My Mentor: Clive Tyldesley on Mike Murphy

'A wonderful networker whose opinion was respected everywhere'
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The Independent Online

Mike Murphy was a Londoner with proud Irish roots. He started out in television with LWT, but made his name at the BBC as the programme editor of Match of the Day (at the age of 26) and Grandstand.

I had only two or three years' TV experience, as a reporter for Granada Television, when Mike recruited me in Sheffield. His production company was covering the 1991 World Student Games in Sheffield, screened by the fledgling BSkyB and watched by numbers that barely registered in the audience figures, but Mike made it feel like the biggest thing at the television box-office that week.

As a boss, he got the very best out of you. He was charismatic, the best of company. In Sheffield, the whole team put in 10- or 12-hour days, then a few more in the bar. Mike was always first up and last to bed. Well, he was certainly last to bed.

The following year, ITV lost the major football contracts to the new partnership of BBC and Sky, and I was in a bit of a fix. Murph quickly arranged a couple of lunches, a couple of sessions of advice and reassurance. During the 1992 European football championships, I was invited to join the BBC. He was a wonderful networker whose opinion was respected everywhere. I suppose you would call him a fixer, but he had more class than that.

In 1996, ITV were looking for a younger commentator to succeed the great Brian Moore in time. Mike championed my cause and even brokered the deal, sending me off for a walk while he talked money. I trusted him completely, and so did the ITV people. Most of the industry did, and that's a rarity.

He left the BBC in the early 1980s to set up his own production company, TSL, and became a respected consultant. He died, at 51, in January 2003. It was apparent at his funeral how many people in sports broadcasting looked upon him as a mentor and confidant.

Clive Tyldesley is ITV's principal football commentator and a patron of the Bobby Moore Fund for bowel-cancer research