How to Co-Commentate.

There's not much chance of you becoming a co-commentator. You (possibly) don't have a regional accent and you (almost certainly) haven't had a journeyman career in and around the top flight.

But, if you do possess the relevant qualifications, you may be interested in a step-by-step guide to your new career in co-commentary. These instructions will prepare you for any scenario or eventuality that requires your verbal intervention. What to say, what not to say, how to say it - it's all here.

Firstly, you're allowed to rely on clich├ęs. You're not the trained, slick media professional who's sat alongside you in the gantry. You can refer to a challenge as "six and two threes" (mixing it up there) or suggest a player has "if anything, hit that too well" as the ball rockets over the bar.

All slow-motion replays are your territory. It's your job to confirm if the shot got a nick on its way through or if the goalkeeper did, in fact, get fingertips to it. Committing to a call before you see the replay is done at your own risk - if the replay proves you wrong, you'll need to awkwardly dig your heels in and refuse to concede defeat. The most dignified way of doing this is to admit some slight wrongdoing, but not enough to warrant a penalty/free-kick. Minimal contact? A coming-together? Nothing in it. After a while, you'll be oblivious to just how annoying this is. 

Offside decisions? If it's close, but you can actually tell if it's offside or not, just say it's "borderline" or "touch and go". Don't commit unnecessarily to a decision one way or the other - that's not what the viewers want at all. What about that tackle, then? Clumsy more than anything. Don't forget the "more than anything" suffix - no-one will prompt you to expand on what that "anything" actually is, lest you slander the player by mentioning exactly what it was that his tackle wasn't.

"...for me." Keep that ready for really desperate moments where you've been made to look stupid, but want to at least spare your commentator from ridicule. I mean, it's a game of opinions, right?

Keep it light-hearted. Make jokes about your own playing career, your lax attitude to training, Paul Scholes's tackling or the commentator's playing ability. Or his age - joke about how he'll be able to remember that far back when he mentions something that happened a long time ago!

Right, ten minutes in - who's made the brighter start? It's the question on everybody's lips. If you can't work it out, just say they're cancelling each other out so far. Or the markedly creepier-sounding "feeling each other out". Have the bookies' favourites got going yet? "Not getting going" is easy to spot - they need to have failed to open the scoring. 20 minutes is the magic benchmark - if the underdog hasn't conceded in this all-important window, everything is going to be fine. Except you move the goalposts - now they just need to get to half-time.

Sometimes, the most important statistic isn't in the top left-hand corner of our screens. When you're really struggling, up will pop the possession stats for the last 5-10 minutes. "Look at that!" you can exclaim, as we all do just that. Tell us whether that's what we could have expected or not. Later on, we'll see the epic two-part drama of the shots/shots on target statistics. The sheer tension as we wait to see how many of those 12 shots actually troubled the goalkeeper. A player shoots over the bar - he was leaning back. They always are.

Around five times a game, you'll be called upon to offer us the Bigger Picture as the commentator nips away for a piss. Halfway through first half, on the stroke of half-time, the start of the second half,  on the hour mark, and in the dying moments - you'll need to sum up what you've seen so far. Has it been a classic? Has one manager asked his team for "more of the same" in this second 45? As the time ticks on, will the other manager be thinking of a change? You can slide your way in to your observation, as the play enters a lull, with a wistful sigh that informs the viewer that you're about to offer your lengthy views on the action so far.

Do not call players short or slow - that's rude. They're "not the tallest" or "not the quickest". Why on earth co-commentators feel the need to shield the (obviously otherwise unsuspecting) public from the physical deficiencies of footballers is beyond comprehension. Is it some sort of PFA membership-inspired solidarity? Is it in fact a well-disguised plea for  Usain Bolt or tallest man in the world - Turkish part-time farmer Sultan Kosen - to take up football? Does Kosen have a good touch for a big man?

Congratulations, you're now a fully-trained peer of the Andy Townsends, Jim Beglins, Gerry Armstrongs, Mark "...as a striker..." Brights and Alan Smiths of this world.

Thank the lord for Gary Neville.


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