Football people on TV: David Jones

Date published: Friday 5th August 2016 9:30 - Daniel Storey

This week Johnny turns his “searing eyes and delicious prose” onto the new Monday Night Football man: one of the many men called, David Jones…


Fashion police
Yes, that is what he’s called. I know, I had to double check too. For some reason, he’s not a man whose name lingers with the viewer.

Has the presenters default uniform of black suit, white shirt and dark tie, black leather shoes. Looks a bit like an off-duty DI.

I’ve called this the undertaker look for sometime now. It’s ok, I guess, but a bit of colour wouldn’t go amiss now and again, just to remind us that we’re not actually at a funeral. Unless we’re actually burying the corpse of the people’s game, which, on reflection, we may well be with every Premier League game played.

In almost every photo of Dave, he’s got the undertaker gear on. Mind you, Tim Sherwood has looked partially embalmed on Saturday Night Football, maybe this is why. The advantage of this standard clothing is that it allows the presenter to entirely subsume their personality. You couldn’t tell anything about Dave’s character from the clothes he chooses, other than that he’s perfectly happy to not tell anyone anything about himself via his clothes. No wacky styles, no strangely coiffured hair..

Even the actual suits themselves are generic affairs. The sort of thing you might buy in Marksies or John Lewis. Decent quality and with so little fashion content that you could wear them for the next 10 years and never thought to be either in or out of style.

Personally, I don’t know why a suit is required at all. It neither infers or confers gravitas, in fact, given we’re involved in talking about a leisure activity, it seems bit of a mis-match. Then again, some men just can’t do leisurewear and when not in business clothes look even weirder. Lemon slacks, sir? I don’t think so, do you?

Haircut is there but it’s not doing much and seems happy enough with that state of affairs..


Lingo bingo
You wouldn’t know it but Dave is a son of the north-east, having gone to school in Stokesley and his mother lives in Great Ayton in the shadow of Roseberry Topping, just south of Middlesbrough; a village which features in my 11th Nick Guymer novel, Teesside Dreams, due to be published later this month, since you’re asking. Yes, you did ask, you just forgot you had.

You’d never know this from how he speaks would you? As we all know, the sentence best pronounced in a Teesside accent is “Am drinkin’ lager an’ eatin’ an avocado in me perple werk shert in Santiago, me, like.” This allows all the unique characteristics of the accent fullest expression, primarily the ability to draw out a vowel almost indefinitely. I’d love to hear Dave say this just to test if he’s got any trace at all of regional accent left in him.

The infinite variety of regional accents are what make our country so unique. We paint from a huge linguistic palette of tone, emphasis and slang that changes every 10 or 15 miles in any direction. It always seems a shame to educate yourself out of using it, if it’s in you as a kid. A hangover, perhaps, from more deferential, snobby times when if you didn’t speak like Prince Charles you were thought a heathen (no disrespect, some of my best friends are heathens).

However, all this being said, Dave’s way of talking is the aural equivalent of his suit. No hostages to fortune, nothing likely to upset the horses and as such utterly professional and dependable. As one commenter said on Twitter, “he’s the anti-Keys” and Sky are probably quite pleased about that. Hard to imagine saying the words ‘hanging out the back of it’ in any context, let alone while at work.

I think we all felt a bit sorry for him having to do the Saturday night show where, for a while, they tried to make it like Top Gear, with the audience hanging around in the background like zombies in a graveyard. It never really worked, and more often made you cringe as some forced banter was pursued, presumably under editorial instruction. Sadly, the public is always a hit and miss affair and should never be indulged, not unless you’ve vetted them in advance and possibly done an IQ test.

Still, this wasn’t David’s fault. He just had to sit there in that large dark void and get on with it, often alongside Tim Sherwood, Jamie Redknapp or Glenn Hoddle. You’d want some good money for that, wouldn’t you?


Hits and misses
Has just hit the peak of his profession by being appointed to take over from Ed Chamberlain on Monday Night Football. Ed is off to do the gee-gees on ITV. He will be much missed. After taking over that gig, following the Keys and Gray debacle, he was a welcome, softer, more modern presence who saw himself primarily as a facilitator and not a roister-doister-in-chief. So Dave has some big shoes to fill, as Gary Neville will be returning along with Jamie Carragher. His appointment makes a lot of sense because those two sons of the north-west are big personalities with plenty to say, so the last thing you’d need is an overbearing host intent on making himself part of the entertainment.

But this is as big a football presenting gig as you can get. It’s the highest profile non-terrestrial show and it’s where a lot of serious football fans gather to get a weekly education. Well done, Dave. You’re King of the hill.

And while we’re talking of learning, Dave first seeped into my consciousness a few years back when he did the Footballer’s Football Show which was a largely successful attempt to have intelligent in-depth, interesting discussions about the game and the culture around it. On that he came across as thoughtful and intelligent. Not sure why the show isn’t still going. Surely they didn’t run out of cogent, interesting footballers?


Big club bias
For some reason he supports Sunderland and not Middlesbrough, so should know the mucky end of football’s stick from the sparkly one. That being said, his job is pretty much to pump up the big games between big clubs on a Super Something or Other. Football telly loves a big club and will slavishly broadcast a game which a big club looks like they might win by a cricket score, rather than a more interesting one between two less fancied sides. This is the world we live in and the world Mr Jones works in.


Loved or loathed
Social media response was good. The worst that was said about the boy Jones was that he was “too clean cut, acts like a car salesman”, “the living embodiment of bland” and “typical Sky Sports robot presenter”, all of which is a bit overly rude and unwarranted, I think. All those criticisms are based on a falsehood, which is that a presenter has to be all-singing and all dancing entertainer. They don’t. They’re just there to give the talent a stage to dance upon, especially when it’s a live game and not a European Football Show magazine type of show.

