- 10 Jun 08, 10:45 AM
I thought I'd give you an insight into a typical day for a television football commentator.
I had the fortune (?) to work on the France v Romania at the Letzigrund Stadium in Zurich for BBC 1 - my first live game of this tournament.
I covered the Portugal v Turkey match in Geneva but that was for the highlights programme, so Monday was a big day. Here's how it unfolded:
A commentator's timetable:
Egerkingen - a village somewhere in Switzerland.
6.20am: Wake up early to the sound of bells. A herd of sheep are chewing the grass outside my hotel window and the little bells around their necks are jangling. Momentarily, I feel like breaking those woolly necks and going back to bed; but the sun is out for a change and lamb casserole is postponed.
8.15: Start my final preparations for the game. Checking facts about the Romanians and having another look at a DVD of them playing against Russia in March - a fairly impressive 3-0 win over a less-than-motivated-looking Russian side.
10.30: Get word from a contact that Thierry Henry is not expected to start tonight. This is a surprise. There has been a big call in France for Karim Benzema to play, but at the expense of Anelka not Henry. I am told that the French side will be: Coupet; Sagnol, Thuram, Gallas, Abidal; Ribery, Makelele, Toulalan, Malouda; Anelka and Benzema. We shall see. It'll be quite a story if Henry is left out, though I'm told he is not totally fit after getting a knock v Colombia in a friendly. I reckon the Romanian team will be pretty close to this: Lobont; Contra, Tamas, Goian, Rat; Cocis, Radoi, Chivu; Nicolita, Mutu, D. Nicolae.
1pm: Leave the hotel to make the 45-minute drive to Zurich.
2.30: Make that the hour-and-a-half drive to Zurich as chaos ensues thanks to unfinished road works and confused police who aren't really sure as to who should head where.
3.00: Quick chat with former France defender Marcel Desailly, who apparently has heard the same rumours about the French team as me. Henry will not play. Marcel is then engulfed by Chinese and French film crews wanting his thoughts about the game. He smiles nicely but escapes them.
4.00: Commentary teams are arriving by the minute in the stadium. Have a chat with Chris Waddle about his time at Marseille. I also have a quick word with Vladimir Smicer, who is working for Czech TV. Today's referee is the same guy who took charge of the Istanbul Champions League Final in 2005. Smicer waxes lyrical about his goal and Liverpool's comeback against Milan. Other famous names in the media section include Frank le Boeuf and Dominique Rocheteau (pictured above), the wonderful Saint Etienne forward of the late 70s and early 80s.
5.00: I have my intro for the game written with the exception of the team news, which is finally forthcoming from Uefa. Henry will not play and both the French and Romanian teams are what I was expecting. I'm feeling pretty pleased with myself about that, and with Mark Bright now alongside I can't wait for the game to kick off.
5.45: On air. Gary Lineker, Alan Shearer, Martin O'Neill and Alan Hansen are in the studio. Ray Stubbs and Marcel are pitchside. The adrenalin is flowing, but I am happy with my preparation for the game and there have been no surprises... so far.
5.54: Gary hands over to us in the stadium as the team emerge from the tunnel. It's hot and I remark that the temperature might have an impact on the game. Hand on heart, though, I am expecting France to win comfortably.
6.00: The game kicks off. So far so good.
6.45: Nil-nil at half time. Romania don't want to cross the halfway line and France have been poor. Benzema (pictured below) has been a big disappointment so far and Anelka completely anonymous. In the studio, they get stuck into Malouda for his display, but nobody has impressed for France.
7.45: It finishes 0-0. I am happy with the commentary, which went fine, but the game was pretty dull. In a European Championship with only 16 teams, you don't get too many live games and naturally you want the ones you do get to be memorable, so this is a real shame. Still, I think I did OK and the production team in Vienna seem happy enough.
8.30: Mark Bright, floor manager Nick Bushell, sound man Phil Gibbins and I leave Zurich to head back in the direction of our hotel, stopping in a town called Olten along the way. We find a really nice place to have a meal and a couple of beers whilst watching the second half of the Italy v Holland game. It's a much better game than ours. Brighty is on good form with lots of funny stories about Sheffield Wednesday.
Midnight: Arrive back at the hotel. Ray Stubbs is back from Zurich and John Motson is already back from Berne and the Holland game. Have a quick chat at the bar, but I'm not too keen to linger as I want to get up early tomorrow to go back to Zurich to visit some of the sights as well as find time to start work on my next game - Switzerland v Turkey in Basle on Wednesday. On the whole, a good day but a bad game. A glance out of the hotel window reveals a heard of sleeping sheep, bells at the ready.
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