Football people on TV: Alan Brazil

Date published: Friday 6th May 2016 12:47

This week poor Johnny has to turn on talkSPORT and listen to Alan Brazil. His loins are girded.


Fashion police
Astonishingly distinctive physique.

Will wear a bright sports shirt.

Also favours a checked shirt.

And the plain Lacoste t-shirt.

Loves the XXL and must surely enjoy an elasticated waist when not on duty. Suits tend to be bold pinstripes and shirts, perhaps inevitably open-necked. When dressed smart, he has the air of a man who runs the bar at a golf club, or a sales rep who sells shirts in cellophane packets to service stations.

Impressive large globular head which resembles a swollen liver, and, in the manner of a chameleon, or litmus paper, seems to change colour from pale pink to purple depending on the weather and the amount of drink consumed.


Lingo bingo
Weirdly announces himself with the word ‘maaarnin’ which sounds west country or Irish, not Govan Scottish. Whole shtick is based on being the man at the bar who speaks his mind even if it offends everyone but justifies it with the sentence “I’m entitled to my opinion” or its close cousin “whatever happen to free speech?”.

The whole of his show is conducted like it’s a chat between mates in the pub, so there’s a louche quality to it all and that’s what his listeners must love about it. Everything is Banter and pretty much all forgotten as soon as it’s fallen out of the guests’ faces.

Very much not Scottish anymore, with only a trace of Glaswegian remaining.


Hits and misses
His big and only hit is The Sports Breakfast on TalkSPORT. A marathon four-hour thing, it is a space he’s made all his own, with a mix of bluster, populist ranting and bog-standard football opinion. I’m fairly sure it’s not meant to be insightful, or educated, in fact I almost think its selling point is the fact it’s stuff you’ve heard many times before and is thus sort of comforting. But it’s hard to get and to keep an audience, and anyone who can do that over a long tenure is doing something right in modern media.

Sports Breakfast is the folded copy of The Sun on the dashboard of the white van of life; to some a badge of self-identity, to others a marker of a certain sort of low-rent stupid.

Misses are legion and too many to list, but include mistaking dead people for being alive, getting players’ names wrong, being unsympathetic towards people who commit suicide, cringing at women sports commentators and…well…the list goes on and on. He even ‘wrote’ a book called Both Barrels with Mike Parry to further give vent to his rage at ‘numpties’. It makes Jeremy Clarkson’s books, fans of which this was surely marketed at, genuinely seem clever, erudite and well-crafted works.

It is essentially a bloke shouting about stuff he doesn’t like and casting opinions around with absolutely nothing to back them up. Fair enough, I suppose, but it is hardly uplifting stuff and often feels like you’re listening to a drunk at a UKIP meeting. Then again, there’s quite a big audience for that in England, though not so much – ironically enough for the Govan man – in Scotland.

I can do no better than quote Taylor Parkes’ review in When Saturday Comes:

‘It’s not Alan’s right-wing politics that stand out, so much as his aggressive ignorance: not only does he not have a clue what he’s talking about, he’s deeply distrustful of anyone who does. A true bar-room philosopher, Alan resents “so-called experts” more than anyone, because somehow they never seem to agree with him. Clearly, they must have no “common sense”.’


However, it has to be said, AB isn’t really making any claims to be anything other than a shouty, opinionated sort. In that sense, his whole gig is at least honest. There’s no pretence it is anything other than what it is. Maybe that is also one of its selling points to listeners. Some may tune in in order to hear an un-PC gaff and even find the host drunk, as has happened in the past.


Big club bias
Oh yeah, because you probably get more champagne at the big clubs.


Loved or loathed
Genuinely disliked by many. ‘A right-wing knob’ was one short comment which summed up many longer dissertations. Those who loathe him so do because of his trading on reactionary views about all the usual things, which broadly fall into the ‘political correctness gone mad’ rag-bag of predictability. Dislike of multiculturalism, lefties, liberals and basically anybody who disagrees with his unashamedly uninformed outlook. My social media research found people offended to the point of disgust by his views on everything from suicide, to depression, to women, to immigration and race. For many, numerous gaffs pitch him somewhere between a joke and a boor. The word ‘dinosaur’ also comes up a lot. His comments about Robin Williams’ suicide were especially poorly received.

