Kellie Shirley‘s public may know her best as Carly Wicks from Eastenders but she’s been in so much more, from Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde and The Office to Twenty Thousand Streets Under the Sky with lots of stage work, too, at the Royal National Theatre and Royal Court. If you have watched Soccer AM and listened to TalkSport, you may know Kellie is also a passionate Crystal Palace fan. Read more about her work below*; she’s heavily involved in charity work, campaigning for Mencap and acting as patron (with Richard Wilson, aka Victor Meldrew, who should support Greenock Morton – and did until he got sucked into brand allegiance to Man Utd) to a dance group for disabled young people. We’re delighted to welcome her to the ‘Who are You?’ hot seat …
Salut! Sunderland: So once again a manager has taken you from the threat of relegation to safety and beyond, 11th top (equal to last season’s finish) as I write. How has he done it?
Kellie Shirley: You’d have to ask Alan! I guess having the players’ respect, having a wealth of knowledge at manager level, being at the top of your game – knowing the players really well & how they best work as a team/together. I like how he plays more attacking football than Warnock & changes a game if plan A’s not working.
And though it pains a Sunderland supporter to think in such terms, should he get the manager of the season award?
Ha. There’s a few good contenders. As I’m biased – Yes – absolutely!
When Pulis went, having saved the club, it was widely believed in football that Hosking & Long were completely insane, not least when Warnock took over and results took a distinct turn for the worse. Is is a case of all forgiven or were they right all along?
You never know what goes on behind closed doors… I thought Tony P was great & I was sad to see him go after turning the club around although ultimately if it’s not working with the club off the pitch, eventually it might have had a bad effect.
What are your feeling about the possible involvement in the club ownership of Josh Harris, a US billionaire who already owns the Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils?
It’s the way of the football world isn’t it now? Good to have the cash flow and hopefully they’ll be passionate about Palace to boot. What would be good if Josh puts it into the Academy to nurture up and coming homegrown talent. Football is all about money that’s a bit sad.
Before the start of the season, a Palace fan site, Eagles Beak, carried out a big survey of how the club is perceived by others. Our contributor, Pete Sixsmith, offered a mixed but not remotely warm view. You’re an insider but what is your impression of how non-Palace fans see you?
I love the Palace fans – they’re really passionate & always singing – there’s a brilliant atmosphere at the club that is genuine – not corporate! There’s not racist undertones or back stabbing. I’ve been coming with my Dad since I was little & I haven’t seen it change much. Football is competitive though and mixed with a few pints I reckon at most matches there isn’t a lot of love between supporters..
Tell me the players who have made the difference this season: Speroni (despite his blunder at Southampton), Jedinak, Zaha presumably figure among your stars but who else?
Great having Zaha back – him and Bolasie have been dangerous all season. Jedinak is a really good captain, breaks up lots of opposition play. Scott D – must be getting close to England team?
Were you proud of Pardew for condemning his own player, James McArthur, for diving or do you think cheating is now so widespread that we as may all give up and accept it as part pf the game?
Ahhhh, I hate how much cheating and play-acting there is in football. It slows the game down and makes the players that do it look like right divs. They’re grown men acting like spoilt babies! How much of an idiot did Gerrard look the other week?! Instead of going out on a high remembering what a good player he is – I thought what a shame he’s acted like that & left on a downer. They’ve also got to remember that footballers are so much in the public eye that they kind of have a responsibility to set a good example. Thousands of kids look up to them & watch football. Talent is much better to watch than someone swan dive in the penalty area. Good on ya Alan!
Guess the Score in Sunderland vs Crystal Palace at https://safc.blog/2015/04/safc-vs-crystal-palace-guess-the-score-a-tougher-test-than-newcastle/
What have been your personal highs and lows of supporting Palace?
