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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?
Marty Berry came on v Australia at Eden Park in a losing Bledisloe Cup game for just 18 seconds. But his other midweek games for the ABs spread over 7 seasons.
The annual matches played between England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and France were known as the Five Nations championship, or the International rugby championship from 1883 to 2000. When Italy joined in 2000 it was logical that the title for the showpiece to be generally known as The Six Nations Championship.
Ii is not widely known that in fact for over 100 years there was no such official tournament by name. The matches played were merely the annual fixtures between the British, Irish and French countries and it was only the media and fans who awarded a ‘Championship’ at the end of the season. There was no official trophy or title at stake. In 1992 official recognition came for the tournament and a trophy was awarded.
Terry Godwin, who wrote a book in 1984 on the international championship’s first 100 years, could find no definite date when public reference to a ‘championship’ was first made. Godwin believed it was near 1893 or 1894, some 10 years after annual matches had begun involving all four British and Irish teams. In the years that followed, only random mention was made to the ‘championship’ winners or ‘wooden spoon’ winners each year. And even when France was added to the list of annual fixtures for the four ‘home’ teams, it was left off published championship tables until after World War I.
The tournament has encouraged its own terminology. A ‘Grand Slam’ is the winning against all five other teams in the same season. A ‘Triple Crown’ refers to British teams winning against the other three home country teams. France or Italy cannot win a Triple Crown.
What age was Gareth Edwards when he became the world’s youngest test captain?
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