Chris talks about singing Mandy in Tenerife, tells us Ron is not a racist, and disputes some of the guff allegations against him. Unbelievable.
You certainly sound as if you like your job, Chris
I love my job. It’s a privilege to do what I do. The only downside – and it’s not even really a downside – is the traveling.
I suppose being Sky’s most ubiquitous pundits involves a lot of time on the motorway.
Yeah. I’m here today. In Cardiff tomorrow. Saturday, I’m doing Blackburn versus West Brom. Saturday night, I’m going to go down to London for Goals On Sunday, then home again and same again the week after. It’s tiring but it’s a fantastic job and that’s what holidays are for I suppose.
Would you fancy getting back into the game?
Well… Not last season, but the season before, I did some work at Bansley with Glen Hodges on a voluntary basis. And then Kevin Blackwell left Sheffield United to go to Leeds and Neil Warnock offered me the Assistant job but I spoke to Sky and they said they were happy with everything I was doing. And I was happy so I stuck with it. Then last November Bradford came knocking and asked me to manage the club. But they didn’t have that much money to spend on players and under those circumstances I said no, and suggested Bryan Robson was the best man for the job – and he went and took it on.
Then at the end of this season, Sky called me in and offered me a new three year deal and that’s it. So the football’s really taken a back seat. It’s still something I’d really like to do but it’s trying to fit it in.
We’ve seen you prancing up and down your goalline on Goals on Sunday. You do a bit of goalkeeping coaching don’t you? How did you get into that?
I do everything yeah. When I did my badges at Lilleshall, I decided to educated myself on every aspect of the game – or try to. It’s the same as any job, to talk about it, you have to be able to do it. So when we have goalkeepers on Goals on Sunday and I get on my goalline and stuff, it’s great when they can’t find a problem with what I’m saying.
So what else to you get up to outside of TV?
I do a bit of singing.
Tell us more.
I sing with a band called OKTC. Having said that, I haven’t sung with the lads for over a year now. But we’ve got a gig coming up at a golf day.
What kind of stuff do you do?
I do Brown Eyed Girl, Stuck in the Middle With You, Mustang Sally all that type of stuff.
Oh yeah. I do Mandy by Barry Manilow and all that. Actually [little plug coming up, sadly too late now for the gig] I’m singing at the Symphony Hall in Birmingham in August for Carers charity, who kindly invited me along.
Fair play sir!
There’s load of Irish singers there actually. Fergal O’Flaherty and Bob Brolley. Loads of Irish guys, but I’m gatecrashing as an English singer.
[Nodding sagely as if we’d heard of Flaherty and Brolley] Sounds great. Any more gigs coming up we could catch?
Well, my mate Greg’s got a pub in Tenerife, The Hole in the Wall, and I always go along there and do a bit in me three week holiday.
Back to the punditry. Tell us about your signature. “Unbelievable”
That’s actually going to be the title of my book, which is going to come out at the end of next year. We cut the deadline too short for this year. It was something I didn’t even know I said until Jeff and the lads highlighted it and made it stick.
There’s even a t-shirt out there.
Yeah, 365 did one. I consider it an honour, even though I don’t earn a penny out of it. They even asked me to have my photo taken with it on and I did it. This agent fellow said to me “you’re mad”. “Not only are they making a fortune out of you but you’ve endorsed it”. Ha ha ha. Having said that, I get paid decent amount for the job I do and if someone wants to make a few quid out of me, good luck to them.
Admirable sentiments indeed. Now then, what about the time you told Rob MacAffrey that Graham Taylor was the man who straightened out Elton John. You sure about that?
Ha, ha, ha. Yeah, I didn’t have a clue I’d said it until Graham highlighted it. The humour part of Goals on Sunday is what it’s all about really. People tuning in on a Sunday morning want a nice relaxed atmosphere and a bit of a laugh and we do our best to give them that.
Any other nice gaffes you can tell us about?
Oh, let me think. I make em all the time, but I can never remember. You’ve probably got a few. You tell me.
Well, we liked “It’s been end-to-end stuff. Unfortunately it’s all been up Forest’s end”
Ha ha ha. Give us another.
Statistics are there to be broken.
Ha ha ha.
He went down like a pack of cards.
Ha ha.. hold on, I still don’t see anything wrong with that.
Welllll. It’s a house of card isn’t it Chris? A pack of cards would, you know, go down rather quicker.
Yeah exactly. So where’s the problem?
Well, yeah, fair point, but, you know, a house of cards would go down all over the place [frantic miming of the collapsing of a house of cards]
Ah, yeah, I see your point. Ha ha ha.
Not to worry. We’ve heard worse. What about Big Ron? Do you see any way back for him?
I’d like to think so. He’s a pal of mine. He was a bit upset lately after the Sky One programme that he did a bit for and I did a bit. I told them Ron was a pal of mine and would always me a pal of mine but that’s the one thing you can’t do is mention the “N” word on television. But it was a mistake and he’s apologised so how long does he have to suffer for that? I don’t know. But he’ll never do it again and he’s not a racist. I’ve been in his company millions of time and he treats me fantastic.
Ron is not a racist, in your view?
Well, certainly any time I’ve been in his company, he has a laugh and a joke. He looks after you and I’ve never suspected anything in the time I’ve been around him. We’ve all made mistakes and been in situations that you don’t want to ever be in again. But time’s a great healer and hopefully will be for Ron.
Do you speak Ronglish?
Not really no, I’m afraid.
OK them. It’s dream team time. Commentating dream team that is. Anchor first…
Well, I’m not just saying this because he’s here with me, but Jeff would be the best anchor by a mile. There’s not a thing he couldn’t turn his hand to.
For me, it has to be Andy Gray and Martin Tyler. Andy Gray because he sees thing very very quickly and conveys to the public what he’s seen better than anyone else.
Martin Tyler and I go back a very long way. My first ever football game with Portsmouth in 1975, Martin commentated on it for Southern television and we’ve followed each other’s careers since then.
As far as partnership’s go those two are fantastic. They may not get on fantastically well, but as a team…
What? Hold on. You mean Tyler and Gray don’t get on?
Wellll, I think they’re OK. I just think they get on better on TV than they do off-screen.
Interesting. Two pundits then?
Ahhhhh. Alan Hansen. I like him. I think maybe he’s become a bit of a caricature of himself – but then so have I. When he first started, he was very good and to the point and spoke football language which is what people want to hear.
Alongside him, I’d have Gordon Strachan for his humour and his wit.
Motty or Davies?
Best commentary of all time?
They think it’s all over. 1966
That’s great Chris. Thanks for your time.