Book Review: Pundit Colouring

Posted by on Jul 7, 2015 in Book Review | No Comments
Book Review: Pundit Colouring

Pundit Colouring by Mick Kinlan and Richard Bellis
Published by Ockley Books
2015, £6.99

Last week, I was in one of those shops that sell things you don’t really need in the Brooklyn neighbourhood of Carroll Gardens – for UK based readers, think Brick Lane or Church Street in Stoke Newington – you know the ones – those that sell elephant shaped erasers in rainbow colours, tote bags with ‘Normal People Scare Me’ emblazoned thereon and mini purses that look and even smell like French macaroons. Among the items that gained my attention were offerings from a firm called Colour Me Good – in short, colouring in books devoted to various movie stars such as Benedict Cumberbatch, James Franco, Eddie Redmayne and Ryan Gosling – made all the more incongruous that the actors in question are more likely to crop up in your middle brow Oscar bait film than a real Hollywood action affair.

Extending the process to its logical conclusion, we now have Richard Bellis, occasional contributor to this site and purvey of Chester FC organ The Blue and White Fanzine alongside Michael Kinlan, designer for The Two Unfortunates. Their idea? To bring to you a whole colouring book devoted to football pundits.

It’s all as preposterous as it sounds but carried off with no little elan. Giant images of pundits and commentators, past and present, adorn the pages accompanied by blurbs. The latter are penned by Bellis and do not miss an opportunity to poke fun while the illustrations, from Kinlan, are quite frankly brilliant – immediately recognisable likenesses that highlight his talent with a pencil.

Hence, Robbie Savage’s designer stubble is expertly recreated while there is also the possibility to confer whichever barnet you might wish for on the Welshman’s bonce – the sleek 1950s Teddy boy look of today or the diving in the penalty area to gain Leicester City a penalty locks of yesteryear. Similarly, Graeme Souness appears menacingly unshaven as he does now or equally menacing as the curly permed, moustachioed bar hopper accosted by Yosser Hughes in Boys from the Blackstuff.

Talking of moustaches, British Empire historian Piers Brendon has alleged that this kind of facial hair was out of fashion come the 1950s but Souness clearly disproves that and while a visit to Vale Park within the last 10 years also provides evidence of its endurance as a style icon, perhaps its most enthusiastic proponent has been Des Lynam who, not coincidentally, features in the book’s alarming centrepiece, a two page spread depicting him in nothing but his swimming trunks.

Even less wholesome are the pages devoted to those twin villains, Richard Keys and Andy Gray, sadly still prospering via Copa America coverage on US television screens while Garth Crooks ‘curates’ a word search and poor old Adrian Chiles is treated relatively kindly by Bellis – rightly, given how unfairly vilified he has been.

In a world where the immediacy of response via social media has given online football publishing a real, discernible edge over print formats, the tactility of the  colouring book remains way superior to any attempt there might be to emulate such an exercise digitally although the book does resemble The Football Attic’s League of Blogs offerings in its defiance of the bottom line. The reaction in most quarters will be befuddlement but my view is ‘why the hell not?’

Rob Langham
Rob Langham (pen name: Lanterne Rouge) is co-founder of the defiantly non-partisan football league blog, The Two Unfortunates, a website that occasionally strays into covering issues of wider importance. He's 47 and lives in Oxford while retaining his boyhood support of Reading FC. He tweets as @twounfortunates and has written for a number of websites and publications including The Football Attic, The Inside Left, When Saturday Comes, In Bed with Maradona, Futbolgrad and The Blizzard as well as being nominated for the Football Supporters' Federation Blogger of the Year Award in 2013.

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