BBC Broadcasts 1st live Football Commentary

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BBC Broadcasts 1st live Football Commentary

Highbury, London The 22nd of January 1927 AD

The BBC had only got its royal charter at the start of January 1927, though it had commenced broadcasts five years previously. Much against the better judgement of sports authorities and press alike the BBC was now enabled to broadcast some of Britain's great sporting events.
In keeping with much of the BBC's pioneering broadcasts there was something very haphazard about preparations for the first live coverage of a football match. For a start the commentator chosen was a former rugby player, Henry Wakelam, who had turned out in his younger days for Harlequins . Wakelam received a call out of the blue asking if he wanted to give it a go, and he did.
The practice run for the great day was Wakelam commentating on a school match, perhaps not the most realistic of rehearsals. One interesting piece of publicity and innovation that went along with the radio first was the publishing of a graphic in Radio Times which marked the pitch into numbered squares, for a commentator's assistant to state the square number in which the ball found itself at any given time.
The game selected as the first was at Highbury (no great surprise that the BBC chose to focus on a London event), Arsenal playing Sheffield United . Alan Green today is wont to complain about some of the facilities he commentates from. How he would have reacted to what has been described as a garden shed doesn't bear thinking about.
A 1 - 1 draw was the result of the match, but the result of the broadcast was a very definite hit with the public and the critics. A new British sporting institution had begun.

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