THERE will never be another John McCririck.
Some might say thank God. Most, though, would admit that without him racing TV would have been much more dull over the last three decades.
As the betting expert on ITV now and also known for occasionally saying what I think, I always used to laugh when people said to me: “Matt, you are the next McCririck”.
I knew that was an impossible, and in any case my skill is interviewing people. McCririck was able to get away with plenty because the people he shouted at he never actually had to speak to. It’s very different when you do!
Of course once upon a time Big Mac was a class journalist cracking stories. That was in his blood. It’s in my blood as well.
Once you have worked as a news journalist for a number of years, you are always on the hunt for scoops.
It’s much harder in the modern era of social media, but still we all love to outdo our rivals.
But it was in the betting ring that McCririck made his name. For a start he looked different to anyone else on the planet, and he acted differently as well.
McCririck would shout at the general public, slate trainers and jockeys and call for bookmakers to be fair to punters. Normal racing fans had never heard this kind of thing before.
Some were insulted, some shocked, but most were behind him. He stood up for them after all.
He also did what many TV presenters have done. He knew the public like a hard luck story. So he told everyone he was a failed bookmaker. Sympathy votes were won instantly. All part of his act.
I knew him quite well. I can’t say he was a friend, and he never invited me to a decent curry, which he loved. But he supported me and always knew what I was about.
I worked with Big Mac at the Breeders’ Cup for Attheraces, and he loved the US scene, while always taking the chance to criticise the use of drugs Stateside.
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Of course I also sat alongside McCririck on the Sunday Forum on the former Attheraces. Not everyone liked him on that, and his constant nonsense about the whip rules – he wanted the whip banned, at least in later career – were tedious. But I can tell you this, of all our guests he was the one who put the most work into the show via ideas and research.
Whatever you think of McCririck, he was a man with a heart. He was very different off camera. He would support and help and encourage.
And he would tell you where you are going wrong as well as right. We all need that, especially me, as I am far from perfect.
Will I or anyone else be the next John McCririck? No. There was, and there only always will be one Big Mac. RIP