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19 June 2016

The legendary commentator looks back at previous tournaments.

With the Euros in full swing, former TV football commentator Peter Brackley, Brighton born and bred and a lifelong Seagulls fan, reminisces with some memories of covering major tournaments.

Watching the Euros at home from the comfort of my favourite sofa, I guess I'm feeling a bit like a footballer who's missed out on playing in the finals.

Well, not quite the same maybe, but having covered lots of European Championships and World Cups for radio and television in the past, I'm certainly feeling more than just a twinge of envy that I'm not commentating on the tournament in France in some capacity, 

Can't say in all honesty I miss all the travelling, and the novelty of staying in lots of different hotels has definitely worn off! But I do admit to missing the buzz of being involved in a major event with all the excitement of the matches and the great camaraderie among a team of like-minded colleagues.

It's been a while since I've been to a major tournament, indeed for a few of the more recent ones I've commentated on I've been "off-tube" back in London, and it's over three decades since my first football finals; the World Cup in Spain back in 1982.

I was there for BBC Radio with the incomparable Alan Green, who's still going strong for the network 34 years later!


My first European Championship was the previous French finals in 84, which attracted a decidedly low-key approach as far as British TV was concerned, mainly because we had no-one in it!

Martin Tyler, now Sky's main man, of course, and I were sent out to France to commentate on some matches for ITV, but mainly for just a few minutes of highlights, and the laid-back approach meant we had some lovely trips up and down France, just covering the odd game here and there while enjoying the countryside and the local cuisine! Nice work if you can get it!

It was certainly nothing like the daily hustle and bustle of TV tournament coverage these days with all the demands on the commentary and production teams!

Hearing the TV commentators at the Euros over the past week [and I must confess that occasionally I'm doing my own commentary on the sofa for my long-suffering wife to endure alongside me!], does bring back memories of struggling to keep abreast of all the names and faces, with not just the pronunciations, but also the identification of so many players we don't necessarily see that often.

One of my favourite clangers from my TV days came from Andy Townsend, currently at the Euros for ITV.

Andy and I, along with Des Lynam and other colleagues, were watching the day's Premier League games coming in live on the monitors in the ITV Green Room, and Andy was focusing on Liverpool's match.

"Goal!" he suddenly shouted, "Goal for Liverpool, it’s Emile Heskey!

"Er, no, hang on, sorry, it was Michael Owen."

"Oh, easy mistake to make, Andy," I shouted back across the room.

"Heskey and Owen? They’re like two peas in a pod in those two!"

"Yes, all right Brackers," moaned Andy, and off he went to sulk in the corner while we all relished his embarrassing gaffe!

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