Previously, I’ve written about how English soccer matches sound better on radio than television, as well as how the FA Cup third round is made for radio not TV. Richard Whittall from the A More Splendid Life blog agreed. However, I was wrong.
What I should have said is that BBC radio commentaries are often better than watching matches on television. Notice I didn’t include TalkSport. That’s because they’re bloody rubbish.
For example, while listening to the Benfica against Liverpool match last Thursday, co-commentator Bobby Gould (former manager of Wimbledon and Wales) was abysmal.
The whole point of a radio commentator is that s/he should paint a picture of what is happening on the field so you can imagine in your mind what a goal or near miss looked like. But Gould continually pissed me off last Thursday because he would gasp and cry out as the ball would sail near the net, but we listeners on radio had no idea what was happening because he didn’t explain it to us — at least not until seconds later, by which time the game had already moved on.
The way Gould was commentating was as if the radio listener was watching a TV broadcast of the game at the same time and we could see what was happening and then hear Gould’s oohs and aahs and it would all make sense. But of course, while listening to the radio, we can’t see any pictures and we need to rely on the commentator to help guide us through the match.
Listening to the commentaries on BBC Radio Five Live, they really are at the top of their game. The list of quality commentators is long. Mike Ingham, Mark Pougatch, Graham Taylor, Jimmy Armfield, Darren Fletcher and many others. They really are a joy to listen to and do a spectacular job of bringing the game to life.
On Thursday, for the quarter-finals of the Europa League featuring Wolfsburg versus Fulham and Liverpool against Benfica will be shown on US television via DirecTV and GolTV respectively. But if you are able to find a stream of BBC Radio 5 Live commentary, I highly recommend you listen to it. Or, as a last resort, you can try TalkSport. Just keep your fingers crossed that Bobby Gould will be far away from the mic.