By Calvin Palmer
Stoke City took on Tottenham Hotspur at the Britannia Stadium in a third round tie of the Carling Cup.
It was a game side neither side wanted since both clubs are involved in the Europa League and it was their third game in six days. But a Stoke game is a Stoke game and I was eagerly looking forward to viewing the action on a livestream.
Sadly both of my usual sources were not carrying the game. One source did not even list the fixture. The second had it down as an FA Cup tie but when clicking on the link I received the equivalent of the BBC test card.
When I tried the second source again a few moments later, the listing had disappeared. Of course, the 15 or so links to the Leeds United v Manchester United Carling Cup tie were still available.
I did what I normally do in these circumstances, log on to the Stoke City online fanzine, The Oatcake. The general consensus was that no livestreams were available. Some posters suggested a couple of links but they yielded nothing.
A poster posting under the name of “silverdalestokie” did provide a link to BBC Radio London’s match commentary. He reckoned it would be biased in favour of the London club but, in fairness, the two commentators gave a pretty evenhanded appraisal of the game.
I didn’t get to learn the name of the match commentator but the analysis was provided by Bradley Allen.
These two London voices reminded me of the TV sitcom, Game On, which ran for three series on BBC 2 from 199 to 1998. Bradley Allen sounded a lot like actor Neil Stuke. Luckily, no players on the pitch had red hair.
And a little bit like the Neil Stuke character, some of Bradley’s words made me smile. He constantly referred to overload instead of overlap. Oh well. And a scything tackle was pronounced as “skything”.
Both commentators continually mentioned players “lifting the ball over the halfway line”, as if the halfway line is a four-foot high brick wall. And if they were “lifting the ball” surely the referee should have awarded a free-kick on each occasion. Another strange phrase used was “filtered pass”.
Those idiosyncrasies aside, the banter between these two guys was entertaining and good natured, almost like two mates talking about a match down at the pub.
So a big thank you to silverdalestokie for providing the link and a big thank you to the unnamed commentator and Bradley Allen for providing a fair and enjoyable commentary. The game went to extra-time and then penalties, with Stoke City emerging as 7-6 victors.
It does seem odd that it is possible to listen online to match commentary on a Stoke City game provided by BBC Radio London and yet online access to the commentary by BBC Radio Stoke is blocked. Surely if one local radio station’s commentary is accessible then all commentaries should be available.
There is probably some nit-picking jobsworth kind of an explanation as to why access to Radio Stoke’s match commentary and the dulcet tones of Nigel Johnson are denied.