by THE WANDERER
IF optometry charts were designed by the same people who did Derby County’s home kits, 99 per cent of the English population would be wearing glasses right now.
I’m sure the design process does not take into consideration us humble journalists sitting up in the gods but if there was a person in the iPro Stadium that could read what was written on any of the home players’ shirts from where they were sat, they have my admiration.
I figure you would have to have eyesight better than that sparrowhawk that got stuck inside the furniture factory in Bolton this week to stand a chance of knowing that Jamie Ward was wearing number 10.
For those not in the know, the lettering on the back of the Derby shirts has for some reason been printed in gold, meaning that the glare from the floodlights make it almost unreadable next to the white material.
The Rams are not alone in this – Sheffield United have been habitual offenders over the years with their red and white stripes, and likewise Stoke City.
I have wondered sometimes whether the trick is to relax your eyes and stand 12 yards away like one of those Magic Eye puzzles.
Of course, you get used to the side you see regularly, and should Wanderers do away with names and numbers altogether next season I’d have a fair chance of identifying the player, just as long as it was Zat Knight.
But opposition teams are always a problem. On Tuesday night I spent more time checking with other journalists who had shot, passed or tackled, a few of them have since sent me eye test vouchers for Specsavers.
My back-up was following the Twitter feed of the two respective clubs, although they too seemed to completely differ with their identification of the main protagonists.
Fair play to Dan and Emma at Wanderers, they were quickest on the draw, and by far the more reliable. But it highlights the rather arbitrary nature that things are sometimes done in the press box.
Outside the Premier League it is rare to get television replays, meaning that close calls are often down to a flip of a coin, or a vote among the journalists involved.
Last season, when it was still called Pride Park in fact, Wanderers’ goal was called as an own goal by Richard Keogh by half the press pack and a Craig Dawson header by the other half. The final say (on the day at least) usually goes to the representative of the Press Association – but as good as those guys and girls are, it’s impossible to be certain sometimes. In fact, it’s usually the PA delegate who’s most in a flap when a goal goes in that has any sort of dispute connected with it.
For Saturday games you have the back-up of the Football League Show or similar – but it’s no use in midweek, when the report leaves your laptop within seconds of the final whistle.
People often say to me “were you watching a different game?” and they could be right – I probably was.
I shudder to think how poor a view you get from the away end at some grounds when the vantage point for press is obscured quite so badly.