METRO 21 | | Friday, July 10, 2020 SPONSORED BY winners & losers This week’s ELLY CATES became a television presenter almost by accident, but one of the highest-profile figures on our screens believes the ‘shock’ value of seeing women fronting football is long gone. The Sky Sports host has become a fixture in front of the camera, most recently broadcasting from the Premier League’s comeback games. But it was not done by design, as she was studying for a maths degree when her big break came along at Sky Sports News, even if her upbringing – as daughter of Liverpool legend Sir Kenny Dalglish – meant football was always a huge part of her life. Since then, Cates has become one of the most recognisable faces of football coverage although, even now, she still has to contend with some who may never be able to accept female presence in the game. ‘It’s just less surprising – having Gabby Logan presenting Match of the Day is not a shock, hearing Vikki Sparks’ voice on commentary is not a shock,’ she tells Metro. ‘The novelty factor has gone now. Just by us being there, there is a reality to it. Of course you get some idiots on Twitter but I don’t think we can use Twitter for taking the temperature of the nation.’ Indeed Cates has built up a resistance to those whose views on women in sport are not enlightened. ‘I just block and mute everybody and set my filters really high,’ she says. ‘Otherwise you can find yourself in a spiral of all the unhappy people who want to be spiteful and mean. I thought to myself, “Why am I letting them be in my head when I would walk away from that sort of thing in real life?”. ‘That’s how you have to treat social media – there are always two or three people sitting in their mum’s basement moaning about something. You click on their profile and realise they hate everyone.’ She may be an established star now but when Cates began her journey through the broadcasting ranks in 1998, things were a little more old-fashioned. But growing up in a footballing family meant she was never daunted. ‘I went to a girls’ school and it never occurred to me that I couldn’t do stuff,’ she explains. ‘I started out on Sky Sports News, I was there for nine years and spent time with people my own age, younger people, and not with those who had dated attitudes. ‘I didn’t go straight into press KELLY CATES NEVER PLANNED TO BE PART OF THE FOOTBALL FAMILY DESPITE HER FATHER BEING A LIVERPOOL LEGEND Tom. ‘I’ve mostly been working from the studio but it has been good to go and experience these rather strange environments,’ she adds. ‘The sound in these empty grounds doesn’t feel so strange now. The players have got used to it and I love hearing them talking to each other. ‘The logistics are a bit tricky with all these matches at once! But it’s good to be busy and I like it when it’s like this. I can’t complain.’ Her father has finally seen the family’s beloved Reds claim their 19th league title, 30 years after their 18th, when Dalglish was boss and was winning his third championship in five years. For the first time, Liverpool are Premier League champions after being forced to extend their wait by coronavirus. On the night they were crowned champions, Dalglish spoke live via video link at the end of Chelsea’s win over second-placed Manchester City that confirmed the title was on its way to Anfield. Cates recalls the whole family trying to get hold of him as messages pinged through, live on TV, every few seconds. ‘It was his laptop,’ Cates reveals, looking back with a laugh. ‘He was using my sister’s account and she kept texting me to get me to apologise to the producers at Sky. ‘We were all texting him and also boxes at matches and when I did, there may have been those who were sniffy about me being there as a woman but I was oblivious to it if there was, honestly.’ Despite the football links in the Dalglish household – brother Paul was also a footballer with clubs including Newcastle and Norwich – Cates did not gravitate towards the sport initially. ‘It was never going to be my career,’ she insists. ‘Really, I don’t remember not going to football – it was always part of my life. Homework would be done in front of the Sunday 4pm kick-off on TV, we’d have bacon and eggs in front of Goals on Sunday and I would listen to 606, so football was always there in the background but I never, ever thought I would end up doing anything to do with football. ‘I was doing a maths degree but left that after three years to join Sky Sports News – completely out of the blue. I kept saying I would return to finish my degree but 22 years later I still haven’t.’ Cates has been at the forefront of the Premier League’s return, with Sky Sports showing 64 of the 92 games left when the season restarted. It has meant a rather unusual time in the Cates household. When we speak, she is homeschooling one of her two daughters – aged nine and 11 – with husband texting mum to get her to give him his earphones!’ Cates could scarcely believe the momentous result herself, saying: ‘When Chelsea went 1-0 up in the first half, I expected City to come back. I really didn’t think Liverpool would win it that night. It felt weird and it’s taken some time but I felt sorry for those who were celebrating sensibly when others were being idiots. But because of the other trophies the club have won, it doesn’t feel like 30 years. Not properly. To have a 23-point lead (over City) is ridiculous.’ Now the country is tentatively emerging from Covid-19 lockdown, Cates is not sure it was right to play some of the final Champions League matches, such as Liverpool’s loss to Atletico Madrid on March 11 – two days before football’s shutdown – with crowds in March. ‘I remember seeing all these Atletico fans, from a coronavirus hotspot in Spain, walking through the city centre in Liverpool on TV and thinking, “This is a disaster”,’ says the 44-year-old. ‘There was a lack of consistency – some games were being played with crowds, some without. In hindsight, I feel it was wrong to go ahead with those Champions League games.’ But there have been positives from the enforced break, with Cates bowled over by Manchester United and England forward Marcus Rashford’s work in getting the government into a U-turn on scrapping free school meals during the summer holidays. ‘Marcus was amazing, (Liverpool captain) Jordan Henderson too, with the Players Together initiative. (Aston Villa’s) Tyrone Mings joined a march for Black Lives Matter. And those are just the ones we know about,’ Cates says. ‘Footballers seemingly can never get it right – when they make what they do public, they get criticised but there are plenty of things that never get publicised at all. What is certain is Marcus Rashford will inspire other players to use the platform they have and it should inspire all of us.’ TOP GAMES ON TV TODAY CHAMPIONSHIP HUDDERSFIELD v LUTON, 6PM, SKY SPORTS FULHAM v CARDIFF, 8.15PM, SKY SPORTS SATURDAY PREMIER LEAGUE NORWICH v WEST HAM, 12.30PM, BT SPORT WATFORD v NEWCASTLE, 12.30PM, AMAZON PRIME LIVERPOOL v BURNLEY, 3PM, BT SPORT SHEFF UTD v CHELSEA, 5.30PM, SKY SPORTS BRIGHTON v MAN CITY, 8PM, SKY SPORTS/SKY ONE/PICK CHAMPIONSHIP DERBY v BRENTFORD, 12.30PM, SKY SPORTS SUNDAY PREMIER LEAGUE WOLVES v EVERTON, 12NOON, SKY SPORTS/SKY ONE/PICK ASTON VILLA v CRYSTAL PALACE, 2.15PM, SKY SPORTS TOTTENHAM v ARSENAL, 4.30PM, SKY SPORTS BOURNEMOUTH v LEICESTER, 7PM, SKY SPORTS/SKY ONE/PICK CHAMPIONSHIP STOKE v BIRMINGHAM, 1.30PM, SKY SPORTS Watch the games that matter exclusively live on Sky Sports and NOW TV ■ MONDAY PREMIER LEAGUE MAN UTD v SOUTHAMPTON, 8PM, SKY SPORTS/SKY ONE/PICK PRINTED AND DISTRIBUTED BY PRESSREADER PressReader.com +1 604 278 4604 ORIGINAL COPY . 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