DAVID PYE: Let's give a big shout-out to the people behind the familiar sporting voices

Can you really get a degree in drawing Mickey and Minnie Mouse?

Can you really get a degree in drawing Mickey and Minnie Mouse?

First published in Sport

WATCHING Bolton’s Lisa Ashton win the World Darts Championship was great last weekend as yet more sporting pride was bestowed on Bolton.

But something else got me thinking as I sat on the settee watching the coverage from the Lakeside, and that was the men who stand boardside and announce the scores.

It prompted one of those “how do you get that job?” moments from me.

Many youngsters look up to sporting stars hoping one day to emulate their idols; even those of us who fail to make the grade and look for the second best alternative in sports media have our role models.

I always wanted to be the next David Coleman, commentating on World Cups and Olympic Games but ended up writing about sport rather than getting behind the microphone.

But who sits there and thinks “my dream is to add up darts scores and stand on stage shouting them out”?

It’s a bit like a snooker referee or a starter in athletics – just how do you qualify for that job and how do you get into it?

Are there training camps around the country with rooms filled with people shouting “180”? Or are others in shooting ranges vying to be the best starting pistol firer?

It may sound like derision on my part but I am genuinely intrigued as to how people get into those jobs.

Maybe there are specific academic routes. I seem to recall once hearing that Disney had sanctioned a degree course in Birmingham specifically for cartoon artists.

Imagine that graduation ceremony – first class honours in being able to draw Mickey and Minnie.

As diverse as these sporting roles are, they are an integral part of each and every event.

Without the starter we would not have a race; without the snooker referee the players would have to replace their own colours on a long break.

We all focus on the big stars who pick up gold medals and Ballons d’Or and that is the way it will be forever and a day.

But maybe when BBC bosses are looking at how to spend chunks of our licence fee on a star-studded Sports Personality of the Year event, they should look at rewarding those in the unusual occupations who help make it tick.

I’m not talking about the highly-paid professional referees in football; I’m talking about the less well-known figures whose voices are often more recognisable than their faces.

We could call it the Tony Green award – he of Bullseye fame who is still commentating on the BDO World Championships; or even the Len Ganley snooker referee of the year.

Let’s give some recognition to the names behind those voices we hear watching on.

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