I call them Crusoe moments. As sweet to behold as that famous footprint in the sand: the sudden realisation that it’s not just you.
So it was when I joyously read this well-argued plea in Vice Sports that maybe it’s time the post-match interview was going the way of the supporter’s rattle.
Boy, is Will Magee pushing at an open door here. I can’t remember how long ago it first dawned on me that all that huff and puff to be first with the reaction bore little relation to the calibre of end-product, but it’s been a while.
Has anyone in TV and radio land twigged yet; or is it the realisation that dare not speak its name? Mix testosterone and adrenalin, stir in frustration and anger and garnish with the still-fresh echoes of a baying crowd and you have just about the worst candidate possible for an incisive post-game interview.
I don’t care if you’ve bagged the reincarnations of Oscar Wilde and Sir Peter Ustinov for your after-match ‘exclusive’, if they’ve just spent 90 minutes putting bodies on the line in a local derby, what follows will still fall some way short of their best work.
Were it simply players who momentarily had mush for brains, the exercise would be almost futile but its fate is sealed by interrogators for whom there are no such excuses.
In my days working in football, I always knew when an interview was being forced. I would find myself not so much asking questions as getting players to react to my statements. Sadly, even with national media, this approach seems standard these days, accompanied by its bastard twin, the fatuous statement tarted up as a question.
“How important was it to break that 12-game losing streak today?” is several seconds of our lives that none of us are getting back.
In a perfect world, there would be a perfect time for the post-game interview. Roughly 18 hours post-game. Envisage a mid-morning magazine programme, called, Now That Everyone’s Calmed Down, in which reporters around the country pop in on key protagonists from the afternoon before to ask for their reflections on the game over coffee and croissants.
Picture Wayne Rooney, roaring fire, kids playing happily at his feet. Colleen playfully ruffling his hair as she deposits a cheeky little Danish on his plate before heading off to the sauna.
Yes, even Wayne Rooney might surprise you in those circumstances. Relaxed, expansive, maybe even offering the occasional hint of whimsy.
In the less-than-perfect world we’re stuck with, however, we must make do with simple damage limitation. Know this, interviewers – unless your question boils down to, “We couldn’t see from the grandstands: what happened?” It’s probably not worth asking.
So don’t bring us your brain-fried, your surly, or your reluctant for pathetic stabs at enlightenment after the final whistle. Just bring yourself: yes you, Mr/Ms broadcast journalist. You’re trained in articulation, you’ve watched football for years, you spend all week immersing yourself in little else. Tell us what you made of it all, instead. Would it really be so less enlightening than the musings of a painfully shy full-back, high as a kite on hormones?
And who knows how it might play out, were Mourinho & Co to find dark, empty spaces where there were once galaxies of flashbulbs and a forest of microphones waiting for them. Maybe it would be a tiresome weight off their shoulders after all, as their body language so often suggests.
Or maybe, just maybe, there might be a few little feelers put out from PR managers at Premier League clubs, after several months of this media indifference. If the editor can spare you, just a friendly little get-together over lunch with the gaffer, maybe?
You know, to build some bridges…