One of the best moments was when I was on a world tour with One Man Two Guvnors. We were in Melbourne and desperate to find a bar showing the playoff final against Watford. Me and my Palace-supporting mate Billy Stookes (with me in the pic) got in touch with the Melbourne Palace Supporters’ group who told us where they’d be watching it – the atmosphere was electric. Made all the more enjoyable as one of my cast mates supported Watford and had been giving it the big one all week! Another highlight combining my love for Palace & film was a sex scene with Neil Morrissey (also a huge Palace fan) under a framed Palace kit in the comedy Run for your Wife. The worst game was as a kid I travelled on a coach for hours with my Dad to see us lose 9-0 to Liverpool! I’ve still got the souvenir scarf…
Who are the best players you’ve seen – or wish you’d been around to see – in Palace colours?
I always loved watching Ian Wright play when I was a kid.
And who should have been allowed nowhere near Selhurst Park?
Thomas Brolin – waste of space. Razor Ruddock.. Eric Cantona!!!
Was the racist incident involving Chelsea fans on the Paris Metro just a Chelsea problem, the return of le vice anglais after we’d though hooliganism was beaten or a one-off we can afford to downplay?
Hooliganism beaten?! If only… It is nothing about the game & it’s disgusting that it’s part of our football culture. Ultimately they shouldn’t be allowed to watch games – they’re not there to be real, true supporters of football they are there to use it to voice racial and hateful stuff. I think clubs need to do more about getting real supporters in and these tools out.
Can the presence of more and more women at football be a civilising factor is that almost as sexist as saying girls know nowt about the game?
Some MEN don’t know nowt about the game!!
What thoughts do you have on Sunderland: the club, the fans, the city or region, the appointment of Advocaat after Poyet’s sacking?
I did a play about the phone hacking scandal recently and the police commissioner in it sang about Sunderland football club whilst being tasered – getting the best laugh of the night [Monsieur Salut has seen the play – that moment sent a shiver down the spine].
I don’t know much about Advocaat but I do know Palace fans are pleased to see the back of Poyet after what he allegedly left for us in the changing rooms in his Brighton days!
Were you at Palace vs SAFC game at Selhurst Park – one of only four wins we’ve had all season as I write – and if so, what did you make of it?
I wasn’t, but I was there last season when we battered you!
At least we have SuperKev as a shared hero (more for us, obviously, but he got you to the Premier) . What about other links? Gabbiadini was one I recall but perhaps I have overlooked others.
I bow to your superior knowledge on this one…
Be as brutal as you wish but what will be this season’s bottom three and , less important, top four? Where will Palace finish?
Bottom 3: Leicester, QPR and probably Burnley
Top 4: Chelsea, Man City, Man Utd, Arsenal [Kellie’s tip before the Palace victory over Man City 2-1 – “we did brilliantly,” she wrote next day. “Still buzzing.”]
Finishing mid-table will be great (and no more than we deserve)
Any pet hates in football – particular players, refs, teams, the way supporters are treated?
Pet hates: what you flagged up really – “supporters” who aren’t there for love of football but there for a fight/stir up trouble & full of hate. Dirty play that slows game down (although I do love a penalty!), wet Ginster’s pies with mystery meat wafting around match day – yuck!
Will you be at our game? If not how will you keep tabs and what will be the score?
I’m going to be in Malta – will find a bar that’s showing it though![No prediction – Ed]
* Kellie Shirley on herself: I’ve been going to see Palace play since I was about six. I grew up in Croydon so they’re my local team. I love my Soccer Am ball from banging on about Palace over the years. At the moment I’m fronting a campaign for the brilliant Mencap charity – Hear My Voice & trying to get pregnant women to donate core blood to save lives – via Anthony Nolan – really easy to do! I’ve finished a four-part new series for Sky (The Marriage of Reason & Squalor, opposite Rhys Ifans), out end of May. If anyone wants to see my stuff: kellieshirley.co.uk
Come on you EEEEEEEEEAAAAAGGGLLLLEEESS!
** Kellie is also a patron, with Richard Wilson of the Magpie group that offers dance, movement and fun to the disabled
Interview: Colin Randall