Thinking and talking about rugby every day for 50+ years
14 July 1969
I suppose this story only has a vague connection with sport and television. I mention it here because many times in my lifetime of working in the medium of TV commentary I have heard people try to tell me, and other commentators, just 'how it (TV commentary) should be done!'
Many of these 'experts' do this while mostly not ever having ever been anywhere near a microphone.
My late and much loved Father-in-Law came in that class. I reckoned dear old Tom's often announced firm opinions about how TV sport should be covered - or the News - came about because he watched a lot of it from his armchair. However I always respected his view; he was a viewer and entitled to it.
Not many people can claim to be expert broadcasters of sport on TV. What exactly is expert? No one really knows.
I certainly cannot claim to be one. But what I can claim is, I hope, my own style of doing a call.
In summary, over the years, I have tried to belong to a personal school of trying to mainly identify, entertain and inform' That's all - but to do it in a TV way, not done with the total verbal description that might be better say, in radio.
Others of course have other ways of doing a perfectly good TV call. And that's fine.
Back in 1969 the great news anchorman Walter Cronkite was on the air for CBS News from Cape Kennedy in Florida. For a massive world audience he was doing the TV commentary of Mankind's first flight to the moon. For the still young medium this was - and still is - one of the world's most significant TV moments.
Cronkite was hugely famous at that time. He is forever recalled as the man who 'told America' via the CBS news that President John F. Kennedy had been killed by an assassins bullet.' He also had heavily influenced a change of view from hawk to dove on America's involvement in the Vietnam war.
Cronkite was also expert on the American space programme - and the TV coverage of it.
So while he was on the air on that famous day many of the CBS staff wondered just what the great man would say at the moment of lift-off on such a momentous day for TV and world history.
But as the rocket blasted off from its 36-story high launching pad, in what surely must have been a fantastic opportunity to exclaim something - Cronkite said - NOTHING!
In the truest example of 'how to do' TV commentary Cronkite later stated that he believed that 'no human voice should ever interrupt such a dream.'
So that day at the microphone he waited and waited in silence as the world gasped in wonderment.
Only after some breathless moments (though in reality probably only a few seconds more) did Cronkite utter what was considered by American viewers and historians to be the immortal TV line.
'What a moment!' he cried, 'Man is on the way to the moon!'
How would we commentators of today have reacted in that same situation?
I cannot believe it was so long ago! But right from a VERY young age at Benneydale and Berhampore in New Zealand I knew I wanted to write and talk about rugby - and I've been doing it all my life. (And many more to come I hope!)
Founded in 1884, Abertillery is another of the traditionally strong scrummaging Welsh club teams which always provide rugged opposition. The club has rarely dominated the Welsh scene, but in combination with neighbouring Ebbw Vale has provided many a touring team with strenuous mid-week opposition.
Abertillery has a pretty home ground, The Park, situated at the foot of the mountains and it is there that Haydn Morgan discovered his love of rugby and a talent that was to make him the club’s most celebrated Welsh cap. Morgan, a ﬂanker, played 27 times for his country and toured twice with British Isles touring teams – to New Zealand and Australia in 1959 and to South Africa in 1962.
Other prominent Welsh internationals from Abertillery have been Alun Pask (26 internationals for Wales between 1961–67 and two tours with the British Isles – to South Africa in 1962 and to New Zealand in 1966); John Webb (20 internationals for Wales 1907–12 and with the British Isles in South Africa in 1910); and Allan Lewis (six caps for Wales 1966–67, and a New Zealand tour with the British Isles in 1966).
Abertillery plays in green and white hooped jerseys. It celebrated its centenary in 1984 with a match against a touring Japanese team. After a close encounter, Japan won 17–13.
Who was the first All Black captain to be red or yellow carded in a test match?