The 31st of August. Just another day in the football calendar, albeit one without any actual football, but distinguished slightly by the ending of the time period allotted to register new players. Little more than a necessary logistical failsafe, to cross the i’s and dot the t’s and generally make sure all the cumbersome bureaucratic paper work is completed before we exit the first month of the season. Right? WRONG Bitches! For this is Super Awesome Magic Transfer Deadline Day! Woooo! Only the wickedest frickin’ day of the year! Like Christmas mixed with New Year, sprinkled with Easter, only with Jim White – That’s right, JIM WHITE!!! – That bloke you might recognize off Sky Sports News if you watch it enough, PLUS that one who’s going out with Ant & Dec. OMG!!!
Yes, Transfer Deadline Day indeed. The one day of the year when Sky Sports News’ anchors get to pretend they’re rock stars in their own heads whilst shivering, terrified reporters stand around in car parks like idiot beacons, attracting only the dimmest and ugliest people from around the country to swarm around them doing silly things while they report that something’s probably happening in a building quite nearby.
Sky have always been hyperbole whores of course. Never ones to shun bombast for understated subtlety and perspective, but I’d forgotten just how important they considered themselves in the scheme of all this. Very early on it became apparent that this wasn’t going to be as exciting or headline grabbing as last January’s window, with Luka Modric in Malta, Wesley Snejider in Holland, and Manchester City revealing their main interest of the day was making sure Owen Hargreaves reached their medical facility in one piece. This wasn’t going to stop Sky Sports News from making it exciting though. Hell no. Even if this solely involved telling us how exciting it was every 5 minutes.
At some point between the great Robinho & Berbatov window of ‘08 and the infamous Torres & Carroll Christmas of ’11, Sky Sports decided their own reporting of the transfers was almost as important as the transfers themselves. And so gradually the reporting of Deadline Day became less a standard rolling news item and more a one off, high-end entertainment event, complete with its own headline act superstar – Jim White. Yes, THE Jim White (well no, not actually, he plays snooker) who we were told at regular intervals was “on his way” or “in the building” whilst inter-cut with promo cards advertising his evening anchorship featuring his ominous, pouting visage along side Natalie Sawyer. This was even more disconcerting as they were done in the style of a boxing promo card, with both protagonists on either side of the screen between big lettering of their names, which made it look just a little bit like Jim White was going to fight Natalie Sawyer at 8pm, which at least might have gone some way to explaining why they were all treating him like such a big shot.
At one particular high point, SSN even returned from an advert break with footage of Jim walking into the building on his phone, which could have been a brilliant, sophisticated parody of the endlessly recycled unenlightening footage of players wandering in and out of places on their phones they play on Sky hourly, but which I’m pretty sure was merely an actual desperate bit of cannibalized reporting. Sky had gone meta. They were now reporting on their own reporters turning up to do some reporting. When they weren’t trying to hawk us their new mobile SkyGo service that is.
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