Earliest footballing memory?
Being taken to Woolworth’s by my parents to get a colouring book to occupy me while they watched the 1983 FA Cup Final, and kicking up the mother of all tantrums in the shop because they wouldn’t buy me a Postman Pat book instead.
Commentating role model?
Barry Davies. Erudite, educated and incisive. Proof that a great commentary doesn’t need hyperbole and a faked sense of drama to hit the spot.
Best view in the Premier League is probably at Eastlands, though I was rather taken with being perched on the roof at Colchester’s new stadium last season.
How can you tell if a girl is really into you?
All about the hair-touching. If she flicks her hair, you’re in. Unless it’s quite clearly a nervous tic.
Egg-chasing, is it right?
Never been a fan of the chasse d’oeuf. I can’t accept a game where the ball isn’t allowed to be passed forward. Football has a beauty, and a fluidity, while rugby appears to be decided more on physicality and battering the opposition into conceding points rather than breaking them down largely through ability. At our school, if you were fat you were a prop, if you were thin you were a back. Skill never really came into it. That said, the respect the players show to the match officials is absolutely wonderful – if football adopted that, we’d be heading in the right direction.
Bramley Apple Pies or French Fancies?
French Fancies – eaten to a strict method. Bite off icing on the flat sides first, then the fondant bit on top, leaving yourself with a perfect cube of spongy goodness.
Have you ever sat on a subs bench and silently cheered when your team conceded?
Well, as a member of the Goalkeeper’s Union, I’d never openly celebrate one of my “own” letting one in. But, yes…
Best commentary you’ve ever done?
The one I’m proudest of is probably the Spain-USA game in the Group Stage at the 2009 Under-17 World Cup. Full house of 20,000 on a balmy night in Kano, Nigeria. Spain down to ten men after a few seconds, USA go one up, then the Spanish turn on the style. The winning goal from Pablo Sarabia was a peach of a volley – and I think I did it, and the game justice. That’s for others to decide though!
For all this talk about Mad Men, Grange Hill was better wasn’t it?
Grange Hill, in the Gonch and Trevor Cleaver days. With the sausage-theft opening titles. Actually, in our house, Grange Hill was more-or-less banned until I was a teenager. Better hope my mum doesn’t read this.
Game you’d most like to commentate on?
Easy. Black Country derby – Wolves v West Brom.
Barry Davies or Motty?
Davies. Le Roi. That’s not to say Motty’s not an utter legend too though. And Tony Gubba was part of the soundtrack to my childhood also.
Favourite commentary of all time?
King Barry again – England-Sweden at EURO ’92. The “Brolin, Dahlin, BROLIN!” goal. Simplicity, yet utterly memorable.
Worst gaffe you’ve made on air?
Not one I made, but one my co-commentator made. In Norwich’s last Premier League season, Norwich arranged to have their bigger games beamed back to Carrow Road, to be shown on a big screen, where I’d do the commentary, alongside a Canary luminary. For the game at Arsenal, the co-commentator was a prematurely-retired ex-winger, and a smashing chap. All was going brilliantly until Jens Lehmann overreacted to a push from Darren Huckerby, and the two squared up. “I ‘ate him, that Lehmann,” offered my co-comm, followed by “he’s a right pleb!”. Cue stunned silence from myself…
Finest personal sporting achievement?
Raised a few quid for The Alzheimer’s Society by running the Birmingham half-marathon last year, but as a nipper I kept goal for largely rubbish sides. Lots of practice, but precious few trophies.
Last time football made you jump out of your seat?
Commentating on the South American Under-20s earlier this year – Yohandry Orozco scored an absolute peach of a goal against Peru – picked the ball up in his own half, beat five or six defenders, and then belted it into the top corner from 25 yards. When you see something like that, you realise what a wonderful game ours is.
Brazil or Argentina?
Argentina. For all the wonderful talent, there’s always something slightly swivel-eyed and deliciously lunatic about them. Antonio Rattin kicking lumps out of England, Menotti puffing through a packet of 20 during a game, Kempes wearing shorts tight enough to castrate, and of course Diego himself. As the psychiatrist in Fawlty Towers said “there’s enough here for an entire conference!”.
Gentleman Jim Robinson or Big Alf Stewart?
Jim all the way – I defy anyone of my age not to watch the final episode of The X-Files and not shout “it’s Jim Robinson!” when the conspiracy guys are sat round the table. I always suspected he and Helen Daniels were having a little something they shouldn’t have been.
Summer Bay or Mangrove River?
Never liked Home and Away – my teatime loyalties always lay in Ramsay Street.
What football team do you support?
One half of the aforementioned Black Country derby.
What’s the best ever football song?
When I was at school, a few mates and I used to go along to watch Stourbridge FC in what was then the Beazer Homes League. One of our party, took something of a dislike to a player called Ian Crawley, I think playing for Rushden & Diamonds, in their formative years. “Crawley – you’re a transvestite” he chanted, in a close-to-breaking-going-through-puberty voice for the entire first half, until, taking a throw, the player turns to him and says “it’s OK, my mum knows.”
Who are the long-term replacements for Andy Gray and Richard Keys?
Personally, I think Gray will be the harder to replace, it’s a job plenty of ex-players think they can do, but precious few can do well. I think so far Sky have deliberately not set out to replace the pair with like-for-like. Long-term replacements will emerge gradually, I imagine.
Evran Wright – goalscoring legend of Stourbridge’s 1993 Barclays Commercial Services Cup winning side against Dover. Up the Glassboys!
Commentating Dream-team (past or present, can’t pick yourself)
Anchor: Des Lynam
Three Pundits: Alan Hansen, Graeme Souness & Jimmy Hill
Commentator: Barry Davies
Co-commentator: Trevor Brooking