Quickly Kevin, Will He Score? Podcast

I listen to ten or a dozen podcasts each week and I’ve now worked out that more than half of them are about football, rather than politics. Make of that what you will. The latest addition to my regular staple of podcasts is ‘Quickly Kevin, Will He Score?’ hosted by the very bantery Chris Scull, Josh Widdecombe and Michael Marden. Although its format is relatively standard for a podcast – host banter plus an interview with a guest – it is different in that it’s whole raison d’etre is only to talk about football from the 1990s. When my LBC producer Robbie Hawkins recommended it as something I would enjoy, I was sceptical, but I’ve slowly become rather addicted – so much so that I’m now working my way through their entire 5 year back catalogue.

The title of the podcast is taken from an exchange between my football commentating hero, Brian Moore and Kevin Keegan, in the seconds before David Batty missed his penalty in Euro 96. It was probably the low point of Moore’s commentating career. “Quickly Kevin, you know him better than anyone, do you back him to score?” Batty was starting his runup. What else could Keegan reply but “Yes”. A second later, he didn’t. And England’s Euro dream was over.

Josh Widdecombe is a Plymouth Argyle supporter and one of the great things about this podcast is that they don’t just talk about the big Premier League clubs. Michael Marden may be a Manchester United fan, but he’s equally at home talking about Gillingham. Chris Scull used to present a brilliant podcast for the West Ham fan site ‘Knees Up Mother Brown’ alongside James Cordon’s producer James Longman. Sadly that finished when Cordon took Longman to Los Angeles. Although Widdecombe is the star attraction but it is Scull who holds it together. Sometimes the bantz gets a bit out of control and flights of fancy come to the fore, but they’re obviously having a good time and so is the listener. They are all of a similar age – mid to late thirties and they all found their footballing feet in the 1990s – 20 years after me. But the 1990s was quite a special decade in football, featuring two of the best international tournaments ever held – Italia 90 and Euro 96. The Premier League was formed in 1992 and the game was full of the kind of characters which seem to rare in today’s monochrome world of sport. ‘Quickly Kevin’ is a podcast that celebrates every whimsical aspect of football in the 1990s and if you try it out, I suspect you’ll be as hooked as I am.


The Euros on TV and Radio

It’s not just sport  in general that has become a bit monochrome, the disease has infected the world of football commentary. Where have all the character commentators gone? Back in the day David Coleman, Brian Moore, John Motson and Barry Davies were people that every football fan knew. On radio, Peter Jones, Bryon Butler, Mike Ingham and Alan Green ruled the roost. They had one thing in common. Each had their own individual voice. They weren’t overproduced. They clearly did their prep, but their commentary was not over prepared, and there is a difference. Listening to many of today’s football commentators, you feel that virtually all their bon mots are prepared in advance. The spontaneity of Alan Green seems to have disappeared. I struggle to name a single BBC TV football commentator, with the exception of the perennially superb Jonathan Pearce. Sam Matterface on ITV is showing that he can step into the boots of Brian Moore, which Clive Tyldesley never quite filled.

Nowadays the ex-footballer co-commentator plays much more of a role in football commentaries, but they are very hit and miss. Too often, they seem to be overly keen to come up with a clever one liner of banter, which they think will impress the listening TV or radio bosses. The best pundits intervene only when they have something meaningful to say. On TV, silence is sometimes the best form of commentary. You don’t need to explain what’s happening when any watching viewer can clearly see it for themselves. On radio, clearly the commentary team needs to explain exactly what is going on because the listener cannot see it for themselves. What the listener doesn’t want is for the commentator and co-commentator to be self indulgent and have repeated bantery conversations which have bugger all to do with the game they’re supposed to be describing.

The BBC studio pundits will feature Thierry Henry, Cesc Fabregas and Juergen Klinsman, alongside the regulars of Alan Shearer, Rio Ferdinand and Micah Richards. These are all perfectly good pundits, but very safe options. Where are the risk takers? The Brian Cloughs? The commentary team consists of Guy Mowbray, Steve Wilson, Robyn Cowen, Steve Bower, Jonathan Pearce, Vicki Sparks, Rob McLean and Mark Scott. I rest my earlier case.

Radio 5 Lives coverage will be fronted by the excellent Mark Chapman. Their team of commentators and pundits blow their TV colleagues off the planet. And they have all 51 games.

On ITV, two of their main presenters are female, Seema Jaswal and Reshmin Chowdhury, but their main presenter is Mark Pougatch, who I really rate. He’s a proper sports journalist. Studio pundits include Ian Wright, Roy Keane, Gary Neville, Patrick Vieira, Graeme Souness, Ashley Cole and Eni Aluko, who is in my view the best female pundit in football. The commentary team is led by Sam Matterface.  

There isn’t quite the buzz around Euro 2020 that there was at the start of Euro 96. Maybe that will change if we wallop Croatia on Sunday. One can but hope.