WITH sport throughout the country on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic, we thought we’d get to know those behind the scenes in York sport.

Here Jacob Kilbride speaks to snooker, boxing and darts MC Phil Seymour.

You began at the York City Knights, is that right?

“I’m a fan of the Knights and I helped out when the Wasps went and the Knights were formed, doing fundraising and that type of thing.

“I went on to manage and coach in the scholarships set-up.

“On a matchday, I’d literally do whatever was needed, whether it was on the car-park, the turnstiles, selling the programmes.

“Then they needed a stadium announcer and I put my hand up for that.

“I ended up doing that for a few years and found that I was quite good at it.

“Then I got poached by Wakefield Trinity in Super League when one of the players from York went on to be one of the directors at Wakefield.

“I did a couple of games then was signed up for the next season and I’ve been there for the past 11 seasons. It turned out to be a longer term arrangement than I thought!”

Were you nervous at first?

“You’re always nervous, but it did come quite naturally really.

“I’ve always been a massive sports fan and I think, as a fan, you know what you like to hear and what you like to see.

“I’ve always tried to do it like I’d like to hear it, if that makes sense!

“I don’t like people who are too over the top, but I do like it to be pretty exciting.

“In that respect, it did come quite naturally, yeah.”

And, you moved into boxing after that…

“I did a Wakefield game which was being shown on Sky and one of the sky producers came up to me and said ‘With you voice, you really ought to do the boxing.’

“That planted a seed really. It was near my 35th birthday and, after a few beers, I decided to challenge myself to MC a boxing world title fight before I turned 40.

“A few people thought that I was mad, but I went for it anyway. In the end, it took me two-and-a-half-years to do it.

“I’ve had some amazing nights doing the boxing, which I wouldn’t change for anything in the world.

How does boxing compare to rugby?

“It’s completely different. With the rugby, you’re the voice in the stadium.

“People may be able to see you pitch-side, but with the boxing, at the start of each fight, you’re the person that is front and centre, in the middle of the ring.

“You’re the only person in there, and if you’re on TV, the camera is firmly on you.

“That can get your nerves going!”

How did the snooker start?

“It was to do with Barry Hearn. I’d done a few bits for Matchroom for their boxing, pool and fishing.

“John McDonald used to do lots of events for Matchroom, but since the darts got bigger and bigger, he moved exclusively there.

“So, World Snooker came to me and asked if I could do more than just the days filling in and do some full tournaments.

“I thought ‘What an opportunity!’ That gave me the push to go full time as an MC, which has been fantastic.”

What’s been the highlights of your career?

“My first world title fight when Jamie McDonnell won the IBF bantamweight title at the Keepmoat in Doncaster.

“Being at an outdoor stadium, it was incredible.

“Obviously for Jamie to win his first world title against the odds was massive, but for me personally, it was a world title at a Yorkshire stadium, which was a dream come true.

“When ITV restarted their boxing coverage, I got to do a couple of Chris Eubank Jr fights. The one against Arthur Abraham was at Wembley Arena, which was a fantastic experience.”

“Plus, some of the World Cup games, such as New Zealand vs Papua New Guinea at Leeds was incredible at the atmosphere of that game was just on another level.

“Then, to do Australia vs Zealand, the biggest game in world rugby. That was hairs on the back of your neck when I announced those two teams out.

“With the snooker, I covered Ronnie O’Sullivan thousandth century break at the Players Championship last year.

“Being there, you get wrapped up in the occasion and when the action is as great as that, no matter what sport it is, the crowd get so into the event and you feed off of all of that.

“I’ve been really lucky and very fortunate in my career.”

You’ve covered lots of major events and sportspeople, have you ever been starstruck?

“Once. I doing a weigh for a Eubank fight, I was asked to interview Andre Ward, who was pound-for-pound number one at the time, and Lennox Lewis, the heavyweight I grew up watching.

“The next day, I was sat in a room chatting about my family to Ward while Lewis made us a cup of tea! That was surreal and I’m pinching myself when Andre is showing me photos of his kids and Lennox has got the kettle on!” (laughs)