Slater – 50 Minutes Non-stop
Home or away, come rain or shine, Slater is there behind the microphone at every Notts County match. He hosts phone-in shows, is a member of their ex-players’ association and in 2001 he was awarded an MBE for services to broadcasting and the community.
Slater’s first radio commentary coincided with a 5-0 defeat for Notts County against Lincoln City in August 1968, but things have not always been bad and there are five magical moments that stand out. “In terms of away wins, I don’t think there has been anything to beat the 1-0 League Cup win at Leeds United in October 1975,” Slater tells FIFA magazine. “Leeds had reached the European Cup final a few months earlier while Notts were in the Second Division, and what made it more dramatic was that the only goal was scored by a Scottish winger, Ian Scanlon, who’d been recruited from a junior club but cannot be traced by anybody now. Everybody wants to know where Ian Scanlon is, but nobody can find out. He’s thought to be in Scotland, but beyond that nobody knows. The other great days commentating on them were in 1981 when Notts went to Chelsea and won 2-0 to win promotion to the First Division (now the Premier League), a 1 -0 away win at Aston Villa on the opening day of season 1981-82 and winning promotion play-off matches against Tranmere and Brighton at Wembley in 1990 and 1991.”
As football has evolved down the years, so too has radio commentary. As recently as the mid-1980s, many commentaries were done by telephone and Slater recalls the 1981 match at Chelsea – arguably Notts County’s greatest day – as one of the most demanding of his life.
Slater explains: “It was a remarkable day for me, because budget constraints meant BBC Radio Nottingham could only afford second-half commentary. I was on my own, had no producer or summariser and the telephone line I had was only one-way. In other words, I had no idea whether the listeners back in Nottingham were receiving my commentary. In the first half I sat in the press box and phoned in score-flashes every 15 minutes. Then after delivering a half-time report I had to move from the press box to the broadcasting point in another part of the stand. It meant that although the studio could hear me, I had no feedback. Sports producer Mick Wormald, who was presenting the programme back in Nottingham, read out a sequence of words ending with … ‘Colin Slater at Stamford Bridge’ and a friend in the press box, who was listening on the telephone, pointed at me to start speaking. I talked for 50 minutes non-stop without knowing whether the listeners could hear me. But, yes, it was received and the commentary is still there in the archives.”