When Glasgow Clan’s matchnight announcer took ill after a game recently, they called upon the one man they knew could save the day. Sadly he wasn’t available so they had to turn to me.
Kevin McCoskrie is the voice of the Clan during game nights and has been for a number of years so there was great concern when he suffered what turned out to be a heart attack a week past on Saturday.
Before I proceed, I should tell you the good news that Kevin’s back home and recuperating well after his recent scare and his mic is being kept warm in his absence.
It was after the Saturday game of the recent double header with Belfast Giants that Kevin took not well so imagine my surprise when I got the call-up via text message as my family and I were on our way home.
I relayed the detail of the text to my wife before it hit me that I had to prepare for the Sunday part of the two games very differently to what I had done already. My commentary notes would need to be given to Gerry McLaughlin, who replaced me in those duties.
Anyone who goes to Clan games know that it follows a simple yet lengthy format and suddenly I was faced with familiarising myself with something that Kevin knows like the back of his hand.
If anyone thinks for a minute it’s just grabbing a microphone and just talking then think again. There’s a layout for all the teams and how they announce their information and I had to learn quickly what Clan’s was, while not spectacularly falling on my face.
While I found preparing for announcing isn’t as full on as a commentary, there are so many facets to a game night to take into consideration.
Everything is announced and I mean everything.
On that first night – the first time I had announced in five or six years – it was a different beast to what I had done previously. Remembering to call the team ‘Glasgow Clan’ and not ‘Braehead Clan’ was the main one. That could have been awkward.
Sponsors is also something that needs high priority. After all, these people pay their money to hear little old me (or Kevin usually) give them a plug to the 3,000 crowd so it’s only right I provide that. (Admittedly I might have missed a couple on that first night, but I think I got away with it. Sssshhh!)
Right before the game, Kevin traditionally stands on the ice, on mats, with Clangus and a couple of the promo crew for the pre-game formalities.
I did this for the first time on Sunday and I’ll admit to suddenly feeling nervous right before I went on. Clangus did his best to reassure me that I would be fine. I think that’s what he said. He mooed a lot.
But I strolled out on the ice with the rest of the team into the the darkened arena of Braehead during ‘lights out’, trying feverishly to get my little light to work in (one of the little book lights from Amazon. Just under £3. Other outlets are available) and managing to get through the team and the photos with the captains.
As you can see from the main picture, Blaze captain Drew Schiestel was keen to steal my big moment. Having seen the size of him, I wasn’t going to argue.
The other big moment when you’re playing to the crowd at Braehead is the ‘Chuck a Puck’ game in the second interval when you have to meet Clangus in the centre for the fans to throw their foam pucks.
The thought that always crosses my mind is not to slip. It’s amazing how aware you are that you’re one fall away from going viral, but thankfully it hasn’t happened yet.
Once it’s all over and we establish a winner, it’s back to the safety of the DJ box and the game returns to action soon enough once the other announcements are made, including last minute birthdays, latest scores and the fact that there are still tickets on sale for draws.
But in the main, as the rest of the announcers’ union will tell you, the game takes care of itself with goals, penalties, “one minute” or “two minute to go” shouts and there are moments when they can come thick and fast – as I found on Sunday in the game against Coventry Blaze.
Between players going to the box or scoring goals, I couldn’t announce the winning 50/50 number until literally two minutes before the end of the game.
I could also relay what Travis Ehrhardt and Evan Bloodoff said to each other across the penalty boxes on Sunday after an incident that saw them both cop penalties, but there may be children reading.
But I’ve managed to get through the last two Sundays with the help of the Clan Crew, particularly the DJ, Andy Goldberg and Sean Skelly, who have been fantastic and it’s been a great experience to do it again.
It’s a lot of fun and I’ll warn you now that you don’t see as much of the game as you think, with one thing or another going on.
I’m happy to hold on to it for Kevin until he’s fit to return and when he does, I’ll admit to being a little reluctant in doing so, but he is very much the man in that regard. As I said, I’m only keeping it warm.
It’s on to the next game and who knows what might come up in that one. If I’ve learned anything in my short stint as game night announcer, it’s to expect the unexpected. And a foam puck to land near you.
Finally, get well soon, Kevin!