My Mentor: Des Lynam on Cliff Morgan
'Reporting on sport is all about fun, and Cliff Morgan really understood that'
Monday 11 December 2006
Cliff Morgan was a very famous rugby-union player. In the 1970s, he became the head of BBC Radio Sport in Wales, where I was working. I had got to know him before he became my boss, but he went from being my friend to being my guv'nor, and gave me lots of advice.
Cliff had great judgement and an amazing depth of knowledge, which was necessary to run a department such as that. Usually, ex-players become performers, like Gary Lineker, but Cliff was a very able executive. He remained my friend and I always listened to his opinion and trusted his judgement.
He was a unique sportsman and had a wonderful, mellifluous broadcasting voice. He would also listen to your voice and your style and give you advice. The best piece he ever gave me was that any fool can link into a subject but it's whether you have an opinion when they come back to you that matters, and marks you out as a true broadcaster.
I was doing well in radio, and the few bits of television I'd done in the early Seventies hadn't been that successful, so I wasn't keen to move. But when a job as sports news presenter cropped up at what is now Meridian TV, I applied, got the job and went to hand in my resignation to Cliff.
"What do you mean, you're leaving?" he said. "You're mad! You'll end up covering Bournemouth & Boscombe Athletic, and that's as far as you'll go, when you could be doing Olympics and World Cups. I won't let you leave" Soon after, he influenced the boss of BBC Television to take me on, and he was right: I was doing Olympics and World Cups very soon afterwards.
I've had other mentors, but Cliff influenced me with his behaviour and style. He was appointed OBE and CVO for his contribution to broadcasting. Reporting on sport is all about fun, and Cliff really understood that.
Des Lynam's Ultimate Sports Challenge interactive DVD game is out now
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