Run on the Kleenex as time runs out on World Cup and Billo
Farewell to a monumentally magical month and . . . a great broadcaster
We’ll Leave It There So – broadcasting legend Bill O’Herlihy – with the panel of John Giles, Eamon Dunphy and Liam Brady – ahead of the World Cup Final as he prepared for his final broadcast for for RTÉ Television. Photo: Steve Langan/Inpho
You know, Kleenex should have sponsored RTÉ’s World Cup final coverage, divil a dry eye in the homes of the nation.
A monumentally magical month too, the only low-point that it ended. From Robin van Persie’s diving header to James Rodriguez’s ‘you’re having a laugh’ net-buster, from John Brooks’ OMG face when he scored the late winner for the USA against Ghana to Tim Cahill’s Exocet missile; from Colombia to Costa Rice to Chile. From one gem of a game to another, on to the hosts’ jaw-dropping 1-7 mishap, which resulted in small people the world over now taking it that Brazil is the footballing word for rubbish and that ‘it’s just like watching Brazil’ is a tuneful terrace insult.
And not forgetting the joint top punditry highlights: The Dunph’s F-Bomb (and Billo’s reaction), and Robbie Savage, over on the BBC, starting a sentence with ‘if I was Messi’.
(Not to mention Tony Cascarino reminiscing on Newstalk about Italia 90 and the squad’s visit to the “Christine Chapel”). Mad, like.
And all the other stuff in between. And so, the very last day.
The closing ceremony. Shakira’s dress looked like it had lived in a wardrobe with moths the past month, but that didn’t dampen Ian Wrightie Wright’s lust: “She’s great, yeah, you wouldn’t kick her out that’s for sure,” he told Adrian Chiles, which had Martin O’Neill studying his Copacabana sand-filled sandals once again.
So then, the final.
The line-ups. Any late calf strains ruling out the regulars? No, all present and correct:
RTÉ: Billo, Gilesie, Eamo and Liamo.
BBC: Gary, Al, Al and Rio (all, respectfully, wearing ties).
ITV: Adrian, Glenn, Martin, Lee and – yes, really – Wrightie (not a tie in sight - that’s ITV).
As ever, RTÉ was at a disadvantage, the English lads having okey doke live Brazilian backdrops, which left you wondering why our lads didn’t at least have a Christ the Redeemer poster sellotaped to the Montrose studio wall, just to get us in the Samba mood.
And speaking of the Redeemer. The highlight of the World Cup final? The moment the Beeb’s Guy Mowbray cooed over a pretty darn stunning shot of the very enormous statue, with the sun setting behind it, at which point Mark Lawrenson noted: “It looks like a football”. A true football man, is Lawro.
Match time and you wondered if RTÉ would be half tempted to bring in Stephen Alkin and Brian Kerr for George Hamilton and Trevor Steven. The former had played with such freedom and flair in the third place play-off (eg Brian on Arjen Robben: “I sometimes think if the Holy Ghost was beside him, he’d go to ground”; and, unforgettably, “He got a bang off Maxwell’s elbow – not off Maxwell’s silver hammer”) that you thought they might be thrown in for the final, just to freshen things up.
Not to be, the tried and trusted trusted for the Big One.
“It’s die mannschaft against die man,” said Guy.
To summarise the first half: Oooooh Higuain, oooooh Howedes.
“From an Argentinian point of view, they’ll be disappointed they haven’t conceded,” said Martin O’Neill, before correcting himself.
Second half and you got the sense that neither side wanted to lose. Not an unreasonable emotion in a World Cup final.
By the end of full-time Billo must have reckoned his retirement wouldn’t start ’til Russia 2018, divil a sign of a goal, the only real highlight at that stage the pitch invader, which prompted Lawro to suggest “a village has lost its idiot”. Which was harsh.
And then extra time, and as George put it: Gooooooooooooooootze. Oh my. And Angela Merkel Riverdancing in the VIP box, and you could only say: ‘Grrrr . . . ah, go on then’.
Hats off, Germany, if we’d a Euro for every ‘WUNDERBAR!’ headline we’d repay the debt.
Back in the studio Eamon was talking about Trap and Andy Reid and Wes Hoolahan, lest we be accused of being parochial, at which point Liamo declared: “Let’s celebrate Germany.” Ja bitte!
Cup-collecting time. But before then, the sight of Lionel Messi picking up his loser’s medal was a poignant one .
No matter, he’ll be back.
Thanks for the memories, Brazil. And Bill, too. That tribute at the end? Not enough Kleenex in the house. Never mind how good he was at his job, he’s a lovely gentleman. . We’ll leave it there so.
Happy retirement Bill O’Herlihy. And thank you.