An Interview With Stephen Tawking

Next up it’s the turn of Stephen Tawking, announcer at Auld Reekie Roller Girls.

Photography by Graeme D Duncan.

Photography by Graeme D Duncan.

How did you get started announcing for ARRG?

I actually went to my 1st and ONLY bout I have ever just watched live, which was Cannon Belles vs Wakey Wheeled Cats (Crashablanca to give it it’s bout name!!) and saw in their program that they were looking for an announcer (the wife Luruk-Hai had just started fresh meat so really not been involved at all). I knew public speaking would not be a problem due to my previous life as a bingo caller (please don’t laugh). Even though this was my first EVER time watching roller derby I knew that the advert was in the program for me. I am so glad I did it too because I would never have met so many people that I am proud to call my friends.

Announcers all have different styles, how would you describe your style and how has it evolved since you started?

I don’t know if it is a good thing or a bad thing but I have been affectionately dubbed by some of the skaters….’The Voice’, possibly due to my volume rather than skill ;). I think though I am really known for being able to pun at the drop of a hat on any subject which always means I have something to say. I would definitely describe myself as a colour commentator. At first I knew nothing about Derby so really had to rely on my co-announcers to do the play by play and I did more of the fun stuff, such as making sure the crowd were having fun and the skaters were too. Now however I would say I do both colour and a lot more of the play by play. As long as I keep getting asked back to announce I know I must be doing a good job.

How do you prepare for bouts and how much work do you have to do on the fly?

The 1st thing I normally have to do when preparing for a bout is to make sure I have the day off work, so the sooner I know I am wanted the better. I also like to get the bout information as soon as I can (skaters, announcements etc) so I can learn as much off by heart as possible. The main thing for me is that the announcer should only enhance the atmosphere of the bout and let the skaters do the talking with there skill, so I like to be good and prepared with not chance of a balls up on my part. The other thing I have to make sure is my shiny ‘look who’s tawking’ t-shirt is clean (still love that it was made for me). In terms of knowing what to say on the day however, it has to come naturally, I have the best seat in the house so I have to use it well……..and my only real discernible talent is, I always know the right things to say.

Skaters have skate heroes, do you have any announcer heroes?

I am not really the type to have heroes to be honest and would hate to single out just one person as there have been some great people I have co-annouced with over the last couple of years. Everyone who is willing to announce for a bout should be commended as I have seen what it can be like trying to get people to volunteer to do it. Thing I am always worried about however, is if my co-announcer gets annoyed with me talking too much or if they say/do things they shouldn’t during the bout.

When you watch sports in your free time, do you find yourself doing your own commentary?

I have always commentated on every aspect of life, let alone sport (i’m a bit of a social commentator). But certainly when ARRG’s Twisted Thistles were across the pond I found myself announcing the whole bouts at the computer. In terms of other sports I would love to take my brand of announcing to the commentary booths of Golf to properly mix things up; but I probably would not be welcomed for all my puns…… such as wearing a second pair of trousers to work….in case I got a whole in one!!(sorry). I would also have to say my dream announcer role in other sport would be with WWE but I would be hard to wrestle me away from derby 😉

Which has been your favourite bout to call and what are you looking forward to calling in the future?

My absolute favourite bout was my first, which was Twisted thistles vs Stuttgart at the Edinburgh Fringe 2 years ago. It was live on RDUK (daunting when it is your 1st bout) and there was such and fantastic atmosphere that in NEARLY left me speechless in the closing minutes. Another great experience was the one chance I have had to announce at an away bout, in Newcastle. It was near Christmas so everyone was having a brilliant time, there were party games and the bus trip home was hilarious, and it was the time I properly felt part of the ARRG family. I would finally love to be known a little more across the derby community, to get my name out there so I can eventually announce things like international events and world cups!!

Thanks for listening to me folks, hope this comes across that I love doing this and I thought I was restrained with the puns;) (even if the are pundamental to my personality 🙂

Stephen Tawking

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