Regular viewers of Sky Sports News, and there are very many, may be aware that the channel's recently made the transformation from SD to HD. This should have had a dramatic impact on the quality of the pictures produced, it's also had a potentially dramatic impact on my wardrobe.
All reporters have been sent instructions on what we should be wearing to ensure we don't appear dishevelled and unkempt in glorious HD, it shows all the lines and creases you see. Some of it's fairly obvious, like only wearing shirts that have been ironed but there's also the instruction that shirts should only be plain blue or white, ties plain and suits plain and dark.
Suits. I love them, I hate them. Suits are 'the Man', suits are a scooter gliding through Soho. Suits are Goodfellas, suits are 9 to 5. Suits are impossible to pack, suits are adaptable. Suits you, doesn't suit you.
I've had loads of suits down the years. I bought a beautiful blue Armani one for my wedding, I had a bespoke suit made when I went to cover Leeds in the League Cup final at Wembley. I've had black and white checks, a ridiculous linen one with a Nehru collar, an 'Our Man In Havana' cream suit, my current favourite's from Marks and Spencer's Italian Collection and it cost me 30 quid from one of their outlet stores.
My taste has necessarily become more conservative, not because I've grown older but more because I've grown tired of the remorseless stick that results when I turn up to work on a Sky Sports live game wearing anything even vaguely unconventional.
The Sky football OB's are a sartorial challenge all of their own. They are a bear pit. There's a catering wagon everyone gathers on at the start of the day's activities. As you step foot inside, you're being checked out. Top to toe, all the lines ready to be rolled out; "Are you going to get changed later then?", "Is that your favourite gardening jacket?", "Was it dark when you got dressed this morning?"etc etc.
To stay out the firing line, a plain blue or grey suit, light blue or white shirt with swept back collars(never button down!) and a plain or silk tie should ensure safe, stick-free passage to the back of the bus. At least until they get the chance to check out your shoes...
"Suits. I love them, I hate them. Suits are 'the Man', suits are a scooter gliding through Soho. Suits are Goodfellas, suits are 9 to 5. Suits are impossible to pack, suits are adaptable. Suits you, doesn't suit you."
Being something of a rebel, I've sought to stamp my own personality on this process. I have tended towards wool sports jackets, light brown with a dark wool trouser or grey with a black trouser. It's the way I've seen the older guys in Italy dressing. It's a good outfit for going overseas to a live game because you can wear the jacket with jeans to travel or even in the evening for post-match cocktails. I've had a vision of Clinton Eastwood in 'Dirty Harry' in my head. It's a look he favours in that film.
Sky Sports has always demanded smart dress in the studio and on the ground when it comes to live games. It's something that creates a professional image. We always look like we mean business wherever we turn up, whether it's the Victory Shield or Champions League. I was working on a Wales' game recently when the person doing the touchline reporter job for S4C, the Welsh channel, turned up in jeans, a flowery shirt and a pair of flip-flops. Clearly, different companies have different criteria, he'd have been hung from the sat truck dish for that if he was with Sky.
Mind you, I took a chance myself that evening. It was late May, a warm evening and we were covering a low-key friendly in Llanelli. That encouraged me to turn up in a brown blazer with vertical, White stripes. I paired it with chinos, a bold, rust coloured tie and a white shirt. I took merciless hammer all evening.
I should have known better. I'd worn the same jacket, a TK Maxx impulse purchase, for a Soccer Saturday match at Barnsley. After my first report was over and the nation had seen my new look, Jeff Stelling took one of his famous pauses, then suggested that I must be heading straight off to a regatta afterwards. The panel fell about. I got a message in my headphones from the Director, "Have you got another jacket you can wear please?". At half time I had to slink off to get my Sky Sports coat out of the car, the blazer went back in the wardrobe and has barely been seen since.
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