Monday, 8 June 2009


Well! That was a commentary with a difference!
I've done 6 and a half hours at the microphone, anchoring Radio TT's coverage of the delayed first day of racing. I'm accustomed to describing unexpected events in the sporting area - it's the nature of the beast - but today we had all manner of weird goings-on.
It started with the arrival of the Governor, who processed down the track in front of the Grandstand, escorted by two police motorcycle outriders. Unfortunately the police stopped in the wrong place. The official welcoming party was left fidgeting some 200 yards further down the road while no-one moved. It was left to the chauffeur of the Governor's car to jump out and tell the bobbies that they'd got it wrong before the little convoy set off again. It's part of my job to describe this ceremonial arrival and it was impossible to avoid telling the world that a sizeable cock-up was taking place. The reception committee, as I couldn't help remarking, was left looking like a jilted bride at the altar.
Then there was an unscheduled lap of the course by Philip McCallen, the former TT winner from Northern Ireland. None of us on the radio team had any idea that this was happening until McCallen appeared 45 minutes before the first race, leathered up and ready to go. I was furious about this because the one thing a host broadcaster requires is advance knowledge of anything which is likely to require live coverage. Amazingly, it turned out that not even the Clerk of the Course, the vastly-experienced Eddie Nelson, had been informed of this jape by Honda, the people who had arranged it. Honda are big players around here but in this instance they were pushing their luck.
The day was notable for the personal appearance of Valentino Rossi who was to garland the first three finishers in the Superbike TT. Again, it is my job to describe the ceremony. Total farce. I called on the crowd to acknowledge the third-placed man, Guy Martin, and nothing happened. It took minutes for someone to get the word to Valentino that he was supposed to pick up the garland and place it around Guy's neck. Eventually I was broadcasting instructions over the radio, piped through the course speakers, pleading with Guy to show Valentino what to do! I guess Rossi is more accustomed to receiving garlands than handing them out.
That would have been bad enough, but come the second race, the Sidecar TT, the same pantomime occurred again. This time it was a representative of the sponsors who seemed totally clueless when it came to performing the relatively simple task of placing garlands round the shoulders of successful sportsmen. It beggared belief and was totally embarrassing, as well as an insult to the riders. I can only hope the organisers will sort out their stage management before tomorrow. Otherwise it'll feel more like commentating on the Eurovision Song Contest.
The serious business of the day was professionally conducted. John McGuinness won the Superbike TT with a new outright course record, his 15th TT win, and Dave Molyneux and Dan Sayle won the Sidecar race, Dave's 14th victory. They are both great sportsmen, superb performers on the big stage, and they at least let no-one down.

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