BBC BLOGS - Steve Wilson
« Previous | Main | Next »

Wilson heads down memory lane

Post categories:

Steve Wilson | 16:43 UK time, Tuesday, 6 December 2011

I'll be at Anfield this weekend for Queens Park Rangers' first visit there since 1995.

Go back another four years and you'll find Rangers' only ever win at Liverpool. It was something of a landmark for them, and one for me too as it was my first broadcast commentary.

I had been working at Capital Radio in London for only a few months and had been thoroughly enjoying my Saturdays in Division Three covering Brentford and Fulham, so it was quite a shock when I was told that I was to be sent to Anfield to provide match updates on the Liverpool game against Rangers.

As a young kid on the Wirral I had been lucky enough to watch Tranmere Rovers play on Friday nights and, occasionally, Liverpool on a Saturday too.

Jan Molby

 Liverpool, on the back of a 7-1 win against Derby at the Baseball Ground, took on QPR at home (1991) and lost 3-1 with Jan Molby (centre) scoring their only goal from the penalty spot. Photo: Getty Images

I had waited outside the entrance to Anfield's main stand many times in the hope of getting autographs.

You can imagine that I was pretty wide-eyed as I found myself walking through that same entrance.

I headed up the red-carpeted stairs past the shining glass cases which display some of the minor silverware not important enough to make it into Liverpool's main trophy room.

Walking past the boardroom I made my way outside to the press box overlooking the halfway line.

My seat was on the right-hand end of the row, with Liverpool fans sitting no more than two feet away on the other side of a low wall.

I knew I would have to be careful about where I put the effects microphone we used to pick up the noise of the crowd or there was every chance that those fans would get as much airtime as me.

I was probably looking on a bit wistfully as the crowd sang "You'll Never Walk Alone", having to remind myself that I was there for a London audience. It would be key not to sound too scouse when relaying news of any goals back to London.

Capital Radio had obviously sent me to Anfield expecting a run-of-the-mill home win, otherwise they would have sent one of their more senior reporters. It was a fair assumption - Rangers had never won there in their history.

That was about to change. Les Ferdinand and Roy Wegerle scored to put Rangers 2-0 up at half time. This was turning out to be the big story of the afternoon.

Capital Radio's main commentary match that afternoon was Arsenal's game at Derby, where Alan Smith had given the Gunners a half-time lead.

From the studios in London, our senior producer Pete Simmons warned me to be ready to do lots of updates in the second half to keep Rangers' fans in touch as much as possible.

Liverpool continued to struggle against a QPR side sensing a win which could move them clear of the relegation zone.

Then the referee gave a penalty to Liverpool for handball. I pressed the buzzer on my broadcasting kit which alerted Pete to anything newsworthy.

From Derby, Jonathan Pearce cued me to commentate on the penalty. I kept my composure and so did Jan Molby to score - my first live commentary on a goal. I handed back to Jonathan and took a deep breath.

The game was getting really tense and I would now be a big part of the rest of our programme that afternoon. It was a long way from doing the odd 20-second update from Fulham or Brentford.

At Derby, Jonathan described the action as Alan Smith scored a second for Arsenal to put them 2-0 up. Meanwhile at Anfield, Rangers deservedly got a third goal when Clive Wilson scored for them at the Kop end.

Just to my right, the Liverpool fans had almost had enough. They were practically screaming at their own side's incompetence and my microphone was picking up most of what they had to say.

In my headphones I heard Pete call: "Jonathan's game is dead, I think we should take the last 10 minutes of your game live. Are you up for doing some commentary?"

Looking back, I wonder whether if I had said no, my career would have taken a different course. I didn't have to think twice before I said yes.

For years I had spent every Saturday afternoon and many midweek nights listening to football commentary on the radio, now the people back in London would be listening to me.

In my head I repeated: "London audience, not too scouse. London audience, not too scouse."

The buzz of doing that 10 minutes was amazing. Liverpool were pouring forward desperately, but it was Rangers who came closest to scoring, Bradley Allen's shot beating the Liverpool keeper Mike Hooper but hitting the side-netting.

For a split second I thought it was in: "Allen! Yes, it's four! No! Side-netting!" I must have been doing well with the "London audience, not too scouse" thing.

As the Liverpool keeper took the resulting goal kick, a home fan to my right turned to glare in my direction and shouted straight into the effects microphone so that I and our audience back in London could hear loud and clear: "Get stuffed you cockney idiot!" - or words to that effect!

