EXUBERANT television presenter and football fanatic Jeff Stelling visited Worthing yesterday to meet the southern finalist of a nationwide football punditry competition.
Liverpool supporter Kevin Clarke, 46, of Church Walk, Worthing, has made the final five of The People’s Pundit competition, championed by the Carlsberg Fan Squad.
The competition will reward one lucky football fan with the chance to commentate on a Premier League game live on TalkSport on the final day of the season.
Jeff, the face of Sky Sports’ Gillette Soccer Saturday and former presenter of Channel Four’s Countdown, travelled to the Beach House bar, in Marine Parade, Worthing, to give Kevin his support and to share some tips.
He said: “He (Kevin) is articulate, he knows the game inside out. I think he’s going to have really good opinions. I think he’s got a cracking chance.
“I always say to people be a pundit not a parrot, because when you’re sitting alongside a commentator what we don’t want to hear is a repeat of exactly what he said. Try and have an opinion that makes you stand out form the crowd.
Try and have an opinion that makes you stand out form the crowd.Jeff Stelling
“I’d say to Kevin, as a pundit, with the seconds he’s got, don’t throw in too many stats. Don’t blind people with facts and figures its more about opinion.”
Other tips included coming up with a turn of phrase, not speaking too quickly and not swearing – otherwise you will be ‘out quicker than you can say Borussia Mönchengladbach’.
Father-of-three Kevin heard about the competition while listening to TalkSport and said it brought back childhood memories of when he used to commentate on games and conduct mock interviews with friends.
“As soon as I saw it it just took me back to that and I thought I’ve got to give it a go.
“The thought of winning the whole thing and doing a Premier League game would just be an incredible experience. This was like a bucket list thing for me.”
He said he was also inspired by comedian John Bishop, who swapped his job as a medical representative for a pharmaceutical company for a career as professional funny man (Kevin is a sales director for BT).
Ex-Manchester United and Liverpool stars Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher are Kevin’s favourite pundits because of their ‘humour and strong opinions’.
Jeff was also full of praise for Neville. He said: “Gary Neville’s made a massive impact since he changed from playing. He always had an opinion then anyway so you expected he would be good, but I don’t think anybody expected how good he would be. He’s right up there with the best.”
Kevin, who is the oldest person remaining in the competition, was crowned regional winner at an event in Bristol on April 2. He was sent a clip of a Tony Yeboah goal for Leeds against Liverpool, from 1995, 48 hours before the event and asked to prepare commentary. On the evening he was also asked to speak for 30 seconds on whether or not Welsh international Gareth Bale should stay at Real Madrid.
He said: “It was a very close one there were probably three out of the five of us that could have won. It was an incredible buzz when they announced my name. It was just amazing.”
He will now attend a boot camp in London on April 20 with TalkSport chief pundit Mark Saggers, before the final on May 18.
• “The mission of the Carlsberg fan squad is to make football better for fans. That’s why, If Carlsberg did Pundits…they’d probably be just like you. Jeff Stelling visited Southern finalist, Kevin Clarke, at The Beach House Bar in Worthing to help him prepare for Boot Camp in the People’s Pundit, championed by Carlsberg – the official beer of the Premier League. To find out how Kevin and all of our other pundits get on in the race to secure their big break on talkSPORT, or to find details of a regional heat near you, head to ThePeoplesPundit.co.uk Plus, if you’d like to show your support to Kevin, follow him @KevinClarke_ #PeoplesPundit”