WITH England exiting the World Cup, losing 4-1 to Germany, this afternoon, the BBC may no longer be subjected to criticism that it has indulged in overkill during its coverage of the English campaign.
But not before two highly respected retired Scottish sports journalists added to the criticism yesterday.
Former Scottish Daily Mail man, Brian Scott, now retired, still writes a regular Saturday column in the paper and yesterday his target was the BBC.
Scott wrote: “Over the top? No more so, it turned out, than Guy Mowbray’s commentary from Port Elizabeth on the England-Slovenia game. Here was blinkered patriotism at a level which even his dear old forerunner, John Motson, would have been pushed to surpass.
“As the camera focused on a clutch of South Africans gyrating merrily in the crowd, Mowbray assumed them to be supporting John Terry and his cohorts. Why?
“’They watch the Premiership every week on television’, he cried. England’s their second team.’ Presumably, they then lent their voices to the chorus within the stadium of Rule Britannia which had him rejoicing again.
“Mowbray later said something to the effect that all of us couldn’t wait for the final whistle to sound with England still leading 1-0. Whatever gave him that idea, which presupposed every watching Scotsman, Irishman and Welshman, not to mention ex-pat Slovenians now living in the UK, were roaring for the three lions?
“Some of us would sooner have been subjected to yet another earful of these infernal vuvuzelas than have to listen to such tosh being uttered in our names.
“Old Auntie supposedly exists to speak for the whole of Britain but, at heady times like these, she tends to forget herself and address us as if we are all English.
Scott goes on to point out: ”Surely it wouldn’t have burst the BBC’s lavish budget to include a Scottish commentator for the purpose of proving viewers up here with a more balanced perspective on England’s games.
“Had our lot been the only Brits in the competition, you’d better believe the BBC wouldn’t have countenanced a Scot providing the commentary for their English audience.”
Ian Wheeler, who is retired in Cupar, took up the cudgels in a letter to the editor in yesterday’s Dundee Courier.
Said Wheeler; “Among many other assignments, I covered England’s 1966 World Cup success and, among jibes to which football writers were subjected over the years was the oft-quoted, (from an English source) ‘Scottish writers are supporters with typewriters’.
“That was so in some cases but mostly we were journalists doing a job of informing the folk who read our papers about what was going on in games and behind the scenes.
“What none of us compared with was the disgracefully biased BBC commentary on the Slovenia v England game. Commentator Gary Mowbray managed to get in a few details of the play but they were far outnumbered by his practically praying for an England goal and, when the goal came, he continued to pray that it would be enough to win the game and get England into the next phase.
“I don’t know who trained him, or where he was trained, but he certainly needs to be sent on a refresher course with the underlying theme that his job is to paint a word picture of the game and not to be an England supporter with a microphone.
“There is some surprise down south that Scots, among many other nationalities, want anyone to win but England.
“I firmly believe that, mostly, this is not because of the people who play for England but commentators like Mowbray who go over the top in lauding them to the skies when they win, no matter how well or badly they have played.”