For the Love of Football
Ian Rands from
talks to BBC Football Commentator Guy Mowbray
Football commentary always seemed like a great job when I was younger. You get to travel the country,potentially the world, watching the game you love. You visit great stadiums, meet great players, thegreat managers. Immerse yourself in the culture of the game. Oh and you get paid for it. I could neversee the downsides, apart from not getting to watch my beloved team each week? As BBC commentatorGuy Mowbray told me, the downsides are few and far between, although a stomach upset, a TV gantryand 90 minutes of football isn't a great combination.Fresh from a double header weekend of commentary and ahead of recording the latest edition Late KickOff, Guy kindly took the time to tell me a bit about his career, what drove him to make the careerdecision I would have loved to have made when I was younger and what is left to achieve for a man whohas already commentated on two World Cup Finals.I began by asking Guy where and when the interest in being a football commentator originated? Theanswer, like for many of us reading this, began with a childhood football obsession.
"I was playing,listening, watching, and absorbing every bit of information there was."
Dreaming of wearing thenumber 9 shirt for his beloved York City, watching his team at a time when they were achieving giant-killing exploits against Arsenal in 1985 and a draw against Liverpool at Bootham Crescent the followingyear.Yet it was wise words from his Dad that set the ball rolling
"Having exited my teens still thinking about what I'd like to do with my life, one sentence set the ball rolling." "If you can't get paid for playing football, why don't you try getting a job watching it?"
Interestingly though, when many broadcasters list the names and voices that inspired them, Guy'sheroes were firmly on the pitch.
"My idols weren't broadcasters, the stars will always be the players."
Despite this he admits that, like most of us of a certain age, hearing any archive of the late,great Peter Jones (Voice of BBC radio football from 1966-90) and Brian Moore (ITV) always bringsback fantastic childhood memories.Spurred on by his dad, Guy started writing as many letters to as many broadcast and reporting outletsas he could, outlining his knowledge of and love for the game.
"Clubcall's northern co-ordinator John Temple responded some weeks (may have been months) later and invited me to shadow him at a match. The following week I was on my own! We both took a lucky punt basically."
His subsequent move to radio saw him in football commentating heaven. His first full time radio job wascovering City games for Minster FM, York's independent local station. However when the station boughtWear FM in Sunderland (now Sun FM) and bought the rights to commentate on Sunderland's matches,Guy moved up the divisions and away from the Bootham press box. Guy still makes time for watchingYork, getting to every home game he possibly can and at least a couple away in a season.Sunderland had its attractions though,
"There's something about the Mackems' passion that hooks you in and so to be honest that more than compensated for not getting to watch City quite so much. I only hated it once - when commentating on a routine 2-0 Liverpool win over Sunderland in the League Cup on the same night York beat Man Utd 3-0 at Old Trafford!"
Despite resting players, the United team that September evening included Beckham, McClair, Giggs,Neville, Pallister and Irwin. Only the introduction of Steve Bruce from the bench helped to stem the Yorktide. A special night indeed and a disappointing one to miss, but less than three years later Guy'sachievements would more than compensate.As the radio work developed, Guy was making his first forays into television. Although the transitionbetween radio and television commentating is not straightforward.
"It takes time - and if I heard my early TV commentaries back now I'd probably cringe more than usual. When I started in TV with Eurosport I was working for Metro Radio in the North East at the same time so I had to consciously think about which medium I was broadcasting on as I flicked between the two. That can be troublesome, but for me I think it helped."