Commentating on Tottenham – by Daniel Wynne

Wed, November 24, 2010 - 12:33, News, Administrator,

Commentating on Tottenham

Serving as a Trustee of the TTT is an honour and a privilege as it enables me to give something back to the heroes of yesteryear who did so much to give the Club the fantastic history, heritage and tradition that we all love.

I am lucky enough to be the Club’s match day commentator which enables me to look at the current crop of players in a lot of detail. This article will look at the preparation for each game and my match day routine.

This is my 10th season of commentating for Tottenham’s games, and it is a role that I thoroughly enjoy and take seriously.

I do a full live, 90 minute commentary for every home game and it is done without the benefit of a co commentator. The commentary is heard live in the executive lounges and boxes and the games are recorded onto DVD and they form part of the management team’s analysis, plus the FA receives a copy too.

Therefore, it is vitally important to be respectful to the opponents and to treat it seriously. I always use the motto – fail to prepare, prepare to fail.

The Premier League games are generally easier to prepare for as it is easy to get info on our opponents, they are on TV every week so formations won’t be a surprise and the players are well known.  Playing some of the European teams presents more of a challenge as there is less coverage, to say nothing of the difficult pronunciation. Stadium announcer Pete Abbott often complains before such a game that he has a hard job reading the away team’s names, but I always tell him that it is easy compared to my job as I need to say their names all night!

I keep records of all Spurs players’ appearances on a season by season basis and in total for their time at the Club, which I update after every game.

I also have to keep records of our opponents players and I update them a couple of weeks prior to the next game against them. If we play a team that is new to the Premier League like Blackpool this season, more time is needed to prepare. I generally list all their fixtures for the season to date together with goal scorers so all the important stats are fresh and up to date. It takes about two to three hours work to prepare for a game or slightly longer for a team like Blackpool.

On a match day, I would arrive at the ground at about 10.30am for a 3pm kick off. My voice appears in the pre match show on the Jumbotrons as part of the highlights packages of recent home and away games and they tend to be voiced on the day of the game for editing reasons rather than using the tape of the game done at the time. I also have a slot in the show where I set a quiz question (to camera) on our opponents. This is recorded a game in advance, ready for the next show as VT needs to be dropped in.

Therefore, arriving early is key to ensure everything is recorded on time and my spot on the gantry, high up on the roof of the East Stand, is all ok. The technical guys rig everything up but I always pop up to make sure my position is all ok as it all needs to be just how I like it.

I get the team line ups around an hour before kick off (an hour and a quarter before kick off on Champions League nights) and I check to make sure Pete Abbott has them via our radio system. I then make my way up to the gantry to finalise my commentary sheet. The BBC and Sky commentators are all up there too and it has been known for them to check the odd stat with me on the Spurs players at least!

I can't begin to tell you how cold it gets up there in the winter and the nearest toilets are on the concourse in the East Stand so a pre match trip to the toilet is essential!

All my stats are set out in a way that is familiar to me so that I can refer to them at any given time during the game.

I have a variety of people that talk to me at any one time during the game via my headphones (or “cans” as we say in the trade!). They include the OB (outside broadcast) director so I know what shots are coming up as I need to keep an eye on my monitor so I am not talking about something out of shot. For example if a player is down injured, it is useful to know that he is being looked at, and if it is a long injury it would be a timely moment to deliver a stat or two on the player in order to fill the time before play gets underway again.

I can also talk to “our man” in the tunnel so I am, fed info when a player is coming off, why they have come off and added time so it makes for a smoother broadcast.

My director likes to keep chatting through the game too and keeps me informed of scores from around the country, which is useful particularly on the last day of the season when places are up for grabs. All in all I can have 5 or 6 different people talking to me at once during a game and it can be tricky at times to keep focussed on them plus the game. It obviously gets easier as time passes but it was certainly confusing for the first few games.

At the end of the game I “wrap up” the commentary within about a minute of the final whistle so that Pete Abbott is clear to use the airwaves to give the final scores to the supporters in the ground. We both can’t talk at the same time!

I don’t really have too much to do after the game so am usually free to leave within 20 minutes of the final whistle, with a copy of the game on DVD (with my commentary) packed safely in my bag! I have a copy of every game that I have commentated on in the 10 years I have been doing it, and thankfully, they are on DVD now which takes up less room than the few years' worth of VHS cassettes!

Leaving the ground, I meet up with my boys and we chat in the car going home about the game. I call a couple of my friends and it is amazing how differently you see the game as a commentator than as a fan. The referee is rarely as bad as fans think (there are exceptions of course!) and it is far, far colder on the gantry than it is in the stands!

I am often asked if I “mind” not going to White Hart Lane as a regular fan, and the truth is that I love what I do. There are some games where my commentary does get a bit excitable but I tend to be forgiven for that. In fact, a few of the Club directors commented to me about the passion that “boiling over” in the commentary of the 5-1 win over Arsenal. The goals from that game were in the DVD sent to all One Hotspur Members as part of their renewal package for this current season!

So next time you are at White Hart Lane on a cold night, spare me a thought, look up to the gantry and give me a wave!



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