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Martin Tyler

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A Good Game for Sky Sports

Posted: 16/05/2013 00:00

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A year ago I was extremely fortunate to commentate on the dramatic and historic moment when Manchester City grabbed the Barclays Premier League crown with virtually the last kick of the season. It was the kind of sporting fairy-tale which all broadcasters dream about and being linked with it is very special.

However almost a year to the day later, on Sunday to be precise, I was very proud to play a smaller role in the exceptional Sky Sports coverage of Sir Alex Ferguson's last home game as Manchester United's manager.

The Old Trafford club created a tremendous event in a very short space of time and deserve a massive amount of credit. Very few of their staff could have been aware of what was in store given the sensitive nature of the announcement.

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My colleagues had even less time to work out how best to present it on television to the world. It did help that we had already been scheduled to cover the game against Swansea, because at the end of it was to be the presentation of the trophy and the medals to the Champions, so the cameras would already be there. Now, though, the challenge was to bring to your screens football's equivalent of a state occasion.

What followed showed the expertise Sky Sports has accrued in its 20+ years. With the greatest respect to others who cover sport no one else could have done it as efficiently and effectively - and at Sky we should do it best because we have the most opportunity. There are no excuses if we are not up to the job.

The key personnel were producer Scott Melvin and directors Tony Mills and Duncan East. The air time was theirs to fill from 1.00pm to 7.15pm - with one chunk of that covered by an earlier game, Stoke City against Tottenham Hotspur. The rest had to be Manchester United with a Fergie emphasis.

I hope you followed the big day. One of the many highlights was Gary Neville turning reporter to get Paul Scholes on screen to talk about his final game and the Ferguson effect on his career. It was both revealing and witty.

The shots of Sir Alex before, during and after the game when his players made him take the first lift of the Premier League trophy fully captured all those unforgettable moments. My business is words but it is the pictures which really matter. It is after all teleVISION!!

The idea of anchoring the post-match scenes from a position on the playing area was a brainwave from the production team, with much thanks to the United staff for giving permission. It was perhaps not so worrying for them this time because the pitch is going at the end of the season as well as the manager! Sky Sports presenter Ed Chamberlin coped splendidly with a constantly changing array of guests, some with their medals just put round their necks!

Geoff Shreeves, who has had his battles with Sir Alex down the years and has had the 'hairdryer' treatment, struck exactly the right note with an excellent end of the day interview producing a headline that Wayne Rooney had asked for a transfer.

Our cameras being allowed into the United dressing room completed an access-all-areas feel for our viewers. Rio Ferdinand was very prominent in those shots as he had every right to be following his match-winning goal. As the commentator had noted, the long-serving defender had become the 20th different scorer in United's title-winning season, another Premier League record for the club.

It was day worthy of Sir Alex Ferguson. His team had given him a wonderful Old Trafford farewell party.

I felt that the team I am lucky to be a part of had a very good game too.

 
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