If ever there was a time to be putting a bit of fun back into the world of football broadcasting it's now. Step forward Kay Murray, described in various quarters as an intelligent, articulate, witty, talented and experienced TV presenter.
Known to her legion of fans on her blog and Twitter feed as Football Barbie - a parody of her real self, such a moniker could not be further from the truth - Murray works for Real Madrid TV and appears on numerous football podcasts and radio shows.
Hi Kay, thanks a million for talking to EFW. Who was your inspiration for breaking into the almost solely male dominated world of football media? Denise Van Outen is actually my TV idol even though she has nothing to do with football, but I was still at school when the brilliant Big Breakfast hit our screens and I just loved the way she was really glamorous and fun, but still good at what she did. She was never afraid to have a laugh at herself and be a bit cheeky. But when it comes to women in the football media I suppose Gaby Logan and Helen Chamberlain showed it could be done and I was and still am a big admirer of Amy Lawrence.
How did you end up signing for Real Madrid? I originally screen tested when the International version of the channel started up, but I didn't get the job and I think it's the only knock-back that I have ever really let get to me, though looking back now, the experience I gained in the year before I did move out here has proved to be invaluable so I think it was meant to be. As it turns out a couple of people I knew ended up working for the channel in its first year and they contacted me at the end of the first season when a position became available. I sent off my stuff and got the job and the rest as they say is history, though I am forever grateful to the two of them for putting my name forward.
You work with the most successful football club of the 20th century and fly with the team to away games. Do you have the best job, ever? I always say I have the best job in the world. It's one of those jobs you don't think exists and so you make it up in a drunken conversation down the pub!
A: "Imagine if you could have a job right, where like, you get paid to watch football. But it would have to be somewhere hot so it would have to be abroad in a hot country, yeah, and you would want to see good football, so you work for....say a massive club like Real Madrid, and you get to go to all the games, home and away wherever they may be and you also interview the players too....."
B: "Yeah, that would be nice, wouldn't it?.....Another pint?"
Is there a downside? Of course there are. Being away from your family and friends for a start. People just see the glamorous side of the job and forget that more than seventy per cent of the time we are studio-based and office-bound. The hours can be very, very long as we have to work on all the build-up to the games, during them and then once they are over, we are working on all the post-match stuff. Even after the mixed zone interviews, we are back at the TV cutting images and editing our interviews. Losses also put a massive downer on anything as directly after the game, everyone who works with or around the club are disappointed and the the whole vibe back at the studio is a bit flat. Players that you got on well with, leaving, can be really sad and funnily enough the weather can be a nightmare. You promise yourself you'll do 32 good deeds a day to give something back when you are sat pitchside in 32 degrees celsius, but during the winter months you curse the day you ever took an interest in working in a job that requires that you spend most of your time outdoors.
With all due respect to Manuel Pellegrini, you must have skipped down the Gran Via when José Mourinho rode into town. Does he make your job that much easier given there's so much to talk about as far as he's concerned? Actually I cartwheeled, and I didn't stop at Gran Via, I continued right up the Castellana all the way to the Bernabeu. We were so excited when Mourinho came in and he has so far lived up to all our expectations. His pre and post-match press conferences are a joy to be at and he very rarely fails to entertain in them. But aside from that, it's knowing what he is capable of as a manager that really adds an extra boost to working here.
I've seen your work on RMTV as well as some YouTube footage. You seem fairly fond of a post match pitch invasion...Yeah, I don't mind a pitch invasion at all. That night you have seen on YouTube was back in the 2007/2008 season when Madrid won their 31st league title-coincidentally up at the Reyno de Navarra in Pamplona, where they play this weekend. As was the case for Barca in 2008/2009, it ended up just being a matter of time until Schuster's lot did win it. Mathematically, all the boys had to do was win their next game and there was every chance it would happen in Pamplona against Osasuna that night. Well, that was until Fabio Cannavaro got sent off and Gabi Heinze gave away a penalty. The heavens opened, we had no brollies, the fans were throwing things at us and it seemed that it wasn't meant to be.
