Don Jones talks about how Granada and ITV covered football

The way ITV worked at the time was that each region covered its own match and then there was a massive exchange of footage on the Saturday night. When I first started the footage was going out on a Sunday afternoon. It was called different things in different regions, but it was The Big Match. We called it Match Time, I think, for a while in the North West. The Kickoff Match, it was called at one point.So we used to cover the games, on an OB (outside broadcast) on a Saturday afternoon.

And would you do that?

Yeah, some of us would go to the OB and we’d be responsible for turning round the replays, the slow-mos. So when the director called for a slow-mo, as the researcher you’d choose which angle you were taking and offer it up. In those days everything was recorded on two-inch tape and I’d sit in this van with these two operators who would physically wind it back. They had spools with handles on and you’d tell them where to stop and when to start.

It wasn’t easy working on these shows because technically it was nothing like what we have today. When I started, Granada had just got is first one-inch machine, which allowed you to see things in vision and make replays. Up until that point, if they wanted a replay of something, they had to send it down the line to London, have it slow-mo’d and have it sent back up, which is unthinkable now. But even when I started, with this one-inch machine, you had to send the clip from the two-inch machine to the one-inch machine, and then take it back and edit it in. But what it meant was that your football logs had to be absolutely spot on, because these two-inch machines, you couldn’t spool in vision. You gave the operator a time code and he spooled to it, and if your log wasn’t accurate, you wouldn’t find yourself in the right part of the game. We were editing to cut these games down to a highlights package, and the idea was that it was supposed to be seamless. There were times when things went wrong. We were always working against the clock.

Pretty hairy.

I remember I had a situation once where a winger carried the ball down the wing and crossed it in twice – the same bit of action occurred again – and he gave me a tremendous bollocking because I was in charge of the edit. There was a director there as well, but the director was only there to satisfy a union rule, he didn’t have any knowledge of football. So I’d be sitting there as a 25-year-old researcher and the director would be sitting at the back of the edit suite possibly having a glass of wine or in one case doing her knitting.

Why didn’t they have a director who could direct? Who didn’t have any restriction?

Because cutting the football was considered to be a specialist job, and they didn’t have any directors who had that football knowledge. So they drafted in a director, because the union said there had to be a director there because a researcher couldn’t run the show, if you like.

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