TV View: FA Cup-fest has nothing on ‘Dancing with the Stars’

Plenty of drama in Lincoln win, but nothing beats valour of Des Cahill in face of injury

 

If you were so inclined, you could have watched seven eighths of the FA Cup fifth round live on the telly over the weekend, courtesy of the BBC, BT Sport and eir Sport, sharing 630 minutes (plus added time) of your life with Burnley, Lincoln, Millwall, Leicester, Huddersfield, Manchester City, Wolves, Chelsea, Fulham, Spurs, Blackburn and Manchester United to the exclusion of almost all other human activity.

The final eighth comprised of telly pariahs Middlesbrough and Oxford United. Their non-appearance on British screens cost them a £247,500 broadcast fee, a sum that would probably pay Oxford’s wage bill until the cows come home.

Lincoln began the telly fest on Saturday, beating Burnley to become the first non-league team to reach the quarter-finals in 103 years. Dubliner Alan Power is among those players who may well now be immortalised by a statue outside the club’s Sincil Bank ground.

Power, we were reminded by our BT Sport hosts, went to school with Conor McGregor. Now, at least one of them now has an authentic sporting achievement to his name, while the other scraps in cages.

Stamp collecting

Apart from Lincoln’s late winner, the game’s main talking point was the moment Joey Barton stamped on the Lincoln goalie’s foot and then collapsed to the ground as if sprayed by an Uzi sub-machine gun upon brushing his forehead against said goalie’s outstretched arm.

Joey must have been dreading that night’s Match of the Day where he is was inevitably going to be shamed by the panel’s analysis of his actions, Trevor Sinclair the first summoned to denounce his behaviour.

“Eh, Joey’s a mate of mine,” he began, and you anticipated a ‘but I have to be honest about what happened, so . . .’

The stamp? “Obviously there’s not that much in it.”

The collapse? “I don’t think he’ll be that bothered about that. There was a slight bit of contact – but this is Joey’s game, he unsettles the opposition.”

It’s punditry of this quality that makes Match of the Day so much quicker to watch these days, you just record it and fast forward through the talkie bits.

Achy breaky Ranieri

Meanwhile, Millwall v Leicester was, as we feared, yet another day when we got to watch Claudio Ranieri being sad on the touchline, his achy breaky heart in smithereens – and Claudio Ranieri being sad is the most unendurable sight in sport.

The eir Sport people wondered if he’d asked for it by picking an understrength team, but by dropping the bulk of the lads who have sent the side hurtling towards relegation he’d probably picked his least weakest.

Jose Mourinho didn’t quite go for his regular XI either for the trip to Blackburn, but Chris Sutton still didn’t hold out much hope for the club with whom he had enjoyed some golden years when it was owned by Jack Walker. How have they been faring under Indian chicken people Venky’s? “Jack would be turning in his grave,” said Chris, so that wasn’t good.

They put up a decent enough fight, though, until Jose Zlatan-ized the game, at which point United were in the quarter-finals, the draw taking them to Chelsea. If that game is Zlatan-ized too, Jose will most likely change his children’s names to Ibrahimovic 1 and 2.

Even after watching seven eighths of the FA Cup fifth round, nothing, not even Lincoln, compared to the courage displayed by Des Cahill on Dancing with the Stars. Apart from conjunctivitis, a sinus infection, fluid on the knee and a calf strain that meant he couldn’t practise, he’d gone in to the latest episode in tip-top shape, teaming up with Ksenia Zsikhotska to samba his way through Quando, Quando, Quando.

More Blackpool than Vegas

“More Blackpool than Vegas,” said judge Darren, but like Des we took that as a compliment.

His performance had been, well, memorable, a little like a fella at a wedding reception trying to make his way to the loo through a crowded room, zig-zagging his way around tables and chairs, throwing the odd wink at familiar faces, before finally reaching his destination just in time.

Decent going, what with the conjunctivitis, sinus infection, fluid on the knee and a calf strain. One thing’s for sure, he’d have been ruled out of the FA Cup fifth round.

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