Adrian Chiles is a Brummie through and through, a Baggies fan for life – and not at all grumpy, says David Johns
Why does Adrian Chiles get so much stick? A quick surf across social media reveals a bunch of negative press and random comments from people who have never ever met or spoken to the man! Maybe it’s that seemingly dour exterior that encourages the critics – although the appearance of Adrian’s knees and legs popping from beneath natty shorts on Rio’s Copacabana beach during ITV’s World Cup coverage from Brazil revealed (literally) a much more amusing and cuddly side to the star footie presenter. If more evidence is required that here’s a really thoroughly lovely, caring bloke, Adrian’s passion to help fight one of the most horrible diseases known to man should more than pass muster. Adrian has just be named a patron of Birmingham-based Cure Leukaemia, the charity which is supporting the pioneering work of Professor Charlie Craddock and his team at the city’s QE Hospital to find a cure and save thousands of lives.
MY MATE FRANK
Like so many things in Adrian’s life, his mission to help has come as a result of his love of all things Baggies. Together with his great mate comedian Frank Skinner, Adrian is an avid West Bromwich Albion fan – the two are often to be seen sitting together at The Hawthorns, although Adrian is there more regularly than Frank these days. “I’m at The Hawthorns and in Birmingham at least every couple of weeks, sometimes more often. It’s only under a couple of hours to pop up from London and I’ve got loads of good mates who I like to visit and go out with, many of them at the football. And I’m always dropping in to see the family who still live in Hagley.” Adrian was born in Smethwick, before his parents moved to Quinton and then Hagley, where he went to Haybridge High School. He has fond memories of his childhood growing up in Hagley and especially of his granddad who was responsible for putting Baggies blue and white in his blood. “Granddad started taking me to see the Albion when I was seven. He’d pick me up from home at 12 o’clock and then drive to a fish and chip shop near the ground. I’d always have chicken, chips and curry sauce, eating it in the car while doing my homework at the same time while granddad went and had a drink before the game in the club bar. I think that chip shop is a kebab shop now.”
Years later, it was while researching a book recounting the stories of avid Albion fans, that Adrian first meet fellow supporter Stephen Hayden who was suffering from leukaemia and who became a close friend. “Stephen was in the care of Charlie Craddock, who also became a good friend,” explained Adrian. “Stephen seemed to be doing really well and then when I came back at the start of the new football season I learned he had died. I was devastated, and felt just as I do now, that I must do all I can to help find the money to help find a cure.” Despite a crazily-busy schedule that sees Adrian juggling his job fronting ITV’s football coverage with his recently expanded three-hour morning show on Radio 5 Live, Adrian has found time to make a fund-raising film for the charity and plans to drum up further help.
He began his broadcasting career on business and finance programmes with the BBC after studying journalism at Cardiff University, but he’s most famous for his four-year stint co-hosting The One Show with Christine Bleakley. The launch of the show remains a lasting memory with Adrian. “The One Show was piloted from Birmingham for four weeks,” he said. “A temporary studio was set up in front of a Tesco Metro store in the smallest space you can imagine. It was tiny, and looking back you wonder how on earth we managed to put a show out from there.” Adrian’s big break into football came when he presented Match of the Day 2, before moving across to ITV. He views his present blend of radio chat in the mornings and footie chat in the evenings as near-perfect. “I’m very happy with things. I don’t go in for aims and ambitions, I’ve learned over the years that it’s best if you go with what people want you to do.”
CHERRY REDS BAR
When he comes home to Brum, Adrian spends plenty of time with “lots of mates” in a variety of haunts. “I’ve got close pals in town at places like the Mailbox. One really good mate lives in the Orion Building on Navigation Street and we often go for drink at Cherry Reds café bar in the city centre. There’s also a great couple of pubs that we’ve been to on the road into Hockley, they’re on the left. We talk about all sorts of stuff, a lot of football.” Adrian’s the first to admit that this season is going to be a long, hard one for the Baggies – but like all fans he remains optimistic. And if you want still more proof that he’s a thoroughly nice chap… he says he’s “delighted my good mate Roy Keane has come to help out the Villa – as long as they don’t do too well” and he was also “delighted to see Birmingham stay up last season”. Now, is that plain soft or what?