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 2.

    Nice read. As someone who has tuned in for years to BBC Radio (2 and 5) over the years, I must say that I love Radio commentary and in many cases find it to be superior to TV commentary.

    As for the game, Liverpool have no cutting edge up front and have battered teams at home without picking up the wins they probably deserved. Dalglish has said that someone is going to be on the end of a thrashing when our chances start going on, maybe it will happen on Sat? Having said that QPR are doing reasonably well so it might not go according to the form book!

  • Comment number 3.

    Being a Liverpool fan I'm not hopeful of a win. Before other Liverpool fans get on my back, I am only going by our home performances so far. Plenty of possession, decent chances and nothing to show for it. QPR will be a tough nut to crack, especially with Neil Warnock winding them up. He'll probably tell them they can win 1-3 too

  • Comment number 4.

    TV commentary is tedious. Clive Tyldesley and Jim Beglin reminded me of that yet again last night. Nice blog, by the way.

  • Comment number 5.

    Enjoyed Memory Lane.
    And agree with above about radio commentary.A real respect for the commentators, to be able to translate their vision to football fans Used to love listening to Liverpools Euro adventures and still prefer radio commentary today.
    Season ticket holder since 1983 and it used to be next to the Press box so well aware of the stick some get, especially when we're losing!
    Scared to be Scouse ? Saturday; Not a London audience, Be scouse !
    Especially when you're interviewing Warnock and Barton about their latest defeat.
    Nice to hear yet another local lad on BBC.

  • Comment number 6.

    Ah yes, remember the days when everyone used to tune into the wireless for the commentary. Much better than the saturation TV conerage we get these days and the incessant naval gazing that goes with it.

    Particularily enjoyed Alan Parry's coverage of the Reds European nights where he was a little less than impartial, interspersed with John Peel if he didn't happen to be at the game that was.

  • Comment number 7.

    Thanks Steve,

    Good trip down memory lane. I loved radio 2 for listening to the footy as a lad. This was the time when i 'hated' liverpool fc as they won everything and united nothing. Things go in cycles. We'll see who's next!

  • Comment number 8.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 9.

    8.
    At 12:32 8th Dec 2011, rh28 wrote:

    What can pretty much be guaranteed is that if Liverpool don't win against QPR we will be subjected to the usual litany of excuses, complaints and other gripes from 'King Kenny". He has to be the rudest, most obnoxious manager in the Premier League (against some stiff competition) and yet still seems to get the kid gloves treatment from the media. What best sums him up for me is that all we get from him in the wake of the Gary Speed tragedy (bearing in mind Dalglish signed Speed whilst Newcastle manager and must have had a relationship with him) is a charmless whine about the scheduling of the Carling Cup Quarter Finals. Nice piece of perspective Kenny........

    ____________________________________

    What a filthy, despicable comment.
    Dalglish was nothing but completely respectful after Gary Speed's death.
    Hold your head in shame for what was one of the most spiteful, hurtful and slanderous things ever written in response to an article, that just was not warranted.

    You're a disgrace.

  • Comment number 10.

    Enjoyed the blog Steve especially the mention of Tranmere's Friday night games !
    I too did the Rovers/Liverpool thing in those days, but came down firmly on the side of the Super Whites. I still attend at Prenton Park regularly and now my son does too. Hopefully we will be back on the up soon.
    RIP Gary Speed - anyone who uses his tragic death to sound out petty inter club rivalries should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves.........

  • Comment number 11.

    #2: I agree, the radio commentary is almost always more entertaining (with the greatest of respect to Steve Wilson). I often find the best thing is to watch the game on mute and have the radio on full volume.

  • Comment number 12.

    Nice blog.
    Steve, without sounding too sychophanic, you are one of the better commentators, please do not stoop for the catchphrase, scream down the mic, or inundate us with drivel as so many of your current peers seem so keen to do.
    Sport on 2 - Happy days. Oh the memories. the legendary Peter Jones and Bryon Butler. Shame for the plaudits and fuss the big names get, everyone forgets Tony Gubba. Brilliant effort and should be commended for his incredible service! For what its worth, the BBC could do worse than replace Motty with Barry Davies who does not feel the urge to bleat on throughout a match.

  • Comment number 13.

    That was my first ever game at Anfield. Think it was just after Kenny had resigned.

  • Comment number 14.

