Super Bowl Day would seem to be a very appropriate opportunity to produce a list of the things commentators and sports jocks would rather never have uttered, courtesy of Steve Brown. (Thank you, Steve.) Some of them are quite rude, so don’t read on if easily offended.
Interestingly, the list does not include my personal favourite moments, involving the immortal cricket commentator Brian Johnston.
In one famous incident during a Test match at the Oval, Jonathan Agnew suggested that Ian Botham was out hit wicket because he had failed to “get his leg over” (which is, of course, a British slang term meaning to have sex).
Johnston carried on commentating (and giggling) for 30 seconds before dissolving into helpless laughter. Among his other famous gaffes was: “There’s Neil Harvey standing at leg slip, legs wide apart, waiting for a tickle.”
(This is also sometimes attributed to John Arlott about Botham, but it was Johnston, uttering the immortal line when Neil Harvey was representing Australia at the Headingley Test in 1961.)
The oft-cited quote “The bowler’s Holding, the batsman’s Willey” (the homophone ‘Willy’ being British slang for the male sex organ, of course), is said to have occurred when Michael Holding of the West Indies was bowling to Peter Willey of England in a Test match at The Oval in 1976.
But Johnston claimed not to have noticed saying anything odd during the match, and that he was only alerted to his gaffe by a letter from “a lady” named “Miss Mainpiece”. (Readers examining that name closely may suspect it was invented, however.)
According to fellow commentator Christopher Martin-Jenkins, and the biography by Johnston’s son Barry, Johnston never actually made the remark. Barry Johnston says “It was too good a pun to resist, but Brian never actually said that he had spoken the words on air.” However, this is contradicted by an account offered by another commentator, Henry “Blowers” Blofeld, who claims to have been present at the time.
Satirical magaine’s Private Eye’s Colemanballs (originally named after British commentator David Coleman and devoted to commentators) column has now expanded to include occasional quotes from sportsmen themselves (e.g. boxer Frank Bruno’s “That’s cricket, Harry, you get these sort of things in boxing” – Bruno was also famous, when asked why he was knocked out by Mike Tyson, “He hit me Harry, very hard and lots of times”), politicians ( like former British Prime Minister’s “When your back’s against the wall it’s time to turn round and fight”), and various malapropisms from other public figures. Irish commentator George Hamilton’s penchant for the phrase “Danger here” has even spawned a website in honour of his gaffes on the microphone, particularly while commenting on international soccer matches involving the Republic of Ireland, including this one in an Ireland versus Spain qualifier match. “He’s pulling him off. The Spanish manager is pulling his Captain off!” Anyway, here are more of the finest (un-intentional) double-entendres ever aired on British TV and radio:
Ted Walsh – Horse Racing Commentator – ‘This is really a lovely horse. I once rode her mother.’
New Zealand Rugby Commentator – ‘Andrew Mehrtens loves it when Daryl Gibson comes inside of him.’
Pat Glenn, weightlifting commentator – ‘And this is Gregoriava from Bulgaria . I saw her snatch this morning and it was amazing!’
Harry Carpenter at the Oxford-Cambridge boat race 1977 – ‘Ah, isn’t that nice. The wife of the Cambridge President is kissing the Cox of the Oxford crew.’
US PGA Commentator – ‘One of the reasons Arnie (Arnold Palmer) is playing so well is that, before each tee shot, his wife takes out his balls and kisses them ….. Oh my God! What have I just said?’
Carenza Lewis about finding food in the Middle Ages on ‘Time Team Live’ said: ‘You’d eat beaver too if you could get it.’
A female news anchor who, the day after it was supposed to have snowed and didn’t, turned to the weatherman and asked, ‘So Bob, where’s that eight inches you promised me last night?’ Not only did HE have to leave the set, but half the crew did too, because they were laughing so hard!
Steve Ryder covering the US Masters: ‘Ballesteros felt much better today after a 69 yesterday.’
Clair Frisby talking about a jumbo hot dog on ‘Look North’ said: ‘There’s nothing like a big hot sausage inside you on a cold night like this. ‘
Mike Hallett discussing missed snooker shots on ‘Sky Sports': ‘Stephen Hendry jumps on Steve Davis’s misses every chance he gets.’
Michael Buerk on watching Philippa Forrester cuddle up to a male astronomer for warmth during BBC1’s UK eclipse coverage remarked: ‘They seem cold out there. They’re rubbing each other and he’s only come in his shorts.’
Ken Brown commentating on golfer Nick Faldo and his caddie Fanny Sunneson lining-up shots at the Scottish Open: ‘Some weeks Nick likes to use Fanny; other weeks he prefers to do it by himself.’
Now that I think about it, I do also remember a wonderful “Well, dur” moment from ex-tennis player and now commentator Pam Shriver. Watching a match at the Australian Open, she remarked of one poor female player who was losing very badly “You know, if she’s going to win, she really has to hit the ball.” Well, whowouldhavethunkit?
Well, anyhow, what are YOUR favourites? Do share!
PS If you want to see Mike Tyson knock Frank Bruno out – which led to that wonderful quote earlier – well, here you are: