World Cup: Ricky Charlesworth - Why Ally McCoist has been the star of the commentary teams

Welcome return: Ally McCoist.
Welcome return: Ally McCoist.
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Vicki Sparks made headlines when she became the first woman to commentate live on a televised World Cup match in the UK.

As is the norm in today’s society, her commentary on Portugal against Morocco for the BBC drew vast amounts of ridicule and praise via social media and quickly turned into a media flurry with everyone having their two-penneth.

The whole furore got me thinking about the role of commentators and pundits during this tournament.

Due to the sheer amount of games broadcast, we’ve heard some new voices (such as Sparks) but also a smattering of familiar dulcet tones from years gone by.

There’s been Kevin Keatings – mostly known for his commentary on La Liga games but someone I will always regard as the guy from highlights segments of Dream Team (it used to be on Sky One, Google it).

There’s also been Ian Darke (Sky’s former boxing man) talking over match highlights for the BBC, which was pretty strange when you suddenly realise Jim Watt is not about to wade in with his Glaswegian size nines.

But for me, the best of the lot has undoubtedly been Ally McCoist’s return to terrestrial TV.

Admittedly, I best remember McCoist for his role in the FIFA computer game series where he ably assisted John Motson for a number of years.

He is still adept at analysing the real thing, too.

McCoists’s quirky quips and succinct analysis have been a breath of fresh air to the all-too-familiar cliches and painful punditry of, say, Mark Lawrenson or Glenn Hoddle.

At a time when there is more football on offer than at any other time in history, it is refreshing to hear someone talk without cliches and whose passion for the game shines through.

The former Rangers hero is not just restricted to footballing remarks either.

If his line during the recent Colombia and Poland game – “Kazan has come a long way since it fell to Ivan the Terrible in 1552” – isn’t the best on-air remark you’ll ever hear, then I don’t know what is.

It has to be said McCoist’s on-air relationship with name-caller Jon Champion goes some way to making it a success.

The duo bounce off each other almost effortlessly and there’s a feeling of mutual respect between the pair.

The tried and tested first-choice broadcasters of Clive Tyldesley and Guy Mowbray will still get the ‘big’ games.

There is no denying them that privilege given their ability to perfectly sum up the big moments but, for me, the real stars of this World Cup – in terms of the commentary box – have undoubtedly been Messrs Champion and McCoist.