This all being said, others who have encountered him report a garrulous, funny man who was easy to get along with.

Those who don’t object to him bad-mouthing someone so depressed they felt unable to continue living, must like the fact that he shoots his mouth off about things without paying any heed to what anyone thinks, or to what the greater effect might be. To many people this is a good thing. It’s just banter and they think it’s brave and one in the eye for the PC panty-wetters. They find him a good laugh and excuse anything a little too near the bone as an inevitable slip when you’re busking four hours of live broadcasting. Many who share his views do feel marginalised, rightly or wrongly; they feel you can’t say anything these days without someone calling you sexist, racist and an ignorant tw*t. In some ways Brazil’s career is built on the scaffolding of a divided society. A divided society which looks at each other with increasing bewilderment and wonders who the hell the other lot are and why are they ruining it for everyone else?


Proper Football Man
A founding member. As a Glaswegian, technically he’s also the Scottish version, a Real Football Man and he does conform to that by saying he listens to Simple Minds more than anyone else and even went to school with Jim Kerr and Charlie Burchill, but he has no credibility north of the border. Apparently, he goes on about being a big Celtic man all the time, but a few months ago he was asked on air to name one player in the current team and he couldn’t manage it. This was no great surprise to anyone.

However, living and working in England for so long qualifies him for platinum PFM status and that most coveted of roles: boss of the PFM refreshments tent. Red wine tastes better out of a pint glass, Clive. A bucket full of champagne? Why not, Jeff? An absolutely worldy boozer with few equals, he is the only PFM who Reidy tells to slow down. Says his favourite wine is Amarone, which is also one of the strongest. Of course it is.

Indeed, many would have you believe that Reidy’s concoctions are simply weaker versions of Brazil’s cocktails coddled together from any intoxicants that are nearby at any point in the day. Brake fluid, varnish and Carly Special? No problem, son and any ‘so-called expert’ who says it’ll make your head massive is an idiot.

His show is full of PFMing from the top rank of the cabal. If it’s not Reidy himself, it’ll be Romford Pele, Micky Quinn, someone with Big as a prefix to his name or possibly just Sean Dyche barking. Like tourists who only order British food when abroad, their football insight is drawn from a very narrow menu and it tends to be opinion brought to the facts, rather than opinion derived from the facts, or altered by the facts. ‘Arry is a regular and all PFM comments, no matter how banal and obvious, are hailed as wonderful insight, even if they contradict a previous viewpoint, which in ‘Arry’s case, they probably will. Redknapp’s and Allardyce’s anti-foreign, free-form extemporisations are the PFM set text, pinned to the wall of the talkSPORT studio.

What has become the template for the Proper Football Man, simplistic football outlook, the paranoia about the modern world, the fact you can get sacked for calling a bin bag black, the foreigns coming over here and making our kids fat, or whatever, the women getting uppity, no offence darlin’, the liberal tosspots and immigrants ruining a once-great country, and blokes who are so gay that they’re a lesbian, making us all use the same toilets, it’s all present and correct, either literally or in spirit, in the Brazil armoury and it all illicits nods from those of a similar bent. Throw in the drink-driving conviction, the gee-gees, and owning a pub which went bust and you’ve got the recipe for the whole foetid congregation.

Drinkers like drinking far more than anything more lothario-themed, so AB will be happy to spill out of reactionary Ipswich nightclub The Bigoted C*nt at 4.27am but it will not be with Miss Low Self-Esteem 1968, it will be with a jeroboam in each hand. Similarly, inflicting cruel and unusual punishment in post-nightclub japes is really only using up valuable drinking time. And they’d never get him in a shopping trolley anyway.


Beyond the lighted stage
Has a range of nuts, profits from which go to Bobby Robson’s Trust. Was abused as a boy at Celtic Boys Club and went to court to successfully testify against the perp. Can’t help wondering what fabulously insensitive comment he’d make about such a thing at 6.30am after an hour’s sleep and several bottles of Moet. Loves the horses. And drinking. The rest of his time is probably spent with Mike Parry shouting unsubstantiated opinion into the cold night air.


John Nicholson

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