In the second part of this interview, Ian tells us about his favourite events that he has commentated on, what piece of commentary he thinks that he is best known for and also who he thinks has been his best co-commentator over the years.
Being a commentator for nearly 40 years has given Ian Darke the opportunity to witness some fantastic sporting events.
When I asked Ian to choose the best single event that he has ever commentated on, he showed little hesitation in replying: “The best goal would be the Aguero goal for Manchester City (vs QPR) because that was just so dramatic. Alongside the Landon Donovan goal (vs Algeria in 2010 World Cup) because that was a little bit career changing for me.
“The other game that sticks in my mind is the World Cup Semi Final where Germany beat Brazil 7-1, because I remember putting the microphone down afterwards and turning to Steve McManaman, who I was doing the commentary with, and saying ‘people are going to talk about that game in 50 years’.
“It was just an amazing game to call. I remember after the first half an hour when Germany were 5-0 up, I kept looking at him (McManaman) and sharing looks of utter amazement.”
The Landon Donovan goal mentioned above opened a lot of doors for Darke into the US commentary market.
When Ian mentioned the goal, I was not too sure which game even he was referring to but after a quick YouTube search, it is immediately clear why Americans took Ian to their hearts .
Even now, the top YouTube comments on Ian’s commentary for that goal include “Ian Darke is the best commentator” and “An iconic moment for U.S. soccer. Four years later, I still get chills listening to Ian Darke’s call and remembering my excitement when LD scored.”
On the Donovan goal, Darke said: “I didn’t really think much about it at the time. I thought ‘blimey, what a finish!’, but not much more.
“Apparently in America, who had not really been into the World Cup so much, everyone body had latched onto this and I started to get all these calls from news stations in America and journalists and the press office at ESPN saying ‘would you do a press conference about this call on this goal?’
“They were saying it was one of the great calls in US Sports history. I had Sports Illustrated doing pieces about me. It just got ridiculous! And when I got back to the hotel that evening I couldn’t even remember what I had said!”
Darke’s collection of memories of the sporting events that he has attended is quite encyclopaedic, ranging from teams winning championships to boxing legend’s final bouts.
But when I asked him whether there was any sporting event that he wished he had covered or would like to cover, he said: “I would have liked to have covered the ‘Rumble in the Jungle’. That would have been amazing.
“I like other sports that I don’t work in because I can still enjoy those like a fan so I’d like to go to the Kentucky Derby or the US Masters.
“I feel like in the sports I’ve covered, I’ve done everything I could have really. I’ve been blessed to do World Cup Finals, Champions League Finals and things.
My final question was possibly the most important.
It is a debate that has been held up and down the land: who is the best/worst co-commentator in football?
Now, obviously Ian is far too professional and diplomatic to burn bridges that he has worked tirelessly to build, but his answer was rather intriguing.
He said: “I know that he has had some problems but I think in the last 25 years it is almost indisputable that Andy Gray has been the best co-commentator.
“In terms of picking up things quickly, he had a great voice that cut through it all. There are a lot of guys who are very good, but Andy Gray was the best for me.”
Ian and I have played cricket together at the same club for a number of years so I had an inkling about his career. But it was not until we had finished this interview that I fully appreciated of the extent of his fabulous career and the sporting events he has been so lucky to be present at.
Thanks ever so much to Ian for taking time out of his busy schedule to speak to me. I really appreciate the tips and tricks he gave us to go along with the great memories he has.