Especially when he made it on to the Monday evening news. Here was a man who was a refreshing change from the typical sports interview.
Plunkett actually sounded like people I knew and talked the way they talked.
He was from the Moy. To those who don’t know where the Moy is, it is a million miles away from the BBC.
For an audience of sports fans fed a diet of Ulster rugby players like Trevor Ringland and even the heavily moustachioed stars of the Irish League, the likes of Ronnie McFall and Lindsay McKeown. Plunkett was an unreconstructed countryman to the core, blond hair gleaming in the camera and cheeks ruddy from a day flat out just being from the Moy. It was class.
If you switched on national television the banalities of Saturday night football were everywhen. Sandwiched between the compulsory use of the word ‘obviously’ were the liberal sprinkling of banally banal phrases: ‘He’s hit it with his left peg and it’s flown into the net.’ Updated for the modern era by Andy Gray’s ‘Take a bow son’, no television football coverage was complete without total reinforcement of the stereotype image of footballer as an absolute moron, incapable of stringing a few coherent words together in any meaningful way.
It usually was brought most starkly into focus when a foreign player sounded a hundred times more coherent than the local hero. The likes of Peter Schmeichel, Jan Molby before him. Even Ossie Ardiles form Argentina made more sense than the average league footballer. At least they could speak English.
That is why Plunkett was different. But he was an acquired taste – you had to carve through the broad Tyrone accent to appreciate what he said. For all the craic nowadays when everybody has something to say and something or somebody. . . Twitter and Facebook just aren’t the same as an interview with Plunkett Donaghy.
Next week. . . Eamon Coleman. Now there was another legend!