Football

"Even If The Stuff He Said About Me Was A Bit Nasty...He Wasn’t Wrong" - Rod Liddle On Dunphy's Rant 

"Even If The Stuff He Said About Me Was A Bit Nasty...He Wasn’t Wrong" - Rod Liddle On Dunphy's Rant 

Rod Liddle has run off with something else.

A poll on this website inviting readers to vote for their favourite Eamon Dunphy moment has had a landslide winner.

If you are unaware of the context, Roy Keane's explosive exit from Manchester United overshadowed a Champions League match between Liverpool and Real Betis being broadcast live on RTE. So, ahead of the game, the panel debated comments made about Keane by Rod Liddle of The Sunday Times, in which Liddle was scathing about Keane's injuring of Alf Inge Halaand.

Liddle wrote that "in fact, if this was a decent world, he [Keane] wouldn't get the chance to sign for another club because he'd still be banged up and certainly banned from the game for life.

On RTE, Dunphy hailed Keane as "a family man" before caustically referring to Liddle as "the guy who ran away and left his wife for a young one". Dunphy later apologised to Liddle on RTE radio, saying that "it was a completely unforgivable thing to say, it was said in the heat of the moment. I apologise Rod. It was a cheap shot and I shouldn't have said it". Liddle accepted his apology.

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Speaking to Balls on the day Dunphy announced he was ending his 40-year association with RTE, Liddle revealed that he never asked Dunphy or RTE for an apology. "No of course not. God no. I’ve never asked for an apology from anyone in my life. I think they are fatuous things to ask for".

Liddle learned of the incident when RTE phoned to say that Dunphy had "had a go" at him on air over his comments about Keane.

It annoyed Eamon but he did as he always does: he spoke from the heart, he spoke eloquently and, even if the stuff he said about me was a bit nasty... he wasn’t wrong. 

Liddle informs us that he and the "young 'un" are still together, and says he is unaware of the rant's life among Irish football fans when Balls tells him of the Irish flag that appeared at Euro 2016 featuring a glaring Dunphy above the infamous quote. (As an aside - the flag made an appearance in a mini-documentary produced by German football magazine 11Freunde during the Euros).

Far from bearing a grudge, Liddle speaks exceptionally highly of the now-erstwhile RTE pundit.

Over the last 40 years he has been one of the very few astute, passionate, and acerbic commentators on the game that I love. Yes, he speaks from the heart but he also does so with an enormous command of the English language. I first noticed him when I was 14, reading his book Only A Game.

I was a 14-year-old Millwall supporter, and suddenly I realised that football could have its own literature. He was the only one who was doing that kind of stuff at that time. A brilliant man.

I thought his book was just wonderful and I don’t think there has been a better football diary since Only A Game.

Football is commentated on and analysed by people who were too attached to the game to speak the truth and had a paucity of the ability to express themselves, but Eamon Dunphy could do both of those things and to enormously good effect.

He is a huge loss, and I’ll be tuning into The Stand to hear what he has to say about football as he is a genuine gift to the game.

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Liddle is unwilling to compare himself to Dunphy - "his knowledge of the game is far, far greater than mine and I would always bow down to him when it comes to making a judgement" - but when we discuss Dunphy's politics he does draw a comparison.

When asked about Dunphy's political views, this writer tell Liddle that they have been inconsistent bar some outbursts of social conservatism - Dunphy voted against divorce in 1993 and declared himself a "No Voter" before admitting he might not vote out of inner conflict in the recent referendum on the eighth amendment - Liddle pronounces "good for him", adding "Can I just say that I’m with him on conservative social issues".

What of the figure at the centre of the infamous fallout, Roy Keane?

I think in a sense Roy Keane follows in his [Dunphy's] footsteps as a pundit even if they were different footballers. I don’t think Keane has anything like the loquaciousness of Eamon, and I don't think he quite has the humour.

But there is at least a dark and brooding honesty about the man which was incredibly useful to the stupid English supporters who thought that the World Cup would be coming home.

I think Eamon would have done much the same thing. Roy Keane was a magnificent player, a better player than Eamon and I think a decent bloke. The only thing that bothered me about Roy Keane was the deliberate maiming of Halaand.

That all being said, Liddle does hold one thing against Dunphy.

He didn’t rate Derek Possee of Millwall, who was one of my favourite players.

That’s the only thing I have against Eamon Dunphy.

See Also: There Is One Glaring Omission From FIFA's Top 10 Goals Of The World Cup

Gavin Cooney
Article written by
Changed the spelling of his name upon pressure from Michael Owen.

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