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17 August 2016

The legendary commentator relives a memorable challenge from his days on the microphone.

Former TV football commentator Peter Brackley, Brighton born and bred and a lifelong Seagulls fan, writes Brackley's Blog this week on the back of Gary Lineker carrying out his promise to present Match of the Day in his underpants if Leicester won the Premier League!
It was, I suspect, a pledge he never really thought he would actually have to go through with, but fair play to Gary, he was true to his word as he appeared coyly in front of a TV camera in just his boxer shorts!
(My pal Guy Butters, by the way, is rumoured to be prepared to "do the same thing" when the Albion are finally promoted - although whether the BBC will want him to present Match of the Day in Gary Lineker's boxer shorts is another matter!)
Seeing Gary having to keep up his promise last weekend reminded me of the bet we amused ourselves with every week on the old Football Italia show on Channel 4, when I was the match commentator back in the nineties.


Unbeknown to the watching millions, every week the production team would bet me, for a small financial incentive, that I couldn't include a certain word in the live commentary - which was fine if it was something simple like ‘policeman,’ ‘table’ or ‘wardrobe’ maybe.
But one week the Channel 4 crew had a meeting and declared: "It's become too easy for you, so this time, for a bigger reward, it's going to be harder - we want you to use the word ‘mango’ in the commentary."

"Mango?" I said. "How on earth can I say mango in the middle of a live football match?"

"Well, that's your problem!" they replied.
And it was my problem. I tried everything I could think of, even saying "just watch that man go," as someone flew down the wing!

"No, no, no" tutted the producer in my earpiece, "no, it's got to be one word, ‘mango’."
Easier said than done. I just couldn't find any reason whatsoever to say "mango" and was about to give up when, gospel truth, with just a few minutes to go, someone in the crowd threw some debris on the pitch, some toilet rolls or something.
My eyes lit up! "Oh, look!" I virtually shouted into the live microphone, “some rubbish and some fruit and vegetables have been thrown on the pitch, some apples, pears and a mango!"
Viewers at home must have thought I'd gone stark-raving bonkers. There they were looking at toilet rolls, and there was me waffling on about a mango!
Anyway, in celebration, I pushed the talk-back key which cuts out the live commentary, and said triumphantly to the producer, "There you are, I've said it!"

"Said what?" he replied.

"Mango! I've just said mango!"

"Oh, have you?" he responded, "sorry, we were busy in here and missed it. But never mind, there are a still a few minutes left, so could you say it again?"
Well, actually, no, I couldn't have said it again, it was hard enough the first time!
But somebody else might say it, of course - it does happen on other commentaries too, you see.
So if, for instance, you're watching an England game soon and you hear Clive Tyldesley reveal, "They might have to take this penalty again if they find a mango on the goal-line," you'll know Clive's been given the same flipping word that I was!
And if Glenn Hoddle alongside him suddenly announces that "Wayne Rooney's in favour of antidisestablishmentarianism," you'll have a pretty fair idea what word Glenn's been given to say!   

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