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11 Of Our Favourite Sports Pundits Foibles

11 Of Our Favourite Sports Pundits Foibles
By Conor Neville
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11 foibles from a selection of modern sports pundits. Some of these are endearing, some are rather irksome. We'll let you decide which is which.

Kenny Cunningham - 'Football Club'

Kenny Cunningham never leaves you in any doubt as to what sport clubs like Liverpool and Manchester United play.

In case there are any viewers out there who are inclined to forget that Manchester United are principally associated with the sport of association football, Kenny will remind them with his diligent use and re-use of the words 'football club'.

He is careful never to use the word club on its own.

This is far from the only foible of Cunningham's but it has received the least airplay.

Jamie Redknapp - 'Ever so well'


In football, it is now effectively illegal to use the ostensibly inoffensive phrase 'he did well'. This is likely to result in censure from the football authorities and condemnation from the PFA.

'He's done ever so well' has ruled the roost in Soccer Saturday for so long, it has now become so pervasive it is almost unnoticed. How did it acquire this pre-eminence?

The phrase itself is not a masterpiece of concision. It essentially does the same work as would the sentence 'He did well' except in a less economical fashion.


The phrase 'he's done ever so well' is more associated with some talking heads than others. It has lodged itself in Jamie Redknapp's head.

Butch Harmon's camera stare

One imagines that when you go in for a drink with Butch Harmon, he steadily avoids your gaze and when you ask him a question, he stares straight ahead, his eyes fixed on a point at a right angle to you.


Butch Harmon has been taking questions from David Livingstone for years and answering them into the camera. It's an arresting moment when you're sitting at home and Butch stares directly at you.

John Giles - 'Well, we know this guy'

John Giles figures at this stage of his punditry career that he knows football. He knows the game.

What he does not need to know is the name of every 20-something year old jersey filler who plies his trade in the major European leagues.


There are some guys he knows and he's confident we also know. He may have played in the Premier League. He may have made an impression against Ireland in a pivotal qualifier. For whatever reason, he will point out that we know at least this guy, never mind the rest.

Cyril Farrell - 'As such'

The great Cyril Farrell, the man who led Galway to all their All-Ireland victories in the age of colour television has been a mainstay of hurling punditry since the last 90s.


In the early days, the phrase 'as such' often wormed its way into sentences in which it had place and served no function.

The sentence would not have been lessened by the absence of the words 'as such'. Indeed, it would likely have improved.

Cyril's use of 'as such' has diminished noticeably in recent years.


Eamon Dunphy -  'the Henry Shefflins, the Ruby Walshes...'


Dunphy's propensity to name-check Kilkenny hurlers and national hunt jockeys after watching a Champions League semi-final has become part of the national conversation.

The thought of being included in one of Dunphy's impassioned homilies keeps sportsmen going all through the winter.

Liam Brady's Italian hum

Satirised by Barry Murphy on Apres Match. Tonally, Liam Brady's stint in Italy left a lasting impression on him. His hum will be recognisably Italian to anyone who watched the like of Gianluca Vialli or Paolo Maldini consider questions posed by James Richardson.

Pam Shriver - 'Semi-final'

A niche one here but everyone over the age of 20 remembers watching Wimbledon in the 1990s. American commentator and former doubles partner of Martina Nav, Pam Shriver delighted commentators with her unorthodox pronunciations of words like 'Capriati' (ie. Jennifer) and 'semi-finals'. The semi bit rhymed with eye. Very exotic.

John Giles - 'Hen-ray'

For a long time, George Hamilton persisted in calling Jaap Stam 'Jaap Shtum'. He informed viewers that he had received a tip on this pronunciation by some Dutch football supporters on a flight.

For years, John Giles behaved in the same manner with regard to Thierry Henry's name. He had some insider information and it was everyone else who had it wrong. While all around him were giving the surname the full French surname, Gilesy persisted in calling him Hen-ray.

Andy Townsend - 'For me' 

Like many other hapless football commentators, Andy Townsend went online one fine day and found himself the new whipping boy of Twitter. After a decade working for ITV, it was strange to see the opprobrium burst forth only last year.

Townsend likes to stress to the viewers that whenever he speaks he is speaking his own mind and not speaking the mind of someone else.

Hence the excessive use of the phrase 'for me' which either prefaces or follows an opinion of some sort.

'He's hit that too early, for me, Clive' being the classic of the genre.

All American golf commentators - 'Great golf shot' 

A remarkable number of US golf commentators feel that simply describing a nice strike as 'a good shot' is insufficient.

The uneconomical and surely unnecessary phrase 'good golf shot' has become a staple of golf commentary.

As colleagues of mine often point out, the phrase 'good football shot' has never once been uttered by John Motson or Clive Tyldesley.

Read more: 76 Classic GAA Cliches




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