LARRY RYAN: Window closes on the Deadline Day warriors

They can never again say I don’t make the big calls, says Larry Ryan.

A month ago, I named Alan Irwin as one of the gamechangers of 2014, putting him up there with lads like Laurent Benezech, Stephen O’Keeffe and Jason Collins.

And so it has come to pass.

The travails of Irwin — who is immortalised in photograph and video as the man who had a purple sex toy shoved into his ear outside Goodison Park — have forced Sky Sports News to bring their reporters in from the wild on Deadline Day.

Irwin, Bryn Law. Gary Cotterill, Nick Collins and the rest of the stars will now be stationed in relative safety behind club gates, away from the people to whom they are giving hope.

Worshippers at this traditional late-winter festival, upon us again on Monday, are uneasy about the move, fearing that some of its charm will be lost if these men do not have to run a gauntlet of bantz as they try to bring succour to youths whose chief solace in life is the prospect of their club making a contribution to the SSN Totaliser, or at least securing a promising full-back on loan from Crewe.

Before we consider the rights and wrongs of the decision, it is important to recognise, once more, the unfailing contribution Deadline Day makes to our understanding of the human condition.

In many ways, it is a beautiful celebration of man’s capacity to dream, to find excitement even in news that Rob Dorsett understands Cameron Jerome is undergoing a medical.

It encapsulates our restless drive for self-improvement, succinctly captured by Tony Cascarino’s poignant words a few years ago: “If Arsene had strengthened, Arsenal could have been even stronger.”

Every year, sober men like Chris Hughton attempt to jeopardise the pageantry of the occasion by saying sober things. Stuff like: “The only sensible time to announce something is when you’ve got something to announce.”

It is perhaps this failure to appreciate the need for a little theatre to fill the gaps in our long days that ensures Chris’s managerial career will remain over-reliant on results.

Thankfully, Sky long ago decided that there is also plenty of time to announce that there might be something to announce later on, according to their sources.

But if there are comforting reliables, on Deadline Day, it is certain too that other behaviours have changed.

The age-old spectacle of people making apes of themselves in the background of television broadcasts is particularly familiar to viewers of Gaelic games.

Marty, Claire McNamara, Evanne — go back as far as Mick Dunne — they may not encounter much bedroom paraphernalia on the job, but they’ve all been in more precarious war zones than Irwin, holding back a scrum of enthusiasts who mark out the success of a season in appearances yahooing behind a manager’s back at the end of a national league game.

Some of that giddiness is gone out of the English lads a while. But their greater sense of purpose has usually allowed SSN to work them into the narrative, especially when a shirt needs to be burned or “a message” must be sent to “the directors”.

They were happy enough to make the odd apology, when things spilled over, but lately the avalanche of apologies was beginning to get in the way of the announcements about possible announcements and, critically, even Jim White was beginning to sound a little weary.

In one way, what we were seeing was the official end of innocence. Where the aim was no longer so much to be seen on television, but to be seen on Facebook or Twitter making a show of yourself on television.

That may be the chief worry for television in all of this; that it, as much as many of the busiest participants on Deadline Day, could be flirting with relegation.

But we are were seeing something else too. Footballers don’t always come out well from Deadline Day.

The festival’s most famous scene — Peter Odemwingie’s daring late-night dash — is often held up as evidence of all that’s wrong with the modern game, when all we were seeing was the natural human desire for £100,000 a week.

In a couple of days we may find ourselves growing wistful and reflecting that the modern day SSN reporter has become too detached from the fans, that he exists in a bubble.

Next time we’re about to say the same about footballers, we might have to acknowledge that there are very good reasons why.

Media ban making headlines

As the Allianz Football League resumes this evening, some of its participants, in their tireless efforts to raise standards in all areas except kicking the football, will have kept a close ear on events this week in the other NFL.

Of particular interest will have been the innovative work Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch has been doing in the evolving area of the media ban.

Until now, it has simply been sufficient to communicate the message that you have a media ban in place to make headlines for a week or two.

But the Americans have raised the bar substantially.

So Marshawn had to attend a press conference and repeat the phrase “I’m just here, so I won’t get fined” 29 times in five minutes in order to dominate Super Bowl week in a way he never would if he’d just told us he was concentrating on getting his own game right, obviously, and giving it 110%, at the end of the day. Y’all.

Put your money on a similar blanket defence being employed before the league is out.

Jose denies Costa stamp of approval

In many ways, it was a fine week for Mourinho. And for us all. Now that Jose has finally identified Jamie Redknapp as the ringleader of the most widespread conspiracy of our times, he should be freed up for all manner of investigations.

So we should soon know, definitively, what happened to JFK.

In another sense, maybe Jose has gone too far this time. Defending his man is one thing, but in telling us Big Diego’s footwork against Liverpool was “absolutely accidental”, that “he puts his foot there when he is looking at the ball”, let’s hope Jose hasn’t lost the dressing room.

A man like Costa, who must take great pride in the tricks of his trade, could consider a sleight like that as professional disrespect.

HEROES & VILLAINS

Stairway to heaven

Tennis girlfriends: How did footballers’ wives every gain such notoriety without providing a fraction of the entertainment their tennis counterparts bring us?

Hell in a handcart

Robbie Savage: BT Sport are set to join in the Deadline Day fun, with Savage at the forefront. Sometimes, it is the humble viewer who must move out of earshot for their own safety and sanity.

Six Nations: A new trophy was needed, alright. The shine was beginning to wear off that Triple Crown, Calcutta Cup, Giuseppe Garibaldi Trophy, Centenary Quaich and Millennium Trophy.


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