Football people on TV: Paul Walsh

Date published: Thursday 31st December 2015 8:54

This week John Nicholson admires Paul Walsh’s glasses. Is he one of us though, Richard?

 

Fashion police
Smarter than your average bear. Saturday’s pairing of a purple shirt and striped tie with an olive green jacket was inventive, stylish and really suited him. Only a man who had some pride in his appearance and a sense of style would couple those colours.

In recent months he’s begun to sport a 1965 Ipcress File, Harry Palmer-style look, with thick glasses and a vicious side parting. It’s a good look for him and invests a studious quality. Is Walshy a spy, Jeff? Seriously, is he?

Sometimes it’s nice to see a pundit make an effort with his clothes and have a bit of style and colour, rather than throw on the default undertaker look of dark suit, black tie, white shirt.

We saw him last month in a retina-burning radioactive blue shirt. Good work. Still occasionally defaults to the neutral pundit look, but really shouldn’t.

As a player in the 1980s he had top-quality hair including, at one point, that strange beast, the side-parted mullet. Gradually evolved a leonine rocker look, which was very much in tune with his maverick style of play. Had a spiky gel-head, Dubai tan phase, which made him look like the entertainments secretary at your local Working Men’s Club. Suits the International Man of Mystery look much better.

 

Lingo bingo
Strong south-of-the-river quality to his voice, though one senses it’s been tempered a little in recent years from its original Plumstead twangage, possibly as part of a long-term self-improvement strategy.

 

Hits and misses
Fondly remembered playing career as a really exciting, sometimes hot-headed individualist. Naturally, there was no place for that at international level. Bobby Robson gave him five caps but after Walshy refused to play in an Under-21 Euros final, and went on a pre-season tour with Liverpool instead, he was frozen out, which seemed a bit harsh. Has been working on Sky for 14 years, but hasn’t quite managed to get to the toppermost of the poppermost just yet. Most often to be seen in a nice colourful stripy scarf reporting from the stands, but gets an invite into the studio on high days and holidays, or when half a dozen other first choices have fallen asleep on a train and woken up in Inverness after a vigorous bonding session.

Is one of the more concise, precise analysers and has made an effort to learn how to pronounce foreign names correctly and doesn’t lapse into the impressionist word jumble that forms the boys’ default form of communication. I always have the feeling that he’s put some work in and is trying hard. This is more rare than it should be. Must surely feel a bit aggrieved that after 14 years on consistent service, other less articulate foot soldiers still get a regular gig ahead of him, and it’s not hard to see him getting a bit jabby-fingered about it. Once said c**t on the telly, accidentally. Hero.

 

Big club bias
As he played for Liverpool in the mid-80s, when they were in their global all-conquering pomp, and then a high-profile Spurs side, you might think he’d have some BCB in him, but there’s little evidence. If anything, he seems keen to be harsher on the top clubs and top players.

 

Loved or loathed
When I write the section, I do a search for the subject matter’s name and rude words to see if there is much angst towards him and have to report a lot of love for Walshy everywhere he went. Some Portsmouth fans decided to take umbrage at some of his comments about the club in his autobiog, but it seems to have been the usual one-eyed tribal nonsense. There has been some Twitter-based abuse, but as the man himself has said, most likely with a bitter sneer and a hard look in his ice-blue eyes, “Twitter is a coward’s forum for total idiots at times.” Yeah, you tell ‘em, Walshy. His book seems an unusally blunt and honest recount of his career.

 

Proper Football Man
Well, well, well what do we have here, Jeff? Let’s have a look at his PFM CV. Hmm, well we don’t like this small, nippy, clever player business. That’s all a bit too foreign fanny merchant. And he fell out with Kenny, and gave him a right mouthful, and that’s never a good thing for any PFM to do. Also has a massive haul of trophies from his time at Anfield which means he could win a medals-on-the-table situation. Nah, I’m not ‘avin that, Jeff. And he’s won player of the season all over the place. And Young Player of The Year. Who does he think he is, like? Nah, I don’t fancy him. He’s too good, Clive.

Yeah, OK, boss, but he was a massive 80s piss-head who went on the lash with Razor and Bestie. By his own admission he spent a whole year at Liverpool drunk. That’s got to be worth a lot of PFM points. He’s even admitted that he was more interested in going on the drink than the football when he was at Spurs, and even got taken off at half-time after a night on the booze with Bestie. You’ve got to respect that sort of quality. Add in a ‘getting scammed by a conman’ and a campaign to fight driving convictions and a generally argumentative attitude, c’mon, we’ve got to sign up him up, surely, gaffer.

But Keysy, he wears them glasses and a purple shirt. That’s no good to the boys. Everyone will think he’s gay, not that there’s anything wrong with that, no offence.

No of course not, backs against the wall though eh, just in case, no offence, get us a cup of tea darlin’. You’re a sexy little thing, aren’t you? Yeah, but he’s been married since 1990, he should have a couple of acrimonious divorces behind him now. That’s a bit dodgy, if you ask me. He seems to have settled down like an adult. Do we not like that?

I don’t know if he’s one of us or not. Back in the day he’d have been seen coming out of Bareback Riders at 4.53am with with Miss South London Buttered Chicken Body of 1981 and, even though he’s a little runty, no offence, you can’t say anything these days, no offence – he could still put the drink away, so a session on Reidy’s new kettle descaler and potato beer will hold no fear for him. And with only being small, we can put him up a tree for safe keeping when we get into a ruck. And we always need a little  ‘un along to laugh cruelly at via the medium of cliched jokes and over-used references to Snow White, at least until he gets sick of it and chins one of us. Nothing wrong with that; it goes on all the time in training, Gary.

Well you can’t respect any man who doesn’t commit a violent assault on his friends, Clive. I reckon he’ll tell us to stick our PFM badges up our arses, which pretty much makes him one of us, Andy.

I’m confused, Richard. What do you think, luv…are you wearing a bra?

 

Beyond the lighted stage
A popular after-dinner speaker on what is known as ‘the circuit’, though quite how there is an actual after dinner circuit, I don’t know. Always likely to turn out for a charity fundraiser game. And then there’s his work as a spy, as well, of course. Is Michael Caine real, Jeff?

 

John Nicholson


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