    8.
    At 12:32 8th Dec 2011, rh28 wrote:

    What can pretty much be guaranteed is that if Liverpool don't win against QPR we will be subjected to the usual litany of excuses, complaints and other gripes from 'King Kenny". He has to be the rudest, most obnoxious manager in the Premier League (against some stiff competition) and yet still seems to get the kid gloves treatment from the media. What best sums him up for me is that all we get from him in the wake of the Gary Speed tragedy (bearing in mind Dalglish signed Speed whilst Newcastle manager and must have had a relationship with him) is a charmless whine about the scheduling of the Carling Cup Quarter Finals. Nice piece of perspective Kenny........

    ____________________________________

    I agree with Gavelaa - this is a completely unwarranted attack. As every football fan knows, in fact Kenny Dalglish is revered in Liverpool in part because of the enormous efforts he made to support the bereaved in the aftermath of the Hillsborough disaster, and resigned as Liverpool manager (first time around) due to the heavy emotional burden he carried from this. He is the last person who would lose perspective on such an issue, and no individual with a modicum of sensitivity would accuse him of it.

    The fact of the matter is that Dalglish made a long comment of Gary Speed's death before discussing any other matters, including his belief that "these things make football secondary... The most important people are his wife and two boys and my heart goes out to them. They will get all the support they need.”

  • Comment number 15.

    "What can pretty much be guaranteed is that if Liverpool don't win against QPR we will be subjected to the usual litany of excuses, complaints and other gripes from 'King Kenny". He has to be the rudest, most obnoxious manager in the Premier League (against some stiff competition) and yet still seems to get the kid gloves treatment from the media"

    I agree completely. Can't wait for Liverpool to finish 6th and for him to get fired.

  • Comment number 16.

    The reality is most kopites still cling to the notion that they still dominate domestic football in the way they did 30 years ago or are only one signing away from doing so. Meanwhile back in the real world the original factors which were the basis of their success; the quality of their youth and scouting systems, well-managed finances, managerial stability, identifying emerging great players etc. count for nothing when the financial vultures with unlimited spending power can simply come along and offer the modern-day football playing mercenaries obscene sums for switching their allegiances and help themselves. The only thing which now surprises me is just why so many supporters continue to show undying loyalty to football clubs whose playing personnel don't know the meaning of the word let alone display a shred of it.

  • Comment number 17.

    Sorry - I'm a bit puzzled - are we saying that top flight football existed before 1992 ? Watching Sky, I was under the impression that Football only began upon the formation of the Premier League. What a fool I've been all these years !

  • Comment number 18.

    I remember your commentary of this game Steve. Capital Gold sport used to be a 'must listen' as I was growing up.
    its a shame you and JP are wasting your talents on tv now instead of radio.

  • Comment number 19.

    As a Fulham fan in my early 40's I would've been stood in front of you in a half empty Enclosure for those matches in the early 90's, watching our lads run around whilst the clueless Alan Dicks tried to orchestrate things from the other side of the pitch.

    Apparently the pre-match refreshments served by a couple of genial ladies in the press room made up for the football in those days?!

    A little ironic Steve that your visit to Anfield should follow on from Liverpool's defeat at the Cottage? For me it illustrates how much has happened since those dark days of 4,000 hardy souls rattling around the place trying to keep the property developers from getting their grubby mitts on our beloved old ground.

  • Comment number 20.

    Interesting article into the world of football commentary...

    As for my lot, I think QPR have every chance the way we are playing.

    We didn't play that well against Fulham and have already dropped points against both the other promoted sides.

    We desperately need to win, even to keep on track for a Europa League spot, never mind Champions League.

  • Comment number 21.

    @15

    King Kenny won't get sacked, that much I can promise you.

    Nor would the fans want him to be sacked, he has done a pretty good job so far, in my opinion.

    @16

    This scouser doesn't think we dominate English football, far from it. We have two top class players, Gerrard and Suarez, after that we are mediocre at best.

    I think we will finish 6th or 7th, and I only hope we can win the carling cup or somehow qualify for europe.

    We just cannot compete financially with the other clubs and therefore cannot buy the best players. Although Bellamy was a great free transfer :)

    Until we expand Anfield (or move to a new stadium) and the financial fair play rules come in, then we will struggle to compete off the pitch.

  • Comment number 22.

    @21

    "Nor would the fans want him to be sacked, he has done a pretty good job so far, in my opinion."

