My Mentor: Sid Waddell on John Madden

'He sounds just like one of the lads and he's not scared to rub the coaches up the wrong way'

The first time I heard John Madden's wild voice was about 15 years ago. He sounded like a bloke who'd had a couple of pints, a few hot dogs, was full of his own opinion and had grabbed the microphone.

I've been going to the States once or twice a year since 1980 because my wife's sister is married to an American and I watch a lot of American football and baseball out there. I had never heard anything about Madden until I heard his voice, but he has inspired me.

He sticks out because he sounds like a redneck and has made no attempt to change. I come from the enthusiastic school of commentating, and I don't understand this English understatement in cricket or rugby; I've always gone for the opposite. Madden even sounds a bit like me when I get excited and my voice goes high-pitched.

He sounds just like one of the lads and he's not scared to rub some of the famous coaches up the wrong way by saying what he really thinks.

Over the years he has been a successful coach and he actually made up the standard ways of describing the play. Where other guys trot out these aphorisms and generalisations, he has coached the sides that use these techniques. When he picks up the pen and starts squiggling on the screen with his "telestrator", not only is he talking about stuff he has implemented himself, he gets through to me what it looks like if 15 guys with an average weight of 300lbs are knocking the hell out of each other.

I found out that he had gone to a Willie Nelson concert and was called up to sing "Amazing Grace" in front of 30,000 people and he went up there even though he didn't know the words. I did the same in Blackpool about six years ago at a big championship and it's exactly the sort of over-the-topness I like about Madden. When the anoraks are there with their statistics, Madden's making hot dogs for the fans before the game.



Sid Waddell will be commenting on tonight's World Darts Championship for Sky Sports, and celebrating 30 years in the business. John Madden is a National Football League commentator for NBC.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Recruitment Genius: Professional Sales Trainee - B2B

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: First things first - for the av...

Recruitment Genius: Account Executive - Graduate / Entry Level

£22000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital advertising infras...

Guru Careers: PR Account Director / SAM

£50 - 60k (DOE) + Benefits & Bonus: Guru Careers: A PR Account Director / SAM ...

Guru Careers: Research Analyst / Business Insight Analyst

£32 - £37K + extensive benefits: Guru Careers: Research Analyst / Business Ins...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific