Personality and Bayonets: McAlinden and Tipton – basement forcefields

Readership and ink have tended to gravitate over the years towards the Linfields, Glentorans, and North Belfast in recent Ulster footballing history. North Armagh and the north coast are duelling nowadays as well with these historical bastions for coverage. This stretched competitiveness is well illustrated in the range of media coverage necessary to manage the output. All good stuff.

Those of a certain age will remember national football coverage thirty or forty years ago when you got two matches on MOTD on Saturday night, and one match and two brief highlights on The Big Match on ITV on a Sunday afternoon. Many a superstar’s finest moments were never recorded as Messrs Best, Dalglish, Keegan, Marsh etc…would testify. Nowadays players hold their hands over their mouths in case people know what they are saying such is the microscopic coverage of the beautiful game.

Locally there are five fora showing and discussing the local game and more significantly all the goals and points of interest. The Irish League show, Football Express, The Social Club, Belfast Live and the Cool FM Pete Snodden production cover all that is or should be relevant. Well done all too! It’s a far cry from Harry Thompson and Leslie Daws for those who remember. So all this coverage gives more airtime to those, who due to their league position who may not normally get it. It could well be that Matthew Tipton and David McAlinden who seem to appear more than other managers on these shows have caught my attention simply due to that. But I don’t think so. They aren’t on these shows more than other managers for nothing.

So it is without dispute that they are articulate, interesting and have thought-provoking points of view but I actually find them unmissable in post-match interviews. Between them they have me tuning into what happens to Carrick Rangers and Warrenpoint Town more than any other time in my puff. Rarely when they speak do I hear any flannel, Wenger – like ignorance, moaning, bombast, excuses or bland speak. They never fail to make a point of note and as I have hinted at, are good camera and copy for the media types.

In interviews, there are some similarities. The intensity from them is huge. Sometimes you have to remind yourself they are talking about a football match. Both are so absorbed in the battle just past that they have a habit of looking at the ground, Tipton in particular. This is not rudeness. This is their method process of removing themselves gradually from the match to the world the rest of us inhabit. It must be rare crack for Jackie Fullerton, Thomas Kane etc… talking to them at this weekly moment of cold turkey whilst trying to ensure the microphone doesn’t shrivel in the downdraught.

Tipton’s cross-channel accent holds interest too. Us Ulster folk of course tend to vocally climb the octaves at the end of sentences and of course this is reversed across the Irish Sea. Every point of his interview is succinct, concise and generally with a punch. By the time you are computing one epee swipe from him you are having to deal with the next parry. Perhaps it is the oddness of tones foreign to our early evening Ulster ears but sometimes with his clipped bark lightly sprinkled with indignation, I think he could pass as a stand – up comedian with the gaps he has in his conversation. This is no slight on him, rather a commentary on his ability to hold attention. Still, I wouldn’t mind seeing him at the Palladium to see if he could pull it off.

He is full of common sense and strikes me as poised at any moment to swat away any excuse that might mask deficiencies in his team. He calls it as it is. There are a few other managers who could learn from this. Would you agree Mark Hughes and Jose Mourinho. It is a rare skill to do this without undermining your team.

McAlinden can do this too. Like Tipton he has the air of a man just back from Bravo Two Zero. You sometimes stop and wonder should their heads be in shadow in case they might be identified. The close crop hair cuts and doughty aura give you the impression of First World War NCOs. McAlinden especially gives you the impression he has lost three men on patrol rather than three points. Sometimes the effort he has put into managing his team has me looking for a tin hat on his head or the earth and sweat of a tunneller or miner on his face. It is all absorbing.

This sort of stuff sells the Irish League. It really matters. McAlinden talks great sense also. Nothing is missed on or off the pitch. Stephen Beacom on a recent show, obviously having riled him, over laughed nervously the way you do when more adrenaline than necessary starts running round your system. He’ll sit closer to Snodden next time. Big Davy’s finest moment though  was his recent interview after his team was hammered 4-0 by Dungannon. I was surprised there weren’t traffic reports asking drivers on the motorway to be aware of people walking towards Belfast. The Carrick players’ coach hadn’t broken down, it was a case of the players being too scared to get on.

I reckon any one of his players were sure he would have eaten a few of them had they got on the coach  such was his fury. He talks of bottles of wine with his ‘missus’ after matches. I suspect after that match she made sure it was not a Chianti. I think Davy would look well in a one – piece Hannibal Lecter suit rather than a Carrick anorak at matches.

All marvellous stuff and long may their reigns in South Down and East Antrim continue. They’ve got me interested.