John Helm (commentator)

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John Helm (born 8 July 1942 in Baildon, West Riding of Yorkshire) is an English sports commentator with over 25 years of network television experience, mainly with ITV. Now he is the voice of international broadcasts of the FIFA World Cup and other events. Helm has also frequently covered other sports - in the main golf, cricket and particularly rugby league both for ITV and other broadcasters.

Early career[edit]

After working his way up through local and national newspapers, where he began his journalistic career in 1959, he broke into broadcasting on BBC Radio Leeds and was chosen from a number of local radio broadcasters to cover the 1974 Commonwealth Games in Christchurch, New Zealand. After this, he joined national BBC Radio Sport, then broadcast mainly on Radio 2's old medium wave (frequencies now used by Five Live).

With ITV Sport[edit]

His association with the BBC ended in 1981 with a move back to his native county and ITV company Yorkshire Television, replacing Martin Tyler as the regional station's football commentator. At the end of his first season he was rewarded with a berth on the ITV team for the 1982 World Cup in Spain, covering all of Scotland's matches and the second round group featuring Italy, Brazil and Argentina.

When ITV's regional system of football coverage was largely abolished in 1983, Helm found himself fourth in the network pecking order covering matches for The Big Match and Midweek Sports Special. Martin Tyler and Peter Brackley were chosen above him to cover UEFA Euro 1984 in France, while Brian Moore headed for South America to cover the concurrent England tour of the continent.

In 1985 Helm commentated on the match between Bradford City and Lincoln City in which the Bradford City stadium fire took place, killing 56 supporters.

Helm was subsequently part of the ITV team at the 1986 FIFA World Cup in Mexico. He covered a number of key live games including two of Scotland's matches and a second round meeting between Italy and France.

ITV won exclusive rights to live Football League coverage in 1988, but Helm was not to provide commentary on any of their games during the four-year contract. He was confined to highlights while the likes of Brian Moore, Alan Parry and Martin Tyler dominated the scene. He did however feature prominently in the ITV team at the 1990 and 1994 World Cups - covering a semi-final at USA '94.

After 1992, when ITV lost the rights to top flight English football, Helm was at least a regular voice of live football. For the following four years he covered live matches for Yorkshire TV, London Weekend Television and Granada as they carried coverage of the lower leagues. He also continued his network commitments covering live and recorded European football in the early years of the Champions League.

Helm with other networks[edit]

ITV confined him to a minor role at Euro '96 in England and the arrival of Peter Drury in 1998 meant that he had no part to play in the network's coverage of that year's World Cup in France. From there on his ITV work was restricted to recorded highlights in the Yorkshire region, but Helm branched out as a freelancer. International audiences heard him regularly on broadcasts of both the Premier League and the Champions League. He also featured briefly on British Eurosport.

In 2002, FIFA recruited him as one of their commentators for the World Cup in Korea/Japan. Mainly from the comfort of the International Broadcasting Centre he covered 39 of the 64 matches. It is a role he has reprised at the tournament in Germany in 2006 and several other FIFA events. In addition to this, Helm cultivated a niche role for himself as five's chief football commentator. Their "ad hoc" coverage of UEFA Cup ties and the occasional international ensured that Helm had clocked up a quarter of a century of national TV broadcasting in Britain.

In 2010, Helm was heard around the world as one of the main commentators for the FIFA English language world feed at the FIFA World Cup in South Africa.

Helm has been employed by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation as a commentator in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

In October 2014, Helm provided commentary for the inaugural edition of the Indian Super League.

Helm is a life long Bradford Park Avenue fan.

Helm once recited the names of all 92 Football League clubs in 26 seconds.

John has held the position of President of the Northern U19 Alliance League since 2006.[1]

Helm provided host broadcast commentary for the 2019 AFC Asian Cup.


  1. ^ retrieved 13 July 2014

External links[edit]