Guy Mowbray Exclusive: “Not good enough to play, so get paid for watching it!”

Commentator Guy Mowbray (centre) in the stands prior to the Premier League match at the AMEX Stadium, Brighton. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday May 12, 2019.

BBC sports broadcasting legend Guy Mowbray paid a special visit to Sunderland University students to give them an insight into the day to day life working in the industry.

Guy, who was speaking at the David Puttnam Media Centre on the St Peter’s campus, began by reflecting on his early years and how he first became interested in working in sports media.

“At first I wanted to play. I didn’t even think of commentary or broadcasting as a career at all. I was 20 years old and at a job I didn’t really enjoy. My Dad said one summer afternoon, what are you going to do? I know you keep thinking football, football. You’re not good enough!” 

“Then he said you can get paid for watching it. You’ve got some contacts why don’t you try to make the most of it? From then on I put all my energy into what I am doing now.”

Guy began his journey in the industry by learning his trade at like likes of Club Call and Sun FM, before moving to Metro Radio Newcastle where he became sports editor and covered live broadcasts of Sunderland games. 

This rapid rise saw Guy presented with the opportunity of a lifetime when asked to cover the 1998 World Cup Final. Now working for Eurosport, commentating on the World Cup final between France and Brazil meant that at 26 he would become the youngest person to do so.

When quizzed on whether that prospect made him realise he had finally made it in the industry.

“I don’t think you’ve ever quite made it. You’re one slip up away from being un-made very quickly, so you’ve always got to stay on top of what you’re doing. But that was definitely the pinch yourself moment. The 2010 final was the first I did for the BBC so maybe that was a bit bigger.”

Since 2004 Guy has been one of the main figures in commentary at the BBC, covering every major international football tournament for the broadcaster, as well as being the leading voice on Match of the Day.

A question Guy admitted he gets asked almost every day is whether or not Match of the Day commentary is broadcast live, with sceptics often believing that the recording is done post-match in the TV studio.

“It’s a question we get still, it angers me actually. It’s absolute rubbish. It’s not physically possible, the commentary is always live and edited in Salford.”

The in-depth detail that goes into live commentary was another learning curve for the audience, with Guy noting that preparations for matches often take weeks in advance. World Cups and other major tournaments can even take as long as months for those in the industry to prepare for. However, the commentator says that these are the most fun times to be had in the job.

“It’s game, travel, game, travel, game, travel for the first 3 weeks then when the knockout stages arrive you may have a day off in between. It’s intense, very intense, but it’s great! It’s the hardest you ever work but it’s the most fun you will ever have.”

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