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Dublin: 5°C Monday 8 March 2021

'You can't go too mad on Christmas because you know tomorrow's a working day'

We spoke to Newstalk’s Nathan Murphy about trying to avoid Sky Sports News on Christmas Day.

Nathan Murphy has worked Newstalk since March 2014.
Nathan Murphy has worked Newstalk since March 2014.
Image: Chris Bellew/Fennell Photography

BY NOW, SANTY has been and you’re probably wondering how early is too early for that first glass of wine and do you know what, you’re right. For most people Christmas Day is a opportunity to indulge without feeling too bad about it.

Afterall, there’s every chance you’re off work tomorrow.

That’s not the case though for most people involved in sports though with St. Stephen’s Day one of busier days on the winter sporting calendar. There’s racing at Leopardstown, inter-provincial rugby and, for Newstalk’s Nathan Murphy, there’s a football match to prepare for.

“I’m doing Stoke v Manchester United this year which is the early game so that’ll mean a very early flight but I don’t really mind that as I’ll get back at a reasonable hour.” Murphy told The42.

However, an earlier flight does come with some drawbacks.

“It probably doesn’t make too much of a difference to how I’ll spend Christmas Day because it’s always at the back of my mind that I’ve got to spend three hours on live radio the next day.

“For anybody working around sport, you do get it in your head not to go too crazy this time of year. Trying to get your mind around the fact, on Christmas Day, that ‘tomorrow is a working day’ does take some time to get used to but once you do, it’s second nature I suppose.”

The main drawback for Murphy is that, as much as he wants to avoid work, he inevitably finds himself checking in to ensure there’s nothing he might have missed as he was finishing off his Brussels sprouts.

“Last year was my first year doing commentary and I tried to get everything done by Christmas Eve with the hope of avoiding Sky Sports News on Christmas Day itself.

It wasn’t actually possible in the end and I found myself checking in at about 10pm on Christmas night in the end just in case anything big had happened.

“Obviously, none of the clubs are doing anything on Christmas Day or even Christmas Eve really so things are generally wrapped up by the 22nd/23rd.”

IMG_1434 Murphy's notes Source: Nathan Murphy

That means Murphy has to have his preparation finished earlier than he normally would.

“Generally prep for a game takes about four or five hours. I write everything out.  Dave (McIntyre) would have everything on a laptop but I still use pen and paper to put my notes together.

“I find I don’t actually use them during a game as much as I used to because, if I write them down, that puts it into my head and while that probably takes a little bit longer, it does help during the game.

“I’d space the four or five hours out over a couple of days and I’d tend to do some of it on the flight over on the morning of the game.

You can’t really prepare too far in advance because a lot of the statistics change quite quickly but Stephen’s Day is fine this because you know there won’t be a game too close to it so you have that extra little bit of preparation time.

“Sometimes you end up doing two games in three days and your stats are out of date very quickly so you’ve to start over again.”

But is working on Stephen’s Day different to any other day?

“There’s definitely a different atmosphere around the ground, it’s a lot more relaxed and, I don’t know, it just seems like there’s more of a family atmosphere at the matches than you normally get.

“There’s also the definite sense that ‘Boxing Day football’ — as they call it — is just something people do whether it’s Premier League or conference, it’s part of the day to take in a game.”

About the author:

Steve O'Rourke

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