Many years ago, as a cub reporter working in local radio, one of my jobs was to attend the daily media call at the two local police stations on my patch.
A week into the job, my boss at the radio station pulled me to one side and told me the Chief Constable of the force was amazed at my appearance: I regularly wore a hoodie, jeans and a pony tail to these media conferences.
I shudder when I recall those times (especially the hair nonsense) but I was young and stupid. I immediately sharpened up my act: haircut, polished shoes, shirt, tie and not only started to look professional, it made me feel and act more professionally. I got scoop after scoop, and my career never looked back.
Whether people agree with it or not, appearance IS important, especially when representing a company.
And when representing a football club.
There’s a debate raging in East Anglia about the tone of Mick McCarthy’s post match press conferences. Mick has apologised for swearing as he addressed the media after his Ipswich Town side came from behind to win at Burton on Saturday.
One local sports writer summed it up perfectly when he said most of us swear, but there is a right and wrong time to swear, and Mick’s bad language while in charge of a club with “an innate and tangible family feel,” does not feel representative of Ipswich Town FC.
The same writer, Stuart Watson in the East Anglian Daily Times, pointed out that Ipswich Town’s former owners made the late great Sir Bobby Robson apologise for calling the fans “zombies” once.
There is no need for Mick to swear: he is the most public figure at the football club and he should behave accordingly, so it’s right and proper that he apologised. I was at Mick’s post match press conference after Town beat Newcastle last season, and there were expletives thrown in then too. No need.
The way a manager conducts himself is important, and so too the way he presents himself. Which brings me to David Unsworth, and Joey Barton’s incendiary comments about Unsworth’s weight. Joey may not have presented his case to the liking of many people, but those accusing Barton of a personal attack are completely missing the point.
I disagree in the main with what Joey was saying, but fundamentally he was asking this question: should the leader of elite athletes be anything less than in good shape physically?
Like asking should a sports teacher at a school be overweight? Should a health food specialist be 25 stone? Should a GP be morbidly obese?
In certain jobs it is unquestionable that the right image needs to be presented.
Why do I disagree with Barton on Unsworth? Because I think what the manager says to the players is far more important than how he looks or how much he weighs.
I disagree with Barton, but I defend his right to have an opinion. His explanation of his view made it clear that it wasn’t a personal attack. It’s a shame some people didn’t bother to listen to everything Joey had to say.