Last night I faced a difficult choice. Nip down to the pub for the Real Madrid versus Liverpool game (meaning my busy writing schedule would be interrupted) or continue working away with Middlesborough versus West Ham on in the background (thus having to endure ITV... the bane of the telly football fan's life).
This kind of dilemma is forced upon me by virtue of a household decision that having a crappy non-digital TV with an indoor aerial and nothing but terrestrial channels amounts to brave defiance of The Great God Tellyaddict. In reality it just means watching stuff you don't really want to see because you can't watch the stuff you do. IMHO. Anyway, I opted for the absorbing Euro-encounter via Sky (don't think this means I like you, either, Rupert Murdoch!) rather than an ITV shambles in an electrical snow storm.
There are thousands of reasons to hate ITV's football coverage. The recent technical glitches don't even begin to touch it. My greatest complaint is that after the climax of some emotionally intense game you won't get a chance to wind down naturally with a bit of banal punditry or the post-match interviews. You will be switched straight to some bloody insurance advert and completely 'lose the moment'.
That said, if ever I am feeling a sporting low coming on, I can always cheer myself up by recalling the iconic badness of the 'Tactics Truck'. This was the short period of insanity where ITV thought it would be a good idea to park a glorified transit van outside the ground of the game they were covering, fill it with dodgy equipment displaying pointless graphics, and make poor Andy Townsend wear his best "I know this makes me look a complete plonker, but I'm trying my best, OK?" expression.
In short, move over The Office. The Tactics Truck was the true precursor to, and inspiration for, the new comedy of embarrassment. When this gloriously dreadful feature went belly up, they replaced it with a couple of pundits (poor old Andy again, plus teflon Ally McCoist) lurking on the touchline with clipboards. This made them look like illicit reporters from a non-award winning student newspaper. Since then, of course, things have only gone downhill.... but oh, such joyful memories!
[Photo (c) and courtesy of the Tactics Truck blog, which sadly seems to have gone out to grass lately]