The cartoon character was talking about his sister’s public rejection of smitten classmate Ralph Wiggum in front of a TV mic held by Krusty.
The football world was preoccupied with another clown this week. Come on down, Geoff Shreeves.
Branislav Ivanovic is one silhouette in Chelsea’s Cobham training ground middle distance that doesn’t draw much ire from opposing fans. Lightening slow — as Ron Atkinson would have it — honest, trundling, quiet, brave. An inoffensive cast member in between John Terry and Ashley Cole, our Branislav.
But on Tuesday night — partnered by the uni-browed misfit Jose Bosingwa at the centre of defence, let’s remember — the Serb put in a shift you could file under ‘Oooh-Aaaah Paul McGrath’.
The script was hackneyed enough; down to 10 men thanks to JT’s silly dismissal, Gary Cahill (I hope you pronounced that the right way in your head) injured early doors, a goal behind in front of nearly 100,000 Catalans and one of the greatest club sides ever assembled. The enemy was at the gates but remarkably, through sheer effort and no little tactical nous, they escaped to victory and another Champions League decider. It doesn’t get much better. Then with the sound of champagne corks still popping in the middle distance, that heartbreaking moment unfolded.
Juxtaposed on our screens next to genuine soccer pantomime villain, Cole (who was also superb, admittedly) the news was smashed to the defender that he’ll be in a club suit and tie rather than his boots come May 19 and that final in Munich.
“Can you clear one thing up for us?” asks Sky Sports’ Shreeves, as he rubs his hands gleefully off camera.
“Were you booked after the penalty?”
Ivanovic: “Yeah, I was.”
Shreeves: “You know that means you’re out of the final now?”
Ivanovic: “Yeah? I don’t know?”
He looks at his team-mate quickly as the nightmare dawns, destroying the greatest moment of his career.
“Unfortunately,” continues Shreeves happily, “that means you DO NOT play in the final.”
The moment could only have been improved by the introduction of the Family Fortunes’ klaxon which indicates a wrong answer. That or Bully from Bullseye pulling out the Champions League trophy as Jim Bowen shouts: ‘Look art what you coulda won!”
It was a tactless display from an experienced broadcaster. One who seems too to be contaminated by the access Sky’s staff so happily enjoy behind the Premier League set. In the same interview in which the ‘foreign player’ was lacerated on live TV, his colleague was referred to as ‘Ash’. Twice.
John Terry of course, who took another chip off his disintegrating reputation — though at least it was with a knee rather than another part of his body this time — was, of course, ‘JT’ or ‘John’.
Shreeves has fought his corner before, telling Alex Ferguson bravely, ‘you can’t talk to me like that’ after another post-game tunnel disagreement and is regarded as one of the more steadier hands in a role that is, at best, thankless.
The bum note struck by the interviewer echoed the famously intrusive interview of Steve Davis by David Vine moments after the World Snooker Championship final defeat to Dennis Taylor in 1985. Vine said sorry afterwards of course and the internet moved on. Because there was none.
But while Ivanovic was still sweeping his dreams into an old kit bag deep in the Camp Nou, thousands of phones lit up with smart-alec texts and Twitter turned its face to Barcelona. Some examples:
“Geoff Shreeves is in the Barcelona dressing room informing each player individually that they won’t be playing in the final”; “Sky should ban Geoff Shreeves from covering the final. And then have his replacement tell him live on air.”
“Apparently Gary Neville wasn’t cheering Torres’ goal last night — Geoff Shreeves had just told him John Terry was seen heading out the ground with his wife”.
“Reports suggest that Geoff Shreeves is now heading to primary schools to tell children their goldfish are dead.” “Jeff Shreeves just told me my dog DID NOT go to a farm in the country.”
And there was a notable gem from golfer Lee Westwood, “Geoff Shreeves has just been on the phone telling me I’ve never won a major!”
Is unfortunate, as one Serbian defender would mutter.
* firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @adrianrussell