Thursday 21 March 2019

'Twice in my career I was going to thump him on live television' - George Hook on fellow RTE rugby commentator Tom McGurk

George Hook
George Hook
Aoife Kelly

Aoife Kelly

George Hook has spoken about his tumultuous relationship with fellow RTE rugby panelist Tom McGurk, revealing how he was "going to thump him on live television" twice in his career.

Both panelists finished up at RTE on Saturday following Ireland's second Six Nations championship win.

Speaking to Brendan O'Connor on The John Murray Show, Hook said, "What we are, and this is important in the context of the programme we produce, we are not pals, we don't go for pints together, when the programme ends we all go our separate ways.

"But what we are are great colleagues, we are loyal to each other."

Tom McGurk: 'The tradition in sports journalism was...they were fans with typewriters; sport existed within a sort of sanctified area'
Tom McGurk: 'The tradition in sports journalism was...they were fans with typewriters; sport existed within a sort of sanctified area'

He added, "McGurk has an incredible ability to create mayhem where no mayhem exists, but mayhem is part of the life of broadcasting so it's good. 

"If we talk about what our competitors do in sport, they're all nicely presented, all dressed the same go to the same barber, say the same things.  They're never allowed to say, 'This is a rubbish match'.  Dunphy, Hook, Pope - we'd never get a job with our competitors because they see us as anarchic but we're not we're truthful."

Asked if liked McGurk, George said, "We are very different, there's no question, so we're not natural bedfellows at all and there was a certain period twice in my career where for a second I was going to thump him on live television.

"And we have grown into, both of us - it might be age, it might be comfort with each other, it might be all kinds of things - but we've established a Good Friday Agreement and we actually work terribly well together."

Hook also said he was "utterly happy" about his decision to leave the panel and rugby commentary at RTE and said he wants to dedicate his time to "young people's rugby" and to spend more time with his wife and joked "although, she's not convinced".

The 73-year-old broadcaster also said that the job had saved his life at a time when he was struggling financially and in his personal life.

He was asked by RTE to do a match almost 20 years ago and says, "there were other phonecalls from Irish Permanent, 'We need you in the high court to evict you', my wife was saying, 'I really don't want you back anymore', and there were 11 banks on a near daily basis, 'What about your money you owe us?'

"And then suddenly I got a peek of an opportunity."

He added, "I never thought I'd have a pension.  I thought the prospect of a pension was just beyond belief.  I thought paying for the groceries was the maximum of achievement.  Sitting here talking to you about the prospect of a pension in old age is extraordinary."

Hook also revealed that he will not be working for any competitors in TV now that he has departed RTE.

"Happily, thanks to the fella who negotiated my contracts, RTE have contracted me to the end of the World Cup so I get a cheque every month now still.

"So, they're certainly not going to allow me to appear on a screen for anybody else, not that I'd want to.  People listening may be saying, 'horse manure, horse manure, horse manure' but how could you spend the best part of 20 years with a group behind a camera, in front of a camera, and suddenly turn around with a whole new group?

"It wouldn't be the same.  I couldn't do it.  I don't think any of us could."

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