FOR as long as I can remember, Saturday and sport have been an ideal partnership. My early love of sport developed at a young age as my dad was an avid watcher of BBC’s Grandstand – never World of Sport on ITV.

My mum would take my brother and I out with her on a Saturday afternoon but eventually she allowed me to stay with dad to watch the sporting smorgasbord that was Grandstand.

Details fascinated me; laws, rules and scoring systems. I quickly worked out the weird scoring system that tennis employed but could never grasp how boxing rounds worked, until my dad enlightened me that they showed boxing highlights, rarely the whole fight.

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My first experience of playing organised sport came with the 19th Leith Boys Brigade football team at Lethem Park in Edinburgh, but as spectators we went to watch Meadowbank Thistle, never venturing near Easter Road or Tynecastle.

It was only after being endlessly pestered that my dad relented and, as a birthday treat, I was taken to Hearts v Queens Park in December 1982 – but the match was called off off due to a frozen pitch!

David Francey was the main man on BBC Radio Scotland when I fell in love with sports broadcasting. He had a warm, rich voice that I can still hear in my mind coming through via the small, tinny radio secreted under my pillow as he described the action from a European outpost. It was radio coverage from the USA via American Forces Network on 873 MW, based in Germany, that my love of baseball and American football grew from.

I have been fortunate to work in over 25 countries and visiting a new venue is still a thrill.

I’m often asked where I like most. St James’ Park, working for Match of the Day, is my favourite UK stadium and simply because of its history, the San Siro in Milan cannot be beaten.

Once in the San Siro, seconds away from doing a live TV preview for Italy v Scotland, the lighting rig collapsed and smashed in front of Ian McCall and I, sending glass everywhere. We never blinked and while we looked decidedly dodgy in the dark, we delivered the piece successfully.

My dad was an avid rugby fan and, when we were older, he took my brother and I to either Heriots FP or Stewart’s Melville FP. The first rugby international I attended was a Scotland victory over Wales in February 1981.

Murrayfield with its old clock and the inability for anyone my height to meaningfully see the action was amazing. My friends and I were stopped in our tracks by what appeared to be threatening Welshmen as we headed home. They loomed large over us and as they stepped forward we feared the worst only to be slapped on the back, congratulated as if we had personally secured the victory and we were warned in no uncertain fashion that we must “beat the English, got that boyo?”

My own rugby career, such as it was, began in first year at Trinity Academy when I was able to, in my mind at least, emulate Roy Laidlaw as a darting scrum-half. A spell with Tynecastle Boys Club – and seeing the skill of star players Brian Welsh and Scott Crabbe – convinced me I’d never be good enough to play football professionally.

Shortly after I turned 16, I joined the Edinburgh Hospital Broadcasting Service, though it was with no thoughts of becoming a professional broadcaster. However, I soon caught the bug and the experience I gained enabled me to qualify for the BBC Radio 2 Amateur Sports Commentator of the Year competition. I reached the Scottish final twice – and failed to win it twice.

The real prize from the second final, however, was a referral to the BBC Sports Department, and after some training, was sent as a reporter in September 1991 to Hibs v Morton.

My first commentary game came in 1998 as the department was a commentator short, so I was handed my chance to cover KR Reykjavik v Kilmarnock in the UEFA Cup. My co-commentator, Kilmarnock’s Jim Lauchlin, confided in me that he was nervous as he’d never commentated before. Without thinking I replied neither had I. His face showed he was not reassured by this. Some 26 years after starting with the BBC my love for broadcasting remains the same.

Football, rugby, bowls and shinty are my main sports though my portfolio was recently expanded when Radio Scotland covered its first ice hockey game – Braehead Clan v Cardiff. The challenge of a new sport is one I relish, but, sadly I don’t see a path to fulfil an ambition to cover a Major League Baseball game, a sport I adore.

I’ve done not bad for a wee guy from Edinburgh with no formal media training. I still smile at advice given to me ahead of a first TV appearance - “smile, the audience don’t know what you are going to say so never panic and never wear a white shirt as it makes you look pale.”

eekends often now begin with rugby as I have been blessed to follow in the footsteps of Bill Johnstone who retired at the end of last season. While I miss being part of the rota for Match of the Day, I love covering Scottish football on radio and TV.

And, when asked which medium I prefer the answer is always the same: “TV pays more, but radio is more fun.”