Friday, 21 January 2011

Great Touch For A Big Man

Being feted as Britain's brainiest footballer is akin to being lauded as the least corrupt member of FIFA or Bulgaria's most beautiful shot-putter. In short: it's not really something worth bragging about.

That said, Clarke Carlisle performance on this weeks Question Time was nothing short of revelatory. In a week where Jermaine Pennant was dumb enough to forget he even owned an £98000 Porsche left rusting away for 5 months at a Zaragoza train station, to see Clarke holding his own amongst senior political heavyweights was a refreshing surprise.

In the company of such seasoned orators as George Galloway, Alistair Campbell and David Dimbleby, Carlisle displayed an intelligence and loquaciousness that make him look like the John F. Kennedy of the footballing world.

Carlisle has previous though. He won a one off game show called "Britain's Brainiest Footballer" in 2002 which had such intellectual colossi as Alan Brazil and Malcolm MacDonald amongst its contestants. He also appeared on Countdown in 2010 and won his episode.

"I can't say it's better than winning a big football game - but it's up there."

Apart from his day job as Burnley's centre-back he is also Chairman of the PFA. Not bad for a guy who was struggling with alcohol abuse as recently as 2003.

Whilst tempers were fraying with Galloway accusing Campbell of having Iraqi blood on his hands in his sexing up the "dodgy dossier" and Campbell accusing Galloway of sucking up to former dictator Saddam Hussein, Clarke maintained an air of cool dignity.

When the time came to make his point he made an impassioned speech indicating that he would like to see anyone responsible for sending our brave soldiers to war being held accountable should that war be found to be illegal. As his own cousin is currently serving in Afghanistan it was obvious that this wasn't idle politicking.

He even managed to get some football related metaphors on the topic of NHS reforms.

"One area that did catch my eye was the cutting out of the middlemen for GPs. Now this is something akin to my own industry, it's like putting a director of football in a football club to control player acquisitions. He might see a player he thinks is valuable, buy him for the team but the actual manager doesn't believe this guy fits into what he needs for his team. Now this can cause friction between manager and board level."

On the subject of the uneasy Con-Dem coalition there were more sporting comparisons

"the best teams and most successful teams are the ones that have every worker pulling in the same direction. You have to compromise when you have conflicting views and as we're finding with this new coalition, when you compromise you come to some very unhappy results."

Afterwards Clarke openly admitted that appearing on the programme was

"way out of his comfort zone"

and probably the scariest thing he has ever done.

Surely not as scary as playing away at The Den on a cold Tuesday night though, eh Clarke?

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