The Plastic Hippo

January 27, 2011

Lady in red…or Gray

Filed under: Media,Sport — theplastichippo @ 11:22 am

There can be no more dismal a task than being an Assistant Referee at a drawn game between Hereford United and Port Vale unless, of course, one has an interest in cider or pottery. Consider Sian Massey, a teacher from Coventry, a fully qualified referee and, gawd help us, a woman.

Some good old boys on Sky Sports decided that the game had “gone mad” because the FA had allowed a female to run the line at a game between Wolves and Liverpool. Some off-air “banter” between Richard Keys and pundit Andy Gray suggested that someone should explain the off side rules to Ms Massey. But the little woman needed no explanations and kept her pretty little head up and her flag down allowing Fernando Torres to score a perfectly legal and rather good goal. This prompted some resigned grunts from the cave men in the commentary box.

Unguarded off-air comments are nothing new and have become the stuff of legend. Long before the plethora of out-take shows, techies at the BBC would produce a compilation of embarrassing gaffes to be played at the Christmas party. In one, a senior female newsreader is heard engaging in some rather frenetic and loud moments of passion with, unfortunately for the newsreader, a man who turned out to be a zealous sound engineer. For those hearing the tape, watching the BBC news was never quite the same again.

These faux pas are usually kept strictly in-house and even the most vindictive production crews resist the temptation of public exposure. So the release of incriminating footage of Andy Gray is unusual. Someone at Sky Sports doesn’t like Andy Gray and not just because he is a sexist oaf.

The fact that the Scottish ex-footballer is in possession of a Neanderthal misogyny worthy of Bernard Manning comes as no surprise and is hardly breaking news. Gray was sacked by Rupert Murdoch owned BSkyB and Richard Keys resigned talking of “dark forces at work”. It is, of course, a complete coincidence that Gray is one of the many “celebrities” currently pursuing legal action against Rupert Murdoch owned News International over phone hacking at the News of the World. Gray and Keys should consider themselves lucky in their dealings with the Murdoch empire. Left sided hard man central defender Tommy Sheridan got himself banged up for three years for perjury under oath at a defamation case brought against, you guessed it, the News of the World.

Gray and Sheridan are not the only ones shown the red card for clumsy tackles and ungentlemanly conduct. News International gave assistant editor at the News of the World, Ian Edmonson his marching orders just a few days after Andy Coulson took an early Downing Street bath. But, of course, these are isolated “bad apples” inside the cider press of the Murdoch machine.

As for the future employment prospects of Mr Gray, he could find work at Bescot Stadium dressed as a comedy swift. The five or six people attending home games could do with cheering up as Walsall plummet towards the Northern Premier League. There he may find Sienna Miller running the line in the role of Assistant Referee. After all, she knows more about the off side rule than News International and Rupert Murdoch know about morality.

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