Colemanballs – sports commentators’ goofs

Re-reading this sentence from a September 26 entry:

And former Liverpool legend Ian Rush revealed a possibly flawed adaptation strategy at his new club Juventus when he bemoaned the fact that ‘living in Italy was like living in a foreign country’.

I thought to myself: Ian Rush could become a football (soccer) commentator. I was thinking of the Private Eye Colemanballs column, named after the BBC sports commentator David Coleman, who was famous for making slips. Colemanballs quotes don’t have to be by David Coleman, nor even by sports commentators. There were a number of little books of Colemanballs published.

Now, researching the subject on the Internet, I find a number of collections. A Wikipedia entry defines it, and reminds me of Yogi Berra, the U.S. equivalent. Wikipedia links to an entry on damaging quotations, which means Bushisms, Quayleisms and the like.

Here’s one Colemanballs collection. I’m not sure if there’s any copyright in these – really, Private Eye collected some of them. It begins:

“And here’s Moses Kiptanui – the 19 year old Kenyan, who turned 20 a few weeks ago” (David Coleman)
“Its a great advantage to be able to hurdle with both legs”
“And with an alphabetical irony, Nigeria follows New Zealand”
“There’s going to be a real ding-dong when the bell goes.”

And this one seems slightly out of place, but returns to the topic of British football players abroad:

“I was shocked when I was first introduced to the fans because they brought out a sheep, cut its head off and then smeared blood over my forehead” – Manchester United’s Ronnie Johnsen on life with Besiktas, Turkey

5 thoughts on “Colemanballs – sports commentators’ goofs

  1. Bringing Coleman back to the law, I remember he many years ago – as a freelance sports reporter – sued the BBC for trying to freeze him out and withhold work. The High Court found in his favour and ordered the BBC to give him reporting assignments. This must be one of the few actor-like cases where an employer is under a duty to offer work to a freelancer, albeit under a contract for services, to ‘enhance his reputation’.

    Let’s not forget England’s David Hemery winning the Gold Medal for the 400 metres hurdles at the 1968 Tokyo Olympics. Coleman as TV commentator screaming his head off: ‘.. and I don’t care who comes second to win the silver…’ – it was fellow-Brit Alan Pascoe.

  2. Sports fans aren’t picking up on my deliberate mistake: it was the 1968 Mexico City Olympics. Tokyo was 1964.

    BTW, David Hemery came into Harrods Export Bureau after the gold-medal win whilst I was working there and asked me – a keen athletics fan – to export the gold medal and a gold cup somewhere. Just hope they ended up in the right place, even out of or into London Heathrow Airport ….

  3. No a German came second which Coleman got right.
    He said “Who cares who comes third, it doesn’t matter”
    It was a Brit, John Sherwood from Sheffield who squeezed through in the last few yards to win bronze

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