Sibling rivalry makes journalists Angus and Steve Scott good sports.
My brother is five years older than me. Perhaps that’s where the competition started. He was my parents’ idea first. He was born first. He got to have a go at things first. He could start his career, make a name for himself before I had cleared the university hurdle and got on the career ladder. But thank goodness he did. In retrospect it probably was a bit easier getting started when your brother, respected and confident, was marking out a career in local journalism, and putting the Scott name on the media map. But that was 25 years ago. A quarter of a century on, we are both sharing a global television stage. He’s out in Brazil as Sports Editor for the UK’s premier commercial channel ITV with its news operation, while I’m fronting be IN Sports’ exclusive coverage of the Fifa World Cup from our studios based in Doha, Qatar.
And would it be fair to say I am a little jealous of his trip to the Amazon, to the beaches of Copacabana and the streets of Belo Horizonte? Just a bit.
But that is the way our lives have always been. Jealousy, respect, rivalry – yes – but above all support for what the other is doing.
There were never really discussions about being journalists, about following the same path on to the airwaves. We were of medical stock – my Dad a
‘We’d shared fights and football fantasies – now we were exchanging contacts and headlines’
general practitioner, my mother a theatre nurse. Both Steve and I knew that was never going to be our calling, when merely the sight of a needle would send us both running for the sick bag. In the early days the conversations around the dinner table revolved around flu, cardiac arrest and rheumatoid arthritis, rather than why Edward Heath [prime minister of Great Britain from 1970 to 1974] had taken us into a three-day week.
“Take an aspirin, drink plenty of water and go to bed,” would have been heard rather more often than anything to do with the Winter of Discontent [the winter of 1978–79 in the UK when there were widespread strikes by trade unions demanding larger pay rises].
Maybe it was the daily intake of BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on the way to school that finally sowed the seed that the role of the journalist was quite a good one.
Steve started in radio, while I worked in print on newspapers – but we were both in our home town, in Bristol in England’s West Country. We’d shared clothes, fights and football fantasies in the back garden – now we were exchanging contacts and headlines on the lookout for the best stories of the day.
He’d always tried his hardest to bowl me out while playing cricket on the beach in the summer holidays – I’d always tried to be the one to get a goal past him while playing football in the park. It was natural sibling rivalry.
We were working the same media patch for two years – me learning from his greater knowledge and experience,
him stealing the odd phone number from the news agency I was working for at the time. The distribution of information, it has to be said, was a little bit one-sided.
Then I started work at the same company as Steve – at the regional commercial broadcaster in the city. He was presenting news programmes, I was to be a lowly producer/reporter.
He actually wasn’t really interested in my arrival at all. He was far more fascinated by his young and pretty co-presenter. In those days the bigger the shoulder pad, the danglier the earring, the higher you went. This one was going far. Side by side they sat in the newsroom. Side by side they sat on air. Inseparable.
All those years as a teenager when there was an array of ladies that came over our doorstep holding hands with my big brother, all I was, was an annoying little brother! And here we were again, 10 years on, the pesky little brother cramping Steve’s style as he and the glamorous co-presenter, Patsy, began their on- and off-air relationship. Delicate hushed whispers in the newsroom interrupted by the bouncing new boy.
What I didn’t know then was that this was the start of the future Mr and Mrs Scott, and before long they had both been posted to South Africa. There was now only one Scott in the city, but Steve had this fantastic job as Africa correspondent for ITN, the main commercial broadcaster in the UK.
It was a phenomenal time for him and them – Nelson Mandela was ruling South Africa and the country was just about to host the Rugby World Cup. I was stuck in Bristol.
He was there, where not just rugby fans were watching – the whole world was watching. Mandela in a Springbok rugby shirt, uniting an apartheidravaged nation.
T he hand of history was very much on that green jersey and Steve was in the right place at the right time to report it all. It really made me want to be there, for the big events – for sport’s iconic epoch-defining moments.
That’s where our tournament rivalry started. Who could do the bigger, the better tournament? Who would get the top interview? Who would put a manager really on the spot?
So after South Africa in ’95, the Fifa World Cup in France came around.
That was my turn. My first big tournament. No sign of big bro there – the stage to myself! Then Wales for the Rugby World Cup a year later. I was anchoring it for the host broadcaster, Steve nowhere to be seen. Then a sequence of big tournaments between us, more World Cups, European Championships, where it was a case of either/or – Steve or me.
I knew he wanted to be on the ones I was at, and I was jealously looking on at the big names he was interviewing when I was left at home. It just seemed to be one or the other Scott, never both.
That was until four years ago, when we were finally united in South Africa on the same tournament, with Steve given the hopeless task of following England and their dismal journey through the competition. I was presenting Al Jazeera Sport’s first-ever English language coverage of the event for the Mena region.
Four years on, his role and mine are the same – his task of travelling with England even more desperate. At least I am miles away in our luxurious Doha studio and can concentrate on all 32 teams in the tournament rather than just the misery of having to watch our national side bow out at the earliest stage for 56 years. He’s there with Roy Hodgson, Steven Gerrard and Raheem Sterling. I’m rubbing shoulders with Kevin Keegan, Michel Salgado and David Moyes.
Fronting coverage and reporting it are two very different beasts. Steve is brilliantly comfortable doing what he is doing. I hope to try and carry off the same level of confidence in what I do in the studio. You have to when you know a lot of people are watching.
It was quite staggering to think that 163 million people were glued to the channel four years ago when Spain beat Holland in the final in Johannesburg.
Steve is just a terrific journalist. One of those old-fashioned hacks who not only scents a story but writes well too. I have learned so much from him as we’ve shared notes, quotes and contacts over the years.
Others too in the region have shown me the way. OSN’s Jim Rosenthal was a colleague of mine in the UK for nearly 15 years. No one could ask a question as concisely as Jim, and still can’t. He’s the master of that trick.
But Steve will always be the one I admire, and not just because he’s my brother. Our paths have moved in different directions, but almost ended up at the same place. I’d like to think one day we’ll be in the same studio working for the same company. We have done so in the past; I remember a rehearsal for a programme we presented together ended up in fits of giggles, unable to read autocue, very immature, but just the way we used to muck around as kids. I’m not sure the gallery and studio floor found it funny, but we did. It would be nice to do that again.
But at the moment we are geographically miles apart, though with the same aim, and the same good fortune that has brought us to the top of our profession. I don’t think our mum and dad anticipated that.
Angus, left, with Steve
Angus on the set of his sports show
Angus and former English footballer Steve McManaman pose with the Premiership trophy in 2007
The ITV team, from back left, John Barnes, Angus Scott, Clive Tyldesley, Matt Smith, Andy Townsend, Barry Venison, Gabby Logan and Robbie Earle
Angus says many great journalists have shown him the way