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You are here: Home » To New Zealand Radio and TV Commentator John McBeth
This Ten Questions idea is to ask a leading rugby personality; either a player, from the the media or an administrator some questions which may prompt a response from them which we might not have heard of before;
John McBeth has been a work colleague of mine for over three decades. Like me he began in radio and later switched TV. He 'came over' to TV in 1992 (Actually he replaced me as TVNZ's rugby commentator. And several years later the bosses decreed I should replace him!) The swings and arrows of the broadcasting bosses' decision making has not swayed the two of us from having a close and firm friendship. We are very good mates. The parallel lines of our careers even went so far as to both being made redundant from TVNZ on the same day! (August 17, 2007!)
We then set out to be 'freelance' reporters and have had many a fun time together. Perhaps the most memorable was the 10 days we spent together on holiday in Scotland between the Athens Olympic Games and Paralympic Games in 2004. John drove the whole way - I navigated and selected the music to play in the car - and our mateship survived! John lives in Wellington with his wife Rae.
All Black TERRY LINEEN, test cricketer BERT SUTCLIFFE and the world champion middle-distance runner PETER SNELL
NO, BUT IF FORCED TO ANSWER I WOULD PICK SEVERAL PLACES IN FRANCE. I LOVE THAT PLACE!
I KNOW I HAVE A RELUCTANCE TO DECLINE REQUESTS. I CAN’T SEEM TO SAY ‘NO’
SPREADING RUMOUR OR GOSSIP
I FEAR 'USING THE WRONG WORD'. IT'S A BROADCASTING THING I GUESS.
NEVER SWEARING IN A COMMENTARY - OR WAS IT CONVINCING A MASSIVE TV AUDIENCE THAT I KNEW SOMETHING ABOUT YACHTING DURING HUNDREDS OF HOURS OF AMERICA’S CUP COVERAGE.
LET ME EXPLAIN THIS ONE: I WAS TOURING WITH THE FRENCH RUGBY TEAM IN 1989 AS THE NATIONAL RADIO COMMENTATOR. I RECALL THEY WERE NOT A PARTICULARLY POPULAR TEAM WITH THE KIWI MEDIA. WE THOUGHT THEM SLIGHTLY STAND-OFFISH, SOMETIMES RUDE, BUT MAYBE THAT WAS THE LANGUAGE DIFFICULTIES.
AT THE END OF THE BROADCAST OF THEIR THIRD TOUR GAME AGAINST SOUTHLAND IN INVERCARGILL I WAS PACKING UP MY GEAR WHEN I NOTICED TWO POLICEMEN WAITING TO TALK TO ME OUTSIDE THE COMMENTARY BOX.
THEY MET ME AND GRIMLY TOLD ME THAT WHILE I WAS ON THE AIR COMMENTATING, MY BROTHER HAD BEEN KILLED IN A CAR CRASH.
THIS WAS DEVASTATING NEWS OF COURSE.
i WENT BACK TO THE HOTEL STRAIGHT AWAY AND PICKED UP MY LUGGAGE. I HAD DECIDED TO LEAVE AND DRIVE HOME (TO TIMARU WHERE MY PARENTS LIVED).
AS I WAS CHECKING OUT OF THE HOTEL AND STANDING AT THE FRONT DESK THE FRENCH TEAM'S BUS PULLED UP. THEY WERE RETURNING FROM THE GAME TOO.
WHEN THEY CAME IN THE CAPTAIN PIERRE BERBIZIER AND COACH JACQUES FOUROUX IMMEDIATELY CAME UP TO ME. THEY BOTH SOLEMNLY SHOOK MY HAND AND TRIED TO EXPRESS THEIR SYMPATHIES TO ME IN HALTING ENGLISH. OBVIOUSLY THEY HAD HEARD THE NEWS. BERBIZIER THEN LOOSENED HIS PERSONAL FRENCH TEAM TIE AND OFFERED IT TO ME WITH TEARS IN HIS EYES.
TO PUT IT SIMPLY, THAT GESTURE AND THE TIE (AND THE DAY OF COURSE) STILL MOVES ME ALL THESE YEARS LATER. I CONSIDER IT MY MOST PRIZED REMINDER OF HOW GOOD THE BROTHERHOOD OF ALL SPORT CAN BE!
BEING ABLE TO RECALL CLEARLY ALL THE WONDERFUL EVENTS OF MY PAST LIFE AND TRAVELS.
I’M JUST DRAWING UP A BUCKET LIST BUT AM STUCK ON ITEM ONE
MY MOTHER ALWAYS TOLD ME THAT "IF A JOB’S WORTH DOING IT’S WORTH DOING WELL." I’VE STUCK WITH THAT.
And it's three titles too for captain Farah Palmer. In the final in Edmonton, Canada, New Zealand beat England 25-17
The famous New Zealand radio commentator who revolutionised the way rugby commentary was done all over the world.
The Wellington born McCarthy had essentially an outward personality; he loved talking, and he had had time on stage as a lad in the early 1930s in New Zealand. It followed then that he was not phased by nerves when he became a rugby commentator. He broadcast his games with a style so different from the conservative way callers had been first commentated the game in Britain. McCarthy was loud and brazen not afraid to raise his voice and ‘let go’ on the air.
When he was sent by the New Zealand Government to broadcast the 1945-46 Kiwi Army rugby of Britain back to New Zealand his style fascinated the conformist BBC. They took his broadcasts and put them on their stations. They were amazed that he could engender so much excitement. The BBC wanted him to stay on. Instead McCarthy came back to New Zealand, but his style lingered in Britain. Gone were the stuffy, some might say plum-in-the-mouth callers and encouraged was the McCarthy style. The great Scottish TV commentator, Bill McLaren, recalls how, as a young fledgling radio man, he was sent by the BBC to Cardiff in 1954 to stand behind McCarthy and watch ‘how’ he broadcast a game.
Because of the high peaks of emotion surrounding the 1956 Springbok tour of New Zealand Winston’s words of description and catchphrases became the catchphrases of the New Zealand nation. His most famous call was ‘listen….it’s a goal!’ when a shot at goal was taken. He would allow the cheering of the crowd to tell the radio audience first whether a kick was on target or not.
In his time, in the 1940s and ‘50s Winston McCarthy became one of the best-known New Zealanders. He became the eyes and ears of New Zealand’s voracious appetite for listening to their All Black team on tour. It was commonly said around the country that if the All Black selectors of the time could not see every game being played each week they were influenced in their selection of test teams by what McCarthy had said on the air. His words weighed that heavily.
Which New Zealand sports broadcaster once described a tight tennis match as 'a Battle of Nutrition.'