Laying down the soundtrack for cherished Portsmouth memories

Andre Green and his Pompey team-mates celebrate - a moment captured by Andy Moon's commentary. Picture: Joe Pepler
Andre Green and his Pompey team-mates celebrate - a moment captured by Andy Moon's commentary. Picture: Joe Pepler
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It occupies a wall at Sam Matterface’s Manchester home.

Presented to him on the occasion of his 40th birthday, the picture frame depicts Pedro Mendes’ last-gasp winner against Manchester City.

Captured so gloriously by photograph, the March 2006 Pompey folklore moment is accompanied by a transcript of Matterface’s iconic commentary from The Quay.

Self-restraint had burst its banks, words cascading, passion flooding. Unsuppressed, rousing and brilliantly raw – ‘What a goal by Pedro Mendes’.

Elsewhere, Laurence Herdman still retains his notes from the occasion taglined as the David Norris game.

Scrawled in green pen underneath the midfielder’s name, it states ‘Used to work as waiter’.

Andy Moon has now joined their number.

The BBC Radio Solent man last weekend painted Andre Green’s climatic Carrow Road winner so wonderfully, earning stage time on Match of the Day and Gary Lineker compliments.

A result for the Fratton faithful to savour, memories to treasure – and work for such artists to admire.

‘As a commentator, we do our best to try to capture whatever moment that pops up,’ said Matterface, who served six years with The Quay and is now with talkSPORT and ITV. 

‘We lend words which add context and create a bit more of a rounded feel. Sometimes, though, that emotion and passion takes over.

‘Which is probably about right because that's what football does to you. In my 19-year career, I've probably lost it twice in terms of dropping my composure when capturing a moment, overtaken by the scenes around me.

‘They were Mendes – and the day Sergio Aguero scored the goal to win Manchester City the title.

‘I’m not supposed to get caught up in it, but on The Quay it was more acceptable because it’s a different type of radio station, a different type of commentary, you were required to be a bit Pompey-leaning, without being biased.

‘I don’t like the Aguero one, I hate it, I don’t like listening to it. It’s the lack of control, the lack of perspective, it’s not right. I am not proud of it at all.

‘Whereas the Pedro Mendes one is special to me. I remember walking off the gantry and going down to the front of the stand where Martin Hopkins was sitting and saying to him “Sorry, that was a bit raw wasn’t it”. Martin looked at me and went “A little bit!”.

‘I thought I had gone over the top but, on reflection, I don’t mind hearing that one back. It was picked up by Sky, they put it on Soccer Saturday and added it to the pictures.

‘It was great for me because I could see it and hear it at the same time. I realised I actually caught it quite well.’

It is approaching seven years since Moon, who hails from Hayling Island, started covering Pompey for Radio Solent.

The League Two promotion match at Meadow Lane, in April 2017, remains his prized memory during some dark Fratton Park days.

However, Carrow Road has presented another cherished occasion.

Moon said: ‘It was almost the perfect goal to commentate on for so many reasons. Obviously you have the circumstances, with it taking place away from home, against a Championship team and also the last minute.

‘Most of all, it wasn’t somebody putting the ball into the top corner from 25-yards, arriving out of nothing. My favourite goals to commentate on are the ones that build up slowly.

‘There’s Brett Pitman’s hold-up play, squared to Dion Donohue, and it continued. From a commentary point of view, it’s great to have a goal which builds up to a crescendo like that.

‘I don’t really like scripted commentary, so was just trying to convey the excitement of that moment back to people listening at home.

‘I was pretty happy with it, I thought I’d captured it quite well, it’s so easy to have a stumble in various places. But I didn’t necessarily expect it to still be played with the Titanic music two or three days later!

‘I had no idea they were going to use it on Match Of The Day until that evening. Guy (Whittingham) was driving us back along the M25 and suddenly my phone lit up, messages coming in from left, right and centre telling us.

‘Mind you, on Sunday I received a Facebook message from my aunt telling me off for using the word ‘knackered’ on BBC1! I probably shouldn’t have, but it felt like the right thing to say at the time.

‘That’s the thing with commentary, you have to go with your instinct and hope it pays off – sometimes you get it right and sometimes you get it wrong.’

Moon’s Radio Solent predecessor was Laurence Herdman, who had spent almost a decade covering Pompey’s fortunes.

During his final season, he was present at St Mary’s for the April 2012 fixture which ensured the name David Norris was inscribed into Fratton folklore.

‘He used to be a waiter, well he’s served up the perfect cocktail here,’ proclaimed Herdman on the Football League Show’s coverage that evening.

Indeed, goal-scorer Norris, while playing for non-league Boston United, worked part-time at Peterborough Greyhound Stadium carrying out table service, earning £20 a shift.

‘I really don't remember where that stat came from!’ said Herdman, who nowadays works on Radio Solent’s Breakfast in Dorset programme in addition to BBC’s Final Score.

‘All I know when doing TV commentaries was how I loved carrying out the research almost as much as I loved doing the match.

‘I would spend hours looking at quirky facts and using all sorts of documents and books. It might even have come from Wikipedia, I honestly don’t know.

‘You put something next to each player and there’s an improbable chance you are going to be able to use it. This particular one was rolled out in injury time.

‘I looked down at my notes and saw the waiter thing – although it didn’t mention cocktails, that was worked into the moment!

‘There’s no doubt I do far too much research, but it broadens your own knowledge and if it happens to come out in commentary and is delivered acceptably well, then all the better for it.

‘The Northam End that day was an absolute kaleidoscope of blue, all the Pompey bench came onto the pitch to celebrate, it was tremendous – and you just wanted to keep eulogising about Norris’ goal.

‘I’m proud of it.’

Rightly so, because such rich moments remain forever embedded within Pompey’s soul.