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Saturday 3 December 2016

The Week in Radio: Nothing new No pressure

Niall Quinn Italia 1990
Niall Quinn Italia 1990

We’ve had jaw-dropping revelations! If, by “jaw-dropping revelations”, one means “wholly unsurprising revelations, wearily greeted with a barely-detectable shrug of the shoulders.”

We’ve had astonishing resignations! That is to say we’ve had a resignation (singular). One that might best be described as, sort of, mildly surprising-ish.

And we’re currently choking back lumps of bilious outrage at news of €5 million pay-offs, or (ahem) “inducements”, or “loans”, or whatever you’re having yourself, related to the single greatest act of sporting robbery to ever occur in this or any other universe. Actually, that part is kind of true.

Anyway, all in all, and given the ongoing FIFA circus of corruption, bribery and bung-ery, it might seem a tricky enough time to sell radio listeners on an unproblematically nostalgic documentary on Irish football and the World Cup. But resistance, such as its, tends to soften a bit when confronted with enough irresistible sound bites.

Like “The nation holds its breath”, And “Sheedy’s won it back. Sheedy shoots. Oh! It’s there!” And, er, “Anyone who sends a team out to play like that should be ashamed of themselves”.

All of which were present and correct and trying to nostalgically work their soothing magic on John Kenny’s (pictured left) Put ‘em under Pressure — Saturday’s timely/untimely (can’t decide which) Documentary on One.

We are, of course (or Kenny was, of course), talking Italia 90. Or, if you prefer, Italy 90. Or, if you have an anal demand for absolute clarity, the 14th FIFA World Cup (1990).

Whatever way you spin or describe it, it was a momentous/insignificant [delete according to taste] thing that happened a notable number of years ago. And Put ‘em under Pressure was here to mark and celebrate that unforgettable/forgettable [choose one] summer.

It did that mostly by dipping and delving into “the RTE Radio and Television archives”. So we heard much festive Olé-olé-olé-ing, lots of charter flight jollity at airports, and numerous iconic George Hamilton-isms (see above).

Standard enough Reeling in the Years-type fare then, complete with a soundtrack of, as the RTE website promised, “the best music of 1990”. Or, to put it another way, 1990’s most crap-tacular chart horrors.

By the time the distressing strains of Ride On Time, The Power, and Can’t Touch This (etc) had come and gone, even the faintest trace of misty-eyed nostalgising had long since evaporated. Leaving, in its place, some measure of sweet relief that such things were now, mercifully, at a quarter-century’s remove.

There was, to be fair, a little more to Put ‘em under Pressure than painful pop memories and casual archival regurgitation. But fresh and new material — and (more importantly) fresh and new perspectives — were thin on the ground.

Niall Quinn (interviewed for the documentary) did, at least, share a tale or two I hadn’t heard before.

Like the one about a weeping Gary Waddock, booted off the squad at the eleventh hour. Or the one about Bernie Slaven’s nightly phone calls to

his dog.

Apart from that, it was all rather too fluffy and familiar and gently evocative to be all that gripping or memorable. But, hey, when you’re currently trailing Gabon, Panama and Albania in the world rankings then it’s hard not to be a wee bit seduced by the same old stories.

Documentary on One, RTE Radio 1, Saturday

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