Champions League Festival


Today i worked as a commentator and stadium announcer at the Champions League Festival in Hyde Park. I say worked, it was for the Bobby Moore Fund, a charity dear to my heart. Here’s me with BMF founder Stephanie Moore, Bobby’s widow and a truly splendid woman.

I commentated on a match between the Parliamentary Football Club and TalkSport. The MPs won it 11-7. They were surprisingly good, especially as Ed Balls and Angus MacNeil pulled out on the day. Something to do with the visit of Barack Obama, which is quite a good excuse I suppose.

Here’s the TalkSport team. I didn’t get a shot of the MPs as they were a little late arriving.

Andy Jacobs had a fine game in goal for TalkSport, keeping the ball out with every part of his body apart from his hands.

Gregg McClymont MP was the man of the match after a first half hat trick. He’s the MP for Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East. He’s also the House of Commons pool champion!

The MPs had two number twelves in their line up, but as Bill Esterton MP is a lot taller than Dominic Berner it didn’t lead to any confusion.

Paul Hawksbee, Ian ‘Moose’ Abrahams and Sam Matterface all impressed for TalkSport. A last ditch attempt to rescue the game by throwing on ringer Graeme Le Saux, nearly worked, but the MPs were worthy winners.

I was happy to receive a medal from Stephanie Moore at the end. The Bobby Moore Fund does brilliant work to raise funds for research into bowel cancer, which took Bobby in 1993.


The queue to have your picture taken with the Champions League Trophy. I didn’t bother.


Two West Ham legends, along with Moose from TalkSport 😉

Jeremy Nicholas, London, UK

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My book

Google can be a scary thing. I just googled my book title and found it on Amazon already. I’m still writing it!

The book ‘Mr Moon Has Left the Stadium’ is a funny account of my life as the West Ham United FC announcer. It comes out on August 1st.

It has to be handed in to the publishers at the end of June. There’s nothing that quite galvanises the writer into action more than seeing that people actually expect to be able to buy it on a set date.

You can see it on Amazon here. I promise you the cover won’t look like that. It’s a quickly mocked up version by the publishers.
It’s also already on the WH Smith site and Waterstonesm. Even more scary it’s on Amazon Japan.

Jeremy Nicholas, London, UK

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Silent Movie

Here’s the latest in my And Finally TV reports.

I met a group who compose and perform music for classic silent movies.
They’re called the Southwell Collective and the movie featured is the 1928 French gothic horror, The Fall of the House of Usher, based on the novel by Edgar Allen Poe.

In the story a man is painting his wife. As the picture becomes more and more lifelike, so her health fails. As he finishes the portrait, she dies. It all goes downhill from there, she’s buried in a fancy coffin, which takes ages, and then the house burns down and she comes back to life, and it’s all a bit of a nightmare for the boy Usher, to be honest.

Watch out for my hilarious ‘usher’ torch gag,with a nod to the Blair Witch Project.

Jeremy Nicholas, London, UK

The Rocking Piano

I filmed a very interesting feature today with the designer of the world’s first rocking piano.

Sarah Davenport created it from a 1900s piano once owned by the Hong Kong ambassador. It rocks back and forwards as you play it.

I should point out that there is some camera trickery at the start of the piece which involves my cameraman, who’s a gifted pianist, wearing my jumper.

Fashionistas may like to know the pink jumper is from Gant and I bought it at the Richmond branch during the January sales.

Splitting my trousers on stage in Johannesburg

I’m smiling in the picture above, but a few hours earlier I wasn’t feeling as comfortable. I was in Johannesburg at the Professional Speakers Association of Southern Africa’s international convention. It was held at the very swanky Emperors Palace, so swanky it doesn’t have an apostrophe. I was honoured to be the only European to be asked to speak on the main stage at the three day event, but there was a big surprise in store for me. A real ripper.

Maybe I’m getting a little too big for my boots, with lots of positive feedback recently, but as I took to the stage, I realised I’d got a little too big for my pants. As the previous speaker left the stage, I bent down to connect my laptop to the projector and felt the seat of my trousers tear open.

At that point the MC introduced me and I ran onto the stage with my trousers flapping open at the back. (see pic below, taken afterwards in my hotel room)

I decided to come clean and tell the audience what had happened, but of course they didn’t believe me. I was there to give a talk called Putting the ‘U’ in Humour, about using comedy to brighten up your speeches, so of course they all thought it was part of the act. I think some of them still do.

It took me a few minutes to regain my composure. If I seemed a little two dimensional, it was because I wanted to stay front on to the crowd of one hundred odd professional speakers. Some of them very odd. In the end I just turned round, showed them my pants, took the humiliation and moved on. At least it was an icebreaker and I received some lovely comments. Some were about my speech, but mostly of course about my pants.

The event was brilliantly organised by Michael Manley and Andy Brough, seen with me below. I’ve still got that slightly wild look in my eye, even though I’ve now changed into my dinner suit.

The previous night I was invited to dinner by my good friend Paul Du Toit along with Gustav Gouss, the President of the PSASA and many other former presidents and global presidents and some soon to be presidents. I seemed to the only one who had never stood for presidential office. I do have the box set of The West Wing, so maybe that’s why I was allowed in. (I would kill for a re-elect President Bartlett bumper sticker)

There’s always someone at these events who decides to go native. On this occasion it was NSA President Phil Van Hooser. It’s not everyone who can keep their dignity in that sort of African headgear, but I think Phil pulls it off.

