Nic Parry: My first international match



Tuesday, 7 Jun 2016, 07:00

Bulgaria 1-0 Wales, November 1983, Stadiwm Vasil Levski, Sofia

Bulgaria against Wales was the first live football match on S4C in November 1983 and I commentated on the game with Dai Davies as summariser.

The game in Sofia was my first foreign trip and it was a horrible to journey to reach the city. The Berlin Wall was still standing and the shop windows were empty. The trip was a baptism of fire for me, in my early twenties among the hardened hacks of Fleet Street, who made drinking at the Aberystwyth University seem like a Sunday school trip!

It was an eye-opening experience and I was forced to grow up very quickly in the broadcasting world.

Snow was falling heavily in Bulgaria and after a long and torturous journey to Sofia, all the signs pointed towards the game being postponed.
But then, a few hours before kick-off, just about enough of the snow was cleared off the pitch for the game to go ahead!

The commentary positions were in booths and the reporters were all delighted as the temperature was well below freezing.

But I’d never commentated in a booth behind a window before, I was always out in the open in grounds commentating for Radio Cymru, and the glass was filthy making it was almost impossible to see the pitch.

Despite there only being about 8,000 expected at the stadium and plenty of empty space, the authorities were adamant that we weren’t able to commentate outside the booths.

The English commentator was the late Hugh Johns, who commentated on four World Cup finals, and Hugh was a stubborn man and refused to commentate behind the glass. I looked over to the English commentary position and Hugh had pulled a screwdriver out of his briefcase and started to remove the pane of glass from the front of the booth.

It was a massive window, about four feet across and at least five feet down, and I helped him unscrew the window ten remove the pane from its position. When the time came to commentate on the game, we were freezing and the reporters from the other countries were staring at us as if we were mad!

And to top it all, the Bulgarian team ran onto the pitch – which was still surrounded by snow – in an all-white kit!

Nic Parry is part of S4C’s commentary team at UEFA Euro 2016 where all of Wales’ matches will be shown live on S4C.