"Oh well, we'll win it back at the Bernabeu next week in front of the home fans," we said, "better that way, anyway."
Arjen Robben and Gonzalo Higuain had other ideas though. The Dutchman levelled things out with just three minutes to go and it seemed that would be that, but then Pipa popped up in the 89th minute to win the game and the league. It just went crazy. I looked at my cameraman and started laughing. I was delighted but knew that we now had a lot more work to do, first of which was to get on the pitch and interview the champions. Problem was, we were at the opposite end to where the celebrations were taking place and the stewards had formed a human wall to stop anyone invading the pitch. We had to just run until we found a gap and when we did we pegged it across the pitch which was one of the best feelings I've ever had in my life, especially because we were being chased! I didn't stop until I grabbed my first player, Wesley Sneijder and even during my interview with him I had a steward handling me to try and drag me off the pitch. Arjen Robben came next and his reaction, which you can see on that footage, says it all really! It was an absolutely incredible and unforgettable night. Later outside the away dressing room, we had just started to dry off when Casillas and Cannavaro came out and sprayed us all with champagne! Put it this way, I've had worse nights.
Here's a bit of gossip for you: Iker Casillas is stepping out with sports journalist Sarah Carbonero. Any of the other players catch your eye or vice versa? They're all a little young for me, I prefer my men to have been born in the seventies and to be a lot more anonymous.
Is it possible to form a friendly relationship with the players or are they protected by a shield of steel these days? It's definitely possible to form very good working relationships, but generally you have to remember that these footballers aren't your friends, at best they are work colleagues you get on well with.
Match tickets at the Santiago Bernabéu aren't cheap (€40-100). Would you pay that to watch Los Blancos even if you weren't on their payroll? To be fair they are much cheaper for cup games. But yes I would pay that to watch them play. Decent seats are still a lot cheaper than most Premiership clubs charge and it's rare to leave the Santiago Bernabeu unentertained.
30:11:10 - Barcelona 5 Real Madrid 0. Can we talk about that game or is it a case of lo que paso, paso (what happened, happened)? I'm okay to talk about it, but I don't really know what you want me to say. Barcelona played brilliantly and Real Madrid played badly. I speak to Andy Goldstein at talkSPORT each weekend about la liga and he said he thinks a 5-0 defeat is better than a 2-0 defeat, as with a 5-0 you can write it off and say it was just one of those crazy, freak things that happens, whereas 1-0 or 2-0 is analysed to death. I liked that theory.
You wore an interesting garment during that Queen's speech video on Christmas Day with In Bed With Maradona. It was a Real Madrid and Barcelona dress (or similar). That must be the first of its kind, no? They all mocked when Jodie Marsh put those two belts across her chest and went out. Little did she know what she had started!
It was actually just two football scarves. I bought the Barca one at my first ever Clasico at the Camp Nou, which incidentally, Real Madrid won! IBWM deserved something as original as they are and I really like being a part of the revolution!
Talk us through your daily routine. Do you kick off with chocolate con churros and the daily newspapers? I am actually addicted to tostado con tomate, which is just half a baguette sliced down the middle, lightly toasted and drenched in chopped tomatoes, olive oil and rock salt. I prefer AS (great name, we've already exhausted the jokes) over Marca too. My working week depends on the day. If I am not working on the morning news shift or the production of one of the shows I present, then I am out filming Top Goals at some hotspot in the capital or hosting Extra Time - a talkshow with not an ex-footballer in sight!
Matchdays start with a scour of the sports dailies, interviewing the fans and working on a match preview before positioning ourselves pitchside at whichever end Real Madrid are attacking. Once that's done, we hotfoot it to the private mixed zone to catch up with our players for an interview and then it's back to the TV to cut it all.