I’m always amazed at how friendly speakers are. My background is in the broadcasting world, where it’s dog eat dog. The speaking world is very different, with everyone offering tips to each other and being very supportive.
At the gala dinner I sat next to Craig Ferreira who speaks about great white sharks. A few days later I found myself a guest at his home in Cape Town, enjoying a lovely meal with his family.

Gary Bailey is South Africa’s equivalent of Gary Lineker. He fronts the football on the SuperSport channel. UK football fans will remember him as the white haired South African who played in goal for Manchester United in the eighties and won some England caps before injury ended his career early. He went back to SA and played for the Kaizer Chiefs, the team not the band and then moved into TV.
He now does a lot of professional speaking, and does a great job in promoting the benefits of the World Cup to the people of South Africa and the world. He was inducted into the speakers hall of fame at the event, along with Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

I loved the South Africa event. I saw some brilliant speakers like Steff Du Plessis, Billy Selekane and Anton van der Post. Paul Du Toit made the compering look easy with his relaxed yet authoritative style.

I’ve been invited to speak at various events as a result of my trip and I hope to get back to South Africa later in the year to fulfill some of those. I’ve cancelled plans to attend the World Cup itself as it was going to be so expensive, but I’ll be cheering on Bafana Bafana along with England, and blowing my vuvuzela, which has already had a trip to the hallowed turf of the Boleyn Ground, Upton Park.

Jem – back from South Africa 10th May 2010

Speaking in South Africa

I’ve just arrived in Cape Town after a brilliant three days at the Professional Speakers Association of Southern Africa (PSASA) in Johannesburg.

I was the only European speaking on  the main stage at the event at Emperors Palace.

It was a brilliant convention and I met some lovely and inspiring fellow speakers.  I’ll post some pictures and audio clips  in my speaking tips blog over the next few days, so pop back later in the week to have a look.

But at the moment, I’m shattered and I want to spend some quality time with my wife, drinking wine and listening to the ocean.

Jem       Peninsula Hotel, Sea Point, Cape Town      2nd May 2010

Hillsborough

In April 1989 I went to Hillsborough for a football match, an FA Cup semi final between Nottingham Forest and  Liverpool. I was commentating on the game for BBC Radio Nottingham.  96 Liverpool fans lost their lives in a dreadful crush on the terracing behind the goal.  20 years on here’s my  account of the day for The Times newspaper.

Witness: We went to report on a football match  and ended up reporting on a tragedy

Jeremy Nicholas worked as match commentator for BBC Radio Nottingham at Hillsborough. Now 46, he is an after-dinner speaker and author

It didn’t seem any different to any other day. I drove from Nottingham to Sheffield, it took just over an hour. To do a radio show, you get there really early, to do your preparatory work. That day, we were presenting the show from the ground, with me commentating and Mark Shardlow doing the presenting.

Just before kick-off, I noticed that it seemed very busy at the Leppings Lane End. Already, I could see people in the upper tier hauling up those below them. It wasn’t right, something was badly wrong. It all unfolded very quickly.

I remember a policeman running, then walking, on to the pitch. He sort of stuttered, as if he was worried about what he was doing. I just thought: “What a brave man.” He got to the ref [Ray Lewis] and told him to stop the game. Some fans booed; they had no idea what was happening.

We had hooliganism in those days. People were climbing up the fences, as if they were causing trouble, but they were pushed back. I still thought it was just a bit of a squash. At 3.25, we were saying that people could be seriously injured. I saw a little boy carried out. Then we were saying some people may have died.

Mark carried on talking, I went off to get the information, to find out what was going on. We crossed on air to other matches: what was happening at the other semi-final [Everton v Norwich City]? How were Notts County getting on?

I kept repeating that no Forest fans were involved because I was conscious that I was only broadcasting to the Nottingham area and I wanted to reassure people with friends at the game. It was like saying: “People have lost their lives but it’s not your people.” I felt very heartless but, in the following weeks, I had so many thank me for letting them know that.

I went on to the pitch to interview Kenny Dalglish [the Liverpool manager]. I asked him a question, which he answered. He then paused for ages. So I said: “Do you think the match should be replayed?” He replied: “I haven’t finished yet.” I felt so small. I spoke with Graham Kelly [the FA chief executive]. I can’t remember what he said.

The police took a party of journalists to the Leppings Lane End. We saw the crush barriers, so thick but all mangled. What force could have done that? Then into the tunnel, where people had died. It was silent. No one said anything. Not until we came out did people start talking again.

When it was happening, the Forest fans had been restless. They didn’t know. I saw a guy carried out and put down in front of them. He was given the kiss of life. He sat up, he was OK. The fans applauded.

I went to a press conference at the police headquarters in Sheffield. They were saying 50 had died, maybe 60. I’d thought it was about ten. Returning to the newsroom at Radio Nottingham in the evening, a colleague said to me: “Well done, that was brilliant. It sounded really good.”

I remember thinking how it had been anything but brilliant. It had been the worst day of my life. I dropped off my equipment, handed over the tapes, then went home. I felt emotionally drained.

We won a New York radio academy award for live coverage of a breaking story but we didn’t go to collect it. It’s not the sort of thing you want to win an award for. What were we going to do? Hold it above our heads and celebrate?

I’d not listened to the commentary again until last week. We went to report on a football match and ended up reporting on a tragedy.

Jeremy Nicholas was talking to Russell Kempson