England: Ben Rhydding Use Power Of Live Radio To Showcase Hockey

Robin Snook and Ollie Musgrave cover the first game live

Rod Gilmour of The Hockey Paper reports on Ben Rhydding’s first live radio coverage

When a local radio station in the Yorkshire Dales got in touch with Ben Rhydding HC recently to ask whether they would be keen on getting hockey on the airwaves, the club took up the challenge.

Last week, the club covered its first live game on Drystone Radio, a local, community based FM and DAB station that serves the surrounding areas of Ilkley, Skipton and Keighley, as Ben Rhydding took on Beeston 2s in the Men’s Conference North.

The station have been covering rugby league side Keighley Cougars, of Betfred League 1, on Sundays and Ilkley’s rugby union team on a Saturday. With the Cougars now in off season, Drystone looking for a sport to add to its roster for home and away coverage.

“We weren’t really sure how it would pan out or even where our guys would sit to cover the game,” said club secretary Hugh Lorimer.

“But opportunities like this will help put the club on the map and it will get some new listeners to the game.”

As it was, a message was sent out and Ben Rhydding members Robin Snook, who has done some unpaid radio commentary before, and Ollie Musgrave stepped up to the microphone for the club’s inaugural live radio coverage.

The newly-installed commentators were set up with laptops and headsets as they “rambled our way through the entire game”, which Ben Rhydding won 4-1.

Commentating on hockey is not an easy thing to conquer, of course. As the pair found over 70 minutes, having limited time to research the opposition players. “It’s easier to commentate on your own players who we know by sight and name,” admitted Snook. “We had the numbers on the backs of shirts and we had some help from the video analyst from Beeston.

“But you don’t need to call everybody’s name unless there is an incident, a brilliant piece of play or a goal.

“As it is a completely new audience for Drystone Radio, what we tried to do was introduce the game, the teams, and explain the game of hockey for those who haven’t played before. I tried to describe where we were, the pitch surface, the rules now and explain the four quarters.

“It was quite basic at times but that’s what Drystone wanted. They seemed to think it went well.”

Snook’s co-commentator seemed to be the perfect sidekick, too. Ollie’s brother, Will, is the men’s 1s best player, while his father, Andrew, is the club chair.

“I am 60 and Ollie is 30 and we had a nice balance of old and new,” admitted Snook.

“Like many clubs we are a family club first and foremost. There are the Musgraves, my son plays and everyone has a connection just about. That’s how clubs survive and we are strong on that.

“Where we are in rural northern England, it’s a gorgeous place to live but the nearest place is Leeds and are more successful than us. We end up losing places to higher clubs but the nice thing is that because we do such a good job, we attract people back.”

One such example is Will Musgrave, who returned from Sheffield Hallam seven years ago and is now in the National League with the club. The commentators were also well served in offering plenty of fun stories.

Snook said: “One of the lads who joined us has performed on TV before on a not particularly well known but infamous programme called Naked Attraction. That was amusing and we brought that into commentary!

“There were no major incidents in the game, it was extremely well umpired and apart from some handbags at the end with some yellows, but played in a really good natured way.”

The radio airwaves will again be filled with hockey on Sunday with back-to-back home games. High-flying league leaders Lindum visit and have been racking up plenty of goals, 22 in their four matches so far. “It will be a tough one for us undoubtedly,” said Snook.

Although the women play regularly on a Saturday when the rugby is being covered, the station is looking at recording a commentary and putting it out on a Sunday. Drystone is also keen on covering away games as more people tune in.

“What we really want to do is video as well,” added Lorimer. Of course, Ben Rhydding’s opponents last weekend, Beeston 2s, are the leaders in TV streaming with thousands logging on to home games at Nottingham Hockey Centre.

The Yorkshire club had originally put the news out onto the club’s WhatsApp group with a link to the live coverage. And soon enough, the messages came flooding in once their first radio stint had concluded.

“We got some great feedback with members enjoying  listening to it,” said Snook. “Our former manager and coach was out in Greece and listened to the entire match. It’s got tentacles and you don’t know who’s going to listen where and when and who will switch off and say they want the rugby league back!”

Sunday: Ben Rhydding v Lindum, 2pm

by England Hockeyl

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