If you found yourself staring vacantly at the Sky Sports #DeadlineDay clock as the seconds counted down, you could have been forgiven for thinking that the human race was about to expire rather than the football transfer window. It’s not quite how some of us might have envisaged Armageddon, but there were enough signs to suggest that the end was nigh; frantic human beings babbling nonsensically on TV, viewers paralyzed by a bleak cocktail of nothingness and despair, the howling winds of Storm Henry rattling against the windows, and of course……Jim Whyte. As 2016 has become a year to mourn the passing of pop culture icons, Monday 1st February marked the death of television itself as Sky Sports directed their cameras backstage just before 9pm to show Jim Whyte marching through the corridor towards his stage like a boxer entering an arena. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to TV and it’s loved ones. #RIP”
The distinct lack of interesting and news-worthy transfer activity should really have been enough to call the whole thing off and revert to regular programming. Or maybe even some re-runs of Deadline Days gone by, when Sky allowed their broadcasts to be invaded by fans outside football grounds who were more interested in simulating sex acts in front of the live cameras than hearing about the latest transfer deals. Happier times. But unfortunately those days are over, and this year viewers were left with footage of an urban fox running across the empty pitch at the Emirates Stadium as the nameless correspondent somehow jammed three separate “fox in the box” puns into his short yet painful bulletin. This was followed by coverage of a tweet that a Deadline Day baby had been born somewhere in England, and had been bestowed the middle name ‘Jim’ in honour of the man of the moment. Sticking with this broadcast requires one of two things in a viewer; a morbid fascination with the pointlessness of humanity, or an unwavering resolve driven by the hope that maybe, just maybe you’ll get to see somebody wave a sex toy across the screen before the night is over.
Despite Sky’s best efforts to create some drama around a potential move for West Brom’s Saido Berahino, even Saido himself was bored to the point where he informed his Twitter followers that he was off to bed just after 10pm. So that’s that, then. Undeterred, Sky’s Hayley McQueen was quick to reassure us; “we’ll let you know if he tweets again”. Thanks Hayley. By this stage Mr.Whyte is in his element – nothing is happening in the transfer market, but for some reason he’s wearing glasses while reading an apparent update coming through on his mobile phone. Or maybe it’s candy crush. It’s hard to tell what’s really going on when the sound of the TV is drowned out by the haunting tones of Jim Morrison inside your head….”this is the end…..beautiful friend, the end”….
As the seconds tick down one could spare a thought for some of the lost souls on a day like today. Like Harry Redknapp, who once revelled in the action but now, out of work and drifting into retirement, is probably leaning out of his car window somewhere on the south coast of England speaking into the intercom of a McDonalds drive-thru, repeating the phrase “smashing lad, triffic, triffic playa” to the confused attendant. Or what about Chelsea’s Captain-Leader-Legend? Another soon to be in the footballing wilderness following his announcement over the weekend that his time at Stamford Bridge will come to an end this summer. As the internet is awash with tributes to Terry, a man not shy of glory and adulation must be moved to tears when he reads “Just the most warm hearted, generous, clever, life affirming man” and “one of the greatest broadcasters who ever lived”. Not since he single-handedly won the Champions League in 2012 has he felt such pride. But now the clock has stopped. Yet Whyte & Co. are still there, talking about nothing, until the ads arrive to give viewers a few minutes to reflect on the meaning of it all. But before we know it they’re back, and what initially seems like our lives flashing before our eyes, is in fact the yellow ‘BREAKING NEWS’ ticker tape flashing on screen to inform us that Hearts have beaten the deadline to sign John Souttar from Dundee United…
“…….my only friend, the end….”