Football’s Funniest TV Gaffes

December 23, 2017

- Grant Whittington

They say that actors can find live television unforgiving, but spare a thought for modern day footballers and sports commentators. These individuals are always required to play or cover sporting events in real-time, with every thought, word, deed and gaffe scrutinised by viewers across pretty much every form of media you can think of.

As anyone who has ever watched Soccer Saturday on Sky Sports can testify, live sport is unpredictable in the extreme and can prompt some genuinely hilarious gaffes from those commentating.

In this post, we’ve compiled some of the funniest football gaffes that have ever graced TV, paying tribute those who have unintentionally entertained us over the years.

1. “There’s been a red card at Portsmouth.” “Has there Jeff?”
Unsurprisingly, our first gaffe comes from the Soccer Saturday archives and a Premier League clash between Portsmouth and Blackburn Rovers, at Fratton Park in April 2010. Providing ‘analysis’ that day was the brilliant Chris Kamara, who in truth could have a whole list dedicated to the gaffes he has made on live television.

In this instance, Kamara was positioned in a distant corner of the ground and by his own admission, he was struggling to view the action with any great clarity.

With one eye on the monitor in front of him and another on the action over his shoulder, Kamara was desperately trying to follow the game when he heard Soccer Saturday anchorman Jeff Stelling announce that they were heading to Portsmouth where there had been a send-off.

Kamara’s heart must have sunk as Stelling asked him for the details live on TV, with the reporter sheepishly forced to admit that he had no idea what was going on! He then confessed to seeing the dismissed Anthony Vanden Borre leaving the field of play, but due to his lack of visibility and subdued nature of the crowd, he’d presumed the defender had been substituted.

As the studio team began to laugh, so too did Kamara, although his lack of attentiveness apparently drew the ire of Soccer Saturday director Karen Wilmington afterwards. The exchange itself is genuinely hilarious and the fact that it has been viewed more than two million times on YouTube probably helped her to see the funny side!

2. Jeff Stelling’s Hartlepool meltdown
While we accept that commentators are supposed to be neutral, we tend to occasionally prefer it when they aren’t. After all, while this may be deemed unprofessional, this prompts the kind of raw passion and vulnerability that we all identify with as supporters.

After all, who can forget Stelling’s meltdown as his beloved Hartlepool side were beaten 2-1 by Leyton Orient in a relegation battle in April this year?

Stelling was watching this game with interest during a stint anchoring Soccer Saturday. He became increasingly agitated as his side struggled during the first half and missed a host of chances in the second period. His frustration manifested itself in several hilarious outbursts, including one when he suggested that he would have to leave the building to defend in the match at Brisbane Road, as nobody else wanted to do it!

This, along with several interruptions and a hilarious monologue about the club’s failure to utilise former Middlesbrough and Premier League player Matthew Bates in the second half, made for genuinely compelling viewing that had us on the edge of our seats.

It was technically a gaffe, but one that fans across the country had genuine empathy for.

3. “You can’t win anything with kids”
The issue with most reporters and correspondents is that they seem unable to climb off the fence, particularly when attempting to call a tight game or contest between two evenly matched teams. Take Mark Lawrenson, for example, who critics say would most likely predict a draw in a Formula One race.

Of course, the flip side is that commentators who make bold and definitive predictions are likely to fall flat on their faces. If you don’t believe us, just ask former Match of the Day Alan Hansen.

After the opening day of the 1995/96 season saw a revamped Manchester United side beaten 3-1 at Aston Villa, Hansen predicted a year of transition for the Reds and confidently proclaimed “you can’t win anything with kids.”

Many agreed with this assertion too, with manager Alex Ferguson having sold experienced players such as Mark Hughes, Paul Ince and Andrei Kanchelskis and replacing them with players from the academy side.

Less than nine months later however, starlets like David Beckham, Gary Neville and Paul Scholes had become household names and fired United to an incredible League and Cup double. The returning talisman Eric Cantona also provided some much-needed inspiration in the second half of the season.

Hansen’s gaffe remains one of the most glaring and hilarious of the Premier League era and Manchester United fans refused to let the former Liverpool defender forget it.

Still, we applaud him for putting his neck on the chopping block and wish that more pundits would do the same!


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