And one became two. Tonight, Richard Keys left Sky Sports, jumping before he was pushed, to join Andy Gray on the dole queue. Now, I will not defend the indefensible. What Keys and Gray said was wrong, and deserved to be punished. But I don’t believe that they are bad people, and I don’t believe that they needed or merited the sack.
In a shitstorm reminiscent of Sachsgate, Keys and Gray’s days were numbered as soon as footage emerged of them poking sexist fun at Sian Massey, a female assistant referee. More footage has since emerged, which is also in poor taste. But what they said would have been said verbatim across the country by thousands of male football fans. This is not right, but it is true. Having women like Massey in the game will help to change these attitudes, but it is a male-dominated environment and this will take time. It has been forgotten, or just ignored, that Keys, Gray, and the rest of the commentary team wished Massey luck before the match, acknowledging the unusualness of the situation. At half-time, they responded to the brilliant decision Massey made by congratulating her, as I have seen them do on umpteen occasions with male officials.
Both Keys and Gray are part of an older guard of football. Gray made his debut for Dundee in 1973 – a year later, the James Bond film The Man With The Golden Gun was released. Bond was hugely sexist at this time, and his love interest was crudely named Mary Goodnight. This is the world Gray grew up in. Whilst what they did was wrong, it was not born out of malice. It comes as a result of ingrained views. Football has changed unimaginably since Gray played. Even in the 90s, Manchester United had so-called ‘Captain’s Days’ – whole afternoons spent in the pub. Times change, but it can take time for individuals to catch up, and often they get left behind. Therefore you can only truly condemn behaviour like Keys and Gray’s when it is stood by, but both men have since apologised, and shown a willingness to change.
What annoys me is the rank hypocrisy of Sky, our media and society in general. On Sky Sports, you would not see Clare Balding. Georgie Thompson, Kirsty Gallacher, Helen Chamberlain et al are beautiful women. They may well be highly qualified and knowledgeable about sport, but I’m sure the lads-mag looks never held them back. One of Sky’s most popular programs is Soccer AM, with the regular feature Soccerette. The Soccerette wears a football shirt, not much else, and bounces around on a trampoline. All in aid of women’s rights, obviously. The Sun today highlighted one of Andy Gray’s other indiscretions today on their website thus – Gray’s perving over TV girl. This from the same paper that has, on page 3 every day, a semi-naked young woman. A cheap wank to perv over. The Sun and the News Of The World are owned by Rupert Murdoch, who is the major shareholder of Sky. Gray is suing the News Of The World over phone hacking – has Murdoch had his revenge?
And again, what they said was sexist and wrong. But sexism lives and is rife today. Loose Women is an enormously popular TV show – I doubt very much that they always offer a balanced opinion of the sexes (although I can’t offer an informed view on that – I’m more likely to be found giving a polar bear head than watching that tripe). There is a car insurance company, Sheila’s Wheels, that is exclusively for women. Surely that is sexist too?
What would I have done? Suspend Keys and Gray for a month, donating their pay to a women’s charity. Make them apologise fully. If they refused, fire them before their feet touched the floor. I don’t think they needed to lose their jobs. They were both good at those jobs, and had been the faces of Sky Sports for nearly 20 years as a result. But you can’t slip anymore. And so they have been vilified in public. Drink drivers, like footballer Lee Hughes, can go to prison after killing someone, and return to their former careers instantly upon release. Neither Keys nor Gray have committed a crime – will they be afforded the same opportunity? I very much doubt it. For them, there will be no rehabilitation. That is as wrong as sexism. But it is the Britain we’ve created. We love nothing more than watching celebrities trip up and kicking them to pieces when they hit the floor, all documented by an increasingly tabloid, hysteria-fuelled media. Let me reiterate – what Keys and Gray did was wrong. But the reaction was not right either.
It’s really very good. Natalie Portman performed a lot of the dancing herself, and the psychological aspect makes it different and far more interesting as a film. So go see it:
LA Noire looks cool as
In other news
-Edinburgh is going to rule.
-Love my Kindle.
Right, this is fucking brilliant: Via Dave, my main man, Yo La Tengo:
Who cares if you can’t tell the words. Awesome.