But he defended comfortably and was rarely in difficulties.714 Martin KeownHis one mistake, when he trod on the ball and let in Shearer, nearly gifted Newcastle an equaliser. Arsenal 1 David Seaman England's best keeper spent most of the first half toning his tan He had just one accurate shot to save in the period. Only looked in trouble when Shearer's second-half shot hit the post.72 Lee DixonWith Ketsbaia favouring 's right, the full-back had few chances to get forward. How much better it might have been had the Beeb gone on to the attack against their terrestrial rivals. What seemed more sinister was that Frankie Dettori, the jockey and Arsenal fan, didn't manage to win in any of the three televised races from Newbury, but did drive home Hard Lines in the untelevised first, thus sparing the presenter Clare Balding the job of sticking an Elastoplast across his gob.Conclusive proof of Auntie's spite came as Marc Overmars' goal was denied even a score-flash over the pictures of the golf.
"Right," Rider could have said, "ITV have got the Cup final to themselves today but you know what the programme will be like - cheesy, celebrity-obsessed, technically incompetent and full of BBC deserters like Bob Wilson, Ruud Gullit, Clive Tyldsley and Skinner and Baddiel."This wouldn't have been far from the truth considering that ITV failed to get the sound for an on-pitch interview with Kenny Dalglish and tried desperately to work up a complete non- story about the Newcastle coach breaking down - the team bus, not Dalglish - into a crisis.The big story of the day, however, could not be spun in any favourable way because it goes to the heart of the problem - that a great BBC Sports Department, nurtured over decades, has been betrayed by its bean-counting masters who know the price of everything and the value of nothing.. The censorship was so severe that even Football Focus had been mysteriously renamed Cricket Focus, as though viewers wouldn't know that the biggest event in the domestic sporting calendar was taking place.As kick-off time came and went, the words "football", "Newcastle", "Wembley" or "Arsenal" had still not passed Rider's pursed lips and the golf commentators at the Benson and Hedges International had obviously been briefed not to use the word "cup" whenever anybody was putting. This may be consistent with the psychology of the jilted but for Grandstand, the trauma of separation also appeared to transform the programme into the equivalent of Miss Havisham, Dickens' embittered old spinster who never got to cut her wedding cake.We have been told, for instance, that Alan Shearer was to broadcast one of those celebrity tributes to "75 Years of the BBC" immediately before the start of Grandstand but on my set, it looked more like the Scottish shipyard welder-turned- comedian Billy Connolly than the millionaire son of a Geordie sheet metal- worker.You immediately suspected that orders had come from high places to blank Shearer from the screens because the top brass had belatedly realised that he had something to do with the "F-word", which they weren't prepared to have on air. "Shearer, Shearer, what's the score?" chanted the Arsenal fans. "England's number one," replied the Toon Army, faithful to the last All England will hope they are right.. ALL AROUND our sun-drenched country yesterday, thousands of weddings took place, apart, that is, from the inevitable few where grooms or brides arrived at the church only to find that their intended loved ones had gone off with somebody else. The emotions these poor abandoned creatures felt would have been shared by all those at BBC Sport, who had to face up to the fact that their companion for over 60 years, a glittering eye-catcher called the FA Cup final, was no longer theirs but had legged it with a wedged-up geezer by the name of ITV. But rather than cancel the wedding breakfast, BBC's Grandstand, which had been dating the dame in question since 1958, decided to clench its teeth and proceed as though the former love of their life had not existed.Indeed, the words "cup" and "final" had plainly been erased from host Steve Rider's script.
Moments after half-time, a fleeting chance to turn and run at Adams ended in a predictable cul-de-sac. Driven wide he played in Pistone, only for the Italian to deposit a long cross into the crowd.Even the finale reflected a wretched half-season. Within minutes, as Newcastle mustered an incoherent counter-attack or two, Shearer had driven a left-foot shot against the foot of the right-hand upright and Anelka drifting in behind the static Steve Howey had punished the miss with a sweet cross shot.In the closing seconds, a thumping Shearer shot was blocked at close range by the towering Adams and a free-kick from 25 yards rocketed wide. Living off scraps is the prerequisite for great strikers, but bird crumbs? We have seen pride and prejudice accompany Shearer this season; some persuasion will be needed to keep him at St James' Park beyond the autumn. Anything similar in the World Cup and Shearer will spend much of his time in France en vacance. Had his punishment for the Neil Lennon incident been a month in the Scrubs, Shearer could not have suffered more than he did in the sunshine of Wembley.A first half spent in fruitless negotiation with Paul Durkin, the referee, ended with a hotly disputed claim for a penalty as Adams armed appeared mysteriously around his neck and a nasty, retaliatory, foul on the Arsenal captain which earned him a booking. Adams, unflappable as ever, and Shearer, with that foot-splayed farmer's gait, surprisingly awkward for such a fine athlete.