Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Stan The Man

No, not Stan Bowles, although he's the undoubted original.

Just recently I've been catching a lot of Stan Collymore on various talkSPORT programmes. And it turns out that he's quite a decent broadcaster.

talkSPORT seem to have a penchant for the more controversial presenter. Off the top of my head I can name George Galloway, and to a lesser extent Terry Christian & Alan Brazil. You could add Collymore to that list.

Collymore made his name as an explosive striker, one of the most exciting players of his generation. He first came to my attention when he was at Nottingham Forest. I recall, randomly, one of my flatmates at Uni on the phone to Clubcall one night, trying to find out if Collymore would be fit to play for Forest against his team Wolves. They reported that he was still injured, so my flatmate gleefully went off to the game. Needless to say, Collymore played and scored.

Later came a big money move to Liverpool (a British record transfer fee at the time), and his debut for England. I remember watching him warming up as sub at Wembley, against Brazil in one of those tin pot end-of-season mini tournaments (the Umbro Cup), and thinking that this was the start of a really promising international career. He reminded me a lot of Paul Gascoigne; a fans' player, undoubtedly talented, but with a maverick streak about him.

As it turned out, the parallels with Gazza were apt. Both players with unfulfilled potential, beset with on & off field problems - trying to conquer personal demons off the pitch, whilst never fully recovering from bad injuries on it.

At least Gazza played a fair few times for his country. Collymore picked up only 3 caps for England - yep that's right, just three times - a surprising statistic when you consider some of the donkeys who have worn the 3 lions over the years. Stan's international career (1995-1997) was eclipsed by Gascoigne's (1988-1998).

Stan was a great player, but ultimately flawed. For every positive memory I can think of (e.g. scoring the winner in that famous 4-3 Liverpool vs Newcastle game), there is a negative - remember him doing his Harry Enfield scousers impression "calm down, calm down!" to the travelling Liverpool fans after he was sent off at home for Aston Villa? His red card in this game was the result of 2 yellows - a bad tackle on Steve Harkness (who had clashed with Stan in a previous game) followed by an off the ball shove on Michael Owen (whose emergence at Liverpool had accelerated Stan's departure to Villa).

It was downhill after that for Collymore - ongoing battles with depression, short spells at several clubs, his volatile relationship with Ulrika Jonsson, including punching her in a Paris bar during the 1998 World Cup, early retirement, and the dogging stories.

Stan started off as a decent match summariser on 5 Live, but recently moved over to talkSPORT where his broadcasting career has flourished. I listened to him earlier tonight discussing the Carlos Tevez affair and he was intelligent & insightful - better than some of the bumbling buffoons presenting on other sport programmes.

With his strong opinions & history he won't be every body's cup of tea, but he's refreshingly honest, articulate & interesting to listen to - I've been impressed with his media career to date. Better that he's remembered like this rather than for a group of bystanders watching him in the back of a land rover in a car park....


Fat Sam said...

I know what you mean. I thought he was good on 5 live till the dogging stories came out, He was then asked to leave.

he was a great footballer and it is a pity about the other aspect of hi life.

Who is Stan Bowles never heard of him ;-0) was he a Donkey!

Russ said...

Goof stuff, G, but I am surprised Danny Baker didn't get a mention. He's back, don'tcha know; on 606 on Radio 5 Live. Good entertaining stuff. Perfect for the drive home after a game (or in the lounge after a game cos you live too far to go to the home games!)