On the FLIP Side

The Commentator’s Curse

Written by Sam Hopkinson


In my line of work—that is, recommending players to include in your fantasy teams—I am really just making educated guesses. I can only judge players on past form. Despite my work with grandfather clocks and whirligigs my time machine project isn’t progressing at the speed I had hoped. But commentators have it worse, since they can make a statement that could be immediately proved wrong only seconds later. They call this the commentator’s curse. It can be a resuscitating kiss of life, or the toxic touch of death.


One of the more extreme examples on this list is Roy Keane, commentating a recent Manchester United European game. Upon seeing the initial challenge on Luke Shaw, Keane announced that he “thought it was a brilliant challenge” and that he “love[d] the physical side” to the game. That was obviously before everyone realised the severity of Shaw’s injury—his leg was broken, and he will be out of the game for months. Wait until you see the replay, Roy.


Here’s a guy who knows how to play the curse game—following City’s humbling defeat of Chelsea, Quinn claimed that the sky blues had “a finger on the trophy”. Now, this might not sound completely ridiculous…except for the fact the season was only two games old. A curse like this is definitely playing the long game, and Quinn was apparently happy to roll the dice. If City do end up winning the title he’ll look like a prophet—if they don’t, he’s a jackass. I actually quite like Niall Quinn as a pundit, but he’s doing himself few favours with a statement like this one.


To be fair to him, Wilson’s example is something he admitted to in his BBC blog. As Didier Drogba took a free-kick, it seemed as if he had scored—and Wilson started to wax lyrical on Drogba’s skill and technique. However, the Ivorian actually hadn’t scored, clear to those watching on television but not to those in the ground. At least it’s definitive proof that Match of the Day does send commentator’s to talk about the game live.



There are few figures in the game that draw such universal scorn from fans, but Owen is certainly one of them. The commentator’s curse can be embarrassing for those involved, sure, but it beats hearing the most inane and obvious garbage. Owen was commentating on a Merseyside Derby, Liverpool were winning 4-0, and announced that he doubted “Everton are going to get anything out of this game”. There were fifteen minutes left to play.

The very best Michael “sit-on-the-fence” Owen quote though? “Whichever team scores more goals usually wins”. It’s almost like he’s trying to say something Zen.


About the author

Sam Hopkinson

Sam has attended matches everywhere from Cambodia to Canada, and is a persistent Spurs fan. If he didn't have football, he'd probably turn to a life of crime just to get that exhilarating fix. Superstitious enough to believe that picking a player for his fantasy team spells doom for the poor sod.