By Alan Irwin
“Campbell’s through, Campbell’s clear, Campbell’s scored!”
Those words remain very clear in my memory, not just because it was THE last time (no further explanation needed) but primarily because that was my first ever derby match commentary for Radio City Sport.
A Monday night, late September 1999, an early Kevin Campbell goal. Much more to cover in terms of what happened on the pitch over the 90 minutes was to follow of course.
A delirious Graeme Sharp was alongside me in the press box along with a rather subdued and angry Ian St John. Little did I know at the time that was the happiest I’d see Sharpy at Anfield for the next 17 years.
Back in ’99 Derby match commentary for Radio City was very different than recent years. One commentator with an Everton and Liverpool summariser. A requirement then to be totally unbiased in the delivery.
Fast forward to 2005/06 season and Radio City’s move to the “one commentator one club for the season” approach. I was appointed as Everton’s main man for the station.
Derby day commentary was to change. Half of each half shared commentary with our Liverpool man, Steve Hothersall. That inevitably led to Steve holding the microphone when Everton scored and vice versa. That in itself caused much amusement to many, myself and Steve included. I didn’t really enjoy that shared commentary to be honest, despite the freedom to commentate from a more biased perspective. My feeling was I never quite “got into the game” if I can use the true football vernacular! Given the Derby results during my ten years as Everton commentator maybe that was a good thing!!
I did though thoroughly enjoy the banter between our summarisers. John Aldridge hated going to Goodison Park, even requesting taxi service door to door to avoid the walk from the car park. And if you know the Everton press box he wasn’t immune to a comment or two from those immediately seated behind us. Strangely Sharpy never really experienced the same at Anfield and yet surely everyone remembers 84?
Back to 99 and what a match to make your Derby commentary debut in. Westerveld and Jeffers sent off for Handbags. Steve Staunton taking the gloves and pulling off a stunning save leading to the Saint’s on air comment: “and to think for all those years we’ve had to put up with David James” classic stuff. A clear red for Gerrard followed too. I was drained, relieved, and thrilled to have delivered the lines I’ll forever remember. A few more famous Derby commentaries followed over the years, but as they say you always remember the first time.
I’m sure I only missed 3 matches home and away during those 10 years of Everton commentary for Radio City (sometimes Weddings, a Wife and Children had to take priority!). It was hugely enjoyable, particularly life on the road for the long away trips, not to mention the European adventures. Entertainment a plenty, sometimes a lot more off the pitch than on!