Garth Crooks has always been a divisive figure on the BBC Sport roster. Some people think he’s an idiot, other people think he’s just a bit weird.
More than anything he’s a constant source of ridicule on social media, whether it’s his incessant nodding during interviews on Football Focus, or his regular Teams of the Week, which often amount to little more than a collection of those Premier League stars that scored over the previous weekend.
One thing is for sure though: Crooks knows politics. While playing in his prime for Tottenham, Crooks’ spare time was spent studying the subject at college.
During his final few years as a player at Charlton, Crooks gained an honours degree in political science, studying everything from Marxism to Thatcherism.
With one eye on life after football, Crooks had also been working steadily to prepare for a career away from the pitch, with one of his first presenting roles coming during a guest spot in a 1982 edition of Top of the Pops alongside Peter Powell. He even appeared alongside Mr Blobby on one occasion.
Having earned his stripes working as chairman of the PFA during his playing days, he was soon drafted into the BBC Football Focus and Match of the Day squads, where his penchant for giving long-winded, almost cryptic responses to the simplest of questions, with his interrogation style getting a similar critique.
“Sometimes I do have my producer in my ear saying: ‘Come on Garth, get on with it’, but I’m always trying to find out something that isn’t too obvious,” he told The Independent a few years back.
“I’ve only ever had one person say to me: ‘That was a stupid question, Garth – what game were you watching?’ That was Harry Redknapp, when I queried whether his team were worth a draw.”
By 1998 though, Crooks was looking for a change and the chance to put his degree to good use. He got exactly that when BBC political stalwart Andrew Neil decided to depart late night political programme Despatch Box.
Speculation was rife as to who would replace the former Sunday Times editor. Enter Crooks, a surprise choice, and a short-lived one at best. It’s telling that almost all traces of Crooks’ time on the programme have been erased from the internet.
By all accounts, Crooks habit of shouting during debates, coupled with his penchant for spending 10 minutes asking the straightforward of questions.
It didn’t take long for Crooks to return to his more traditional stomping ground of football punditry with Despatch Box, dispatched soon after.
Crooks remains fascinated by goings on at Parliament though, telling The Independent, over decade on from his brief foray into the topic: “I have my own political views, which I’ve managed to keep private.”
If only he could do the same with his views on football.
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