Here love, tuck this in for us please…

Sorry about that but I hate writing articles when my shirt is hanging out.

I, for one, have thoroughly enjoyed the furore caused by the ignorant comments, and subsequent departures from Sky, of Richard Keys and Andy Gray.  I personally believe the incident involving the female assistant referee has been blown out of all proportion, because I truly believe the two presenters considered that particular conversation nothing more than blokey banter, but I don’t care because I don’t much like them.  Gray has always struck me as a nasty piece of work, although not knowing the man personally I could be wide of the mark.  He was, however, an irritant and a whinger during his playing career, although he can at least point to the fact that he had a playing career in the first place, and was employed by Sky as a result of his knowledge of football garnered from playing the game at the very highest levels for a number of years.  TVAM presenter Keys can make no such boast.  This man was a lightweight TV presenter who got lucky… and got very smug as a result.  Neither of these dinosaurs will be missed.

Sadly, football commentary and punditry has suffered a huge drop in standards over the years.  The golden days of ITV football coverage were thirty or more years ago.  Commentators like Brian Moore and Hugh Johns have passed on to the other side, to be replaced by the self-satisfied warblings of the odious Clive Tyldesley; the dulcet tones of Bryon Butler on Radio Two superseded by the biased and controversial bile of Alan Green; Des Lynam, smooth as silk and silver tongued, replaced by the ever-so-smug Gary Lineker, whose butter-wouldn’t-melt reputation was, allegedly, built on a tissue of lies.  And then we have Talksport.

Talksport is tabloid broadcasting at its very worst.  The argumentative, confrontational tone adopted by their presenters isn’t just a disgrace, it is also cowardly.  Those same presenters who invite people to call in and respond to the topics of the day, will cut the caller off in their prime the second they make a comment the presenter can’t respond to or disagrees with.  They are then often mocked on air without recourse to a response.

Talksport’s presenters and so-called experts are a baffling mix of journalists, comedians and footballers, with the odd sexual deviant thrown in for good measure.  Jeremy Kyle, who has made a living out of ridiculing and humiliating chavs and illiterates on a TV programme that is surely watched only by people in velour tracksuits, sometimes has a show on there.  He is a West Ham fan, which is ironic as the majority of the guests on his TV show meet the exact criteria required to be a supporter of the Irons.  Darren Gough is also one of their so-called experts.  If you get a chance, tune in and listen to him giving his thoughts and opinions on the game we love.  It’s like a masterclass in Yorkshire special needs broadcasting.  But Talksport’s piece de resistance comes in the shape of the man who heads up their football coverage and leads their phone-ins: one Stanley Victor Collymore.

So what does it take to become an expert football broadcaster these days?  Well, if you’re the BBC you will probably get it predominantly right.  You might employ a former Scotland international and Liverpool captain who won everything worth winning domestically and in Europe, and talks a lot of sense about the game.  You might choose one of his former team-mates, who gained similar successes in his playing days and is likeable enough, albeit that his ‘jokes’ make you cringe on a regular basis.  You will probably give these two a supporting cast made up of international footballers who weren’t particularly likeable to many of us during their playing days, but have done it all and now talk fair-minded sense about it.  And if you’re Talksport?

If you’re Talksport you might employ the sort of man who, as a player, was sometimes as unpopular in his own dressing room as he was on the terraces of opposing teams.  A man who scored goals and had to celebrate alone.  A man who, despite his undoubted talent, won nothing of note during his career.  A man who last month caused a stir by his obnoxious behaviour in the Chelsea press box.  And you didn’t think I’d forgotten the good stuff, did you?  Talksport think it’s acceptable to employ a man who once attacked his then-girlfriend in a Paris bar, allegedly dragging her to the floor and aiming kicks at her head.  Talksport think it’s acceptable to employ a man who, by his own admission, went out and had sex with strangers in car parks while he was married.  Talksport think it’s acceptable to employ a man who played a significant part in Leicester City being sent home in disgrace from a trip to La Manga.  Talksport think it’s acceptable to employ a man who walked out on Spanish club Oviedo, leading to the club suing him for breach of contract.

Collymore’s behaviour when Villa scored their last minute equaliser at the Bridge was unprofessional and antagonistic.  It is something the current Chelsea board need to deal with in the same style that the old regime would have, by banning the oaf from setting foot in the press box again.  If he wants to behave like that, he should do so in the away end.  And if he wants to contest any ban Chelsea choose to dish out, perhaps the club could simply create a charter of behaviour for attendees of the Stamford Bridge press box, prohibiting access to self-confessed, woman-beating doggers.  I’m sure the female staff in there would feel much safer as a result.

Anyway, I’m off now.  The wife’s waiting for me on the bed.  I’m going up there to teach her the offside rule and then smash it.

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