Stan Collymore - a riposte.
Last night on Twitter, Stan Collymore and I had an unsavoury falling out, causing a bit of a stir. To be perfectly frank, I had no intention of replying to Stan's blog post but feel a few points need clarification due to the deleting his at-times offensive tweets to me and replacing them with a blog post that skews the issue. I responded to Stan's slurs with a few of my own and for that, I apologise to Stan and to anyone who found the whole thing distasteful. Twitter is an incredible resource for those of us who cover 'niche' football that the mainstream media generally don't deem worthy of column inches/airtime, but it also allows instant communication without considered thought. We were both guilty of that yesterday evening.
Last night on his show on TalkSPORT Stan's subject of choice was footballing mercenaries. Important to add that I wasn't listening but it was all over my Twitter timeline, prompting me to ask the question, "Stan '12 Clubs' Collymore talking about mercenaries on the radio?". I didn't @ mention Stan in said tweet, but a couple of minutes later I received a tweet from Stan, asking 'why didn't you mention me in that tweet, maggot, everyone else did?'.
That tweet was the trigger for the lamentable to-and-fro between Stan and myself. However, this isn't the first time that he and I have exchanged unpleasantries. In the Summer, Stan was pontificating about the BBC, and how journalists who work for the Beeb pass on jobs to their children, preventing 'normal people' from being given the opportunity to work there.
This patently isn't the case - anyone who has ever had any dealing with the BBC knows their recruitment policies would never allow such practices - and I suggested to Stan at the time that the proliferation of ex-professional footballers in the media is a more real concern for those coveting a career in football journalism. He defended himself vigorously but conceded that there are still those ex-players who are inadequately prepared and are rightfully mocked by football supporters who are forced to put up with their 'insight'. At no time did I put Stan in that category.
The quality of punditry on television and radio seems to be discussed on Twitter as much as the football itself, and rightly so. The addition of Gary Neville to Sky Sports' team has been a breath of fresh air, offering unique insight that those of us who 'never kicked a ball' are unable to provide. For every Neville, however, there are a host of pundits that seem to think their job is to describe what they see rather than dissect it using their unique experience. It appears that some just turn up with no preparation whatsoever. I heard an ex-professional footballer say 'He's 25, 26, 27 years old, something like that' yesterday whilst watching a game, all but admitting that he didn't bother even reading the profile of the players he was supposed to be providing insight on.
Again, though, this is something of a digression from the original purpose of this post.
The deleted tweets and the subsequent blog post from Stan don't marry up. Collymore has taken a swipe at me without giving his followers the benefit of context. I tweeted him, at the very end of our set-to, "DM me an email address and I'll send you a showreel, you might learn something." Not particularly covering myself in glory there, and people are right to think that the tweet was arrogant and foolish. That may be tempered by the fact that one of Stan's deleted tweets asserted that should I tune in to his show, I would learn something. Again, tit for tat and, in hindsight, pathetic of both of us. See above for the apology.
I agree with Collymore's blog post of the early hours of this morning, there is a place for both journalists and ex-professionals in media coverage of football. Just as ex-players provide insight that mere journalists can't, the same is true of the reverse. A well balanced commentary coupling adds to the enjoyment and understanding of a football match as long as both parties are prepared and knowledgable. I work exceptionally hard to ensure I know what I'm talking about when I commentate on a game or speak on the radio, as I'm sure Stan does. Many don't - both ex-players and journalists.
I have never questioned Stan's professionalism, not in the summer and not last night. I've never worked with Stan but according to the praise-laden tweets from the great and good of Anglophone football journalism he's shared this afternoon, many of those who have rate him highly. Collymore has clearly worked extremely hard to make the transition from playing the game to covering it, and is seemingly an example to the many other ex-players who turn up and offer nothing. The issue I had with Stan last night was his insulting, aggressive behaviour towards me. I reacted badly to being insulted and, once again, apologise for that.
The point of this post is to draw a line under a sorry situation and to clarify what I believe to be a misrepresentation of the situation last night. Let's hope I didn't burn too many bridges.