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Ian Darke (b. 1950 ?) is an English association football and boxing commentator who currently works for ESPN and BT Sport. Darke was previously one of Sky's "Big Four" football commentators alongside Martin Tyler, Alan Parry and Rob Hawthorne. He was also the main commentator for Sky's big boxing fights and along with Jim Watt, covered some of the biggest fights involving British boxers.
In 2010, Darke switched from Sky to ESPN in the United States.
At the start of the 2013–14 Premier League season, Darke joined the BT Sport team as a commentator for English Premier League matches. He can also be heard on NBC Sports Network, as they use BT Sport feeds in their coverage.
Darke worked for nearly ten years on BBC Radio covering boxing, athletics and football, before moving to Sky Sports in 1992 to commentate on the newly formed FA Premier League. He was the number two to lead commentator Martin Tyler and was the main commentator for Ford Monday Night Football.
In 1995, as Sky's boxing coverage expanded (to the point where the sport virtually disappeared from terrestrial screens), Darke switched permanently to be their main boxing commentator, his role on Monday Night Football being taken by Rob Hawthorne.
Nearly ten years later, after boxing promoter Frank Warren took his fighters to ITV, Sky's boxing output was significantly reduced, freeing up Darke for a return to 'live' football (although he had commentated on matches for an international audience, and had been heard on Sky covering some Champions League matches). This coincided with Sky's new policy of rotating their main commentators. Previously, Martin Tyler covered all the 'big' matches; now, Darke was given matches such as Arsenal v Manchester United and the 2005 Champions League semi-final between Chelsea and Liverpool.
Tyler later regained his number one spot, but the continued rotation still gave opportunities for other commentators and Darke enjoyed a prolific career with commentaries from the Premier League, UEFA Champions League and Football League, as well as maintaining his boxing commitments.
Despite beginning the 2010-11 Premier League season with Sky in the UK, Darke was offered a three-year contract to join ESPN in the US as their voice of the Premier League. He accepted the offer, and now commentates alongside Steve McManaman. ESPN has announced that Darke will expand his duties to commentate on MLS games, the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup and the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
Darke has been embraced by the American market since his arrival at ESPN. His best-known call for ESPN was Landon Donovan's goal vs. Algeria in 2010, which assured that the United States would advance to the knockout stage.
|“||Cross, and Dempsey is denied again! And Donovan has scored! Oh, can you believe this?! Go, go! USA! Certainly through! Oh, it's incredible! You could not write a script like this!||”|
Another celebrated call was Abby Wambach's goal vs. Brazil at the 2011 Women's World Cup.
|“||Megan Rapinoe gets a cross in, it's toward Wambach. Oh, can you believe this? Abby Wambach has saved the USA's life in this World Cup!||”|
2014 FIFA World Cup
|“||And it's in! What about that? It's John Brooks! It's John Brooks! For the USA. Have they stolen it?||”|
Darke said on the Men in Blazers podcast on Grantland.com that one of the worst places to commentate from was Port Vale F.C.. He recalled calling a game at Vale Park during a rain storm from the roof of the stand. Darke equated the experience to "being on the deck of a ship in the middle of the Atlantic."
- "Ian Darke". ESPN Media Zone. Retrieved 26 August 2013.
- "Ian Darke To Leave Sky Sports For ESPN". VitalFootball.co.uk. Retrieved 26 August 2013.
- "2011 FIFA Women's World Cup Commentators – ESPN MediaZone". Archived from the original on 24 June 2012. Retrieved 26 August 2013.
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