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Dublin: 7 °C Sunday 31 May, 2020

TV Wrap - A bit of the old magic remains as Dunphy, Brady and Giles reunite

The band got back together for Irish fans as Amazon assembled English pundits in a kind of Tekken menu.

Giles, Brady and Dunphy return on Premier Sports.
Giles, Brady and Dunphy return on Premier Sports.

AS ENGLISH FANS witnessed the Premier League arrive on Amazon Prime, uncharitable Irish viewers might say they were left with Amazon Past Their Prime.

Not that this column agrees.

Nope, for the three amigos have aged with more grace than most other parts of this Irish football decade, particularly that “John Delaney could run anything” take, which less grew old this year than it fell from a magic horse in Tir na nÓg.

Premier Sports got the band back together for this tranche of midweek games, as Dunphy, Giles, and Brady assembled on a TV panel for the first time in three-and-a-half years.

It fell to Ivan Yates to play the Manchester City-supporting frontman, following proceedings with a Beady Ey-(I’ll stop you right there – Ed.)

In a late shock to many Irish viewers, the heavily-marketed Amazon games were available in the UK only, as Premier Sports instead bagged the Irish rights.

Finding games on a relatively obscure satellite channel through subscriptions you never heard of is now a rather quaint way of struggling to watch football: certainly in comparison to the sneaking, gleaming vision of the near-future that UK viewers were fed.

Amazon turned football punditry into a kind of Tekken menu, inviting viewers to choose from an interactive list of virtually every non-Sky Sports contracted English football pundit known to man.

Tim Sherwood was among those made available, and he again showed that The English Football Man lives in a rarified postmodern world, liberated from grammar.

‘Sentence structure? Nah, not for me mate, I usually just list names and adjectives and then say whether I like it.

‘Troy Deeney, bully up there…Deulofeu, pace…Tom Cleverly, Will Hughes, Good British lads. I love it.’

Amazon’s other innovation may be to end the tracking of live games on Twitter, given streams lagged a couple of minutes behind the goal updates snaking through timelines.

While some moaned about the length of this delay, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was said to be disappointed to learn it wasn’t lagging back to 1999.

So while the Premier League was busy becoming the latest treasure to be subsumed beneath the Amazon algorithm, Premier Sports’ band were slipping back into ancient, established rhythm.

Ivan Yates said it was his “privilege” to work with the panel and Eamo kicked things off in traditional style, praising Giles and Brady as two of the greatest players to ever play the game while defending his reputation as one of the worst.

Yates was a pretty good choice for this gig, with his schlumpy, chummy delivery accentuating that this broadcast was mostly about the reunion of three friends. 

Giles seemed particularly content, and could luxuriate in the classic “real midfield play” when reviewing Rodri’s performance after City’s win over Burnley on Tuesday.

The panel’s magical edge was blunted a few years ago and there were no notable falling outs this week, although Eamo did land on a few classic hits.

“Otamendi and Fernandinho… terrifying”, he said of City’s potential weaknesses; Everton were deemed to have signed a “load of rubbish”; while in Nick Pope and Jordan Pickford he could twice criticise the England goalkeeper, a staple of many a World Cup.

Yates was brusque – “When was he any good?” he asked Brady of Marco Silva – and zinged that Jose Mourinho was now the “Special Once” in announcing Spurs’ defeat to United.

Making like most men with an understanding of the human condition, Dunphy outed himself as a Liverpool fan a few years ago and this greatly entertained Yates, who prodded him with a “surely Liverpool will get a couple of injuries and blow it from here.”

“Give me a break, baby”, laughed Eamo.

While Giles, Brady and Dunphy watched City’s win over Burnley together, only the latter two appeared for last night’s Merseyside derby, as Giles was off receiving the freedom of Leeds for services to Don Revie.

Yates joked that Dunphy would soon be granted the freedom of Millwall.

Laments about the obscurity of the stage and the dulling of the material are tropes in the reviews of reunion tours, and while they might apply to this band, the show was nothing to bemoan or scorn.

While English viewers were treated to the latest signifier of progress made and onset, Irish viewers were instead reminded of a lost time in which we were ahead of anything they did.

Best of all was the fact it was tucked away on Irish television and so most of them didn’t even know about it, forced instead to subsist on rumour of this rich, tantalising life beyond Garth Crooks.

Football punditry is something the English clearly care about, so mastering it without the anxiety of needing to show it to them has marked the panel as a true cultural achievement of 21st century Ireland.

Those days are lost now, and all of the best punditry and innovation is back on English television. This was a rare week in which we didn’t get to see it. 

Still, it was nice to hoard a few more memories of how the order once stood.

Embrace the nostalgia, baby!

- Originally published at 06.15 

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About the author:

Gavin Cooney

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