For 20 years from the turn of the millennium to almost the eve of lockdown, Robin Chipperfield was one of the go to voices for sport in our great city. Along with the likes of Colin Fray and Colin Slater he became as iconic locally as the traffic around Trent Bridge on a Saturday afternoon, especially whilst often sat in our cars pre & post game, listening in to the famous and fantastic coverage of match days on BBC Radio Nottingham. ‘Chippers’, as he’s affectionately known, habitually got the best bit, interviewing players and managers before and after and analysing pitch side during at all three of our counties professional football club venues Field Mill, Meadow Lane and of course the City Ground.
That was however until earlier this year, when the long-standing servant Chippers, decided to give it all up at the BBC to gamble on a new life down under.
I spoke to Chippers at length about his exciting move to Australia and reflected back on his first love as a boyhood Southend United supporter and his early days working for BBC Radio Essex prior to settling in Nottingham where he’s enjoyed the last twenty years of his life. Here’s what he had to say to me in an exclusive interview for Nottingham Sport…
DP: Hi Robin, firstly thanks for doing this and on behalf of everyone of us that has had BBC Radio Nottingham installed in our DNA on matchdays throughout the years, thank you for your superb and dedicated service too.
I wanted to ask you firstly on your move to Australia, how things have gone for you? I know your move came just before lockdown happened so it must have been a pretty strange experience thus far?
RC: It’s been a fascinating time to move to the other side of the world. I was very fortunate, because I’m not sure I’d have got into Australia so easily had we left a week later. But have settled really well into Sydney, it’s a fantastic city to be in, and beginning to think about my next step in the career. It was always the plan to take a few months out when arriving here, so we’ll see what comes next.
DP: Taking you back to your early days, you started out at BBC Radio Essex and was a Southend United supporter as a boy? Any memories of the shrimpers growing up? Did you ever get to see a young Stan the Man in action?
RC: Yeah, Southend is my team – grew up watching them from the terraces. I was never a season ticket holder, but went along 5-10 times a season as a kid, and then got to cover them pretty regularly when I was the sports presenter at BBC Essex. I started covering the Blues when they were towards the top of the Championship, and by the time I left, they were bottom half of League Two – so I think I was a curse!
Stan Collymore was/is the best player I’ve seen live, he was a phenomenon at Southend in a very short space of time – and Steve Tilson is a hero for his longevity as a player, and his achievements as a manager, taking us from the bottom of League Two to (what is now known as) the Championship in just a few seasons.
DP: I know you also covered County Cricket for the BBC? As a cricket supporter am I right in thinking you was a big fan of Essex legend Graham Gooch too?
RC: Essex County Cricket Club was not an easy club to cover when I worked at the BBC, I gather it’s much better now – but Gooch was a childhood hero, and I revered the team when I was growing up – Ken McEwan, John Lever, Neil Foster etc (all heroes of mine).
DP: So moving on to BBC Radio Nottingham and a new life in Robin Hoods Country, I presume in time you came attached to the teams and players you reported on?
RC: I absolutely became very attached to Forest and Notts, and that’ll last for the rest of my life. I made some very good friends at the clubs, through the clubs, and while covering the clubs. They were two (largely!) friendly grounds to work at, and I love the fact that the team matters so much to so many people. Going to the game is ingrained in so many city folk – it brings about a feeling of community, and I’ve always loved that.
DP: Any stand-out games and performances from your time in Nottingham?
RC: Games I remember the best are invariably those that matter the most – so the Forest play-off games are memorable for good and bad reasons, and the defeat at Sheffield United is the best game I think I’ve ever seen. Wins over Derby (the 5-2 or 3-0) will always stay in the memory, while for Notts County, I remember a remarkable 4-3 win at Wycombe as they closed in on the League One play-offs, and results which kept the Magpies in a division – at Oldham, for example (were just as memorable).
DP: You worked with some fantastic names whilst at Radio Nottingham. I presume now you can call them friends forever? I hope they gave you the send-off you deserved after such a long time dedicated to the station?
RC: I was hugely lucky to work with a great team at BBC Nottingham, and I’d count many of them as good friends to this day. Not just the people you hear on the radio though – there are a good deal of people who work ‘behind the scenes’ to make the programme tick along – they’re just as important as the people you hear on air.
And yes, I had a fantastic send-off, people at the BBC had put so much effort into it that I was moved by it all. I’m not one for fuss generally, but the last couple of weeks were absolutely perfect.
DP: And settling into a new life down under now? A big difference between Australia & the UK (not just on your body clock). Any things you’ll miss (or even not miss) from your time in Nottingham?
RC: There’s quite a bit I’ll miss about the city – the matchday experience, a summer’s afternoon at Trent Bridge, and the new coffee shops and bars around the town that seemingly open every few days. What I won’t miss – the bloody Broadmarsh Centre, and the number of people who are forced to sleep on the streets. A disgrace in this day and age.
DP: Speaking of Nottingham I’ve caught up with your blog and read some fantastic old stories on that. I really do recommend it as a good read not just for Forest fans but football fans in general. Tell us a bit more about it?
RC: “The blog has been great fun to do, and writing it brings back so many good memories. I wasn’t going to do it, but then lockdown happened and meant I couldn’t do as much in Sydney as I wanted to – so I thought I might as well, given the spare time I had on my hands. What’s interesting is, that as I write, it jogs more memories and more stories so i hope there are plenty more to come!”
DP: Well it’s certainly a great read and will not only jog the memories for many on Nottingham Forest Football Club’s recent past but will also give fans an insight into stuff they don’t know so anyone wanting to take a look should certainly do so here at sportchippers.com.
Thank you again so much for doing this Robin, and for giving an insight into your years in sports broadcasting and working for the BBC, thank you for the service you’ve provided to the sport loving people of Nottingham and good luck with your time down under. No doubt we’ll keep in touch!
*Article provided by Daniel Peacock (Editor).
*Main image @sportchippers BBC Radio Nottingham Presenter of 20 years Robin Chipperfield.