Richard Keys: Goodbye Ape Man

With attitudes as neanderthal as his hairy hands suggest, the Sky Sports anchorman deserves everything he gets.
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With attitudes as neanderthal as his hairy hands suggest, the Sky Sports anchorman deserves everything he gets.

It doesn’t matter who they are, anyone who refers to women as ‘it’ is a loveless prick. Be it the hairy armed, greasy chinned fart Keys who by now should be weasling his way to the job centre from Isleworth or the guy who makes suits out of women’s skin in Silence of The Lambs. I know you’re thinking ‘that’s a bit harsh’ but right now Richard Keys and the Buffalo Bill character who poses naked with his penis tucked between his legs are the only people I can think of who have used the word ‘it’ to describe women. And I don’t just mean on screen.

Watch the clip of Keys chumming up to Jamie Redknapp  trying to be super-macho by displaying no sensitivity about a woman Jamie knows and you see the gap between class and insecurity. A hairy-armed shitball who oozes smug knowledge that he’s got his groveling off to a tee but fails to notice that none of the other men in shot pick up his tone and go with it.

All three of those men – Redknapp, Gullit and Souness have spent all of their working lives in male-heavy working environments yet none of them join in. Even though they’re off air they’re smart enough to recognize it’s not cool or funny.  He’s also publically implying – he’s off air but surrounded by TV technical staff – that Redknapp who is seen as a wholesome family man by his sponsors is also the sort of bloke who can be found any night of the week fucking another woman.

One critic suggested the three former-footballers appear to condone Keys comments but if you look at Redknapp correcting Keys, Souness sitting back and swinging his leg forward and Gullit ignoring the bloke you just get a sense of embarrassment.

Keys, who as far as I know, has never played football professionally and who makes a living out of introducing a programme offers no professional insight into football. Here he comes across like a weak little kid trying to impress big boys by being as crass as he can.

Keys involvement with live football has always been baffling to me. Unless he was there to represent the most simple of Sky viewers with his deadpan straight forward questions. Elsewhere across Sky you find boysy banter, glimpses into dressing room camaraderie and a lot of self-deprecation from former players, presenters and fans alike but you also get experience and insight. The balance has worked well, Sky have opened the dressing room door on a world millions of us are obsessed by. Be it the excellent flashback roundtable programmes or the light-hearted Sunday morning analysis with current players who are at ease and will open up, Sky have managed to demystify football. Andy Gray himself was part and parcel of this with the technology and know-how the station developed around him.

After my piece on here about community ownership of football club two Sabotage Times readers laid the blame at Sky’s door but I disagree. I think Sky Sports is a fantastic celebration of football which has provided fans with more access to the game than ever before. Remember for almost half a century the BBC had the rights to show football and all we got was one match a week. Even today their flagship offering leaves a lot to be desired and for those of us with Sky, Match of The Day is a forgotten entity.

Andy Gray is a man out of time who’s success has allowed him to think he can be as boorish as he wants in the workplace but just as a modern centre-back would leave him for dead as the ageing centre-forward he now is, so opinions and standards have changed and left him standing.

I thought Sky Sports were harsh in sacking Rodney Marsh for making an awkward bad taste comment about the Tsunami and the Toon Army but in this case Gray has let his prejudices undermine his position as a supposedly impartial observer. Marsh was the joker, the provocateur on Sky Soccer Saturday but Gray is expected to be the oracle. If his opinions are rooted in a time when there was no place for women in football then it is perhaps fitting that he is cast back to that time job-wise. Talk Sport will gobble him up instantly.

Despite now coming under the spotlight for hiring ‘pretty’ presenters and you really can’t just address Sky Sports here – look at the difference between Lauren Laverne and Charlie Brooker on the 10 O’Clock Show – no-one has mentioned Helen Chamberlain's role in the station.

What’s most revealing is that the outing of Gray and Keys has come from their own colleagues. The clips placed of You Tube haven’t been put up by Wikileaks or journalists but the very people who have to  work with them. If even your own work-mates think you’re a shit-stain then you really are fucked.

Whereas Chamberlain was previously Tim Lovejoy’s co-presenter or sidekick on Soccer AM, since the younger Max Rushden has joined her she has made that programme her own. She comes across as a typical football fan, someone who – like the vast majority of fans - understands that football is mainly about standing in the cold being miserable interspersed with momentary glimpses of hope. She doesn’t support Liverpool because they had good looking players, she supports some god-forsaken unfashionable club in the South West because that’s where she’s from.  She doesn’t undermine herself by assuming girls understand less about football. The only bit that jars on Soccer AM, that seems a hangover from Lovejoy's time is the Soccerette Feature, but even now I guess you could argue this is reflective of entry-level WAG ambition.

Chamberlain is a shining example of how Sky has elevated the games and news of less fashionable and smaller clubs to a position they deserve to be in. If you’re a fan of Southend or Carlisle and you’ve signed a new striker or lost a full-back to injury you’ve every right to read about it on their 24 hour news bulletins. Sky has not ruined football, it has glued it together with a platform that allows you to watch football almost all the time be it the greatest players in the world or Under 16s playing home internationals.  Apart from the results round-up and Football League Show on a Saturday you rarely come across any team outside of the Premiership again on BBC TV.

For those of us who grew up in a world where girls weren’t allowed to wear trousers to school or play football, Chamberlain has been a revelation. A woman football fan who isn’t a patronising token nod to sexual balance like the woman who reads the emails on the BBC’s Football League Show like a faltering classroom assistant trying to enthuse some five year olds.

Twenty years ago I used to wonder what women really knew about football but you’ve only to get into conversation with one nowadays to quickly see that if they’re a fan they’re as likely to know as much about how the game works as the bloke sitting next to them. I was shocked to discover my girlfriend’s mum can explain quite clearly the strengths and weaknesses of Fernando Torres, Martin O’Neill or Richard Dunne.

To take away a person’s gender, as Keys has done, and reduce them to the status of an object is to put them on the same level as dosghit. I know some of you might be thinking, this is coming from the bloke who started ‘loaded’ but in my time there no-one talked about women like that. We loved women, loved working with them, loved being around them, loved admiring them. If anything we probably got into trouble for loving too many of them at the same time and with such teenage intensity.

Is Keys’ mother or daughter an ‘it’? Would he revel in the glorious site of seeing other men refer to these women in his life as ‘it’? Some commentators have compared Keys to Alan Partridge but to me that’s an insult to Alan who is a naïve, vain, loveable fool.  The news team in Anchorman – a spoof of 70s  TV sexism – is probably closer to the mark.

What’s most revealing is that the outing of Gray and Keys has come from their own colleagues. The clips placed of You Tube haven’t been put up by Wikileaks or journalists but the very people who have to  work with them. If even your own work-mates think you’re a shit-stain then you really are fucked.

Click here for more of the Keys & Grey Saga

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