Thursday, July 29, 2010

Watch this space

All kinds of people want to be football commentators, and no wonder. Ok, so 17 days after the World Cup final, I am beginning preparations for my next game, but it’s not a proper job, is it? And it is the only one I’ve ever wanted.

My notion to start a website for those interested in commentary and sports reporting has already identified a number of issues and attracted a variety of thought strands. There are those that have got their eyes on my job already, but there are many who simply have a view on what makes for good and bad broadcasting – most of it constructive!

I have contacted various Further Education and careers bodies. There are all kinds of debates going on about the value of media courses, and a lack of work experience opportunities in the industry for anyone who’s not ‘connected’. The site will hopefully provide a forum for these debates and more.

All I ask is that if you feel as though you have something to contribute when we are up and running in the next few weeks that you do so. Use the blog in the meantime. This project is not for me. I’ve already got what I always wanted. It’s for you to make of it what you will – you and your friends, fellow students, lecturers, careers advisors, whoever. Tell them.

I’ve received mails from people aged from 14 to 40 – from people already in broadcasting and those who dream of being employed in the business – the qualified and the unqualified. One of the most fascinating things about sports commentary is that nobody’s opinion really counts for more than anyone else’s (Well, perhaps my boss’s does!).

But one of the best of many pieces of great advice I got from the late, great Reg Gutteridge was "don’t try to commentate to the England manager – your grandma counts as one viewer, just like him – don’t look to impress, just inform."

There is a democracy about a website, and you’ve all got a vote. Use it.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

What do we do next?

Bear with me while I recount the major sporting event of the summer so far – (err, in my opinion).

So, I’m playing the 18th at Vilasol in Portugal on Wednesday, holding a 2-point lead over my 15-year old son (and, I might mention, a 3-point lead over Gareth Southgate, but that would only be name-dropping).

Paddy has ripped it 290 yards down the middle, and I’ve squeezed one down the left into a corner where only an heroic 5-wood over a considerable tree gets me anywhere close to the green. I opt for a low running mid-iron for safety, chip (rather well) to 25 feet and 2-putt for a winning 5.

My boy shakes my hand graciously and mutters the congratulatory words, “you’re gay, dad.” Now, putting political correctness to one side for a moment, the inference is not actually that I am homosexual, but that I’m chicken.

I committed the cardinal sin. I played safe. It comes from a combination of modest ability and age. It breeds a healthy fear of risk.

And so to avoid reducing this proposal for a commentators’ website to something too safe to be of any value, I’m asking you ‘what do we do next?’

The initial response (for which I thank all that have responded) has been encouraging without touching tumultuous, but now that me and my peeling forehead are getting back to work, I need your input to move it on.

If you’re sweating on GCSE results, how could media courses in further education become more relevant and beneficial to budding sports reporters?

If you’re now looking for a career in the industry, how easy is it to find worthwhile and rewarding work experience? Where are the traffic jams in the system?

For this idea to amount to anything, it needs you guys to discuss and dissect the problems and possible solutions.

If you think the ‘word’ is worth spreading, spread it – to fellow students, teachers, lecturers, contacts within the industry.

Tell me which doors to knock on. As you may have noticed, I’ve got a loud voice.

It’s my intention to contact universities and colleges – community, hospital and local radio stations – free-sheets, local and national newspapers – in an attempt to construct a forum for networking and audition.

But, as my son will tell you, I’m old and safe and (apparently) ‘gay’. You can hit that 5-wood over the trees. I can’t.

Show me the way.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

To tweet or not to tweet...

I’m not at all sure about Twitter. Facebook is so much more fond and familiar. It is full of people I know, sharing thoughts I recognise - like a home into which I can invite those I like and trust. It’s friendly.

I was persuaded to tweet for the World Cup, as a precursor to sounding out anyone that may be interested in the idea of a website aimed at helping people get a crack at commentary. I only started in late May.

I’d always found the idea of Twitter rather vain – a kind of an online version of the old fan clubs I used to join in my distant youth. I knew I would inevitably attract detractors as well as ‘followers’, but criticism goes with the job. "One man’s commentator is another man’s pain in the backside", as Barry Davies once said.

Even after all these years, I’m a bit spooked by people who are personally abusive towards someone they don’t know from Adam, but it’s a free world. Then there are the smart a***s who go on and on about "that night in Barcelona" like I’m supposed to do. Whatever.

All that’s fine, but if I had been afforded a direct line of communication to David Coleman or Brian Moore when I was a young wannabe, I think I would have made better use of it than merely flinging insults and cheap shots. I’m going to start a site for people interested in sports broadcasting - see the 'I need your help' link above. Nothing grander than that.

I’d like to put those of you wanting to pursue suitable media courses in touch with colleges and universities. I want to find opportunities in hospital, community and local radio for media students. I’d aim to create an (intelligent?) forum on where ‘modern’ commentary should be going. I’ll encourage colleagues to join in the debate.

Criticism doesn’t have to be constructive. I can be crass, condescending, patronising, scornful, pompous, unfunny and plain wrong, and deserve to be told so when I am. But I’m trying not to be!

I’m actually attempting to inform and accompany visions of the world’s greatest game. And, yes, I need all the help I can get!

And just maybe I can help one or two of you really ‘follow me', if you’re interested! 

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Sing Sing Africa!

At the time of the peak viewing figure for Andy Murray’s Wimbledon semi-final against Rafa Nadal on Friday, there were a million and a half more people watching the World Cup quarter between Holland and Brazil. This is not an ITV versus BBC boast, it is a sigh of relief for football.

Whatever damage was done to the image of the national game by the England team’s miserable showing is not apparently terminal.

By the time, Ghana followed England out on Friday evening, there were almost 11 million people glued to their television sets.

I’m happy to report from Cape Town that Ghana’s exit has not diminished African interest in the tournament either.

Last week, I was privileged to be given a guided tour of Soweto by Lucas Radebe. One of the many eye-opening revelations was the central part football plays in that and so many African communities.

I received a couple of tweets* accusing ITV of patronising coverage of the Ghana-Uruguay epic. Not so. Whatever mispronounced tripe comes out of my mouth during the month of a World Cup, I know when I’m being genuine or not.

As I said on air, you cannot spend weeks on this continent without Africa reaching you somehow.

The neutral visitors were unapologetically behind the last African survivors. Not a question of objectivity – Uruguay should have had a penalty in extra-time and we said so. It is solely a matter of affection and passion for this tournament, and how it can still tug at the heart-strings of an old hack like me.

Africa’s World Cup has been brimful of passion, and I will remember that long after the Capello inquests and the vuvuzela deafness have gone.

It’s a joy to be here, and I only hope an ounce or two of that joy has found its way home to the millions of you still hooked on this World Cup.

Sing Sing Africa.

*PS: You can follow my tweets on Twitter: @clivetyldesley