John Giles is a former Leeds and Ireland midfield maestro now turned grand-old-gent of Irish punditry.

Most of Gilesy’s commentary is devoted to eulogising players with the “moral courage” to “put their foot on the ball” and knock a few “bread-and-butter passes”. Also a strong believer that national stereotyping beats research any day of the week. Italians will always defend well, Africans will be “a little bit naive, Bill” and East Europeans “probably won’t fancy it”, particularly their goalkeepers.

The key to most of Gilesy’s guff triumphs is his unintentional Laurel and Hardy relationship with RTE anchor, Bill O’Herlihy. This double act has got it all…


Billo: “This [UEFA Cup Final] is something of a local derby between Holland and Germany.”
Gilesy: “Er…yeah, they’ve been close to each other for years…”

Wildean Improvisation

Billo: “We’ll draw the winners out of a hat a little later in the programme.”
Gilesy (Rare moment of Frivolity): “A top hat, Bill?”
Billo (quick as you like): “Yes, a top hat, John. We got it out of your wardrobe.”

Gritty Realism
Billo (pre-2002 World Cup): “Sixteen days from now we’ll all walk a little taller. Won’t we, John?”
Gilesy: “Well, er, I don’t think we’ll be any taller, Bill.”

Billo: “So you think they (Arsenal) can score, even in Spain?”

Gilesy “Well I don’t know what you mean by ‘even in Spain’, I mean the goals there are the same size and all that…”

Lively Banter

Billo: “What are you actually saying, John?”
Gilesy: “What am I saying?”
Billo: “Yeah.”
Gilesy: “I would be more confident that we could win this game now than before the game.”
Billo: “You could be a cock-eyed optimist.”
Gilesy: “I’m not.”

Gilesy: “It’s like the old George Formby song Waiting on the Corner.”
Billo: “Leaning on the Lamppost, you mean?”
Gilesy: “Yeah.”
Billo: “Are you going to sing it?”
Gilesy: “No.”

Toeing the party line

Billo: “We’ve a big game tomorrow night. And of course it’s a big game for us as well.”
Giles (grinning): “Yeah, let’s hope everyone is watching.”
Billo: “You’re very sarcastic tonight, John.”
Giles: “I’m not being sarcastic Bill. It’s ahhhh very important. Ahhhh. Ratings. Ahhh.”
Billo: “That’s right, John.”

Gilesy: “I’ve no time for the UEFA Cup at all.”
Billo: “Hold on a second John. We’ve got the final on Wednesday.”
Giles (grinning): “It should be a great final Bill. It always is on RTE.”

The Best Unintentional Gags In Town

Billo: “Carsley lacks a bit of skill in those situations. Let’s call a spade a spade.”
Gilesy: “Yes, Bill, he’s in there to dig.”

But Gilesy has always been able to go solo when the opportunity presented itself:

On the big match atmosphere:
“I’d rather play in front of a full-house than an empty crowd.”

On Spurs’ fallen saviour:
“Hoddle’s career in management has been a bit of a mixed grill.”

Concerned that holding interviews for the Irish manager’s job discriminated against less-eloquent candidates:
“Interviews is a nonsense.”

Defending forwards who go down easily:
“It’s like somebody walking down the street and there’s a big block of wood. If you don’t see it, you’re going to walk into it and fall over.”

What it’s all about?
“A good manager will make eleven players look like a good team, whereas a bad manager will make eleven players look like a bad team.”

On Robbie Keane’s inability to tackle tricky long reds off the top cushion?
“The difference between him playing and Ken Doherty, though he is a big stout-hearted lad, is huge.”

And on the declining standards in world football:
“The problem is, Bill, that the kids nowadays have got personal stereos and higher education.”

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