I have been a football fan since the age of 4 when my father took me to a friendly to see Spurs v Bournemouth whilst we were on holiday in the New Forest. I can still remember the roar when Martin Peters, one of the hero’s from 1966 scored the first goal and I was hooked.
I loved listening to the commentators on BBC and ITV when I was growing up, back then the only live games were the FA Cup finals and England games. David Coleman, John Motson, Barry Davies, Tony Gubba and Brian Moore were all legends in our household. So you can imagine I jumped at the chance when I got an invite from a Stephen Vincent, a friend of mine, to review Bearwood Lakes and play with Clive Tyldesley the award winning football commentator.
I was introduced to Clive on the first tee and straight away he accepted “A round with Niall challenge” claiming he played off 14 and negotiated 7 shots. During the winter months the Bearwood Lakes green staff had designed and built a water feature that crossed the 18th fairway and flowed down the hill and onto the 1st providing a much more challenging drive. The water is a great addition to what is already a good golf course and cleverly looks like it has always been a feature.
I was fascinated to know how someone became a football commentator and asked Clive how he had managed to end up in his current role. His first job in radio was for Radio Trent back in the 70’s, when commercial radio was just starting, hosting a heavy rock show from 10- 2 in the morning. He also took every opportunity to commentate on football when he could and being in Nottingham covered Nottingham Forest and was in regular touch with the legendary manager Brian Clough.
In 1977 he was employed by Radio City in Liverpool staying for 12 years throughout the teams glory years and got to know all the Liverpool greats many of whom are still friends today. I could tell Clive had been a good golfer and he indicated that as a junior he was half decent and could remember being taken to Royal Lytham for the Open when Tony Jacklin won. His Dad bought him the same lilac sweater and trousers that Jacklin wore which is a good look when you win The Open but when he lost a junior first round match it didn’t look that good and turned him off golf for a while.
Bearwood Lakes was in great condition getting ready for the Seniors Open Qualifying, the rough was really thick and Clive being a member for the past 6 years carefully plotted his route around the front 9 being 2 up at the turn. I think the best holes at Bearwood are from 10th through 15th and you can see the clever use of water. I have it on good authority that a new tee will built into the lake on the shortish par 3 14th which will be another good edition and nice to see that the club are continuing to look at ways to improve.
Clive joined Granada Television in 1989 and his first television commentary was a famous Manchester derby in September 1989 that City won 5-1. He got great reviews and joined the BBC in 1992 to 1996 but was never going to get the big live games being behind Motson & Davies in the pecking order. He then moved back to ITV taking over as their lead football commentator after the retirement of Brian Moore in 1998.The rest is history commentating on every Champions League Final since 1998. His most famous commentary line came during the dramatic climax of the 1999 final “Can Manchester United score? They always score” moments before the equalizing goal. Must have been a very satisfying moment having supported United as a boy!
He has recently chronicled his love affair with the national game in a book ‘Not for me, Clive’. The author is keen to stress it is not ‘a boring autobiography’ but rather a conversation about football and its media through the experiences he has shared in friendships with the likes of Clough, Shankly, Ferguson, Dalglish and Southgate.
Clive hadn’t played that much golf recently having been very busy with the Euros 2020 and at 66 was playing the exhaustion card but was still using his shots well and I couldn’t get back level with him. Standing on the last I was one down and needing some good fortune unfortunately after a decent drive I came to grief in the greenside bunker taking far too many to get out and handing a deserved victory to Clive 2 up in the “A round with Niall challenge”.
We enjoyed a drink after the game and Clive showed me one of his commentary charts which was immaculate and showed how much detail and preparation is required when commentating. During the first lockdown his wife suggested that he should start a business selling the charts to football fans of different clubs which has been really successful and if you are interested check out www.commentarycharts.com.
Clive has now picked up an additional role working for Rangers TV so will be in Scotland a lot more and will be playing one of my old haunts, Loch Lomond with Ally McCoist who he partnered so well with during the Euros and I believe a trip to Turnberry is also on the cards.
Despite the score I really enjoyed listening to Clive and his football stories and playing Bearwood Lakes which is a very private members club. If you are lucky enough to be invited take up the chance to visit you will enjoy it especially off the back tees and be careful of that very, very heavy rough and of course the water off the first !!
I for one cannot wait to return!
Until next time