Football Commentator & Columnist
Olympic Stadium: Martin Tyler shares his memories of commentating in Berlin
The story of how Martin's World Cup final nightmare turned into a dream
Last Updated: 20/05/20 9:41am
At a time when football grounds have closed their doors, we've asked Martin Tyler to share some of his favourite facts and memories of the homes of clubs around the world.
This week, Sky Sports' Voice of Football is looking at some grounds across Europe. Today, he takes us on a trip to the Olympic Stadium in Berlin...
Keep an eye on The Football Show on Sky Sports News and @SkySportsPL for some special Tyler's Teasers from Martin.
How I travel there
Usually by plane. However, the first time I went was as a passenger in a car as part of a summer trip to see Brazil play in Vienna and then in Berlin. Italy vs England in Turin was sandwiched in between.
It was a 700-mile drive from Northern Italy to Berlin and another 525 after the game to catch the ferry across the channel. Proper groundhopper stuff!
What it's like to commentate there
The answer to some extent lies in my story below, but in general the size of the stadium is not a drawback for broadcasters.
Emirates Stadium | Villa Park | Vitality Stadium | Amex Stadium | Turf Moor | Stamford Bridge | Selhurst Park | Goodison Park | King Power Stadium | Anfield | Etihad Stadium | Old Trafford | St James' Park | Carrow Road | Bramall Lane | St Mary's | Tottenham Hotspur Stadium | Vicarage Road | London Stadium | Molineux
Did you know?
It has a mixed place in German history. The 1936 Olympics there will always be associated with the Nazi regime. There was a move to tear down the entire complex because of that connection when Germany was re-unified but the link to sport rather than politics won the argument and it was an impressive venue for the 2006 World Cup. Italy beat France to win the trophy in Berlin.
My memories of the ground
My most notable memory was at the 2006 World Cup final when I was very fortunate indeed thanks to a South African technical expert working for FIFA.
At the start, I have to explain that there is a television device available at the major football events called a "com-cam". It is a mini camera attached to a commentating position which enables the commentator to be seen right up to the kick-off, at half-time and very quickly after the final whistle. It is a little bit like the contraption that has allowed you to see Gary Neville or Jamie Carragher on the gantry celebrate goals in the moment.
The com-cam is much loved by producers - but not by commentators, for one very significant reason. The piece of kit is intrusive for those viewing in tiered seating behind so what happens is that the television company which wants to use the com-cam is sent to the back row of the broadcasting area.
This is invariably an inferior position and hampers what the commentator is actually there to do, describe the action. It has happened to me quite a lot and was lined up for the 2006 World Cup final in the Olympic Stadium.
Sure enough I was placed in the back row, but when I arrived I found that I only had a partial view of the pitch and could not see the right-hand goal at all, not even leaning forward or craning my neck. A World Cup final and I could not see one of the goals, a real nightmare!
Kick-off was only an hour away. Every space was taken of course. It felt like I was professionally on the verge of a Funeral in Berlin!
I went down to the technical control room and this is where a familiar and friendly face from previous events became an unlikely guardian angel. The man in charge - and I don't want to name him in case he broke the rules - looked at some sheets, scratched his head and after a long pause said there was a chance of helping me because one TV company had pulled out of covering the game at the very last minute.
He could not swap the com-cam but he could do the seemingly impossible, give me, and it was just me, no co-commentator or engineer, the luxury of TWO positions, one for the pre-match, half-time and post-match in vision, and another from which to cover the game. Two positions for one commentator at a World Cup final? Unheard of!
It got even better. The "spare" position was in the front row, a prime seat, a perfect view for commentating on the match. All I had to do was dash back and forward when I was needed in vision. It all worked perfectly.
How my South African saviour made the switch of technology possible only he knows but at the biggest event on the football calendar he found time to turn my potential nightmare into an amazing day. Eternal gratitude!
What I like about this ground
It is the centrepiece of an amazing, stunning complex. If you visit Berlin make sure you see it.