Belfast Telegraph

Is Rachel just a fantasy or is there a chance of escape from reality?

By Billy Weir

Rachel Riley, she of the numbers and indecent frocks on Countdown, is something of an enigma wrapped up beside a conundrum.

Brainy, beautiful and supporter of Manchester United (of course she is, she's from Essex) she ticks many of my boxes but I am still less than convinced as to what exactly she offers to the world of football.

Her brief appearances alongside Jeff Stelling on the largely forgotten Friday Night Football have remained just that, largely forgotten, but she is still an integral part of Sky's weekend curtain-raiser, Fantasy Football.

For those not living in fantasy world, each week she is plonked down beside fellow presenter Max Rushden in a pretend dressing room with Paul Merson and a former pro who regales us with tales from his past.

Rachel began by referring to rhododendron bush on legs Marouane Fellaini's 100 per cent record as captain of the Red Devils and for a man who makes us all laugh whenever he opens his mouth, Merse's near silence was golden.

"Captain of Man Utd," he said and then not a word, just the sight of a man shaking his head gently from side to side wondering just how the world had reached such a state. Think of wee insurance dog Churchill hearing his renewal quote.

This week's guest was Micky Quinn, scorer of goals and wearer of a magnificent moustache, and he was given a most apt introduction by Rushden. "263 goals in 588 games, loved by the fans at Portsmouth, Newcastle and Coventry and also loved by many bookmakers and pie shops around the country," he said.

I was slightly alarmed as to just what stories Quinny could regale us with in the early evening as having read his autobiography it wasn't just goals, betting and pies that he indulged in, but he kept it largely clean.

And then Rachel redeemed herself with surely one of the greatest questions ever.

"Despite many requests, you are here without Spit the Dog?" she asked. Quinn took it in his stride but I was still left shaking my head from side to side wondering did she really think he was Bob Carolgees or was it the question of a genius.

It's a fine line, but on the whole I think she should stay, if only to ensure that Sky doesn't give the job to Kelly Cates, nee daughter of Kenny Dalglish, whose appearances have me shaking my head not like a wee dog but a different animal, the drummer from The Muppets.

Belfast Telegraph


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