The Shot Heard Around The World

Stoke City v Manchester City was one of those football fixtures which didn’t immediately jump off the page as a classic in the making, but faced with selling it as a matchup, it was possible to see how it could provide the required level of entertainment. Champions in waiting against a side notorious for their uncompromising and sometimes rather ugly style of play. It had the potential to be rather thrilling.

When it comes to choosing Premier League football matches to cover, radio pretty much has to trail in the wake of television, as the TV companies choose their live games and thus fix the kick-off times, leaving radio rights-holders to slot in accordingly. Hence ESPN had selected the match at the Brittannia against the wannabe champions to air in their one and only timeslot, and as Saturday evening rights-holders, we at talkSPORT were handed the game too.

The first half was quiet in places, with the odd heart-racing moment as shots were cleared off the line and nailed on chances were denied by some goalkeeping skill, but at half time it was clear that the 0-0 scoreline reflected two teams well drilled in cancelling each other’s threats.

Then, mid-way through the second half, Stoke’s Peter Crouch received the ball about 40 yards out from the opposition goal, swivelled his not insubstantial frame… and caused most people in the stadium to shout with surprise and joy as he volleyed the ball into the net. None shouted louder than our commentary team of Stan Collymore and Sam Matterface who described it in glowing terms as one of the greatest goals of the season, and in the process creating one of the most entertaining radio commentary moments of recent months too.

Within minutes we were flooded with Twitter messages hailing not only the football skill involved but also their startled reaction to the commentary. I decided that the moment deserved an even wider audience. So inspiration struck. I asked the audio producers to turn around a clip of the commentary of the goal in question and stuck it on Audioboo, making sure the upload was automatically tweeted to the watching world:

I don’t think the clip could have gone viral any quicker had I sneezed it. Within five minutes of going live it had been played over 1000 times. As I write this just under an hour later the play total has topped 3000 with new tweets arriving every minute as people send the link on. EDIT: 24 hours later it had grown almost exponentially, with over 13,000 plays, ending up eventually just five short of 20,000.

(I subsequently took the original Audioboo down after my bosses began to get nervous about whether it violated their contract with the Premier League, but you can still hear the audio clip below.)

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If nothing else this just goes to demonstrate the amazing impact that can be had when “old” and “new” media converge. Thousands were listening to the live coverage across the nation at the time, yet with just a few clicks, the most memorable moment was communicated to thousands more across the world. It is all at once quite frightening and not a little humbling to think of the impact what we do can have, and you can guarantee there are hundreds more people tonight who are not only wanting to seek out the footage of the goal in question, but after listening to it also know just what it is we do on air and why we love it so much.

Hat tip to @StanCollymore and @Sammatterface whose voices are those on the clip. I’m just the waiter who puts the plates on the table at the end of the day. They are the artisans at the stove, and thanks to a moment of inspiration from a sometimes underrated footballer, their words and their unabashed joy at seeing something out of the ordinary is for the moment one of the most famous pieces of audio in the world.

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