Kenny Archer: Inside the Stockley Park VAR room: what really happened (not really)

Kenny Archer

Kenny Archer

Kenny is the deputy sports editor and a Liverpool FC fan.

Darren England, who was the VAR at Tottenham-Liverpool at the weekend.
Darren England, who was the VAR at Tottenham-Liverpool at the weekend.

The Irish News has obtained audio from the VAR room at Stockley Park during Saturday’s controversial Tottenham v Liverpool match, starting just before the goal that never was.

Here is a transcription [not really]:

VAR Darren England: Where’s my sleep mask?

Assistant VAR Dan Cook: Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz

England: Cookie, where’s my blooming sleep mask?

Cook: Whassat? Let me take my ear plugs out.

England: Where’s. My. Blooming. Sleep. Mask?

Cook: Oh… Check complete [chuckles]. It’s under my sombrero.

England: Why do you have a flipping sombrero?

Cook: Bought it in Dubai, didn’t I?

England: Wha’?

Cook: It’s hot there, man.

England: I know. I was there too. Helping the development of the global game.

Voice in background: Ker-ching! Ker-ching! Ker-ching!

Cook: Mexico was very influenced by Spain, you know. Read that in an in-flight magazine once. Business class.

England: So what? Dubai isn’t in Spain!

Cook: Oh. Where is it then?

England: UAE.

Cook: Oh. My cousin went to uni there.

England: Really?

Cook: Yeah. It’s in Norwich.

England: UAE, you clampit. Not UEA. United Arab Emirates. Ya kna’, where City’s money comes from.

Cook: Oh. Mo! Mo!

England: Why are you shouting at Salah? He won’t hear you. It’s miles from here to Spurs.

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Liverpool’s Mo Salah.
Liverpool’s Mo Salah.

Cook: I was shouting at our ‘Mo’. Michael Oliver. He’s doing board boy [fourth assistant] today. He looks a bit sleepy from that trip too. We really should have gone to bed early. Eight-hour flight...

England: Yeah. That three-hour time difference is a killer too. I can barely keep my eyes open. Worth it, though. For the cultural experience.

[Laughter in the VAR room]

Cook: Mo! Mo!

England: He can’t hear you.

Cook: Why? Has he got ear plugs in too? Just wanted to tell him to bump into Klopp. For a laugh. Pretend it was an accident.

England: Ha ha. He’d need shades on or he’ll get blinded by those teeth.

[Loud laughter in the VAR room]

England: No, we’re not connected to him.

Cook: Aren’t we supposed to be?

England: I can’t listen to ‘Hoops’ [referee Simon Hooper] and ‘Mo’ AND the Ryder Cup coverage, can I?!

Cook: You were watching it all earlier. Suppose I better turn it back over to this match…

England: I know, but ‘Roars’ has just gone nuts at some Yank caddy in a car park!

Cook: What?! Good lad. Man U fan too.

Liverpool’s Luis Diaz had a goal wrongly ruled out at Tottenham. (Peter Byrne/PA)
Liverpool’s Luis Diaz had a goal wrongly ruled out at Tottenham. (Peter Byrne/PA)

England: What is Hoops mithering on about?

Cook: Oh, something’s happened.

England: What? I’d just put my sleep mask on. Didn’t you see?

Cook: Nope. Had my sombrero on. Those screens are too bright, man.

England: The ball’s in the Spurs net. Must be a goal. Funny, the Scousers aren’t celebrating much…

Cook: Well, as Sir Alex said, ‘It’s Tottenham, lads…’

England: Ha. Better have a look. Wow. Why they are even wasting our time with this? That Scouse player was miles onside. I’m not even gonna bother drawing those lines.

Cook: [In robotic voice] Everything gets checked. [Back to normal voice] Especially when it’s a goal for the Scousers, eh? Nah, not a chance of finding anything wrong there…

I forgot to switch the ‘Etch-a-Sketch’ back on anyway. Switched it off after it got – ahem – stuck – on the freeze-frame of that red card incident.

England: [Laughs]. Hoops? Check complete.

Cook: God, I wish they’d turn that bloody piped music down! Can’t get any kip here! The Spurs fans seem very chipper… Well, I suppose they knew their luck would run out soon.

England: Why is Neville going nuts?

Cook: Dunno. I turned the sound off on the Sky feed. He’s probably still upset about earlier. ‘This is Manchester United!’

[Rueful laughter in VAR room]

Cook: What about United, though, eh? Wonder what Erik Ten Excuses came up with this week.

England: What do you care? We all support Altrincham, don’t we?

Cook: Ha ha. No, Northwich Victoria, me. Wink.

England: Why’s the Sky score-line still saying 0-0?! Let me check Twitter, I mean X… Oh. Four X.

Cook: What?

England:  That wasn’t a goal.

Cook: I know, you daft apoth.

England: No. Whoever was running the line gave it off.

Cook: What? It was miles on!

England: I know.

Cook: But…you just said ‘Check complete’…

England: I know.

Cook: So Hoops didn’t allow it?

England: No. Better tell him.

Cook: Hmmm. Looks like he’s glad he’s wearing black shorts…

[Raucous laughter].

Son Heung-min was on the scoresheet for Tottenham (John Walton/PA)
Son Heung-min was on the scoresheet for Tottenham (John Walton/PA)

Cook: Oh. Spurs have just scored.

England: F---. At least the Scousers will take this with their usual good grace.

[Uproarious laughter in VAR room]

England: ‘Calm down! Calm down!’

[Sounds of thighs being slapped]

Cook: ‘Webby’ [referees chief Howard Webb] is going to go nuts.

England: Well, in public anyway. After he’s stopped laughing.

Cook: Oh well. At least we’ll get tomorrow off. And maybe next week.

England: Yeah. I’m supposed to be doing the Forest game tomorrow. That would have been another early flight.

Cook: I’m down for lino at Fulham on Monday. Happy enough. A weekend in London hotels…

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp saw his nine-man side beaten at Spurs (John Walton/PA)
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp saw his nine-man side beaten at Spurs (John Walton/PA)

[……Time passes……]

England: That Spurs player just tripped himself. Should we say something?

Cook: Nah. Hoops will give Liverpool everything now…

England: Ah. The Scousers are down to nine…

Cook: Hoops is handing out cards like confetti. He’s bound to send a Spurs man off soon…

[……Time passes……]

England: O.M.G. OG.

Cook: Oh God.

England: The sh*t is gonna hit the fan worse than Selhurst Park 1995…

[Full time whistle].

England: Did I fall asleep and wake up in May? Have Spurs won the league?

[No laughter]

Cook: I think we should lie low for a while.

England: Fancy another trip to Dubai? All-expenses paid?

Voice in background: Ker-ching! Ker-ching! Ker-ching!