Hi Gary, thank you for taking the time to speak to us today. Can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself, what you currently do and how did you end up where you are right now?
I currently commentate on 100–120 games a year for TV. Around half of those are for Sky Sports, a mixture of live Premier League for Match Choice, live EFL, live WSL, and other games as and when required, such as Africa Cup of Nations. I also cover games for Gravity Media (world feeds for FA Cup, Europa League and others), Pitch International (world feed for Carabao Cup) and IMG (Euro & World Cup qualifiers).
I did a Multimedia Journalism degree at Bournemouth University with NCTJ qualifications, then worked on a local newspaper in South London before moving on to Opta as a football writer. All the while I was spending weekends working in radio for little or no money to build up my broadcasting experience. I finally got a full-time job in radio aged 25 and was offered my first match for Sky Sports at 29. It was a long road!
When did you know you wanted to work in the football media world? In particularly commentating?
I grew up listening to Capital Gold Sport and dreamt of joining Jonathan Pearce and the rest working in football. I knew age 15 that commentary was my ultimate goal. In 1999, I was offered the chance to report for Capital on a Fulham FA Cup tie and I couldn’t believe I was actually working on the show I’d been listening to for so many years.
A Freelance Football Commentator for Sky Sports and others, what does a ‘normal’ week look like for you?
A mixture of prep and travel. In the autumn and winter I might be doing six games a week across a variety of competitions, some at stadiums, some off tube. You have to have good time management and always be looking ahead to games you have coming up. The games are the fun part but the truth is you spend far more time in front of a laptop preparing, or driving on the motorway.
What is your number one focus when it comes to your work?
Being professional. Make yourself a valuable member of the team. Do the job with no drama, get there early, be fully prepared, treat colleagues with kindness and respect. Don’t complain! Just get on with it. Be patient. Don’t get downhearted when things don’t go your way. It’s an up and down industry by nature.
You have covered some of the biggest games in the sport. What’s been your standout moments/highlights so far?
Covering World Cups and European Championships is the pinnacle but the games I remember most are the ones with the crazy scorelines or big finishes. Tottenham putting nine past Wigan, Portsmouth beating Reading 7–4 (still a Premier League record for most goals in a game). There was a fantastic WSL game at a sold-out Emirates I did last season, Arsenal v Man Utd, that was another unforgettable occasion.
Who are your favourite commentators at the moment and what do you think it is that makes them so brilliant?
We are lucky to have so many outstanding commentators around at the moment. I don’t need to name them, we all know who they are. They just have that x-factor on air, a knack of finding the right turn of phrase at the right time. I don’t mean scripting phrases in advance, for me that’s a big mistake. I think the best commentators find the right words spontaneously.
What general advice would you give to individuals looking to get into commentary?
It’s all about experience. The only way to improve is to do it, listen to it and work out what needs to get better. To do that, you have to be prepared to do it for free as a sideline. I did free commentary for two different clubs while I was learning how to do the job to a decent standard. Talk to local non-league clubs, offer your services. Ask to shadow other commentators to learn from them. Seek advice from those who’ve been doing it for years. Many of us are happy to help!
On X, you often share links to vacant sport media jobs. This is extremely helpful to many job seekers, so want to say a big thank you for doing so. How long does it take you on a daily basis finding them?
I don’t find them. Employers and spotters message me directly with the links. I’ve been doing it for so long that I don’t have to do any searching! Sometimes jobs come up that are exclusive to my feed. I have a captive following of terrific candidates so some employers have worked out they don’t have to pay to advertise, they can get the talent they need from just one tweet!
What do you do to switch off outside of work? Any hobbies?
I have two teenage boys and a rescue dog from Cyprus. We live by the sea in Bournemouth so lots of beach walks!
And finally Gary, where can people find you on social media to connect with you?
Twitter/X — @garytaphouse. Also on Instagram, Threads & LinkedIn.
You can message me on any of those platforms.
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