On a brilliant, brilliant day I may just find myself invading a pitch or sat on a private jet to Switzerland with the World Cup winning captain!
And in the evening it's out down La Latina for cañas y tapas right? Guess where I live? Yep, that party hotspot that everyone loves, La Latina. Cañas usually take precedent over the tapas round here though!
Sunday mornings down El Rastro swapping football stickers with the old blokes, and Sid Lowe? Going down El Rastro is a lovely way to spend a Sunday morning. I do collect football stickers as it goes and I am mates with Sid Lowe. Though usually I spend my time picking his brains for la liga football knowledge. He's 'un fenomeno' when it comes to Spanish football.
Aside from Madrid, which other city would you recommend for fans to take in a Spanish European Football Weekend? Sevilla is right up there....not geographically though as it's actually in the south of Spain. It's a gorgeous city known as the frying pan of Spain as it is so hot - just like the atmosphere in the Sanchez Pizjuain stadium. The bar-hopping in Sevilla is great and even in January the weather is the type that would have us Brits donning flip-flops and shorts for the day. So about 21 degrees!
What's your favourite stadium in Spain? Easy, the Santiago Bernabeu, honestly, in fact it's one of my favourite places in the world. Just being there and knowing what I have witnessed there and of course, the history it holds and the players that have graced the pitch with their presence over the years always makes me feel better. But if I had to pick another, I would say El Molinon, which is home of Sporting Gijon. The fans are fabulously good fun and never, ever stop singing, win, lose or draw. The city is also another that is well worth visiting. Gijon boasts great nightlife, a beach, divine 'pour your own' cider and great seafood.
And the worst? Sevilla's other stadium the Ruiz de Lopera is without a doubt, the stadium I like least. I'm sure others may have/have had a great time there, but personally I have experienced some very testing times there. Most of the fans I tried to interview before the game were drunk, a policeman pushed me out the way from a moving van when the team coach arrived as people were throwing things at it and the most charming moment of all came during a game there when I felt something hit my head. It was a ball of spit from a delightful dweller in the stands. Elsewhere Athletic Bilbao's San Mames is amazing but very scary to be at as a Real Madrid reporter as it's so hostile and Osasuna's Reyno de Navarra (the pitch I invaded) is terrifying.
I saw Michael Robinson in Brighton a few weeks ago. He's a huge star in Spain now in his guise as a football pundit. He gets mobbed everywhere he goes, apparently. Do you ever cross microphones with him? I actually saw him the other day in our cup game with Atleti but I don't know him personally. It's so impressive to see how well he's done for himself out here though. The credits to his old show El Dia Despues are immense and to be fair I genuinely enjoy the stuff he does now on Canal Plus. Big up the Brits!
I found out recently that rising Real Madrid star Álvaro Morata is, in all probability, a distant cousin of mine (in-laws family name is Morata and, well it's a long story...) can you tell us a bit about him? Morata is only 18 years old but he is now in his third campaign with the Real Madrid cantera having spent time at two other Madrid based clubs Atletico de Madrid and Getafe. He's a modern-day striker who's good on both feet, capable of getting out into wider positions and drawing defenders out. He made his debut in December, where he almost scored after coming on in the 89th minute in Real Madrid's 3-1 away win over Zaragoza. He also came on in the 8-0 Copa del Rey win over Levante and ending up setting up the last goal of the game - after almost scoring it himself. Morata turned his defender and took a shot which Levante keeper Munua parried straight to Pedro Leon – who put the final nail in the coffin for Levante.
Mourinho was impressed by the young striker in the early stages of the preseason when cantera players were called up to first team training sessions to make up the numbers in the absence of the international Madridistas who had played in the World Cup. Although it was his ability and maturity that earned him a spot on the first team preseason tour to the States, Mourinho says he's not yet ready to be counted on as one of Madrid's main strikers, but that he is a big talent with a very promising future ahead of him.
