Football people on TV: Ally McCoist

Date published: Saturday 3rd December 2016 9:48

Fashion police
Has made the classic transition from being a floppy-haired 80s poster boy for Topman, into the thinning hair, plain shirt and striped tie of middle-age dad-dome, moving up a size every five years.

Has become pleasingly wide and now sports the sort of pink head that evokes thoughts of an ice cube made from Ribena diluted with vodka.

One of those chaps with an irrepressible, alluring twinkle in his eye.

Default expression is one of a cat that not only got the cream, but got the keys to the dairy and is known as Creamy McCreamy from Creamshire.


Lingo Bingo
Wonderful, almost poetic North Lanarkshire accent that is a little more mellow and, to southerners, more comprehensible than the full Glaswegian bark, but which thankfully has avoided affecting the modern trend of the rising inflective, starting every statement with “so…” or generally talking like a Valley Girl in a shopping mall. One of the great advantages of being a well-travelled working class Scot is that you can drop in and out of the vernacular at any time, thus giving you an extra palette of expression to paint with.

This column was inspired by his effervescent co-commentary performance on 5live this week – he’s been making more appearances recently – during which he used the expression “you’re darn tootin’,” and he will surely be the only person we’ll ever say that about.

On the radio he manages to radiate a smile with his voice. Still seems absolutely enthralled and entertained by football and can’t help but convey that fact.

A few months ago, he and Neil Lennon were the guests on a discussion show on 5live and it was one of the funniest, most loquacious and interesting chats I’ve ever ever heard. If 5live want to use him a lot more, they won’t find many objecting to that. A top performer.


Hits and misses
Super Ally was one of our legendary strikers, with the full rainbow of goal-scoring talents in his feet. There were times when nothing seemed to be beyond him and in my view, he still stands alone in the modern era as Scotland’s finest. Look at the brilliance and breadth of all these goals. 251 in 418 games for Rangers.

What strikes the viewer now is the sheer unconfined joy with which each goal is celebrated. There’s none of the too-cool-for-school, sour-face, sulky, look at me I’m a rapper and I’ve planned this dance for weeks and don’t even have the self-awareness to realise how lame it looks. No. None of that. Just joy. Just plain unadulterated joy. And it’s an emotion that conveyed from player to fans and back again in a virtuous circle of pleasure. And if there’s anyone in football who knows about circles of pleasure, it’s Coisty.

Then there was the 363 appearances on Question of Sport, which simply appeared to be a way to get paid while having tremendous fun in a lambswool V-neck jumper.

He even appeared in a Robert Duvall movie in 2000 playing, heretically, an ex-Celtic footballer.


Big club bias
When you’re a Scotty, BCB means Old Firm and no-one could say Ally isn’t pro-Rangers. But the Scottish Real Football Man likes any football from top to bottom and is as happy watching a kickabout on wasteland as he is watching an Old Firm game.


Loved or loathed?
Taking against Coisty is like taking against a shaggy dog running through the park, tail thrashing, ears flopping and with the promise of a meaty dinner in the air. I can do no better than quote you the words of a pal of mine who has worked for the Scottish football press for many years. When I asked him about Ally, he said:

“He was a very personable guy as a player and banged in 30 goals a season in the days when getting blootered 5 nights a week wouldn’t harm your playing career in Scotland.

“A big favourite of journalists in the 90s as they could get hammered with him on expenses in exchange for a few tales about extra-curricular activities.

“He was basically the Rangers equivalent of Celtic cheeky chappie McAvennie and they both played up to it.

“As a manager though, shockingly bad and came in for the kind of flak he never got as a player, largely due to the politics of Rangers over the last few years and it definitely spooked him, especially since the slavish media sycophancy evaporated at the same time.

“All in all though, he’d be a great guy to go out on the p*ss with and, according to people who know him well, an anecdote machine who always buys his round. Basically a working class East Kilbride guy made good and probably the last of a dying breed of Scottish footballers who lived the dream, playing for the team he grew up supporting and breaking scoring records. Sh*te at Sunderland mind you.”

And my social media research also reveals much love for Super Ally.

‘Bet he could out drink any other human on the planet and probably most animals too…’

‘Seems like a lovely fella, he’s got some steel though. I reckon he could drink Reidy under the table.’

‘Did arguably the biggest banter in Question of Sport history when had week off as captain only to be the mystery guest.’

‘Second only to the Laudrups in the footie heart-throb stakes at my school in the late 80s.’

‘Woeful manager. His terrible results in Europe hastened the Liquidation of the old Rangers. With the new club struggled to beat part-timers.’

‘Bubbly, positive, energetic. Simple delivery but never patronising. Doesn’t go for headlines, just loves the game.’

‘Doesn’t really offer great insight or analysis but appears to really enjoy the gigs he gets so I find him good to listen to.’

‘Thought he was good on the co-comms for the United vs West Ham game last night.’

‘Seems the Scottish ex-pro most likely to put his arm round you and make jokes, rather than get violent.’

‘One of footballs nice guys as well, which must be tough in the football environment he’s often found himself in.’

‘Seems a decent man & doesn’t take himself too serious. That said I fear a him being a fully paid up member of the PFM club.’

‘Scotland’s queen mother.’


Proper Football Man
As we know, the Chillyjockoland version of the PFM is the Real Football Man, which is basically the same as the English version, but with added socialism and a massively greater capacity to drink any and every alcohol. So every Real Football Man is the boss of any PFM, which is why so many Scots have made great managers.

Reidy hates going north of the border because he knows the every Scotsman can drink him not only under the table, but under the static caravan of shame, resting in a ditch, just off the A1, west of Dunbar. No combination of intoxicants he can throw together will render the RFM unconscious – rather it is more likely to be used as a condiment on a bag of chips. Sump oil, dishwasher tablets and dog valium daiquiri? Thanks, pal that’ll wash down ma’ fish supper nicely. Spent nuclear fuel rod and nitroglycerine shandy? ‘Aye go on then just the three, I’ve got a spare 10 minutes. Cranberry juice? Steady on pal, there’s no call for that, eh.

As the primo RFM, Coisty – such a magical nickname – is first through the door of the casino and the last to leave the Ginger Finger with Miss Bellshill Belle of Battered Puddings 1977 – but not before significant japes involving the removal of trousers and a pig’s head.

Leaves the PFMs trailing in his wake in a whirlwind of cheap perfume, alcohol, betting slips and scraps of salty batter. They cannot compete and are secretly very jealous of him.


Beyond the lighted stage
The gee-gees. Playing any sport for charity. That seems to be Super Ally’s super life.


John Nicholson

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