20 The Daily Telegraph Monday 20 July 2020 *** Sport Final whistle warhorses to the knacker’s yard before their time because they are in thrall to some dipstick notion of exposing younger and more diverse faces and voices. If that chimes with one’s world view, it feels irresistibly persuasive, and many take it further, implying the replacements for these much-loved older gents are shouty, inexperienced, shrill, or only getting a chance because of tokenism. This is not fair in all cases and, after all, Tyldesley or Inverdale or whoever was not born a senior commentator, they had to get there. And they replaced beloved figures themselves in so doing, for instance Tyldesley taking on the ITV mantle from Brian Moore after the 1998 World Cup. The match that Tyldesley will forever be most associated with is the 1999 Champions League Final: he was 44 at the time of his “Can Manchester United score? They always score” commentary. Matterface was starting out on Capital Radio at around the same time and I have long followed his career, partly, I must confess, because I find his surname so intriguing. The man whose face matters is himself 42: it is hardly like they have yanked him straight offstage from a primary school nativity play, explained the rules of football to him and taken the jammy dodger from his sticky little mitt and replaced it with a microphone. Tyldesley himself noted there are plenty of people with bigger employment worries right now than a football commentator working on less desirable football matches, but nevertheless it does feel like a sadness, a passing of something. Alongside Ron Atkinson and Andy Townsend, Clive was our guide for many a great European midweek night, as well as England’s highs and more generally, their lows. His tenure as ITV’s No1 has been in a period in which ITV coverage drew level with the BBC, and in the most recent World Cup, arguably outperformed it. He got the top job before the era of social media and much of the furious fractiousness of these current days, the fighting about who should be in and who should be out. Perhaps the laments for your Tyldesleys and your Inverdales are about the passing of those days as much as the career prospects of any one sports guy. Ask not for whom the bell tolls, then: not for thee, Clive. Not for thee. Alan Tyers Tyldesley call sums up the end of an era W e fear change, we sports fans. Once we have become used to something we do not like it messed with. In a world of uncertainty, we yearn for the familiar, particularly in a time when many feel things are moving faster than they would like, the direction of travel bewildering and unknown. If the thing that has been changed used to sometimes make us quite cross, replacing it sometimes makes us unhappier still: it is the annoying little quirks that you miss when someone goes, not just their nobler qualities. And on the subject of anger, is it not a necessary part of loss? A Familiar voice: Clive Tyldesley (right) has been replaced by Sam Matterface (below) as the main commentator for ITV’s big matches sense that some idiot somewhere has cocked up allows that anger somewhere to go: a satisfying flow of outrage with the morning paper or internet trawl. The sidelining of a senior commentator is ideal for all of the above, for instance ITV’s decision last week to demote Clive Tyldesley to the No2 football role and make Sam Matterface the main voice for the biggest matches. Tyldesley took up the cudgels on social media and made a video conveying with the clarity and animation typical of his broadcast work that he was “upset”, “baffled” and “annoyed”. It has been viewed, at time of writing, 6.5 million times. Among those who commented was David Gower, who tweeted: “Very well and tactfully yet passionately put. I empathise and sympathise entirely and wish you well.” I cannot improve on the ethereal left-hander’s elegant assessment of the video, but will note that Gower, 63, himself underwent a similar experience recently, when Sky Sports removed him from his anchorman role around the time it shelved Sir Ian Botham, 64. The sense is that the decisions about Tyldesley, 65, and the England cricket legends can be grouped with the BBC’s sidelining of John Inverdale, 62, racing correspondent Cornelius Lysaght, 55, and Radio Five all-rounder Mark Pougatch, a mere boy of 52. The human brain, let alone what passes for a brain among the media and online commentariat, is wired to spot patterns, and it is a truth almost universally agreed upon that broadcast executives are sending these trusted old Please send us your views Our reader letters and emails column is returning. We would love to hear from you. Please send us your views on sport and our coverage to the Sports Editor, The Daily Telegraph, 111 Buckingham Palace Rd, SW1W 0DT. Or email sportletters@ telegraph.co.uk. Please include your postal address. We will publish the best each week.
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