Pundits are a funny thing aren’t they? They range from good to bad to bizarre, to looking as though they have never played or watched a game of football in their lives. Obviously, this varied spectrum exists within the TV studio and commentary box as much as anything.
So welcome to State Of The Game’s brand new series: Studio Saints and Sinners. A light-hearted look at some of the very good pundits, and of course some of the very bad: judging from famous quotations, appearance, offered analysis and of course, their credentials. Enjoy…
Raymond Colin Wilkins.
The Famous Quotes?
1) “My word.”
2) “Good morning/evening/afternoon to you all watching at home.”
3) “If I was Daniel Sturridge I would say to Clichy, every time I face you I will hold onto the ball, come inside you, and make things happen.”
The cue-ball headed Ray has had a long and successful career in football. He rivals Billy Corgan of music outfit The Smashing Pumpkins in terms of uniqueness, mystery and of course, roundness, rotundity and baldness in the head department. Aside from derogatorily being nicknamed ‘the crab’, he was still an efficient user of the ball and brought the world of football an astonishing 24 years of play – from 1973 to his final three appearances for Leyton Orient in 1997, winning trophies along the way.
The years passed and Ray found himself as an assistant coach at Chelsea, winning a historic double with them. Uproar ensued when unfairly Wilkins was cast out of the Chelsea home, the misery as present as Jamie Redknapp’s testes in the studio (seriously Jamie, get bigger trousers). However, Sky appeared once more invited him to the commentary team, as they wanted offerings from someone who wasn’t a sexist, prehistoric twat. My word, a wonderful tale. Ray more than merits his place in the Sky team.
The thousand yard stare of Ray Wilkins is enough to shatter time and space as we know it. Ironically Ray kind of resembles a football: round, hairless, inviting you to play with him. Wait, scratch the last one. Ray has the appearance of a kindly gentleman – an old wise head you might find in a pub one day, offering advice on matters of football, philosophy, quantum physics and Gary Neville’s beard. A bizarre character, one expects him to quietly unwrap a packet of Wurther’s originals like the fine cad that he is, offer you one, and continue talking in that gracious tone of his. Got a problem? Screw talking to Frank, talk to Ray.
He’s a part time Uncle Fester impersonator with a laconically toned voice, a smart and aesthetically pleasing suit, and a dome head to rival that of Kryten from Red Dwarf. A presentable and jovial whippersnapper, Ray’s appearance is unique and quietly stylish in a business that demands brashness and in the case of that top top Redknapp, literally big bollocks.
Positives and Negatives: What Does He Offer?
He has negatives such as lavishing way too much praise on English teams in the Champions League and at times being a tad too one-eyed with Chelsea. He also uses ‘stay on your feet’ and ‘my word’ too much. But Christ, he’s Uncle Ray!
And Ray is a bizarre creature. Many a time will you hear his commentary range from the peculiar that you can shake off, to the completely non-existent. As Michael Carrick shafts another 30 yard pass all the way to Ecuador, there is Ray with his mouth just slightly too far away from the Microphone, echoing ‘a fine pass from Michael Carrick, oh have you ever met Michael? He is a fine man’. His Wilkinism’s are a joy to behold and truly laugh out loud moments, especially as he doesn’t even know he makes them. He sees no evil; if you could trade your eyes for his I expect you would see the world in a much nicer light – where there are gangs shooting each other, Ray sees rainbows and curtsying.
He will succinctly make his point in the commentary box – or the studio where he doesn’t venture much anymore – and be happy. He always has a cordial tone and isn’t self-aggrandizing. I like that simplicity – that comfort and modesty you get with Ray. Sometimes I don’t want pundits to be so knowledgable or silver-tongued or egotistical, it gets too over-bearing and too much. Sometimes I want them to be like Ray: easy-going, pleasant, happy with life and almost soothing. He just enjoys football and isn’t so concerned with his image or what he is offering, he is real and genuine in front of the camera. He politely says what he wishes, in a strange but assured way. Wilkins certainly doesn’t do that annoying thing Andy Gray did where he makes a point and when anyone disagrees he pretentiously laughs in pseudo-shock and amusement as if anyone disagreeing with him is a lunatic. He’s better than that. Ray is not the most insightful of men (though he can make the good odd point here and there) but for every duff point he gets away with it for being a genuinely unique, odd and entertaining figure. And within the punditry gig – where there are arrogant, pompous, self-pepetuating pundits who cannot wait to thrust their opinions down our throats – reserved Ray is in perfect opposition.
Ray gets my vote all day long. With his odd offerings, Ray does something many others fail at: he does it his own, mysterious way. He is bizarre, insanely rambling, polite, cordial, never p*ssy and you can expect anything from the way he will describe ‘fit young men’ or ‘injuries to the buttock’. Not to mention he is a damn good egg. In a studio where vibrant egos and massive blockbusters are expected, Ray is measured and emotive in his own brilliant way, and a true Studio Saint.