TV legend to commentate on Euro 2020 matches live at bar

Legendary TV sports commentator John Helm is heading for the Toyko Olympics this summer – but before that he has a more intimate gig in North Kirklees.

Thursday, 10th June 2021, 11:30 am
TV legend John Helm, left, with Origin bar director Nick Westwell. John will be commentating live in the bar on England's matches at the Euro 2020 Championship
TV legend John Helm, left, with Origin bar director Nick Westwell. John will be commentating live in the bar on England's matches at the Euro 2020 Championship

Origin bar, on Bradford Road in Batley, believes it has pulled off a world first by persuading John to commentate on England’s European Championship matches live in the venue.

The Euros kick off this week and the first of England’s three group matches is against Croatia on Sunday (2pm).

Origin will screen the game inside on its 14 TVs, which are up to 75 inches in size, and veteran commentator John, who turns 79 in July, will commentate live with his voice relayed through the bar’s sound system.

Bar director Nick Westwell said: “Yorkshire’s very own ‘Voice of Sport’ will be live and in person and will bring his own unique style of commentary to all three of England’s opening group games.

“As far as we know this is a world first. Having a commentator live in a venue such as this has never been done before – anywhere! It should be an awesome atmosphere.”

Nick said the event came about as a result of a chance conversation with John’s son Steve, who he has known for a while.

“I spoke to Steve and he mentioned that his dad wasn’t commentating at the Euros because he’s going to the Olympics and has to set off early to go to Tokyo. Off the cuff I just asked him if John would come to Batley and commentate for us. He said he’d ask him – and he said yes! It’s a bit of a coup for us.”

The first two England group games – including against Scotland on June 18 (8pm) - will have to be all-seated. That will change for the third game – v Czech Republic on June 22 (8pm) - if all Covid-19 restrictions are lifted the day before as planned.

There will be 141 seats with no bookings - it is walk-ins only. The doors open on Sunday at 1pm, an hour before kick-off. Admission is free.

“We’re not making any money, however many turn up,” said Nick. “We’re paying John, of course, but admission is free. It’s just a service to the community.”

Nick said the bar had been badly hit by the pandemic just like the rest of the industry and added: “It will take us 10 years to get out of this.”

Many pubs in North Kirklees have decided not to make special arrangements for the Euros due to the Covid restrictions.

In Mirfield there is a Fan Zone event with a giant screen, a fully-stocked bar and a burger van at St Paul’s Church, Eastthorpe, on June 22 for England’s last group game against the Czech Republic, the day after restrictions are due to be lifted.

Tickets are £5 each and the capacity inside is 400.