LEGENDARY Bradford commentator John Helm is looking forward to Euro 2020, though his passion for football extends far beyond that, nowhere more so than his beloved Bradford (Park Avenue).

The Baildon-born 78-year-old has covered more than his fair share of international tournaments over the years, but as he is heading off to the Tokyo Olympics in three weeks, he thought he was sitting this one out.

But that is not the case, after a unique offer from a Batley nightclub.

Helm laughed: “I’m doing the England matches this summer. My son works in the music industry and his business is next to a club.

“He got chatting to the owner, who asked if I was doing the Euros, but I’m not for any network as I’m going to Tokyo, so I’ve been asked to commentate on the matches here.

“I’m doing research today for the games and it’ll be different to anything I’ve done before, as I’ll be chatting to punters during the matches and asking for their opinions.

“I really can’t wait for England and Scotland, that will be the big one.”

As for who he thinks will star for the Three Lions, Helm mused: “I think Jude Bellingham might get a game or two and show what he can do.

“Gareth Southgate likes giving youth a chance and Bellingham has no fear, even though he’s only 17.

“He’s not afraid of the big occasion and has had a big season at club level. He just might do even better at this tournament.

“I think Mason Mount will be outstanding too. He’s peaked at the right time, helped Chelsea to win the Champions League, and he’s a very good player.”

Helm is excited for fans to see the likes of Bellingham and Mount strut their stuff at Wembley, saying: “We’ve missed so much because of the pandemic.

“I’ve been watching this week’s Test match at Edgbaston with fans in and it’s been great, as sport is flat and hollow without a crowd.

“I’ve been doing a lot of football matches in lockdown as a journalist, and I first really noticed the difference in the play-off semi between Barnsley and Swansea.

“Even just the roar of the crowd when the teams were coming out of the tunnel, it was fantastic.

“Football is as much about the fans as it is the teams.”

Fans play a big part in Helm’s memories of the Euros, good and bad.

He recalled: “I remember covering England against Italy in 1980 as a BBC producer, and the England supporters rioting.

“But Kevin Keegan was a fantastic spokesperson for the whole team and he stood up and said what needed to be said.

“So on the one hand, we were all ashamed of the supporters, but then proud to have Kevin.

“In terms of my favourite game, it was probably when England beat Sweden in Euro 2012, when Andy Carroll scored that brilliant header.

“I’ve covered so many disappointing matches, so that one stood out.

“But generally it’s just visiting places and making memories you’d never dream of, like when I covered the Euros out in Ukraine and Poland, and going to cities you’d never really heard of, that’s the beauty of the Euros and the World Cup.

“I remember being in Kazan in Russia, which was captivating, meeting the (ethnic Muslim minority) Tatars there. I never would have known about them otherwise.”

But it is not just the big tournaments which give the Baildon veteran pleasure, as he just loves sport.

He said: “It’s a strange one as I’ve been doing some rugby league this season, and I got a real kick out of covering the London Broncos game against Newcastle at Rosslyn Park, as it’s somewhere I’ve driven past a lot over the years.

“But it’s the same with football, I’ll spend as much time throwing myself into a Bradford City or Exeter game as a tournament one, maybe even more so as you won’t know the teams as well, so will need to do more research.

“It is the same with teams like Finland at this Euros though, if you suddenly do a match on them, but there’s obviously a lot more information available nowadays on the Internet.”

And most pundits and commentators covering this summer’s Euros will not know much, if anything, about Bradford (Park Avenue).

But that is Helm’s team, his love, and he is the club’s vice-president.

After a difficult couple of years, in which they were only spared relegation in 2019/20 due to coronavirus rendering the season null and void, they appear to be on the up.

And Helm knows exactly who to thank, saying: “I feel as though it’s really down to Mark Bower, he’s so well-loved down here.

“He came back in a really tough situation after a couple of poor decisions.

“It’s not fair to blame the owner, as he thought he was doing the right thing, but it just didn’t work out with bringing in Garry Thompson or Marcus Law from Kettering.

“But Mark deserves credit for helping us through that horrendous run.

“He got wins against top teams like King’s Lynn and Chester towards the end of 2019/20, then with (kind of) a full season last year, he took us up to just below mid-table.

“We’d not seen a lot of this since Mark’s previous spell, but we were scoring plenty of goals against good teams, four against Gloucester and three against Fylde for example.

“Mark’s able to inspire a lot of loyalty from his players and knows how to get the best out of them, that’s why we’ve already got seven or eight re-signed for next season.

“He knows the division well, and I know he’ll make three or four new additions, and continue making us better.”