John Nicholson realises he’s been listening to Davie Provan for years and never known it was Davie Provan. Is there a Scottish bloke doing co-comms on Sky? That’s probably yer man doin’ fitba on the teevee, pal.
Despite sporting impressively curly hair in his youth, as well as the regulation 80s footballer mullet, he now has the appearance of a bad-ass, incorruptible parole officer. No real concession to fashion, beyond a lavender-coloured shirt and a smart, plain tie. With hard-staring, blue eyes, he looks like A Man and a man for whom smiling and being cheerful would be frankly girlish behaviour unbecoming of any male from the fine town of Gourock – still the only place I have been to where the bed in hotel room had a human stool present between the sheets. Perhaps it’s a Scottish variation of having a wafer mint chocolate on your pillow.
To the outside world, a west of Scotland accent invests even compliments with a degree of menace and that’s always strength when it comes to the often bland world of football co-commentary. If it sounds like you are genuinely going to knife a player after the game for not tracking back, it makes even the most cider-drenched viewer sit up and take notice.
Doesn’t belong to the jockocracy in football media which is incomprehensible to anyone south of Carlisle and yet still brings a genuine working class articulation to his work.
Hits and misses
After retiring, aged just 29, due to having the debilitating condition ME, he was a genuinely hard-hitting football columnist in the News of the World, one of the very few not frightened to express strong opinions. Most of them say nothing in case they upset one of their pals, because Scottish football media is a small world where everyone lives in one big house and pretty much knows everyone else. Has been in the media now for 30 years and really paid his dues. Still writes newspaper columns alongside his increasingly high profile work for Sky. In the last few seasons has graduated from Scottish football to co-comms alongside Martin Tyler etc on big Premier League games which is a victory for the grafter over the glamorous.
Big club bias
A cracking winger for Celtic in the late 70s and 80s who should have got a lot more than 10 Scotland caps. Grew up supporting Rangers, which meant he had to try that little bit harder to get accepted by the fans back in the days when a clever winger was always called ‘jinky’.
It seems to be Davie’s even-handedness that has got him pretty much to the top of the tree. Also, the inbuilt repulsion of elitism and snobbery – which is indigenous to the Scottish soul – prevents any BCB from forming.
Loved or loathed
Neither. Not out of indifference, but because he doesn’t court the limelight. He played alongside Charlie Nicholas but he’s very much the Yin to Champagne Charlie’s Yang. Interestingly, amongst all co-comms he is probably the least known or recognised, certainly outside of Scotland. But if there’s a Scottish bloke on Sky’s coverage of a game, it’s almost certainly Davie.
Proper Football Man
As discussed in previous columns, the Scottish variant of the PFM is the RFM – a real football man. This is an essentially meaningless term uttered by ex-pros about their mates, whilst nodding at each other, in that hive mind sort of way. It’s basically a PFM with more Simple Minds and Big Country records, less Tory-voting inclinations and added very hard drinking. Should Reidy stray north of the border, possibly riding a Dray horse, pulling oak barrels of fermented bull’s blood, brush cleaner and strychnine, he would be sent home to think again about bringing such frankly emasculating soft drinks into the country.
Now, Davie is basically a straight-talking ex-pro and quiet family man with absolutely none of that desperate desire to be liked that you get with the more mouthy, shouty pundit. An insightful commentator who never feels the need to indulge in any bantz or banalities, he’d never be seen coming out of a nightclub in Greenock called The Ginger Fanny with Miss Coatbridge 1980. So basically he has no RFM form, no PFM form and has no interest in it as a lifestyle. In essence, the absolute opposite of Frank McAvennie.
Beyond the lighted stage
Having been really ill at just aged 29 and forced to retire, it must give you a perspective that life isn’t all about three points on a Saturday, or chanting unpleasant songs about stuff that happened a long time ago. Easy to imagine him going home, putting on some quality slippers, putting his feet up with a slice of toast and a mug of tea. Maybe that’s why he’s actually really good at his job.