    Yet you are only four points ahead of where you were this time last season under the manager you never gave a chance and were all baying for his head.

    And how much has 'King Kenny' spent compared to Roy Hodgson to garner those extra four points??

  • Comment number 23.

    @22

    "Yet you are only four points ahead of where you were this time last season under the manager you never gave a chance and were all baying for his head.

    And how much has 'King Kenny' spent compared to Roy Hodgson to garner those extra four points??"

    -

    I think there are more differences between Kenny's Liverpool and Hodgson's Liverpool than just four points!! Under Hodgson we went completely backwards, played the worst football many had ever seen Liverpool play, made the worst start to a season for 50 or so years and their was no sign of progress or hope.

    Under KK we've started playing better football, have achieved better results and put in better performances.

    Granted, Liverpool still have a lot of work to do and are very much a work in progress. In a couple of years I would like to think Liverpool can be back up there challenging for the league or at least playing Champions League football.

    Absolutely no comparison between Dalglish and Hodgson!! Pretty stunned that I had to point this out!

  • Comment number 24.

    Your blog bought back memories Steve


    That Capital Radio team were fantastic for footie, being a Bees fan, I was always at the game so i avoided your part [sorry but you know what I mean] but JP on radio was an experience. Those midweek matches were special too.

    Now in the NW i go to Everton, Bolton, Tranmere even Utd, well anywhere there's a game on but it don't beat those capital radio days watching my beloved Brentford.

    Another point Brentford and Rangers mentioned in the same piece, now thats not right.

  • Comment number 25.

    I don't know if you guys/ gals remember the Liverpool 4-0 QPR in 1987-88? Barnes/ Beardsley and co. were mercurial in that game. One of the greatest league performances at Anfield ever surely!

  • Comment number 26.

    I well remember standing on the Kop with you throughout the late 1980s, Steve, in the days when football wasn't cool. Who would have thought then that you would become surely the greatest football commentator the world has ever known?

  • Comment number 27.

    I'm lookin forward to this game, as a Rangers fan we don't seem to know what we'll get when we turn up on a Saturday! It could be the team that looked awful away at Fulham, the battling team that ground out results against Chelsea and so nearly against Man City, or the team that tore apart Wolves at the Molineux! Whatever happens I am confident there will be plenty of goals and hopefully Shaun Wright-Phillips will finally get the goal he deserves! U RRRR's!!!

  • Comment number 28.

    We are playing much better football, Kenny daglish is still unbeaten against chelsea whilst being liverpool manager, and we should of beat utd and city comfortably. I personally think its a lack of motivation against the smaller teams of the league, it seems that unless a game has a lot of hype around it we simply dont play well.

  • Comment number 29.

    Radio commentary is vastly superior to TV in my opinion. I love weekend afternoons lounging in the bath listening to 5 live!

    Liverpool still look pretty average to me now that the 'Kenny-factor' has worn off a bit. Should be too strong for QPR though - but you never know with a Warnock side!

  • Comment number 30.

    4.
    At 11:18 8th Dec 2011, Custodian wrote:
    TV commentary is tedious. Clive Tyldesley and Jim Beglin reminded me of that yet again last night. Nice blog, by the way.


    yeah agreed cant stand either of them i was watching an old world cup game the other day with barry davies commentary what a superb commentator he was put the new school to shame

  • Comment number 31.

    Re: Scouse - last time I checked, Steve, the Wirral was not in Liverpool.

    Good read as usual

  • Comment number 32.

    I have many fond and treasured memories fervently listening to my radio in the 90's when the Sky Sport's octopus hadn't reared its scaly head and saturated TV coverage was still an ominious dark patch on the horizon

  • Comment number 33.

    Its easy to look back fondly on past times and forget that at the time things were not in fact as rosy as they now appear but despite the excellent football coverage provided by the BBC, SKY and ITV etc I really enjoy radio commentary. If nothing else it gets the imagnation working and that 1 or 2 seconds when you strain your hearing to listen if your team really have scored is something that simply does not happen on TV. My favorite radio commentary memory is of Arsenal's Paul Vassen scoring a last minute winner against Juventus in 1980 when I had all but given up hope of reaching the ECWC final!

  • Comment number 34.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 35.

    Great blog. Its interesting reading stories about how commentators have to hide their true allegiance. I could never do it, but hats off to you for managing it!

    Although I do love the most biased commentator on the telly for wearing his colours at all times:- Phil Thompson.

 

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.