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Barnes” “football bible” has evolved over his 11 years as Sunderland”s match commentator


Behind every great football match is a great commentator, and in front of every commentator is a set of notes. BBC Radio Newcastle’s Nick Barnes and NBC Sports’ Arlo White have some of the best—and most unique—in the business.

In this extended issue 05 feature, we present a side of the commentary booth rarely seen. Check back tomorrow for part II, featuring Arlo White, exclusively on The Pitch.

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All photographs by Henrik Knudsen for Eight by Eight.

CheatSheet_Web_Nick_1 CheatSheet_Web_Nick_2Despite the hours that Barnes pours into each page, he uses his notes only sparingly during actual gameplay. “They are there purely as a crutch and a point of reference if need be,” he said. “If I was a newspaper online casino reporter, I could keep my match reports, but radio is transient, so my notebook is my personal record of the matches I cover.” CheatSheet_Web_Nick_3 CheatSheet_Web_Nick_8 Barnes creates a detailed two-page spread for each match he commentates for BBC Radio Newcastle. The notes are divided into two color-coded segments: The left-hand page contains background information on Sunderland’s opposition—the club’s starting XI from its last fixture, previous results, and stadium details—while the right-hand side is updated in real time as the action happens. CheatSheet_Web_Nick_4 CheatSheet_Web_Nick_5 Sometimes the action gets ahead of Barnes’s pen and paper. “There have been a couple of occasions when I’ve been writing something down during the match and there has been a goal or an incident,” he said.  “Then I have to thank [Gary Bennett, Barnes’s co-commentator] for being beside me or the monitor which will hopefully replay it.” CheatSheet_Web_Nick_688_homeslider_nick CheatSheet_Web_Nick_7

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