This week Johnny watches Simon Thomas, another one of Sky’s “oh…is that what he’s called” presenters that we all know, even though we don’t know that we know that we know.
A young-looking 43, he’s a handsome, good-looker with a little bit of steel in his eyes, who wears the slightly eyebrow-raised, argumentative expression of a maverick cop who is prepared to break the rules to bust a criminal’s ass. Can imagine him walking away from an abandoned warehouse with a bloodied crowbar, having sorted some villain out, as the end credits roll, leaving you to wonder who really was the bad guy after all.
Haircut often seems as though it belongs to someone with a smaller head, or has shrunk on a hot wash cycle.
Seems to dress in the smartest suit and tie you can buy from a High Street retailer, often in the sort of light grey that is a hostage to the late unexpected bathroom squirtage (c’mon, you know what I mean). Often goes for the tan shoes with light or blue suit, which is an oddly mistrustful look favoured by car salesmen or estate agents called Darren.
A Norwich City fan like fellow prezzie Jake Humphreys. Born in Cromer, one of the few Norfolk towns that is pronounced how it reads, unlike Happisburgh, which is pronounced Hazebra. Of course it is. Has not a hint of Norfolkian about his voice sadly, and given the upward arc of success for Chris Sutton, he might want to consider adopting some of the counties verbal idiosyncrasies. All it takes is to stop pronouncing the ‘g’ at the end of any word and then finish your sentence with a rhetorical question, isn’t it?
Simon has one of those accentless voices and that probably helps explain why so many people I asked about him didn’t know who he was. A strong accent makes you more memorable than almost anything. For example, everyone can hear, say, Chris Kamara’s voice in their head, but can you hear Simon? No. You can’t. No-one can.
Has one of those dry voices which seems to come from the back of the throat which sounds like it needs lubricating with a Fisherman’s Friend.
Hits and misses
Has a degree in history and I bet that’s unusual amongst Sky’s presenters.
Presented Blue Peter for six years, apparently, after taking over from the remarkably-named Richard Bacon.
After doing Sky Sports News since 2005, he presents Sky’s live coverage of what is now called FL72, taking over from the equally anonymous but very professional Dave Jones after he took over from Ed Chamberlain. Also starting to get a few Premier League gigs.
This means he’s basically not far from the summit of his profession of choice and you can’t have a bigger hit than that.
Big club bias
Spends too much time in the Championship for that sort of nonsense and also, being a Norwich fan and having a Norfolk background is very grounding, as is regularly sitting next to the often rather furious-looking Peter Beagrie.
Loved or loathed?
He’s in the enviable position of doing one of telly football’s biggest gigs outside of the Premier League while being largely unknown. Also, he managed to achieve one of the hardest things for any regular telly person to achieve: not getting on people’s wick. This is not to be underestimated as a skill. Social media response reflects this:
‘Bloody love him. warm, articulate, knowledgeable. Remember him from Blue Peter & tweeted me once, possibly makes me biased?’
‘Seems nice but kinda bland.’
‘Like most sky EPL presenters post Keys-utterly unremarkable and inoffensive.’
‘Doesn’t offend. Doesn’t dazzle.’
‘The Chris Martin of television presenters.’
‘Literally no idea. Are you just making these up now?! ‘Next up, Trevor Dreadnought followed by Barnaby Spatchcock’.’
‘Rather irritatingly favours brown shoes with a charcoal suit. Estate-Agent chic. Other than that, all is well.’
‘I think he’s an alien. Or a robot. Or an alien robot.’
‘Was great on Blue Peter & now deserves his promotion to premier league games after learning his role with championship games.’
‘I once saw a framed photo of him on the wall in a Toby Carvery in Reading. Not sure why.’
‘He’s the Madjeski Stadium of presenters. Identikit, safe, no passion at all. Not remotely likely to smash anything or anyone.’
‘Has the air of a man who irons his boxer shorts.’
‘Full on typically handsome Sky Automaton. I remember him from kids TV from way back when: He. Has. Not. Aged.’
‘Doesn’t offend me which is a bonus, nothing memorable either.’
‘Similar to Dave Jones – competent & seems decent lad. Knows his role.’
‘Had my childhood career progression: Blue Peter > Football.’
‘A nice bloke. Lives near me and I occasionally see him looking rather hungover. Always helps at Xmas school fairs.’
Proper Football Man?
Any PFM worth his non-brewed condiment would regard Simon with a mixture of contempt and amazement. I mean, you’d never have had Valerie Singleton presenting the football, would you? No disrespect, Jeff.
But then Si is working on Sky, which is every PFM’s ancestral home. And his nickname would have to be Tommo, which is a PFM classic and one which gives them a warm glow of alphamaleness. And being a lower-league specialist also gets you points on the PFM loyalty card.
But obviously, you can’t expect the boys to have respect for anyone who hasn’t played the game. They usually see presenters as little more than a broadcasting contraceptive whose job it is to be the receptacle of their passion and should be grateful for that much. And anyway, he’s a Christian, which any PFM would find unacceptable as they don’t like their leaders to have long hair, fearing they are that most loathed of things to a PFM: a hippie. At the end of the day, Jeff, you can’t respect a man who doesn’t wear a nice suit and the club tie. Mind you, it does mean he can be called Vicar or even Bible, which is really hilarious.
No disrespect, but I’m not ‘avin’ Jesus, Jeff. Why can’t we train up our own prophets? I’ve been turning water into wine for ages, but no-one is calling me King of the Jews are they? Get a foreign lad in to do it and everyone is all “show us your miracles, oh master.” All because I’m an English dinosaur, even though I’ve been bleeding from wounds inflicted by Romans ever since that pre-season tour to the Vatican got a bit out of hand.
Looks too young and well-preserved to be a fan of Reidy’s legendary sheep dip, glue and ketamine smoothies. Also, as a religious family man he presumably wouldn’t be in the casino with Chunky, drenched in Joop and trying to gain the favours of Miss Rural Threshing Implement Body of 1990. Also, post-Keys, Sky contracts presumably dictate that you shall not be found naked and lashed to a lamppost with cling film, nor found hanging from a tree by your feet wearing only a bra. So high jinks in an abandoned retail park with the boys seems very unlikely.
Back away, lads, this one is too holy for us.
Beyond the lighted stage
Loves a bit of the old churchy. With the help of Delia Smith, he once cooked lunch for Norwich City players. Lists his favourite sports as rugby, football and surfing. Surfing isn’t a sport though, is it? If it is, so is farting in the bath.
All in all, a top pro who seems set to be a fixture on our TVs for many years. Maybe one day, we’ll all remember his name.