Euro 2008: The Commentators

With Europe’s biggest soccer tournament just over 2 weeks away, everyone is listing their commentators! Here are some known pairs for English commentators on the mic.

ESPN

Derek Rae and Tommy Smyth are confirmed to be the first commentating crew. They have been very good, covering the UEFA Champions League (including today’s final). They do a very good job of “off-tube” commentating from ABC Studios and player recognition, and most importantly, no filler nonsense (which has been ESPN’s biggest problem in every sport they cover). Rae is from Scotland, has a very good tone and he and Smyth seem to have intelligent banter, not the nonsense that ESPN gave us in World Cup 2006 with Marcelo Balboa.

The 2nd pair (or a possible 3rd) is unknown at this point. The Worldwide Leader has rights to all of the matches including the final, which will be broadcast on ABC. It’s rumored to be Adrian Healey and Seamus Malin from ABC Studios but I haven’t confirmed that.

Update: Rae confirmed on Wednesday they will be calling the Switzerland/Czech Republic game live in Switzerland.

International Feed

The international feed requires just one commentator….which makes me sad, because I think we could do without some analysts covering the NFL or the NBA in favor of one guy. Note that although TSN is like a sister station of ESPN in Canada, TSN grabs this feed for any international competition.

Tony Jones: Boring, dull, ditchwater dull, horrible voice, dull, boring, boring, dull, dreary. By the way, he is boring.

John Helm: This video describes him perfectly, Mr. Helm at his er…finest in 2006.

Dave Woods: Heard him for the first time watching the FIFA U-20 World Cup. Very good tone, good goal calling, mind doesn’t wander off into the woods (unlike the 2 folks I mentioned above) not the best commentator out there but he is miles ahead of Jones and Helm.

Steve Banyard: We’ve got a winner! Best young football (soccer) commentator out there! He tries really hard to get those player pronunciations correct, even designed a website for commentators as well. Lets the crowd get involved quite often, his goal calls usually go like “It’s Cristiano RONALDO!!!!!!!! STUNNING FREE KICK!”. Enthusiastic, articulates himself well, I hope he gets the final.

BBC

Admittedly I haven’t been to England but I’ve watched some games that have been broadcast via BBC feed. They have done a great job throughout, let’s see what happens this time…..please note the commentator pairings vary throughout.

Play By Play

John Motson (the man pictured at top of the post): This is his last tournament for the BBC before retirement. He is 62, considered to be one of the best commentators ever, has nearly a perfect voice, but recently he has just been horrible. Player recognition is bad, he messed up the goal call in the 2008 FA Cup Final, and I think the Beeb notices this, he has been used rarely on their famed Match of the Day (Premier League coverage) program.

Guy Mowbray: Have to say I’ve heard him once and he is primed to take over the #1 spot that is currently being held by Motty. He doesn’t work with a co-commentator that often so this is a big tournament for him to impress the boss.

Jonathan Pearce: Screechy, yelling, I think he used a Harry Potter reference a while ago and it was awful. Just not a good commentator and is not ready for big matches.

Steve Wilson: Haven’t heard of him, can’t put notes on that one. I’ve been watching World Cup highlights and two of them involved Lawro and Wilson. No screeching like Pearce and captures the excitement quite well. This is his chance to showcase his commentary skills to the boss to take over Motty’s #1 spot.

Co-Commentator

Mark Lawrenson: Useless. I think that’s why Motson has been so poor.

Gavin Peacock: Haven’t heard him at all.

Mark Bright: See Peacock.

It has been confirmed though that Motson and Lawrenson will call the final.

ITV

Well after England bombed, they lost about $20,000,000 because they were going to have joint coverage of the final with the BBC. Instead they will air evening highlights. There have been 3 confirmed commentators, analysts have not yet been mentioned.

Play By Play

Clive Tyldesley: One of the best. So what if he is biased towards Manchester United? If you want a sample of one of his most famous games, go here.

Peter Drury: Human dictionary, over the top, voice has a horrible screech….heard him call Premier League games and he drives me up the wall. He literally yells things at random and it makes me want to listen to nails on a chalkboard.

Jon Champion: ITV should be paying this guy to come back to ITV full time. Setanta Sports yanked him away to do Premier League games and now Champion only does UEFA Cup games and Championship (1 tier below Premiership) highlights. He was made for big matches, he is the commentator for Pro Evo Soccer 2008, I think he can become a #1 commentator for BBC or Setanta.

Possible Analyst

David Pleat: Not often does a guy come around like Pleat. He is bar none the worst analyst as far as player pronunciation of even something simple as Nani (he called him Nano). Really adds nothing to the game and with his usual “I think the grass is very green today Clive” inane babbling, ITV should haul him out of there.

Oceania Feed

Australia, New Zealand, etc.

Martin Tyler: ….LEGEND! That’s all I have to say about him, fantastic commentator, raises his voice when he needs to, actually played for the University of East Anglia so he should know the game very well. Great for him to work on yet another tournament to add to his wonderful achievements.

Hope you enjoyed by commentator review, so wherever you are in the world, you know what you really want….

That’s right, TELEMUNDO!!!!!!!!! GOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL!!!!!!

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6 thoughts on “Euro 2008: The Commentators

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  4. d2001dstanley

    Let’s see what we can come up with:

    JP Dellacamera and Eric Wynalda are the primary MLS crew. Assuming they need them for Euro 2008, they could use them and choose alternates for the MLS like they did during the World Cup.

    Rob Stone could work from the booth if necessary as could Dave O’Brien. Julie Foudy worked the booth in Women’s World Cup action, so she could be a choice. Shep Messing might be in the running, as he helped them out during their World Cup coverage.

    Reply
  5. Mookie Post author

    Dave O’Brien as (thankfully) been relieved from soccer duties to concentrate on baseball games.

    Wynalda got fired by ESPN. John Harkes is the new man now.

    Rae and Smith confirm they will call Switzerland/Czech Republic on site.

    There is also the possibility of having just Rae and Smith there and all of the other games would have ESPN tap in the world feed.

    Reply
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