Football people on TV: Richard Keys

Date published: Friday 13th November 2015 3:54


John Nicholson looks at Richard Keys on the telly and is shocked to find it is still 1989…


Fashion police
For years he drew deep on the tradition of well-dressed early 90s sales rep whose natural habitat is a service station just off the M6 eating an all-day breakfast with a look of bitter melancholy in the eyes. In warmer climes favours the lighter coloured suit, sometimes in a vivid blue and, at awards gigs, can sport something a little shiney and flash, no doubt purchased from an expensive menswear shop in Leamington Spa. Seems almost certain to have owned those strange stripy shirts with a plain collar. Off duty, I imagine it’s all pink polo shirts, slacks and anything which will soak up gin.

Has always had a touch of the louche, cuff-link wearing Tory MP accused of over-claiming expenses about him.


Lingo bingo
Despite hailing from Coventry, has none of that splendidly downbeat accent about him. Even though we can all hear his voice in our head, how could you possibly describe it? Seems most at home expressing plain old traditional British views about British football, as just a sample of recent Tweets suggest.

Talking injury prevention with Nigel Pearson….Watch and learn Arsene!

A pleasure to listen to Andy Townsend. The best co-commentator since Andy Gray.

Current favourites for the Fulham job – Nigel Pearson and Tim Sherwood both on beIN Sports

A word of warning for the RFU – as the FA found out expensively – foreign coaches don’t always know best.

An uncomfortable to listen to, even unpleasant air of sourness, seems to be one of his go-to modus operandi these days. The radio programmes sometimes sound like two old blokes moaning in a golf club about youngsters these days.


Hits and misses
Was in at the birth of the Sky revolution and for years was the man to present a big game. For yonks he was in cruise control and was undeniably at the peak of the TV football presenting gig. He won awards and was feted as a master of the craft. Then came the infamous ‘prehistoric banter’ and the lack of people rushing to vociferously defend him was very noticeable. Some suggested this was because prolonged bad attitude and arrogance had alienated many.

Has since made some bizarre, accidentally hilarious home videos talking about football with Andy Gray in cars, hotel rooms and other poorly lit places, which all feel a bit weird, like you’re peering into the afterlife at two recently deceased relatives.

As well as doing Talksport, he is now working in the Middle East on beIN Sports, and often seems very keen to tell everyone how great it is, posting pictures of men in polo shirts having drinks in a hotel room or somewhere sunny. We get it, Richard – your life is better than ours.


Big club bias
Absolute and total. Loves the limelight that comes with covering a big club. Loves the reflected glory of being alongside a top, top player from a big club, or a top, top ex-pro from a big club. Perhaps feels that being seen with successful people makes you look successful too.


Loved or loathed
For years he was just a fixture, no more or less annoying or entertaining than any other presenter. A generation grew up with him being the face of satellite football. But after getting canned, his stock was very low with everyone, apart from those people who thought it was political correctness gone mad, and they tend to be worrisome people to have batting for you. But now, to many in the UK, at least, he seems to be a something of a figure of fun – an exhibit in the Bantersaurus Museum, forever talking to the same circle of aging ex-pros, all of whom agree with each other but increasingly seem to be talking only to themselves. Like a half-heard distant echo in a dream, to listen to their Talksport show, you’d think it was still 1989…or you were listening to a rather obvious, cartoonish satire.


Proper Football Man
As all students of the PFM culture know, a mere TV talking head cannot be a PFM, having not played the game professionally and got up the backside of a centre-forward on a cold Tuesday night in Rochdale. However, all PFMs need someone to articulate and proselytise their cause and to those that do, they give an honorary PFM doctorate. Richard is foremost in this regard. Richard knows that you must always bow down to the PFM and not get above your station and question their stance on anything, even if it is quite obvious that they don’t even know the rules of the game anymore and that their view is unsupportable with any facts whatsoever. He knows that the British man is being done down in favour of the foreigner, even though he’s nothing against ‘them’. He is certain that the game is not what it was and that certainly knows that you can’t say anything these days.

He surely has the number of every PFM on his phone. Big Sam, Reidy, Timbo, Pards, Ray Parlour (Parlo?) Nigel Pearson (Pearo?) et al, can all be relied upon to contribute some familiar opinion on the modern game in an overly matey, “we’ve-all-had-a-drink” jocular style which occasionally boils over into something with a little more angst and fist-clenched. Bitterness always feel just below the surface and while this makes a lot of us feel rather uneasy, it is a dog whistle to all PFMs and his likeminds, that they are amongst their own.

Reidy is, of course, a regular colleague and no doubt, a carousing associate, so nights drinking a jeroboam of 3-in-1 multi-purpose oil, Pernod and fabric softener shandy must surely be a familiar pastime. However, doesn’t look physically capable of keeping up with with Reidy and Andy Gray, but importantly, he knows that a night out with ‘the boys’ must never be talked about outside the company of understanding PFMs, who know that it’s all just banter and she shouldn’t look like that if she can’t take a compliment. Not hard to imagine him emerging, sunburnt, sweating and unsteady at 5am from an expensive Dubai night club called The Sandy Slit with one of the gang escorting Miss Blancmange (and associated milk puddings) Body, 1977, to a 6-star hotel room.


Beyond the lighted stage
Definitely one for a Gala Dinner and a golf weekend, while the ladies go shopping for shoes and then to a Spa. Seems to enjoy making home videos with Andy Gray and taking photos of Reidy drinking large glasses of alcohol. Well, every man should have a hobby.


John Nicholson

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