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|The Rob Wotton Q&A Interview
Exclusive to talkSPORT1089.co.uk
Rob Wotton is a presenter on Revista de la Liga and Sky Sports News and is
a former talkSPORT presenter having hosted The Afternoon Sportzone
between 1:00pm-4:00pm in 2000 following the departure of Rob McCaffrey.
Part of the original presenting team on Europe's first only 24-hour sports news
and information service, Rob has also regularly presented the busy football
nights on Soccer Special, and reported for the channel. Rob joined Sky Sports
News from Sony award-winning Capital Gold Sport where he worked for seven
years, initially as a freelancer across both news and sport, committing himself
fully to the latter in 1994 working on Capital Gold's live football commentaries.
Rob enjoyed a gruelling schedule during his radio career, covering up to 150 games a season for the popular London station. During this time he shared the mic with legendary commentator Jonathan Pearce for a number of years, providing colour commentary, score updates, team news and pitchside interviews. He combined commentary and reporting on both club and international football for Capital Gold, who covered England internationals home and away throughout the last decade. The highlights of his time with the London football specialists included the World Cup in France 98 and the euphoric Euro 96 tournament in England.
In the 1990's you worked for Capital Gold Sport in London as part of their football commentary team. What were your roles within the station to create one of the UK's most respected sports broadcasters?
I started out doing news and sport as I trained as a journalist and covered some serious stories but football was always my first love. In the news department I worked under one of the best in the business, Nick Wheeler, who showed me the craft of writing and shaping stories. However, Capital wanted me to choose between news and sport. There was no choice and when I joined the sports department full time I was blessed to be working with one of the greats of sports journalism Jonathan Pearce. Over the years I covered the major footballing events and was eventually appointed sports editor at Capital. For those who belittle Capitalís style as simply shouting were missing the point. It was, in my opinion, innovative sports coverage aimed as a specific market that broke all the rules. Iím still very proud to have been an integral part of that era.
You worked alongside Jonathan Pearce in the commentary box at Capital Gold for a number of years. Did you feel at the time that Jonathan would be heading onto greater things in the future?
Jonathan was and is unique. His drive and passion were unbelievable and what a lot of people donít know about is his compassion. I am proud to call him my friend and delighted heís gone on to greater things. It doesnít surprise me that heís achieved what he has and I feel he could achieve even more.
During your time at Capital Gold, you covered a hundreds of matches including the 1998 World Cup in France and Euro 96. What were your highlights and favourite moments whilst with the station?
Euro 96 in England and France 98 World Cup were an honour to cover. The team we had at Capital at the time made them even more special, especially since in 1998 I organised our covered with Jonathan and already knew I was leaving to join Sky at the end of the tournament.
In 2003, the majority of the Capital Gold Network dropped their live commentaries due to the cost of broadcast rights. How did you feel when you heard the news and would you like to see their return?
Sad. It seems that Capital, across all of its output, are eradicating all the programming that made them different. When I was there of course it was still cheaper to play a Kylie record but that wasnít the Capital way. That no longer seems to be the case and would love to see the glory days return but donít think it will happen.
You worked for talkSPORT for a number of months in 2000 on The Afternoon Sportzone. What were the circumstances surrounding your arrival and how do you rate your time with the station?
I was originally only there only for three weeks to fill-in for Rob McCaffrey when he was on holiday. After four weeks I was told he wasnít coming back. I donít know who was more shocked, Rob or myself. I really enjoyed my time there and after a little break from doing radio it was very refreshing to be back.
You were eventually replaced on talkSPORT with Richard Kaufman on The Afternoon Sportzone. Did you choose to leave the station or would you liked to have stayed at talkSPORT to do more presenting?
I would love to have stayed at talkSPORT. They were keen for me to sign a contract but I couldnít commit to that as I was already employed by Sky Sports. My daughter was then taken into hospital with a life threatening illness. I was told that if spending time at my daughterís hospital bedside was more important than coming in and doing the show maybe I shouldnít bother coming in again. Needless to say I didnít do another show.
How would you evaluate your time at talkSPORT and with your experiences at Capital Gold, did you feel you had freedom to perform and make the show your own or were you ordered to follow a format that involved members of the production team?
I had a great time. Originally they wanted me to follow the format the ran throughout the day which was to pick a subject and have a row about it! However I felt that the afternoon is a bit different as listeners have had their lunchbreak and wanted to be gently eased through to the end of the working day. It was supposed to be a cross between Steve Wright in the Afternoon on BBC Radio 2 and Soccer Saturday. The audience figures show that it worked and itís interesting to see that Hawksbee and Jacobs are following a similar theme.
After leaving Capital Gold, you joined Sky Sports News at their launch in 1998. How did the move from Capital to Sky Sports come about and was it difficult to leave?
It was difficult to leave. The Capital Gold sports team were as close as family by the end, but the time was right to move. Iíd got to know Andy Cairns at Sky Sports News, a man I respect and have got a lot of time for, and he invited me to join the new TV station.
You have worked with a number of pundits and journalists on Spanish Football and German Football programmes such as Gulliem Balague, Alan McInally and Raphel Honigstein. How has working with those people helped expand your knowledge of European Football?
