Tuesday, 24 March 2009


This is the outlook from the broadcast gantry at The Hawthorns. The written media are directly below. The view is very good except that reporters are situated too close to one end of the ground. The media facilities at West Bromwich have undergone a massive revamp in the last year. A new press box and media suite have been constructed. They are very well appointed, although the punters who have been moved out of their usual seats to make way are not impressed.

Unfortunately the money seems to have run out when the building work ended. Albion could not even produce a cup of tea for perished scribes after Saturday's match with Bolton.

Star rating out of 5: 4

Wednesday, 18 March 2009


Images from UCLan Sports Special, our live radio show covering the final round of university sports fixtures at the University of Central Lancashire. UCLan's football team beat MMU Cheshire 2-0 to round off a championship-winning season in style. As well as commentary on that game the programme featured reports on rugby union, tennis, hockey and netball.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009


Anyone who was at the Manchester United v Liverpool match on Saturday will have a sense of deja vu if they read today's Times. The paper runs a story quoting Sir Alex Ferguson on the adaptability of his squad. The quotes are all taken from Sir Alex's column in the official programme for Saturday's game.
Meanwhile the Liverpool Echo's take on a remarkable result was to print, on page one, the number of a helpline for distressed United fans: 4-1 4-1 4-1 4-1!

Saturday, 14 March 2009


This was one weird game. If unusual betting trends are discerned in the Far East, this is the sort of game which would have investigators poring all over it. Not that I'm suggesting any conspiracies, but honestly, who would have a rational explanation for the number of blunders made by usually-reliable footballers?
Vidic was caught in possession by Torres for Liverpool's first and then employed a move out of the UFC textbook to get himself sent off and hand Liverpool their third. In between we had Evra sliding in to concede that rarest of pheomena, an away penalty at Old Trafford. Even Reina was joining in with a crazy rush at Park to give United a pen.
It was a game of high stakes without high quality. United lacked fire and fizz. Mentally and physically they looked tired. Liverpool were disciplined but hardly deadly. They defended well and proved adept at cashing in on United's mistakes.
Torres' determination and keen-eyed finishing was a big factor. And so was the contribution of a player I have had little time for so far, Aurelio. His control over Ronaldo in the first half, when he received valuable support from Lucas and Mascherano, was crucial.
All season I've been wondering why Benitez keeps entrusting Aurelio with dead-ball kicks. Today we saw why (even if van der Saar didn't!)
Was this also the day when Rafa's rant bore fruit? He put the focus on the (alleged) favouritism shown by referees towards United at Old Trafford. Today Alan Wiley awarded Liverpool a penalty and sent off Vidic. Point well made, Rafa?

Friday, 13 March 2009


It is fantastic how busy professionals in the world of sports journalism are willing to give up some time and share their experiences with students who hope to follow in their footsteps.
Today at the University Eddie Hemmings and Neville Smith from Sky Sports delivered a brilliant two-hour session, telling my group of Year 3 students about the real life of an Outside Broadcast. Eddie is Sky's main presenter and commentator on rugby league; Nev is executive producer and director.
They extended an invitation to any of the students to join them at an outside broadcast this season and see how a sporting event comes to our screens. And that's why one student, commendably quick off the mark, is in Sky's OB truck at the Leeds v Wigan match as I write.

Thursday, 12 March 2009


Motor sport is in a mess and it's time to put the money where the mouth is.
Honda have pulled out of F1. Kawasaki aren't running their works team in MotoGP. So I'm prepared to step into the breach. To show I mean business, I'm running a team in the Isle of Man TT this year.
My team will field state of the art Suzuki and Kawasaki bikes piloted by Steve Mercer and James Ford, both well known in the British Championship.
This is my first experience as a team owner and I can't wait to see how things work out when we all assemble on the island at the end of May.
Fortunately this won't actually cost me a fortune. I'm teaming up with scores of like-minded TT fans in backing The People's Bike. For £50, anyone can buy a slice of the action with this new team run by Mark and Eunice Cubbon http://www.thepeoplesbike.com/. No-one will take a profit, all money raised will go to support the riders and the bikes, and our fifty quid buys us a special interest in the races and the right to be considered in the same bracket as Flavio Briatore.
Pass the champagne.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009


Rafa Benitez is being criticised by pundits and fans for his refusal to get excited, even when his team destroys Real Madrid. The way some people bang on, you'd think Benitez was committing some dreadful social blunder, like wiping his nose on his sleeve or throwing litter out of his car window.
You don't have to leap into your assistant's arms like Sir Alex Ferguson. It isn't compulsory to spring six feet into the air like Martin O'Neill. No manager should feel obliged to prance around like Jose Mourinho.
Hyper-active bosses may be great for TV directors, but a calm, measured approach to the job has plenty to commend it. We didn't see much extrovert showboating from Bob Paisley, Matt Busby, Don Revie, Harry Catterick or Howard Kendall. Fabio Capello is not exactly football management's answer to Elton John.
And neither was a man who couldn't give a damn for emotion but was the most successful manager of the lot - Alf Ramsey.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009


Great performance by Liverpool tonight, and I wonder if ITV commentator Clive Tyldesley recalled the last time he commentated on Liverpool playing Real Madrid. It was Paris in the spring, 1981, and Clive was there for the Merseyside commercial radio station Radio City. He arrived at the Parc des Princes to find that a JCB working outside the stadium had inadvertently dug up the broadcasting cables, delivering a fatal blow to City's coverage. Clive ended up sitting on the press box steps delivering live commentary via a print reporter's telephone.
Also affected was BBC Radio Merseyside presenter, the late Bob Azurdia. Bob was due to broadcast his afternoon show live from the stadium, but hurriedly re-routed to the BBC's Paris studio where a startled BBC reporter helped him fire up the studio and get on air. That reporter was John Sergeant, later to find wider fame as the least nimble competitor on Strictly Come Dancing.
Happily there were no JCBs at Anfield tonight. Only a steamroller.

Monday, 9 March 2009


Today I am remembering Tom Glassey of Castletown in the Isle of Man who died yesterday after a lengthy battle with cancer. I met Tom last summer. He had been blind since the age of two but never let his disability disable him. He loved football (Liverpool FC), loved anything to do with ships and the sea, and had a healthy scepticism for anything to do with politics. He was more than capable of ruffling feathers and rubbing people up the wrong way. He was also passionate, generous, and a wonderful wordsmith whose blogs and emails were gloriously entertaining.
He wrote a book detailing his adventures. "Who's Afraid of the Dark?" was the title. It should be required reading for anyone who thinks life has dealt them an unfair hand.
Tom will be missed. It was a privilege to have known him.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009


I feel so sorry for the people of Pakistan after the shootings in Lahore. All of a sudden, the ordinary citizens and cricket-lovers of that country find themselves international outcasts through no fault of their own.
It was much the same in Liverpool, my home city, in 1985. After the Heysel disaster, caused by reckless violence by certain Liverpool FC supporters, English clubs were banned from European football. Everyone in Liverpool felt dimished as a result. It is a horrible situation to be in.
Amid rightful condemnation of the gunmen and the inadequate security, spare more than a thought for a nation of cricket lovers who may feel they are suddenly without a friend in the world. That is certainly not the case.