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Interesting, very interesting By Barry Davies

Release date: 24th August, 2007
Publisher: Headline Publishing

List Price: £20.00
Our Price: £11.38
You Save: £8.62 (43%)
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Interesting, very interesting
By Barry Davies
Headline Publishing price: £11.38, saving 43% on rrp.

Barry Davies is believed to have wanted his autobiography called "Frankly, Who Cares?", part play on words which echoes his famous line from the 1988 Olympic hockey final when Great Britain beat Germany - "and where were Germans - but frankly, who cares?", and part self-deprecating statement which may ultimately describe the sports commentator's role.

However, in a market awash with ghosted 'autobiographies' of questionable merit, such a title would have hardly assisted the book's sales, while on the other, in Davies's case at least, it would be a grossly unfair reflection on his forty years work behind the microphone.

Some of the more excitable types who pass for commentators nowadays should familiarise themselves with Davies's wise words which litter this hugely enjoyable read. He starts early, recalling an incident during the 2002 World Cup when South Korea had beaten Spain to make the semi-finals. The BBC's head honcho in Korea, Philip Bernie congratulated him on his reaction to the decisive moment. "You didn't say anything for about forty-five seconds. It was wonderful."

Davies's response encapsulates his commentating expertise: "Ah," he said, "I'm the world's best commentator when I keep my mouth shut." Many from the current batch of occasionally frenzied commentators should read this and learn.

Unlike many people taking a retrospective journey through their life in the world of sport, Davies looks back on a career that he has clearly enjoyed. It helps that he has met many of the globe's greatest performers, players, managers and impresarios (his fourteen-page index is crammed with references to sporting greats) and his brief anecdotes regarding a host of them add a wonderful, easy pace to this book.

Not as though it is a collection of laid-back reminiscences; Davies's privileged position at some of the world's greatest sporting events has given him a breadth of vision which means his comments on matters ranging from football hooliganism to the Olympic movement are worth considering.

Barry Davies initially covered the 1968 Olympics for ITV, but the following year left for the BBC where he became the best commentator on the channel's Match of the Day. His rivalry with John Motson, who for some reason always seemed to get the best matches, including the Cup Final, did not, he says, extend to personal animosity, although the fact that he was the bridesmaid more often than not clearly miffed him.

Yet Davies does not harp on about it, limiting himself to one short chapter, 'Motty and Me' to put the record straight, after which he recounts his career and reminds us of some of the commentating greats. He even reveals which football team he supports and it's to his great credit that despite listening to him for many years, this reviewer would never have guessed its identity.

When selecting his favourite commentators, Davies opts first for John Arlott and his "wonderful powers of description" and for Richie Benaud, appreciated for his "concise, often revealing, sometimes pithy, observations."

Davies winds up with some musings regarding commentary a chapter he concludes with a concise observation of his own.

In days when only one commentator and one microphone was used, he says, it "meant that when David Coleman said, 'The men's Olympic one hundred metres final,' there was a silence until the gun. Nothing which has been said in that gap since every commentator was given his own microphone has built the tension of the moment like that silence." Hear, hear.

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