Who's that team they call the Boro? You tell me as I'm not so sure anymore! They went against the latest trend of conceding in the closing minutes the other week when they beat Bristol City 4-0 at Ashton Gate but they picked their new habit right back up when they hosted Preston North End, letting in a late equaliser in a game they should have won. But us Boro fans are no strangers to hard times which is why we remember the good times so fondly. I was in Cardiff when we won the Carling Cup in 2004 which was amazing and there's no denying that the UEFA Cup run of 2005/2006 was a classic. I still cry when I watch video highlights of it on YouTube.
What do you miss most about the North East whilst you're lapping up the clear blue skies in Madrid? My mam, though it must be said that although I am from Middlesbrough and very proud of my roots and my accent, I lived in London for almost eight years before I moved to Madrid. I'm well proud to be a Smoggie though; there's a sense of humour in my hometown like no other I've experienced and despite the hard times that may fall upon us or knock-backs we may receive, people from Middlesbrough know how to battle through adversity-it must be the parmos!
Do you have ambitions beyond working for Real Madrid TV? I certainly do. Like a professional footballer's dream is (usually) to play for their country, mine would probably be to work alongside the England team in a big tournament. Remember I'm a Boro girl I can deal with hard times and knock-backs!
But away from that I am desperate to bring some fun back to football broadcasting. The Football Ramble tick this box, which is why I am working with them on a new project at the moment, making video reports on la liga. I love their podcast and their website so I was delighted to get involved with them as I think they are really going somewhere.
Backheels or high heels? That's like chocolate or icecream...icecream for the record. But I'll say high heels, because although I love a backheel, I could not live without a stiletto. Though had you asked me that question in Spanish I could have had both: taconazo means both a brilliant backheel and a supersized stiletto.
Prepare to roll your eyes: Messi or Ronaldo? I'm not going to avoid the question but there is an obsession with comparisons in football which does my head in sometimes. I think the two are completely different players who each boast different qualities, but I'm a Madridista so as much as I marvel at Messi on a weekly basis, I do watch Ronaldo live week in, week out and it is a sight to behold, so for that reason, I would pick Ronaldo. I also think a lot of people don't like to admit just how amazing he is because they don't like him.
You're wonderfully interactive on Twitter, not easy with 12,000 followers, and you've got a brilliant name (@FootballBarbie1), it's horribly addictive though, isn't it? It's so addictive and so fantastic. I cannot believe the opportunities it has brought to me and the doors that it has opened. Thanks to Twitter, I regularly contribute to the upcoming Football Pubcast and the brilliant and unique Beyond the Pitch podcast-as well as their website. On top of that every weekend, I feature on Andy Goldstein's Sports Bar on TalkSPORT, which I love doing, and he too found me on Twitter! I think it's a great marketing tool and also the best way to get all your news in one place.
I am as interactive as possible as it works both ways. You can't expect to be promoting something you have done and people to take notice of it if you are giving nothing back. It is also the perfect way to interact with fans of the channel. Facebook can be a bit to personal while my blog allows me to share the best parts of my job with the masses, but is a little impersonal, Twitter sits somewhere between the two.
On Friday nights on Twitter, myself and a couple of fellow old duffers like to reminisce about the old days. Yes, we know how to live. Our last topic was 'most embarrassing gig'. Can you beat Michelle Gayle in Huddersfield (nod to @Hartch) or Steps, Lolly, Atomic Kitten and many more (@gibfootballshow) or even Berlinda Carlisle at G.A.Y. (@damon-th)? I actually can't beat any of those, but then at the same time, I am not a music snob as I think people should be allowed to like what they like, so don't feel bad about your choices boys, be proud.
And finally, In a tweet of 140 characters, what would your ideal Ken be like? It would actually b Action Man. He's fit. Big, strong, brave & sports a masculine non-hairstyle. Born in 66 tho, 4 yrs 2 early. Grt yr tho :D
Follow Kay Murray on Twitter
Read more at Kay's Football Barbie blog.
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