Harry Salkeld visits Sky Sports HQ

Whitley Bay's young reporter Harry Salkeld was treated to a visit to the headquarters of Sky TV in London recently and here he describes his memorable day when he met some of the stars of Sky Sports:

Nearly two months ago, i was given an experience of a lifetime, an experience I will never forget, the sky sports experience.

I have recently finished my Year 10 Mocks which have been my main focus over the last month or so. Now that I have more time on my hands, I thought I would sit down and share what was a truly memorable day at Sky Sports HQ.  

Nick Martin, who is a reporter for Sky News, is Whitley Bay born and bred.  Nick went to primary school with my Mum, and they have remained friends over the years. Nick has worked for Sky for many years and has gained a wealth of knowledge and experience along the way. My Mum, on my behalf, has always asked Nick for advice on my Whitley Bay FC match reports and how I can improve them as I really want to give people at Whitley Bay FC the best match reports possible. Nick has always been very clear with one main piece of advice, ‘Be brave with your writing Harry’. Since hearing that, I have always tried implementing that into what I do, hopefully you as readers see that. As I am in Year 10, I reached out to Nick about 6 months ago regarding work experience at Sky, whether it was for now or in the future years to come. It was a stab in the dark, but I thought ‘why not give it a go’.  Unsurprisingly the answer was a very kind ‘no’ as I am not old enough yet for work experience at Sky. However, Nick being the very kind and helpful person he is, proposed the idea of a tour around the Sky Sports HQ in the spring/summertime because of all my voluntary work at Whitley Bay FC over the last two years. I was overjoyed at the idea of this possibly happening and weeks later it was confirmed, I was heading to Sky Sports HQ! 

On the 19th  April, my Mum, Dad, younger brother and myself all set of to London for an experience 75% of the family were very much looking forward to. My brother has never been keen on football but the idea of looking around shops in London really caught his attention!  

As a child, before I hit my teenage years, I used to traditionally wake up before school and watch Sky Sports News whilst eating my breakfast for thirty minutes each day. 8.00 am until 8.30 am without fail, every day. Unfortunately, I don’t have as much time in the mornings because of High School but I still watch it at night, absorbing just as much information as the eager and curious seven-year-old within me. I used to absolutely love doing that every day before school, it was a lifestyle and to be fair almost all my football knowledge at the time came from those 30 minutes each day. 

The car journey to Isleworth, London, flew over, probably through sheer excitement and one day later it was time for my tour around Sky Sports HQ. 

It was an early start the next day as we met Nick outside the HQ at 10am. The buildings were absolutely massive, towering over us. There was security scattered across the entrance gates.  

Firstly, we went through the NOC area, which stands for Network Operations Centre. Nick thought it would be a good idea to show this first so I could gather a greater understanding of how everything is put on our TV sets at home. NOC was a room full of massive TV’s which show every Sky channel from Main Event to Formula 1. The process of the NOC room was fascinating, it showed that for something to be put on the TV, like a live interview with Jurgen Klopp, it would have to go through the NOC room, the gallery and then onto the TV for those to watch. Two things that stood out for me in the NOC room was how lovely the people who worked there were, you could talk to them for hours, and how long they have worked there for. Pretty much everyone there had been at Sky for 20 or more years. These two themes carried on throughout the day. 

We then moved onto the ‘behind the scenes’ stuff, where there were people on computers making the magic happen. I had the pleasure of talking to many more people about what they do and once again they were all great people who were really positive and happy to answer any questions despite it taking time out of their day and job. One thing that was really interesting was how a presenter switches from an advert or an interview, it was done so smoothly from everyone who helps put the show onto our TV’s. We were then given the opportunity to set foot on the Soccer Saturday set where I sat in Paul Merson’s seat with a notebook in front of me which read in big, capital letters ‘Mers’. 

After spending what was one of the fastest hours of my life in Sky Sports, we moved on to Sky News which was just as interesting as Sky Sports. I think Nick could tell how much I was enjoyed the Sky Sports experience so he decided to take the family back there for the last ten minutes of the tour, so we could see Soccer Saturday start in person! 

We found our seats and before we could make ourselves comfortable, I heard a voice, a very recognisable voice. ‘What are you guys looking at, come on over,’ ex-Tottenham Hotspur player and manager, Tim Sherwood called us over to meet him and the rest of the Soccer Saturday crew even though the show was about to kick-off. Firstly, I met the anchor man, Simon Thomas, and then had to swiftly move on as time was against me and the Soccer Saturday panel. I then met Paul Merson, Clinton Morrison, Tim Sherwood, Michael Dawson, and Sue Smith. They were all really lovely people especially Clinton Morrison who is probably one of the nicest people I have ever met in such a short amount of time. Paul Merson was my Dad’s favourite player growing up as a child and he has always promised himself that if he was ever to meet him, he would tell him. Unsurprisingly, my Dad happily told him this to which he responded, ‘Really? Not Clinton Morrison who used to play for Exeter?’ That joke was genuinely one of the funniest things I have ever heard but I don’t think Clinton felt the same way. Don’t worry Clinton at least you ended your career with more goals than “The Magic Man”. We then had the pleasure of taking a photo with all the members of Soccer Saturday and a photo of myself talking to Tim Sherwood about his critical comment on Pedro Porro. Pedro is one of my favourite players, so I was defending the Spaniards case!! Despite the Tottenham full-backs very good season, I still gained the impression that Tim still isn’t very fond of his work. Very much like the Spain coach!

We then had to quickly move off set as Gilette Soccer Saturday was on the countdown to begin. We watched the first ten minutes of the show which concluded the end of this amazing tour.  As we walked back to the entrance of Sky HQ I thanked Nick for a wonderful day which I will never forgot!!  I haven’t watched Sky in the same way…the work that goes into what is put on our screens every minute of the day is mind blowing!! I would love to one day be part of that. 

I would like to take this opportunity to thank many people as I know that without them, I wouldn’t have been given the opportunity to visit Sky Sports. Firstly, and most importantly, I would like to thank my parents who always support me with my volunteering for Whitley Bay FC whilst supporting me academically.  I would also like to say a big thank you to Nick who gave me the opportunity to visit Sky HQ, I am extremely grateful. Nick took hours out of his working days to organise the tour and take myself and all the family around site, explaining everything in such finite detail. Finally, I would like to thank everyone at Whitley Bay FC who have shown constant support over the last two years, especially Darren Gibson, Julian Tyley, David Hall, Richard Stephenson, Nick Gray, Liam McIvor and Yvonne Baxter (Whitley Bay Juniors) who have given me so many opportunities within and outside the club. I absolutely love volunteering for Whitley Bay FC and the people within the club are very important to me, they make the club what it is and that’s what sets us apart from other non-league clubs. 

Roll on 24/25 and HOWAY THE BAY!!!

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