John Nicholson and Alan Tyers turn their attention to Alan Shearer, BBC Big Beast, Barclays ticket delivery boy and all-round football leg end
All sharp, fitted shirts and dad trousers, Big Wor Sir Al dresses like the sort of 40-something bloke who would give a disrespectful youngster a proper tune up outside a nightclub called Martinis. Shirts manage that special trick of looking both very expensive and kind of cheap. Looks disdainfully on men who dress in clothes that suggest a creative spirit. Anyone in a brightly patterned shirt at a golf club can expect a stern rebuke from Alan. Low slung trousers drive him to barely suppressed rage. Has had little hair for 20 years, which is obviously a highly amusing thing, to Alan.
Most people from the Newcastle area are regarded as chipper sorts, and generally get a bit patronised. Call centres, for instance, are often in the North East partly because studies show that customers respond positively to people with those sort of accents. The town is after all, full of comely ladies with those warbly voices which make even innocuous statements sound like an invitation to a wild sex party. But none of this loveliness has rubbed off on Wor Al, whose tone is the very definition of the low hum of monotony. His Barclays voice-over ads reaching a nadir of inexpressive droning.
Hits & Misses
Was for a long time a serial offender on the “Say What You See” school of punditry. Also made it very clear that learning about Foreigns, or attempting tactical analysis, was for nerds and weeds. Said that nobody knew much about Ben Arfa, despite the fact that the player was a French international. His argument against using video technology “we’d have nothing to talk about in the pub afterwards” still causes this column to grind its teeth every now and again.
All that said, he has begun to make more of an effort over the last couple of years. He genuinely loves exciting, explosive football and he now makes an effort to communicate that to viewers. His tactical analysis has progressed from a reading age of about four to a sort of middle school level. Baby steps and that. He is never going to be much in the way of punditry, but then, as England’s last world-class forward, he has a certain Botham-ish gravitas.
Big Club Bias
Well, obviously, he’s mad keen on Newcastle. And for that he deserves our sympathy. Interestingly, saves some special vitriol for those who own and run the club, which stands him in good stead with fans.
Loved or loathed
Suffers more than most for vitriol carried over from his playing days – Manchester United rejection and all that. A hard figure to love, for any regular TV watcher. Half of this column was travelling to Edinburgh on a train with 12 Rangers fans all of whom, as the train pulled out of Newcastle, began chanting as one, ‘f**k off Shearer’. And not just once, but all the way to Berwick. This is quite revealing. Shearer is still a high enough profile and important enough football person to still attract Scottish ire long after his playing career is over. Also, we suspect, had he been on the train, he’d have bloody loved it and would have joined the lads, grinning in that self-satisfied way, at the acclaim that an ordinary working class lad has found his life attracting.
Proper Football Man
Committee member. Loves the golf, male company, jokes about being slow and or bald. Like any good Geordie, can drink own weight in ale before moving on to what he still calls shorts. Any interview, ever, about Shearer always contained a line “despite his serious public persona he is known as a great practical joker.” As anybody knows: “great practical joker” = bully to more sentient earthlings.
It’s not hard to see Al, egged on by other PFMs, releasing some personal DNA into a perfumed Italian’s washbag or locking a YTS kid in a cupboard. For a weekend. Unafraid of Reidy’s special enamel dissolving mouthwashes, nor of a male bonding session that ends in an incident in Scotswood involving cling film, super glue and a stevedore but very afraid of Reidy’s shopping trolley of shame – primarily due to feeling shopping trolleys are for lasses. Loves banter with the boys and regularly utters the phrase ‘ladies present’ to show how respectful he is of the fairer sex. At no point likely to be seen in the presence of Miss Denton Burn 1981 in a nightclub called Slitz because being with girls is for puffs.
Beyond the Lighted Stage
John Nicholson and Alan Tyers