So perhaps a random selection of choice cuts from the Tyrrel CV might give you some idea what kind of character we’re dealing with here.
â€¢ Tom has spent some time as the stadium announcer at Old Trafford.
â€¢ He is the author of The Illustrated History of Manchester United.
â€¢ Finding his writing style particularly suitable to the more visual tome, Tom also tackled the bits between the pictures in The Illustrated Cantona.
â€¢ He also gave David Meek a hand with Manchester United in Europe – The complete journey 1956-2002
â€¢ And finally, he is the author – and possibly a leading evangelist of – Manchester United, The Religion.
Yes, you’ve got the picture. Red Tom is radio’s answer to Clive Tyldesley. When he’s not tucked up in his Keano duvet or swapping his spare Giggsy stickers to fill his United Panini album, Tom is usually commentating on his heroes for one broadcaster or another. If United are away, he might venture as far as Bolton or maybe even Elland Road. Occasionally, he’ll glumly go through the motions covering Man City or Blackburn. He has never been spotted south of Birmingham.
Like Clive, Tom makes little effort to hide his allegiance. In his mind, he has awarded Ruud van Nistelrooy more penalties than even Mike Riley. In charging to the rescue of Gary Neville or Wes Brown, he has screamed for offside more often than Tony Adams and Steve Bould combined. And only Ron and Clive have excused more scything Paul Scholes tackles as “slightly mistimed.”
Such is Tom’s obsession with all things United, that even when success on the pitch temporarily deserts his faves, Tom will find a way to revel in the small victories.
“Against Arsenal, West Brom had a corner after ten seconds, but there’s ten seconds gone now and they still haven’t had a corner so United can say they’ve had a better start than Arsenal.”
His obsession with the men of Trafford aside however, none of Tom’s excitable Premiership commentaries are complete without the following ten staples.
Tom is an old school gent. Normally paired with similarly long-toothed pundits like David Fairclough or Mick Martin, the afternoon is usually spent moaning about how football has become “non-contact” and surmising that some of the foreigners on view “still don’t like it up ’em”.
It always cheers Tom a little when a midfield assassin leaves the foot in:
“It wasn’t a terrible foul but it was quite exciting the way he came in and took his man.”
Even better if one of his heroes is the aggressor:
“Tremendous bad challenge by Sheringham.”
In fact, the worse the tackle the better in Tom’s eyes:
“To bring down one man is good, but three, that must be a record.”
It would be thoroughly unfair, however, to suggest that Tom doesn’t know the difference between right and wrong:
“The crazy thing about throwing things is that you could hit your own players. Though you shouldn’t really throw things at all.”
2. Attention to Detail
There is no sharper eye in football than Tom’s. Or no greater thirst for the kind of detail that might not necessarily be of profound importance to the listener.
“This pitch looks beautiful – mower marks, about ten yards wide, all the way up the pitch … well, maybe not ten yards, maybe about eight yards.”
“There’s a free kick now in the box, just in that little space between the eighteen-yard line and the six-yard line, that little incomplete rectangle. I don’t know what you’d call that geometrically, that three-sided rectangle.”
3. Suspicion of Foreigners
Tom recognizes no political border bar the one surrounding the Republic of Mancunia. They’re all the same these fellows.
“Great challenge by Lauren, excellent tackle by the Frenchman.”
“And speaking of Dutch total football, here’s Wiltord.”
“And Pires goes through the middle, slips it into the net and it’s five-nil. Actually, it was Vieira.
4. Gantry Critiques
Every Tyrrel broadcast features a comprehensive review of the commentary position.
“I was a bit worried about the view from here because of our distance from the pitch, but it’s a brilliant view. BRILLIANT! David (Fairclough) nods.”
“There’s actually a hotel under here … you can actually stay in the private boxes … there are private boxes that convert to bedrooms – though not during the game of course!”
“We are about as far away from the penalty box as the penalty box is from us.”
5. Scientific Approach
Long before ProZone or Opta or any of these new-fangled football statistic services, Tom was providing his own precise analysis of every aspect of play:
“Mart Poom, who we have been saying is such a competent keeper, was at least 60 per cent at fault for the Liverpool goal.”
Nor were the hours spent copying his physics homework entirely wasted:
“The ball stuck to his foot like a magnet attracting a piece of steel, or metal rather.”
“Either there’s a magnet behind the goal with the polarity to draw the ball away from it, or they haven’t got their shooting boots on.”
Funnily enough, the humble science of basic mathematics remains an elusive skill:
“They’ll close the gap on Arsenal to two points. Who knows what the gap might have been if they hadn’t had that hiccup before Christmas and lost to Blackburn and Middlesbrough.
6. Descriptive Powers
“Most of the play is in the middle of the pitch, like a giant Easter egg.”
As opposed to being in one team’s half, like a giant Christmas cake.
“Peter Beardsley used to slide in and hit the ball with the hip – or leg that he wasn’t standing on – if you get my description.”
In truth Tom doesn’t really do metaphors. But he tries his best.
“Owen runs like a rabbit chasing after… what do rabbits run after? They run after nothing…well, running after other rabbits.”
“Not sure what Hoddle is doing there – sticking his backside out and waving his arms about. Just like Christmas time when Dad’s had too much sherry.”
“He can’t turn three times, like Dick Whittington might have done…”
8. Information Content
Tom will not help you glean what’s happening in the football match at which he’s supposedly present. In fact, it might not be entirely unfair to suggest that he’s not actually very good at commentating.
“It’s gotten so exciting I’ve forgotten the score. I had to look at my notes to get it right. It’s 1-1!”
You can’t expect Tom to count as well. What are co-commentators for anyway?
“Great ball. Gooalll. No. Yes. Goal kick.”
“Goalllllll. No. Yes. He’s given it. Has he?”
9. Command Of Language
Eloquence, verbosity, lucidity. No, not Tom.
“Everybody’s swinging at it. It’s like those little men on twirly things you have in the pub.”
“That would have been a tremendous non-goal situation had it beaten Hoult but the flag was up.”
“Van Nistelrooy has become a scoring phenomena.”
10. Sheer Nonsense
There is magic amongst the madness.
“There’s an old saying in football that he who scored next when it’s 3-1 can influence the outcome of the game.”
“Everyone’s looking to the right now. Don’t know why. It’s like when you stand on the street and look up a chimney and everyone looks with you for no reason.”
“Ferdinand, with a big long left knee, cuts that out.”
“Newcastle are finally going to end their London bogey. They haven’t won there since…. a long time ago. That would be a ghost…..no an albatross off their necks.”
“Kanu, who almost created the first goal minutes before it was scored.”