Though he grew up in Devonshire in the South of England, new Nashville SC broadcaster Tony Husband has always had an affinity for sports more known for their popularity across the pond. In the city of Plymouth, he grew up learning nearly as much about sacks and touchdowns – balls and strikes, layups and dunks – as he did about his country’s most popular pastimes.
“I was one of this generation who, as a really little kid, sat on my dad’s knee at home when they started to show the NFL,” he explained. I just took a curious interest in it – and I’m talking about I’m seven years old at this point – and I’m watching this kind of incredible drama, this brilliant production, these famous, iconic voices: Pat Summerall, John Madden, Al Michaels, and I just thought it was fantastic.
“I had a lifelong kind of passion for particularly the NFL, but also the North American sports culture. Professionally then, I was delighted to follow that up and do some BBC Radio stuff with the NFL and some Major League Baseball as well.”
“A lot of my closest friends, they threw this bash for me a few weeks ago when I finished with the BBC. They called it “Tony’s American Adventure.’ Because they’d always sat there on Monday mornings when you should be digesting the weekend’s scores in the local leagues, and we’d be talking about, ‘did you see what Derrick Henry did last night? Powering his way through somebody’s defensive line?’ I always had this big passion for American sports and America as a whole, so that made it a great opportunity for me in particular.”
His passion for the broadcasting talent in American sports foretold a career of broadcasting them himself for British audiences. Of course, spending time with the gridiron and the diamond didn’t keep him away from taking his voice to the soccer pitch, either – even if he’ll have to practice using the American name for the sport, now that he’s entering the home turf of a very different type of football.
Husband will head across the Atlantic when the global health situation allows, and he’s excited to get to work joining broadcast analyst Jamie Watson and sideline reporter Lori Lindsey telling the story of Nashville SC for the television audience. The COVID-19 pandemic has prevented them from getting together in-person, but the trio has spent time building chemistry and even practicing their craft together already.
“I’ve been talking on and off to Jamie and Lori for nearly two months,” he said. “We’re getting on really, really well. I think this whole period that we’re in at the moment – the fact that we’re doing this now through Zoom – we’re having a technological revolution, maybe by accident. We’re all now communicating on video conferencing and things. It’s just amazing what is actually available.
“We’ve been able to do some practice commentary and some work together between the three of us, even though we’re all in different parts of the world at the moment. That has been really invaluable. I guess if it’s a small benefit for me of there being a break in games at the moment, is that it’s given me just a bit more time to learn more, immerse myself more in the world of Nashville, and of MLS. Jamie and Lori have proven really invaluable aides to that.”
NSC fans may have a little more familiarity with Watson – a former Minnesota United player who was in the radio booth for the club’s MLS opener against Atlanta United – and former US International Lindsey, who was a member of the 2011 World Cup runners-up. Husband’s genial style should be just the complement needed for their experience-based knowledge.
“If I go on what people have always say they like about what I do, they say I’m relaxed, I’m good-humored, I’m fun, I’m informal,” he explained. “At the end of the day, we cover sports: how fortunate are we to do that? In a time like we’re in right now, we realize what an important part it plays in our societies: Activity, recreation, and entertainment. It’s a fantastic job to cover sports. I’ve always done it with enthusiasm. I’d like to say [Nashville SC fans] will see somebody who enjoys it.”
That lighthearted style comes across clearly when the Plymouth native draws a parallel to a group of his forebears – perhaps slightly more historically notable – making their own trip across the Atlantic.
“It’s funny: some 400 years ago, some people left Plymouth and they landed in the New World, right around Boston way,” he joked. “Now 400 years on, this Plymothian here is making his own little pilgrimage to the United States.”
He’s not establishing the first permanent British colony in the Americas – by any stretch of the imagination – but in a way, Husband has the opportunity to plant his own Union Jack in the history of Nashville Soccer Club.