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Seven Years Ago: A Second-by-Second Analysis Of The Single Best Moment In Football TV History

05/04/2017 12:16

Classic live television moments are few and far between. In this age of social media (if it's possible to say that without sounding like a 45-year-old Oxbridge graduate writing a Comment Is Free thinkpiece) ​those minor on-air screw ups hit big and fade away quickly, fireflies flitting around the periphery of our attention and rarely - to stretch the metaphor to breaking point - flying directly into our eyes, burrowing through the retina and lodging themselves directly in the limbic system.

That is to say, not that many are actually memorable once the clip's run its two-day cycle on social media. You got that, didn't you? Just checking.

Anyway. Here's one that isn't.

Back in the halcyon days of 2010, Chris Kamara was just 'that wide-eyed bloke who used to do some football for a few years - hang on, 21 years? Seriously? Chris Kamara had a 21-year professional football career? Christ. You can never tell, can you? 21 years. Blimey', until he was sent to Fratton Park to cover Portsmouth's game against Blackburn.

It seems absolutely, thoroughly, 'the earth is flat and foreignz stole my cat' wrong that Portsmouth vs Blackburn was a Premier League game just seven years ago, but time moves quickly in top level football. So quickly, in fact, that Chris Kamara can't quite keep his eyes on it.

0-10 Secs

It's easy, this. Jeff Stelling does his textbook Soccer Saturday link to his man at the ground, teasing the action and setting up Kamara for the perfect follow-up. Except when the shot cuts away to the man with the mic on the south coast, his head's spinning back and forward like a pinned-down cat watching a tennis match.

"We're off to Fratton Park, where there's been a red card - but for who, Chris Kamara?"

Silence. The facial expression of a kid who's just been called on in class when the teacher knows full well he's spent the last half an hour picking his nose and surreptitiously wiping it on the underside of the desk rather than paying any attention. A mixture of panic and guilt - but also a soft, innocent look of confusion. He's not quite sure if he's done something wrong yet. If you've ever been looking in the mirror at the exact moment your partner says "I saw those texts, by the way" then you know the face.

"...I dunno Jeff, has there? ... I must've missed that!

"Red card?!"

11-20 Secs

It's possible that the five seconds between Kamara blurting out 'red card?!' and the camera finally cutting back to Stelling in the studio is the best piece of television directing this century. Lingering on a lost man, a broken man, a man who looks like his mates put him in a cab at 5:30am after he took one too many pills and he's only just woken up, he's not quite sure if he's being kidnapped and he definitely doesn't know whether he's in Nottingham or Newcastle, but he knows Something Is Wrong.

On the other hand, it's basically torture, isn't it? Hanging a human being out to dry like that, flounder levels higher than an underwater scene in The Little Mermaid, laughter coming through loud and clear from the studio.

Stelling, bless his heart, tries desperately to backtrack. "I haven't been watching," he says, to the surprise of absolutely nobody because that's how Soccer Saturday works, that's why they have somebody at the ground, somebody who's meant to be looking at red cards when they happen. "I have no idea where that's come from!"

21-30 Secs

This is just nervous laughter. Ten horrible, squirming seconds of nervous laughter while a production intern drops a styrofoam cup of coffee over themselves in a rush to get to a laptop and see if they can rewind the game and find out what's happening. Is it on Twitter? It must be on Twitter.

And on, and on, and on, they laugh. Laughing isn't so different from crying, is it? Crying isn't that different from screaming, really. Is Chris Kamara screaming?

31 Secs

Paul Merson appears in a wide shot of the panel - his shiny, horrible existence the only thing wrong with this video as a whole.

32-45 Secs

More laughter. It's moved past uncomfortable to something almost quantum, now. Quantum Laughter. That's a band name right there, stick that in the idea bank and let it percolate for a while.

Stelling, like the defeated secondary school supply teacher he essentially is, tries desperately to bring order to proceedings. "Our sources," he says, meaning 'production intern' with every syllable. "Our sources are telling us that Anthony Vanden Borre has been sent off.

"Get your fingers out, Chris, and count the number of Portsmouth players!"

46 Secs - End

Chris Kamara is no more. This is just ball of high-pitched shame wearing an oversized headset. An amorphous mass of helpless energy. "No you're right, I saw him go off! I thought they were bringing a sub on, Jeff!"

It's not a look of panic so much, now, as one of a man who's just pissed himself in school, realised that he isn't dreaming, and it's just now dawning on him that he's done all of this while in his late 20s.

Merson is entirely gone on the panel, a howling monkey flinging his own excrement around in every direction, while Stelling splutters to find some way to close the segment and maybe - possibly - save the broadcasting career of at least one person within a five-mile radius of Sky HQ.

The camera cuts away before a desperate cry of '...still 0-0...!' leaks out of the speakers. The game finished 0-0. Since both sides are yet to play each other since that day, it's still 0-0. Technically, nobody lost at Fratton Park on 3 April 2010.

Chris Kamara might disagree.

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