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AS THE saying goes: All good things must come to an end. And so it will be at the end of this season when John Motson hangs up his mike after commentating for an incredible 50 years with the BBC.
Born in Salford in 1945, he was aged 18 when he joined the Barnet Press, a weekly newspaper in Hertfordshire.
Four years later he moved up North to Sheffield to join the Morning Telegraph as a sports reporter and sub-editor, where he would also do short reports for Radio Sheffield.
In 1969, after honing his skills, Motson was to voice his first football commentary for Radio 2, the second half of a game between Everton and Derby County.
He was a natural talker and his passion for the game stood out.
And just two years later, he got his big break on none other than the iconic Match of the Day, where he would commentate on Liverpool v Chelsea in a 0-0 draw.
Since making his debut, Motty, as he is affectionately known in the world of football, has gone on to commentate at 10 World Cups, 29 FA Cup finals, 10 European Championships, over 200 England international games, and also found the time to write four football books and narrate 30 football videos!
Now that is an impressive CV and it’s no wonder he is full of information and statistics. He is a walking, talking football encyclopaedia. I bet there’s nothing he doesn’t know about the beautiful game?
I was brought up listening to Kenneth Wolstenholme commentating on matches on the telly, and, for me, he is the number one commentator of all time.
But running him a close second, in my opinion, has to be Motty in his trademark sheepskin coat!
Yet as professional as he is, he has been prone to make some memorable gaffes on air and here are just some of his gems over the years:
“I think this could be our best win over Germany since the war.”
“Brazil – they’re so good it’s like they’re running around the pitch playing with themselves.”
“The World Cup is a truly International event.”
“The match has become quite unpredictable, but it still looks as though Arsenal will win the Cup.”
“For those watching in black and white, Spurs are in the all-yellow strip.”
“It looks like a one-man show here, although there are two men involved.”
So it wasn’t only David Coleman who baffled us with pearls of wisdom!
But that’s why most of us love old Motty – he is entertaining and funny, and who wants a perfectionist commentating on games anyway? It would spoil the fun.
Most football commentators can get on viewers and listeners’ nerves, they come across as know-alls and can ruin a match with their inane chat. And I guess John Motson has irritated many a listener with his chirpy style? But love him or loathe him, Motty does know his stuff and his passion oozes from him. I, for one, will miss him, although he says he’ll still be around but not with the BBC. And I witnessed how genuine and warm a person he is for myself when I attended the memorial service at Coventry Cathedral in February 2016 for Jimmy Hill. John was one of many football celebrities who were there that night. Gary Lineker, Alan Hansen, Gordon Taylor and many ex-Coventry City players, along with hundreds of us Sky Blue supporters, packed inside the wonderful cathedral. John Motson was a friend of the late, great Jimmy Hill and this friendship shone through in his brilliant tribute. He walked up to the microphone and talked so fondly and eloquently of his football mate. It was really moving and will stay long in my memory. So, happy retirement, Motty, you deserve it!