John Motson

Trib­ute to com­men­tat­ing icon

Late Tackle Football Magazine - - CONTENTS -

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!

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