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Reporting from Platt Lane: Ed Tucker and Callum Scott reflect on the transformative effects of their roles at Matchday Live

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Featured image: Joshua Fielding and Maxine Douglas-Morgan


“I was definitely a very fed-up student after two years of Covid and an internship that didn’t work out,” says Ed Tucker, a 23-year-old third year Multimedia Journalism student from Arundel, West Sussex. “But then I got involved with Matchday Live, and that has definitely been the highlight of my university career – 100 percent.

“Doing commentary on live games made me nervous at first but I wanted to try it, and I found out that I was quite good at it. I absolutely love it: netball, futsal, rugby, football – just give me the mic. Now I want to be a professional commentator, and I’ve got 15 hours of commentary to choose from for my showreel!”

Ed pauses to take a bite of his spicy Indian samosa, snacks that have become an integral part of the Matchday Live production experience at the Platt Lane Sports Centre.

The Manchester Met sports livestream show was launched this year from the university’s sports hub in Rusholme by Sports Journalism unit lead and former BBC producer Vince Hunt and university Technical Specialist Sam Heitzman. Sam has built a sector-leading broadcast system at Platt Lane from scratch, with remotely-operated cameras indoors and outdoors showing live coverage of university sports teams playing football, rugby, basketball, volleyball, netball, lacrosse and more recently, a Sunday morning futsal team cup run.

In its first term of Wednesday afternoon and evening broadcasting on the MMU Sport YouTube channel, Matchday Live notched up a global audience of 16,000 viewers.

“Aside from the actual experience itself including the discipline of prepping for the game, doing research and talking to the players and coaches, it has definitely made me more focused on my uni work,” adds Ed.

“It’s given me an outlet for journalism I enjoy doing, where before it felt like: ‘Here’s your work, here are your deadlines; now go off and do it.’ And sometimes I’d be thinking: ‘Nah, I’m not doing this anymore.’

“But Matchday Live has completely changed that. I’ve got Firsts in both [of the assessments] I’ve submitted for this first semester, and maybe I’m trying a bit harder, putting more effort in, because I’m enjoying being here more, too. And the things that I’m doing, like the interviews after the games, have made me so much more confident.

“I’m thinking to myself: ‘I can do this on the fly, and I’m able to interview people I’ve done research into’. That’s given a real boost to my confidence and helped me grow into the role. Now I’m way more confident when I open my mouth – which is a lot, to be fair – and I’m confident in front of a camera, on a mic, talking to players, coaches … everything, in fact.

“I’d go as far to say it’s changed everything about university for me. Without it I would not be enjoying myself right now, being a third year. My house is a bit depressing right now, and Matchday Live has kept me going.”

More than 40 students have worked on the 18 games streamed since its launch in October 2022, reaching an online audience including France, the Netherlands, Spain, South Africa and Australia. The student broadcasters and journalists come from a background of disciplines, including filmmaking, marketing and multimedia journalism.

Preparation for the weekly show involves student journalists working closely with MMU Sport’s team coaches, recording preview interviews and researching and making contact with visiting sides.

The show then goes live from a dedicated studio, with directors and vision mixers working in a technical roles alongside the commentators and producers. Featured games are trailed and live-tweeted by a social media team. Away from the classrooms of the campus, the studio becomes a place where innovative teaching can happen, as Vince and Sam train students in industry methods using state-of-the-art equipment.

“The students who have worked on Matchday Live are some of the most dedicated and energising colleagues I’ve ever worked with,” says Sam. “They have enthusiastically defeated every single challenge they have been posed during the broadcasts, and once you go live, you just have to deal with it.

“I love the way this project is giving students like Ed the chance to blossom, develop their talents and get a new sense of direction as a result. I can’t wait to see what amazing things they all do in the future.”

A former Sports Journalism student, Callum Scott was among the first volunteers and seized the opportunity to host the first show live, reading to camera from an iPad autocue he developed himself. Before long Callum was interviewing coaches immediately post-match, and enjoying the thrill of the
live broadcast environment.

“For me, Matchday Live has offered me experience in areas that I needed to improve, as well as giving me access to the very best equipment to do that,” he says.

“Coming into my third year, I’d [built up] experience producing plenty of written content with The Northern Quota, and covering elections gave me a good range of live coverage experience but I knew that I needed to develop my on-camera portfolio too.

“Presenting was something that daunted me initially, as I’d never done anything like that before, let alone doing it live, but we talked through what I needed to do and say – and when to speak and when to stop – and we gave it a go!

“Standing in the foreground of a basketball double-header, the nerves were jangling. I had Sam’s voice in my ear counting down to when we were on air, and Vince racing behind me to bring over the team coaches I needed for the interviews.

“Manchester Met lost, and the commentary team were waxing lyrical about the visiting team’s performances. We cut to me about to interview the star player of the winning side, Nottingham Trent’s Moho Adekeye. Having known I was going to interview him for all of 30 seconds before we came to air, this was something that you might call an ‘industry standard challenge’!

“But the feeling of interviewing him well, of responding to his delight at the victory and me getting the sequence over the line without a hitch was something I’ve never felt before: a mix of pride and relief.”

Callum adds: “You can’t get better experience than a day of sport at Matchday Live, and you can build yourself a portfolio powered by a great team, and excellent samosas…”

Matchday Live launched its second season in January 2023 and is open to all interested in gaining live television production experience. To get involved, contact Sam Heitzman at s.heitzman@mmu.ac.uk

As aAh! The ENERGY Issue went to press, 3rd year BA Filmmaking student Callum Hughes became the first “Matchday Live Hall of Famer”, accepting a job as Junior Technical Operator at EuroSport.


First published in The ENERGY Issue. Pick up your copy on campus or read online.

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aAh!

aAh! Magazine is Manchester Metropolitan University's arts and culture magazine.

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