Sam Matterface is talking

Chris Dance repeats an overheard conversation.

“A very good evening to you, and what an evening, they say that the devil makes work for idle hands, good things come in small packages and every dog has its day but none of that matters now, they can keep their proverbials very much under wraps and shove it to one side of the carpet, there are bigger fish to fry and plenty more in the sea where that came from but that’s all by the by as you join me here, live, whoever you happen to be, and as always it’s a privilege and an honour to choose the words that bring the action to life, paint a picture and relay it via the magic of technology, if not broadcasting, where I’m a footnote in the long auspicious line of history where your Kenneth Wolstenholmes and Brian Moores set the standard, lest we forget, for those of us who have followed and who are the custodians of the microphone entrusted with the responsibility of providing the backdrop to enhance your viewing pleasure, a pleasure we take so seriously, whether you’re a silent witness like the late great Richie Benaud who always said if you couldn’t add anything with words then you shouldn’t say anything at all, advice we should all heed in our profession where it can be tempting to say every single thing that pops into your head even when that’s not always the most appropriate course of action or the right turn of phrase or simply a storm in a teacup, they say truth is honesty and honesty is truth, well it’s a diverse world we live in and there’s a band of many colours waiting to say, hey, my truth’s not your truth, I’ve got a different view, and that’s okay, the bottom line is that we all have our own personal take, all of us are takers, all of us are talkers, some of us are shouters, but every which way, shape or form you find us in, we’re all here to search for the words that put the gloss on the goings on and scrutinise the play in a way that delivers it direct to your home, from pitchside to fireside, from gantry to pantry, from Camp Nou to the downstairs loo, Elland Road to your abode, from wherever I am to the home you live in, the home where you sleep, eat and bathe, the house you call home, townhouse or country house, bungalow or flat, I’ll bring a final to your semi, a four goal thriller to your two bed terrace, whatever your gaff I’m a guest, and one who couldn’t be more proud to talk you through the ebb and flow, the cut and thrust, the Little and Large of high level sport, perhaps passing on some insight along the way, a prepared quip here, a random fact there, incidentally it’s been seven hours and fifteen days since I threw a fact away, and nothing compares, nothing compares to that, except maybe three million holes in Blackburn, Lancashire, a headache for the groundsman who was up before the lark to get the worm and make the surface playable, for which we all doff our caps and raise a toast because that’s what the game is all about, it’s not always about the giants, it’s not always about the superclubs, the superstars and the superstores, the big names in the big games, it’s about that groundsman, the kit man, the tea lady – she never trains but she pours – which is one of those prepared quips I spoke about earlier, you can’t come up with those off the top of your head, it’s part of my job to prepare, to be ready, to have phrases to pluck off the branch when the well is dry, when you need a new way of saying it’s about David as well as Goliath, and often about the people smaller even than David without whom there wouldn’t be a match to watch and without whom I wouldn’t be here talking about it for the benefit of the great British viewing public, for whom football forms part of the fabric of their lives and knits together an extra layer, occasionally fraying or splitting at the seams but nonetheless always there to be enjoyed, endured, relied upon, depended on, in a way that it’s impossible to convey using simple words, which is the essence of what I try to do in the full knowledge that I could never do the game justice and I’m forever barking up a losing tree and shouting into a black hole in an echo chamber, all the while feeling humbled by the position I’m in, like Sinbad on his magic carpet, Daddy Bear and his porridge or Ali Baba and his forty thieves, I’m just part of the story, part of the legend, here to eat the poison apple on your behalf and let down my hair for the fairytale you’ve all tuned in to see.

“Oh yes, sorry, large quarter pounder meal and a chocolate milkshake please…pay at the next window? Great, thanks.”