Sports Stadium

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Sports Stadium
Genre Sport
Presented by Brendan O'Reilly
Liam Nolan
Fred Cogley
Bill O'Herlihy
George Hamilton
Michael Lyster
Tracy Piggott
Noel Reid
Peter Collins
Opening theme "The Final Countdown" by Europe
Composer(s) Joey Tempest
Kevin Elson
Country of origin Ireland
Original language(s) English
Production location(s) RTÉ Television Centre, Donnybrook, Dublin 4, Ireland
Editor(s) Max Mulvihill
Stephen Alkin
Camera setup Multi-camera
Running time Various
Production company(s) Raidió Teilefís Éireann
Original network RTÉ, RTÉ 1
Original release 22 September 1973 (1973-09-22) – 20 December 1997 (1997-12-20)

Sports Stadium was a long-running Irish television sport programme produced by Raidió Teilifís Éireann (RTÉ). Broadcast between 1973 and 1997, it was the broadcaster's flagship sports programme and one of its longest-running programmes. It ran in a variety of slots, but in its final years aired on RTÉ Two on Saturdays from 1-6pm.

Its first presenter was Brendan O'Reilly, who stayed with the programme into the 1990s. Other presenters during its run included Liam Nolan, Fred Cogley, Michael Lyster, George Hamilton, Noel Reid Peter Collins and Tracy Piggott, who went onto front Sports Stadium's short-lived successor Saturday Sports Live.

The format of the show was very similar to the BBC's Grandstand or ITV's World of Sport - Grandstand's racing coverage was often simulcast by Sports Stadium, presented by Noel Reid before Piggott's arrival in 1994. The earlier part of each show would feature a mixture of racing and recorded highlights of other sports. The centrepiece of the afternoon for many years was a live 3pm Football League Division One game, which would be followed by the classified football results read by Brendan Delany, who worked on the show throughout its entire run.

Live cross-channel soccer was featured for a short time during the mid-1970s, but returned between 1985 and 1992. Following the creation of the Premier League in 1992, tape-delayed coverage of full matches continued for a further three years. The latter three years under a delayed-coverage agreement with the new FA Premier League. The FA Cup was also featured annually on RTE until 1998, when live rights to the final were picked up by Sky Sports.

On 15 April 1989, the programme aired live coverage of the FA Cup semi-final tie between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest at Hillsborough and the unfolding disaster as the pens in the terraces became overcrowded and fans began to spill onto the pitch. 96 people died as a result of their injuries in the tragedy, Heysel mark 2.

Coverage of the AIL was also featured on the show, along with live coverage of the Five Nations Championship and the Lions rugby tours.

Other key segments of the programme included Soccer Stadium (covering domestic League of Ireland football) and Gaelic Stadium - previews of the weekend's GAA games presented by Mick Dunne.

There were regular rallying highlights from such events as the Circuit of Ireland Rally, Ulster Rally and Rally of the Lakes, along with live coverage of athletics events such as the IAAF World Cross Country Championships, plus highlights of domestic Grand Prix races and the Cork City Sports and Morton Games.

Three theme tunes were used during the programme's run. A catchy brass-led theme played by the RTÉ Concert Orchestra ran from 1973–87, replaced for one year by a heavy rock intro. From 1988 onwards, the programme used the distinctive keyboard riff from the Europe song "The Final Countdown", which had been a Number 1 hit in 25 countries, including Ireland, in 1986. The original recording was used from 1988, but a re-arranged version was used from 1993.

The last edition of Sports Stadium was broadcast on 20 December 1997.[1]


  1. ^ "End of an era for TV sport", The Irish Times, 22 December 1997