They must hate working with me. I have such a thirst for knowledge I want to know everything. I spend my whole time pestering them with questions. I have great respect for them and have learnt so much. I still keep in touch as Guillem as he is such a special guy. As for McInally, heís one of the kindest men you could ever meet, but heíd never admit it.
Jeff Stelling makes Soccer Saturday look easy but we all know that he puts in a lot of hard work to make the show as good as it is. You have presented midweek Soccer Specials on Sky Sports in the last few years and despite it usually being smaller scale, how hard is it to make the show as smooth as it appears to be when watching it on the television?
It is hard work, but itís the greatest fun you can have in TV I believe. I donít know if I make it look easy as sometimes I get so lost in the dram I forget that Iím on the telly. Luckilly Iíve managed not to swear when Chelsea are loosing but that doesn't happen very often!
Do you have ambitions to have a greater role at Sky Sports following your work as presenter on Sky Sports News and on Spanish and German Football coverage?
I would love to go on to other things but one of my failings is that Iím not very good at promoting myself to the bosses! If I get something else it would be wonderful but Iím not going to go up to their office and say I should be going this and that as itís just not me.
Would you ever consider a return to radio if you were offered a role with a station that commanded a great sense of responsibility as well as combining that role with the one you currently have at Sky Sports?
I love radio. It was my first love. If the chance came long at the right time and had security, I would love to do it.
During your media career, you have been a sports reporter, presenter and commentator and have been in several roles on television at Sky Sports. Which role has been the most fulfilling for you to date?
The Spanish Football because I had to test myself again. Jonathan always told me that to be a proper sports broadcaster you have to know as much about the sport as the fan listening or watching. With the Spanish I had to learn quickly a new league, a culture and a new language. It was a great journey.
You are, of course, a massive Chelsea supporter. It already seems that the Blues will be lifting the Premiership trophy once again but do you feel hollow with the victories because of the stigma attached to the club that you have bought the title?
No. No one threw that claim at Manchester United when they consistently broke the transfer record to bring in new players. They were buying the league then. Chelsea have a huge fan base and long history but at the same time having supported Chelsea for so long I know that a disaster can only be just around the corner.
Do you ever feel embarrassed by Jose Mourinho's comments about his fellow managers and just wish he would stay quiet about certain issues?
No. Itís just too easy to knock Chelsea at the moment. It seems anyone from Sepp Blatter to Charltonís Chairman can come out and have a pop at us. When Jose occasionally does it itís said to be out of order! Look at the Essien tackle in the Champions League. Yes it was bad but was Sissokoís challenge, which could have done just as much damage treated with such revulsion? No.
Do you think England stand a chance of winning the 2006 World Cup in Germany, and is Sven Goran Eriksson the right man to guide them to the tournament?
You look at Brazil and say no. But then in a tournament anything can happen and it just takes a national to have an off day and England to have a good one and then anything can happen. As for Eriksson, I like a manager with a bit of passion and fire but if the players think he works then who am I to pass judgement?
What's the best sporting moment you have been at and why?
Any of Chelseaís triumphs with the 1986 Full Members Cup Final a particular favourite. England v Holland at Euro 96 was also a favourite but the top maybe was the 1998 World Cup Final as it was my last for Capital Gold and in a wonderful stadium, full of drama and was culmination for a period of my life.
Who were your idols as a child?
Ian Britton. I used to write to him all the time. One time I saved up all of my pocket money to buy him a card and on the front was a drawing of a stork carrying a baby. Inside I wrote the following: ďDear Ian and Mrs Britton, Congratulations on the birth of your child. P.S. Why did you miss that penalty on Saturday!Ē I finally got to meet him at Kevin Hitchcocksís Testimonial and I think he thought I was a lunatic stalker. You know he could be right!
Who's the most famous person you have in your mobile phone or address book?
Errrm. Kelly Dalglish.
What was the last CD you bought, and which CD's are in your car?
I bought the new Coldplay album. I havenít listened to it yet. In my car is U2 and I love them.
What was the last film you saw at the cinema - and what did you think of it?
I took one of my children to see the latest Harry Potter film. It was excellent although I think I was more scared that she was!
Have you seen any other films you would like to recommend to the talkSPORT listeners?
One of my favourites is Love, Honour and Obey. It was funny and evil at the same time.
What books are you currently reading, and are there any that you have recently read that you would like to recommend to the talkSPORT listeners?
I read all the time. I prefer it to watching the telly. At the moment Iíve just started Ric Glanvilleís History of Chelsea. As for recommend the best sporting book, it would be Four Iron in the Soul. It was fantastic.
Finally, where do you see yourself in 10 years time in your career and as a Chelsea supporter?
As far as my career goes then who knows. Iíve been very lucky to get this far and anything else is a bonus. As far as Chelsea, then gosh. I would hope watching them lift the Champions League trophy for the tenth time. Although it could be watching them in the Conference after Roman got bored with football and decided to sponsor womenís table tennis instead.
Thanks to Rob Wotton for the chance to interview him. You can check out Rob Wotton on Sky Sports News, Revista de la Liga and Spanish Football on Sky Sports every week for live coverage from La Liga.
The Rob Wotton Q&A Interview