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A Football365 love letter to…Mark Pougatch

A Love Letter to… one of the most ubiquitous and popular presenters in the business, and a man who impressively works for three different broadcasters. That’ll be Mark Pougatch, then   Why the love? Because he’s currently holding down three major presenting jobs on three major broadcasters. He’s on 5 live in the evening, BT Sport’s Score on Saturdays and ITV for internationals and other sports. These are three very different gigs and it’s his ability to effortlessly shift through the gears in doing all three which gets him so much admiration from viewers, listeners and colleagues alike. He’s into his 24th year on 5 live as a presenter, which is an amazing stretch to be in such a high-profile radio gig, and is clearly proof of his ability to be consistently excellent. Born in London, he has a soothing, accentless tone that never agitates or aggravates. Has the happy knack of being able to provide good value in a bit of knockabout chat on Score, be an expert interviewer on 5 live, bring gravitas to important news issues, and do the meat-and-potatoes pre-game presenting on ITV. Whatever he’s doing, you trust him totally to get the tone right. If I had to illustrate just how good Mark is to someone who is as yet unaware, I’d play them this interview he did with Jimmy Armfield. It has the full rainbow of his talents on display: He’s gentle and yet never waffles; he knows when to pick up on an interesting point and pursue it further; he’s amiable and engaging. But above all, it’s his humanity that shines through. His understated amazement that Jimmy wasn’t bitter at not playing in the World Cup due to a late injury was both respectful, genuine and absolutely lovely, warm stuff. And if you’ve any tears left to cry after that, his contribution to this tribute to the wonderful Graham Taylor should wring them out of you. Pure class.   Superhero skills Absolutely unflappable in a live setting. One feels that during Score, if someone rode naked on a horse through the studio whilst blowing a trumpet, he’d take it all in his stride. This must be a product of experience doing live broadcasting, but must equally reflect the nature of his character. It is not possible to imagine him doing a nervous stare into camera if something goes wrong. Maybe you can only really take the job seriously by not taking things too seriously and that means you can improvise and not be overly worried about cocking things up. He just has the ability to communicate calmly and clearly. This must come from having confidence born of a deep well of knowledge and being very well-researched. What is so admirable is that each of his main gigs is so different from the other. On BT Sport’s Score he has to deal with a co-presenter and up to six pundits, some of whom can be boisterous types who could get out of hand if not gently coaxed down off the ceiling. And he does it whilst keeping up to date with all the goals and incidents across all the games. This isn’t just behind-a-desk, talking-head presenting, but more of a physical performance, as he moves around what appears to be a huge studio, walking from his own station to look over the shoulders of the pundits. He manages to make it look great fun but it has to be very demanding and I wouldn’t be surprised if, when it’s over, he is absolutely knackered. The ITV gig is much more conventional but much more high profile, especially when he’s presenting an England game. Not that it fazes him in the slightest. And here’s an interesting thing – if you look at Twitter when he’s on TV, he almost never attracts any hostility at all. While the Twitterati is not the standard against which to judge anything in this day and age of instant hysteria and ill-considered blarting, that is still quite remarkable and is a testament to his ability to subsume himself into his role as a facilitator. He won the Sports Journalists’ Association award for Sports Broadcaster of the Year in 2012 and it’s surprising he hasn’t won it again since. It can only be a matter of time.   Style guru? Rather in parallel to his broadcasting career, he seems to have adopted a somewhat understated but classy style. Score requires him to be fully exposed from head to feet, so he’s rightly invested in some quality suits. A trim 50-year-old, he wears an expensive-looking light grey single-breasted suit, or a nice, slim-fitting mid-blue number with open neck shirt. Photos of him when younger reveal that he’s one of those lucky chaps who somehow looks better and more cool as he gets older.   What the people say The first thing to say is the public absolutely love him. Not a note of snark or criticism about his work at all and that is very rare. On top of that, he is hugely well-liked and highly regarded by those who work with and alongside him. A lot of people off the telly and radio wrote in to share their appreciation for Pougers. Chris Sutton, who often works with our man on BT Sport and 5 live, got in touch to say this: “Pougers is the go-to man. Mr Reliable, Mr Warmth. An all-round abundance of knowledge in virtually every sport that has been invented. I know he loves his cricket and he could be compared to the great Glenn McGrath when on the box or on the airwaves. He always seems to be hitting the right spot time after time. He asks the right questions at the right time. Sharp, witty, and respectful, Mark has a beautifully natural way of leading whatever show he is on (and yes there are plenty) from the front with patience, panache and poise. Any man who can control Robbie Savage and Paul Ince on a Saturday afternoon and take it in his stride deserves a medal. One of the only people I’ve ever met who nobody says a bad word about. He is held in such affection by people. The people’s person; a real leader from the front. I’ve only ever named a pet after the great George Weah before but I hold Mark in such high esteem I’ve named my pet cat after him!” Kelly Cates said the following: “I suspect he isn’t lauded more because all his focus is on the guests and their...


Published By: Fottball 365 - Friday, 30 March, 2018

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