All the presenter is required to do is dispense facts about the teams etc, then get out of the way while the pundits get their groove on. After that it’s just teeing up their responses. Being entertaining beyond that isn’t required and would probably get a bit annoying. And anyway, what do people expect from a mere football presenter? The sports equivalent of Bill Hicks, deconstructing the industrial military complex and how it’s fed by the money of the poor in order to make the rich richer, with added references to drugs, alcohol and cigarettes? Remember, man, it’s just a ride.

Other Twitterspheroids were far more complimentary and, to my mind, on the money:

– “Polite, well informed, doesn’t try bantz & looks delighted to be there. All clobber is M&S, the sartorial line.”
– “Comforting, simple, dependable. Like a good referee, keeps game ticking without becoming center stage. And chirpy.”
– “He’s up there with the best hosts, always seems quite effortless to control proceedings, brings a fair bit of humour too.”
– “Was brilliant on The Footballers Football show, held his own when talking to pros and helped to link it all together well.” (Yes, let’s have that back, please)
– “Has on occasion tried to board the banter bus with tight trousered Jamie. On the whole though a good presenter.”
– “Somehow manages to remain polite while Redknapp is talking utter nonsense on SNF, for this alone he deserves huge credit.”
– “You literally never worry when you see his face. One of the good guys.”
– “Really good presenter, gets good debate going.”
– “Saw him carting loads of scarves, badges etc for #oufc selling to raise a few ££”
– “I knew him at college, nickname was Pinky, remember drinking 20/20 fortified wine with him after beating Oxford Brooke’s 2nd XI at cricket then getting battered at a curry. Good guy!”
– “Not a proper PFM, but can dance on both sides, like Chappers.”

However, he did get into a bit of bother a year back by misquoting Karren Brady to Sam Allardyce, saying she’d said West Ham were “under-performing” instead of the word she actually used “under-achieving”. The manager went into full righteous mouth noise mode later saying “When I see him next, and I will see him privately, he’d better watch out”, as though he’d never made a single small mistake in his whole life, and as if his whole professional integrity was being destroyed by this small difference in words.

Brady had a further pop at Dave saying he was unprofessional, writing, ‘Jones scored an own goal, so he should learn to read up on a subject properly before he comments publicly. As a non-executive director of Oxford United, he should know better – I suggest reading the small print should be a priority.’ A statement that made little sense. What small print?

This sort of rather childish paranoid little spat shows you the pressure that broadcasters are under. It’s probably why some football TV is so bland and brown-nosing. This sort of stroppy posturing over one word said in a live interview is out of proportion. And what did “He better watch out” mean? Maybe he was just planning to get Kevin Nolan to strap him to a vibrating plate and analyse his ProZone numbers.

Thankfully it has had no negative effect on Dave’s career as, just over a year later, he’s got the top gig. And so too has Allardyce, which at least means Dave won’t have to interview him on a Monday night game. Meanwhile Brady is presumably watching to make sure his performance lives up to the standards set apparently expected of all non-executive directors of Oxford United.


Proper Football Man
One of the central tenets of the PFM outlook is that they must be the recipient of severe obsequiousness from anyone on the TV who hasn’t played the game at the highest level. Look at the narked fury in their eyes when anyone else makes a point which contradicts them, particularly someone who is more educated than they (which is almost everyone)

How can you know anything, you’ve not played the game, is in their DNA. Even if you agree with them, you will not earn their respect because you are a civilian and your view is thus worthless, or at least it is unless you’re the Chairperson of a club and can pay them huge sums of money, even if that money comes from morally reprehensible regimes or businesses.

So the only chance you’ve got, as a TV worker, of being accepted into the PFM nightclub of broken dreams in the heart, and broken glasses in the face, is to bow the knee, tell them they’re all brilliant and do their bidding in public by punting a PFM for jobs that they are patently unqualified for and which they have no chance of even being offered, by saying he’s brilliant but there’s an anti-English manager bias in football.

I’ve never seen Dave do that, so you know what that means. Access to the PFM Dubai jacuzzi of deep depravity is denied. That being said, he does have to rub along with the PFM coterie of mouth-moving-brain-in neutral pundits, so he must be able to put some sort of acceptable face on for them. That must take quite an effort.

The gap between TV dudes like Dave or his predecessor, Ed and the coterie of PFMs that prowl the studios and dressing rooms, like a weird pack of under-educated jackals, has never been greater. Good god, some TV people are even women. It almost looks like two entirely different species, with one-side bitterly dependent on the other’s TV money for their copious amounts of wonga.

So there’d be no invite to David to attend legendary PFM strip club, casino and eaterie, Nips Hips n Chips located on an abandoned industrial estate in Selby. And even though Dave was voted Company magazine (no, me neither) North East Bachelor of the Year, one can’t see him taking North Face’s Miss Wicking Knickers and Non-Sexist Trouser Wearer of 1997 home, can you? And I suspect he would not be even offered Reidy’s super glue, green tomato and varnish martini, served in a van der graaf generator, shaken (by Kev Nolan on a vibrating plate) not stirred.


Beyond the lighted stage
Played in Jody Craddock’s testimonial. There’s the whole Oxford United non-executive director small print reading thing.

As part of the job, gets a free £20 Skybet every week. Apparently, he’s the top betting dog and made £900 in three months, which he donated to School Aid India, which his mother had set up.

Loves football and cricket and rugby. Is also reported to be a ‘fitness fanatic’ which sounds positively unhealthy. A regular player of football, tennis and golf. Also goes to a gym. Basically a normal person. Also likes photography and travelling. This is sounding more like a dating site profile now.


John Nicholson

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