lane of the northbound M1 just south of Northampton; something he realised only as a dozen trucks carrying stockpiled medicines to the beleaguered north ahead of Brexit, struck him in the small of the back.
But such moments, amusing though they are, are rare. Generally speaking, the hard work of the morning done, most football journalists will typically order up a restorative pint or two and then relapse into a comatosed state once more reading for the afternoon shift to begin.
Of course one does not name names in this regard, for that would be breaking the journalists’ code of ethics (an oxymoron if ever there was one) and of course it may all have been just a dreadful mistake, but when I read the articles on Football.London yesterday (which is to say 3 March) my mind did meander over such matters. For the lead headline that appeared on the website was “Transfer news live recap.”
Now given that the transfer window shut over a month ago, the words “news” and “live” seem rather (like your average football journalist) at odds with reality. But then I thought, actually two words out of four being simultaneously irrelevant and inaccurate is quite reasonable for the 10 stories an hour computer generated website that is Football London, so I read on.
And it was certainly worth it, because below that headline the programmer who had caused the generation of the story (who wisely remained anonymous) had managed to create this wonder:
“The January transfer window is now shut”
which it was good to have confirmed over one month after the event. Indeed one wonders how these news hounds actually do it, what with news blowing in from four corners of the globe (which when you think of it, is itself impossible) and the 24 hour pub beckoning.
Reading yesterday’s article on behalf of Untold (just in case we were slipping behind a little), I found that “Tottenham made no signings in the summer transfer window, and didn’t get any deals done in January either.”
Well! These are clearly heady days for the news hounds at the Mirror which owns Football.London. March 3 and they need to tell us about last summer’s transfers or lack of them. I say again, “Well!”
Moving on, there are of course certain journalists who one respects, admires, and indeed reveres, although I must admit it is hard to recall the names of any at this time. But the person who wrote the story headlined “Hopefully the Arsenal-style Stoke City who wimped out of shooting is gone for good” in Stoke on Trent Live does not exactly fall into this category.
Indeed one might say that if that writer should ever approach the hallowed grounds of Untold Arsenal one would be prepared to fight him, her or indeed it, off, even using a modicum of violence if necessary.
But moving on again different feelings were engendered with the headline, “Emmanuel Petit slams Arsenal star and nicknames him ‘King of blunders’,” which appeared in the Metro with variations inevitably appearing soon after on the Football.London site.
The subject of the piece was Mustafi, and the Metro article gives no source for the comment (was Manu being interviewed on TV, or did he say it to a passing stranger on the Metro one wonders) leaving us with the feeling that if the headline were to be read aloud (which is no recommended) it would sound like the wind blowing through the cracks in a broken computer keyboard. Poor Manu, he was never the same after going to Chelsea.
Sometimes however one does despair for the poor journalist whose great works of literature are reduced by the headline writer to gibberish, such as the one being displayed under the phrase “Top four or Europa League? Arsenal star reveals Unai Emery’s priority.”
Did it actually mean that Arsenal were debating if they wanted to finish in the top four, or in positions five or six? Probably not, but as the story rolled up the screens several football journalists leaned back and stopped drinking, and in the bars frequented by journalists only death or a computer balls up which can be blamed on the IT department rather than the scribblers, causes glasses and bottles to be put down.
- Arsenal v Wolverhampton Wanderers: where will each team finish?
- Arsenal v Lens: what we found, what we felt, what they did
- Arsenal v Lens: the team, the home/away form and the strange coincidences
- Arsenal v Lens: they had a poor start but are now flying
- Where there is power, money and greed there is corruption