I should probably feel a twinge of sympathy for Andy Gray and Richard Keys, the two presenters of Sky football who have been heard making stupid, sexist comments about a woman linesman – after all, I used to play football against them. Try as I might, though, I can’t think of two people I’m happier to see exposed as bigoted idiots.
There is nothing surprising about their remarks. Sky’s football coverage is innately clubby, knowing and smugly male. In his commentaries, Gray is in the profoundly annoying habit of saying what a footballer – usually twice the player that he was when he played all those years ago – should have done.
“Ah no, no, no – he should’na done that. What he needed to do there was take one touch, drop his shoulder, kid the defender, little shimmy to the left, spot the keeper off his line and just clip it neat as you like into the top-right corner of the net.”
Yeah, Andy. That’s what you’d have done, right?
I’m a bit biased. The last time I played against Gray and Keys was in a park tournament which my team was organising. The Sky team had won the previous year, and we were drawn against them. Our thousand-year-old referee was thrilled to be in charge of a game in which a famous former professional was playing and when, Gray threw himself to the ground not one but twice in the penalty area – on one occasion when our weedy full-back was a couple of yards away from him – the ref obliged by blowing his whistle for a penalty.
Later in the tournament, Sky disagreed about something in the way the way it was organised and departed in a huff before the final – taking our cup with them. Only when I suggested that the story would read well as a newspaper diary piece did they agree to return it.
Truly pathetic. Genuinely stupid. The great Sky tradition, it seems from this week’s headlines, lives on.