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A top result for our Mike

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MAKE the most of this moment, folks, for debut football result announcer Mike West may say this only once ...

Fleetwood Town 3 Inter Milan 1

Blackpool 6 Manchester United 0

Preston 1 Squires Gate 4

Forfar 5 East Fife 4 (the Scottish tongue twister)

Hamilton Academical 1 Accrington Stanley 2 (guttural challenge for scousers)

Cwmbran Celtic 2 Bryntirion Athletic 1 (Welsh league frightener)

And entirely for my own guilty pleasure – Liverpool 8 Everton 1

Would you mind repeating that final score, Mr West?

There’s a telling pause. It can’t be easy to announce football results between gritted teeth but Mike’s a seasoned professional. He’s also an Evertonian.

“Liverpool 8 Everton – 1.”

Ah, who could ever tire of listening to the ultimate fantasy league results so deliciously intoned?

In the war of words, it’s no contest. I forfeit the right to front the football results live on Saturday teatime’s Final Score (usually BBC 1 but BBC 2 this weekend) by fluffing on Forfar 5. You try saying it. But if it’s any consolation, Mike struggles with Bryntirion.

It’s a dry run for the real thing when the hallowed task of presenting the football results live, unabridged, unexpurgated and unedited falls to Radio Lancashire’s own Mr West on Saturday at 5pm.

One of the most prestigious primetime duties in British broadcasting has passed to the veteran Radio Lancashire sports presenter. Come Saturday he will be shadowed by his predecessor in the post. He says: “He’ll be my mentor and hopefully offering some tips.”

Tim Gudgin, now 82, hung up his mic after citing age, the commute to BBC Sport’s new home in Salford’s Media City and an upcoming family wedding in Australia.

Gudgin attributed his familiar rising and falling intonation – particularly on big scores – down to a “musical ear”.

His preparation involved little more than nasal drops on stuffed up days – you don’t use the term bunged up in sporting circles since the cricket scandal.

He even got to say “Airdrie 11 Gala Fairydean 0” on his final show last weekend.

So having broken Mike in gently with that (and do let’s hear it again) “Blackpool 6 Manchester United 0” scoreline, the only way is up for one of the most familiar voices in red rose county, now set to become a household name in British broadcasting.

The world of voiceovers could be at Mike’s feet too – Gudgin once claiming they paid for his mortgage. Mike lives in the Ribble Valley, so the least said about the mortgage the better.

Barring any footie faux pas this weekend, Mike’s also in it for the long haul.

Gudgin, who lives in Hampshire, took over in 1995 after the death of Aussie Len Martin, who fronted the first BBC results on October 11, 1958. Tough acts to follow. When Gudgin announced his decision to quit, the BBC asked local radio stations to suggest “mature males” of sufficient gravitas to take up the role. Mike, who retains a trace of his native Liverpool accent, reckons it’s a triumph for regionalism too.

He admits: “I’m obviously thrilled, but also apprehensive. Two exceptional professionals have set a very high standard over the last 50 years. It’s quite daunting. I feel a bit like that Lennon and McCartney quote, we might last 10 years, we might last a week. So many things could go wrong. Pronunciation, losing my way... my greatest fear is of having a coughing fit with eight more divisions to go.

“I keep hearing old wives tales about throat potions to keep your voice smooth, but, Tim says, he has no preparation at all.

“I’m trying not to think of how many will be listening. Times have changed since the old Pools days, when people listened with sharpened pencils at the ready, but millions of people in every part of the country are still keen to know how their team has gone in, so listen avidly.

“I don’t think you have to be interested in sport to do it but it may help. Everton’s my team, and I’d love to announce them winning the championship. I play golf, too, love horse racing, and like a bet. Including on football.”

Len Martin faltered only once – back in 1971 when he announced results which meant he had won £500 on eight draws in the Pools.

Gudgin owned up to having problems pronouncing Hamilton Academical in the early days. “My nemesis will be the Welsh league cup and two teams with 14 syllables each,” Mike admits.

Mike, who will continue to work for Radio Lancashire, which he joined in 1978, teaches vocal skills to UCLAN news and sports students but concedes: “That’s more about pace, phrasing, which words to emphasise.

“This is very different. I’ll have to stay calm, clear and unemotional – and really try to keep the glee out of my voice if Everton beat Bolton on Saturday.”

jacqui.morley@blackpoolgazette.co.uk

 

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