12 Nov 2014

In a series of interviews with high profile footballers, pundits and journalists Men United spoke to Des Kelly who includes BT, talkSPORT and the Evening Standard among his employers.

We talked to Des about his career, the football season and a few of his quirky past times.

What’s the significant moment during your career?

Most significant moment for me? Probably landing my first job working for David Dimbleby's group of local newspapers in London.

I was given experiences and responsibilities there remarkably early in my career and they've stood me in good stead over the years.  

As for funny moments, there'll be quite a few  - when I write the book. I suppose the best laughs were during the time I spent travelling around Europe and the World with Liverpool side, Jack Charlton's Republic of Ireland and Terry Venables' England squad.

Some of the tales will have to stay safe until then, but they will involve Jacuzzis, punch ups, dancing on tables, stolen mopeds, being held at gunpoint in the Middle East and a colleague's night with a drag queen - not necessarily all at the same time, thankfully.

As for 'scoops', I've had tales over the years about new managers, acting as a go-between for one boss when he swapped clubs, transfers, one-to-one interviews and the like. But you're only interesting if you've got today's story.

Have you got any quirky tales from the press box you can share?

People forget how far modern communications have come in a relatively short time. I remember turning up at a football ground with one of the first mobile phones on the market. It weighed a ton - and the power source looked and felt like car battery.

This was back in the day when you had to call in your copy and a typist would take it down at the other end and the voice at the other end of the line would sigh "Is there much more of this?".

I once went to Albania for a World Cup qualifier praying there would be a line out. Instead, the press box turned out to be a small booth, behind plexiglass, baking in near 40 degree heat - and right in the middle of the floor was a large, how can I put this delicately? - a large no.2. A colleague pointed at this unpleasant sight and suggested it would be better than the intro to my match report. 

How are your picks in the PL, Championship, League 1 and League 2 doing so far?

Chelsea were my boringly predictable choice for the Premier League - and they're doing even better than expected.

The Championship is an almighty bunfight so I can't pretend I had any insight to offer, other than saying I'd like to see Mick McCarthy's Ipswich in with a shout this season.

But League One has turned things on its head, with my home club Bristol City racing away. Nobody saw that one coming, but long may it last. It's ridiculous that a city the size of Bristol doesn't have a successful football club.

In League Two I'm hoping Luton Town's successful start continues, as I had many happy years watching their great side there, which included players like David Moss. And I'd like Wimbledon to do well - as that's where I was brought up.   

According to Wikipedia you’ve run with the bulls, climbed mountains and sailed round islands, what’s the most challenging thing you’ve ever done?

Running with the bulls in Pamplona was among the most stupid things I've done, but I had to give it a go once. A guy was gored to death when I was there, so I figured I wouldn't push my luck a second time. 

Reaching the summit of Kilimanjaro was very satisfying. I was on a Football League expedition with the likes of Brendan Rodgers, Chris Kamara and Aidy Boothroyd. It was tough going at times but a lot of fun and when you spend more than a week up an African peak without running water or flushing toilets you get to know what people are really like. I made some friends for life up there. 

The most challenging thing I've done is the Network Q Rally of Great Britain, as it was known back then. It was during the glory days of Colin McRae, Richard Burns and Co. when people used to play the computer game at home.

My first attempt came just three weeks after I'd been dragged out of a wreck in Belgium while unconscious. Putting that out of my head was difficult. But it's the intensity that drains you.One mistake and you know you'll find yourself wrapped around a tree, or disappearing over a cliff's edge. So the concentration levels are ferociously draining.  

I was with Tony Jardine and we came home with a trophy. We've done many more events since, in Belgium, up in the Arctic and others, but I still remember that first WRC event. I don't think I slept for a fortnight. 

You work on newspapers, on the radio and on TV with BT Sport. How have you enjoyed the transition and do you agree that journalists are the new pundits of choice?

It's a multimedia age, so it's best to keep as many bases covered as humanly possible -be it TV, radio or newspapers. They all feed each other. I came into the industry to write and I still take great satisfaction from producing a column.

I shelved writing it for a year because BT Sport offered me an opportunity to do a television programme and I wanted to focus fully on that. The reach and immediacy of television and radio is very powerful and it was a chance to try something new.

I enjoy radio because you can be more informal and I always enjoy a bit of verbal wordplay. But we live in a television age and the opportunity to host a live chat and opinion led show, interspersed by visual gags, is a privilege. The idea is to transfer some of the skills of newspapers and radio onto the screen. I'll let you know if and when I manage it.

It’s 40 years since the introduction of Ceefax and 80 word match reports, any happy memories from the service? And on that note, are you happy with 140 characters these days.

Waiting for the football scores to update. And no, I'm never happy with 140 characters.

Des Kelly kindly agreed to be interviewed as part of our partnership with talkSPORT.

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