Armchair Reporter: Impish Wrighty is up for the cup

File photo dated 03-10-2015 of BT Sport pundit Ian Wright PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Thursday February 16, 2017. After the game, Wenger and his squad came in for criticism from former favourites Lee Dixon, Martin Keown and Ian Wright. See PA story SOCCER Arsenal. Photo credit should read Steve Paston/PA Wire.
Paul McConville

WHEN you think of romance you think of Paris, moonlit walks by the Seine or a gondola ride in Venice. Well, this year's FA Cup has also thrown up the notion that a couple of PE teachers in tracksuits qualifies as romance too.

In fairness, Lincoln City's run to the FA Cup quarter-finals has provided a boost the tournament which has taken a bit of kicking lately, thanks to the ambivalence of clubs who favour mid-table mediocrity in the Premier League to an exhilarating cup run.

But BT Sport were all over Saturday's quarter-finals like a giddy kid on Christmas morning and there's no bigger kid than Ian Wright. Manchester City had eased past Middlesbrough earlier in the day and by Saturday evening, the excitement levels at the slightest outside hint of anything resembling something like the biggest cup upset of all-time were through the roof.

Wrighty was buzzing, and a little torn as he knew he wanted to root for the underdog, especially since he himself had to battle his way from non-League football to become an Arsenal great, but he is utterly unable to mask his love for the Gunners.

But he loved the pitchside chat with Lincoln boss Danny Cowley, resplendent in his trusty tracksuit while Wrighty beamed in his three-piece suit. Danny was recalling how he had referred to previous wins over Brighton and Burnley as going to moon and then Jupiter.

"I'm struggling to think of more analogies as my knowledge of the solar system isn't great," joked Danny. Wrighty flashed a big toothy grin, wondering what an analogy was, and gave the Imps boss a mighty slap on the back, declaring "I love you man."

Five minutes later, he predicted a comfortable win for Arsenal.

The BT Sport team had been doing their best not to patronise Lincoln, with varying degrees of success.

Once Ian Darke got on the mic though, that all went out the window.

"This is a pinch yourself moment for Lincoln City," declared the commentator as the teams took the field.

Darke does a bit of boxing commentary as well, but I reckon he's a bit of a First World War enthusiast in his spare time. When Manchester United played in Bruges a couple of years back, he couldn't stopping bangin on about trenches and Flanders field. This time it was all about Lincoln being the first non-league club in the last eight of the FA Cup since the breakout of the Great War.

Alongside Darke was hyper-realistic Chris Sutton, a man you wouldn't think would entertain any romantic notions (Sorry, Mrs S). But he had taken the Imps to the third round of the FA Cup seven years ago in an all-too brief managerial career, so he had whatever measure of emotion he would have apportioned himself invested in an upset.

He seemed to relish referring to Lincoln managerial siblings as the Cowley brothers, making them sound like a non-league version of the Krays.

There was "no sign of stage fright" declared Darke as the Imps continued to hold out, he was just seconds away from reading out their professions by this stage.

Big Chris was a fan of Big Matt Rhead, the Lincoln player described by Darke as an old-fashioned English centre-forward (which is code for fat and immobile). He was revealed to be a big Stoke fan, which came as a surprise to absolutely no-one as he looked like he'd been chiseled form Tony Pulis's imagination.

Eventually, Lincoln's resistance was broken and the goals piled in. Darke, a real switch-hitter of commentator, declared that Lincoln were "tottering on the ropes", thankfully the ref ended the punishment and Lincoln dream was over.


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