Tuesday 9 June 2020

Potty-mouthed Keegan ignores double standards while re-opening potential 'cold case': Euro 96 re-told

The now even more popular act of reliving football matches has the ability to reassure or confuse the 're-liver' of many things: 'yes, that team was lucky to win'; 'geez, I didn't realise just how many teasing back passes Liverpool played in the eighties'; 'why did I think this was one of the best matches I've ever seen when actually it is one of the worst?' But something we now seem to know for sure is that ITV's football commentators were planting rude words live on air during Euro 96.

Watching again the first ever meeting of England v Germany at Wembley - a fitting host for a semi final - it appears that Brian Moore's cough-and-you missed it uttering of "twat" during the quarter final against Spain was no accident. Pre-ordained, off-the-cuff, panic-stricken whatever, the gentlemanly Mooro almost certainly lit the flame for this high-stakes thrill ride, presumably in the name of fun, whilst handing over the baton for the next man in the next game. ..         

Along with the return of Paul Ince to the line up against Germany, Kevin Keegan was back to take the strain off Big Ron, resting up after 120 minutes of incident-free observation watching the Spanish, but it was the then Newcastle boss himself, who not only followed up on Mooro's offering but knocked it out of the park with the plural use of another term for a "lady's part" (Alan Partridge, 1997.)   

Using available resources wisely, Keegan pronounced the surname of the German goalscorer Steffen Kuntz the way that most people being heard by 20 million people would surely choose to avoid. His intention to declare this bar-raiser seems clear, particularly as  there is an option to avoid the worst, and an obvious get-out; indeed, anyone who wasn't under the ago of 20 or an ape in a refreshment zoo would have said "Koontz" , confident that this was probably the correct way to say it anyway.

But it seems that Keegan wasn't playing by the normal rules -  no, he was abiding by ITV studio bantz, years before that word was even invented. He even repeated the word in normal time, again when it could so easily have been avoided. This time Kuntz wasn't anywhere near the ball, nor had done anything for ages, and it was the mere introduction of substitute Thomas Strunz that inspired King Kev to go the extra mile.

"That's all we need, Strunz and Kuntz on the field" he muttered 'clumsily', as if claiming that the similarity of their surnames was the trickiest part of the new player's arrival. It was estimated that 99% of the world's population understood Strunz to be pronounced "Stroonz", but Keegan knew that if he didn't apply this consistency then the game would be up. 

Limited research at this point allows us to only speculate whether a double entry - same rude word or not - awards extra points, or free drinks at the bar, though in making the most of a small opportunity Keegan shows typical character of the man, a European Footballer of the Year built on squeezing the last drop out of himself. But there is no denying he is canny, too, and if the success of the planted rude word was a case of hiding in plain sight, then anyone who has read his recent autobiography would, in reflection, nod sagely. In his book, KK details how he used the art of disguise to sneak into St James' Park shortly after his ill-fated spell with Mike Ashley as chairman using "a pair of glasses", "hat" and "upturned collar" (actually in the book he says "I turned the collar up on my overcoat", but I'm trying to be fluent here) to deceive unnamed interceptors. 

Keegan also cites another time in Disney World, when he attached a "grey ponytail" to his baseball cap, and again sported a pair of glasses (he doesn't say if these were the same glasses as worn on the St James' Park mission) in the hope that his family would be left untroubled (only for some ignoramus to request an autograph anyway.)   

For the next instalment of ITV's foul-mouthed enterprise, viewers must be committed to hang on to every word of Big Ron's musings on the Germany-Czech Rep Final, an uneasy yet compelling proposition, although as discussed in previous pages, it is a full nine years before things get messy, so maybe one shouldn't be too wary/disappointed.

Perhaps in a related note, one of the cleaner messages from the commentary team in this game, and nicely put, came from Mooro who referenced the "xenophobia" in parts of the English media but added that regular match-goers in the tournament told him "It doesn't feel like that here". When Keegan suggested that "one man writing for five million people can be the most damaging of all" I wondered whether he was speaking in general terms or in response to a particular tabloid headline that had popped up that morning, which had blared out "Achtung!Surrender!" from the shelves (and petrol station stands.) 

The editor responsible has recently argued that it was "twenty four years ago" (when it was still a whopping 51 years since World War II). I won't go into naming and shaming, just that he is now an ITV presenter himself, and very active on Twitter.  I used to hate him - which is what he wants (not me per se, of course) - but now think better of him following his (many) comments on people who have performed poorly during the current pandemic. 

Anyway, I won't give you his life story.   

When England got through to meet Germany in the Euro 96 semi-final ...

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