Unexplainable arrogance, self-importance and laziness: The Punditry Awards

by J Peterman

2012/13 – a vintage year for football punditry and broadcasting. Not so much vintage wine, rather second hand, stained jeans. Nevertheless, the season is over and it’s time to find out – just who was the most self-important journalist of the year? Who was the laziest/scruffiest (the double!) TV personality of the year? Which pundit displayed the most unexplainable arrogance? And who failed to make waves on the airwaves? Ladies and Gentlemen – the so called big four of the punditry world, revealed:

Scruffiest/laziest TV personality of the year – Adrian Chiles

An award that went straight to the wire. For a long time Adrian Chiles was just an outside bet, only really staying in contention for his outright refusal to flatten that bit of hair at the back of his head that makes it look like he sleeps in the ITV studios. As of last Saturday, it was a straight shoot-out between Alan Hansen and Mark Lawrenson. The former for his insistence on communicating only through grunts and raised eyebrows, the latter for provoking those exact responses from the whole nation for his choice in Blackpool rock inspired shirts that somehow make him look like a Walnut Whip.

However, on Sunday Chiles trumped the pair. During an erroneous link, he was seen with a black rucksack next to him on the ITV sofa. Analyst Gareth Southgate joked that they contained his sandwiches. Mud sticks. Is it really hard to believe that Chiles spends every available second when off air stuffing his face with anything ranging from a Ginsters Steak Slice to a Ginsters Chicken and Mushroom Slice? In fact, once that image is instilled in your head it’s hard to argue that every clip you have ever seen of him hasn’t contained crumbs falling down his face and right down his (overly) unbuttoned shirt. Chiles has become this generation’s Schrödinger’s cat – except instead of a cat concealed with acid being hypothetically both alive and dead when out of sight, we have an off-air scruff with a bag – simultaneously hungry and full to the unseen eye.

Most self-important journalist of the year – Oliver ‘Ollie’ Holt

Despite what his Alice band and Medusa hairstyle might suggest, Oliver Holt is actually able to keep a cool head most of the time.  In fact, who can forget his memorable foray into the world of Junior Sunday League to berate around 500 parents for their disgusting behaviour and treatment of the ‘beautiful’ game? Well, you could be forgiven for forgetting it, mainly because the chances are it didn’t happen at all despite Holt’s modest double page spread on his heroics.  Strolling over to watch a bit of football (Holt loves football), our spaghetti haired hero proceeded to tell the gathered parents they were a disgrace for using bad language and then, strangely, explained that they were tarnishing the good name of the game being beamed around the world by Barcelona.  As comparisons go, Holt may as well have denounced alcohol abuse over a pint with his name sake (and, in ‘Oliver’ at least, hairsake) Oliver Reed. ‘But this happened years ago!’ I hear you cry (it did, I don’t) but it does highlight that Holt’s award winning rant this year was not a one off, head up arse trick, rather a continuation of a theme.

Holt excelled himself this year with the written equivalent of a seven year old schoolchild with a megaphone shouting at anyone who’ll listen, hysterically. He supposedly witnessed racist chanting at an England match in San Marino, a claim which, in truth, is not hard to believe at all. Furthermore nobody would deny that such chanting should not be tolerated and those found guilty of such should be severely punished.  What Holt did fail to grasp though was that one man (no matter how rubbish his hair, or how Coronation Street his mother) saying he may have heard something from a distance, sang by an indeterminate amount of people he could not identify, did not really constitute sufficient evidence. In the absence of any timelords currently within the FA hierarchy it was unlikely action could be brought against this anonymous group of unisex football fans aged between 2-94. When no action was forthcoming Holt went ballistic and mentioned it at least once in his next 400 columns before disappearing so far up his own arse that a second head appeared under his Alice band, forcing him to have a haircut before his next appearance on Sky Sports early morning mutual wankathon – ‘The Sunday Supplement.’ The only thing missing from his faultless testimony was a late, Lionel Hutz style reveal that he was not wearing a tie all along.

Special Mention: Any Jonathan Wilson appearance anywhere. The only man on the planet who decided that what football needed was a hybrid of Will Self and a 14 year old with his own subscription to World Soccer Magazine.

Worst radio ‘personality’ of the year – Danny Kelly

This particular wing of the TalkSport attack on ear drums nationwide truly has to be heard to be believed. Then heard again by a second person. Then discussed by a ‘Did We Really Listen To That?’ committee before having his own confessional column in ‘Yes, You Heard Me’ magazine.  Unlike the likes of Holt and Wilson – I don’t get the impression Kelly loves the sound of his own voice – rather he is just unable to acknowledge the existence of anybody else once he starts to speak. To listen to him on any of his shows is the equivalent of putting your head in the middle of a tornado and trying to immediately explain what has happened when your head pops out.

Kelly promises much in his show. Literally. Around 90% of his time is spent telling you what he is going to discuss later in the show – a time which never actually arrives. When he is joined by a guest he tells them he will soon be asking them questions before waltzing off on another whim about his favourite type of Moon (Moon type).  Ultimately, he is harmless and does seem like he might actually be a decent person. As a radio presenter though, he’s a whirlwind of awful. God help everyone in his upcoming link up with long-time friend and even longer term howling buffoon Danny Baker.

Special Mention: Perhaps worthier winners would have been frequent 5 live contributors Robbie Savage and Jason Roberts. Never short of an opinion, sadly it is the same one every week; that YOU cannot possibly understand a point they are making because you have never played the game at the highest level. A stance sorely lacking from the 5 live editorial team when it was suggested these two could talk on air, despite never previously having done so at any level. For those wondering about the absence of Darren Gough – that would have been the equivalent of rewarding a baby for soiling its own nappy.

Most unexplainable arrogance award – Garth Crooks

Have you seen how Garth Crooks carries himself on television? Not physically of course, there aren’t arms strong enough in the world for that, but with his attitude to those unfortunate to be in his presence for the entirety of ‘Final Score.’ Granted, it must be hard to show an ounce of respect for Robbie Savage but the way Crooks dismisses opinions and questions alike from anyone around him make him not only the winner of this award but also Exhibit A in the upcoming ‘the BBC are just taking the piss now’ legal case. The only surprise is that, to date, he hasn’t actually got up from his chair and attacked Gabby Logan such is his obvious disdain for being challenged on any of his opinions (ranging from ‘give referees a telescope’ to ‘why can’t players throw the ball in the goal?’). His gaze when focused on ‘the action’ off camera is terrifying and I for one will be a lot happier when he is off our screens for good, while slightly fearful for what it might push him to.

Special Mention: Matt Smith and Gabriel Clarke – the ‘Thinking Man’s’ broadcasters. If the man was thinking ‘I wonder how ITV can fill my screen with sheer, unexplainable smug and poetry bordering on ‘Oh Wet Pet!’

So there we have it. The awards have been dished out and now the ‘main players’ will be straight back off to work, eager to do all they can to get their hands on next year’s big awards.  Except Alan Hansen of course, who will be sleeping.

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