The Non-League Football Paper
LEGEND WAS BOTH A FRIEND AND IDOL
IWAS really saddened by the news that legendary football commentator John Motson has passed away at the age of 77. John was a truly devoted Non-League fan. He started off his career covering Barnet FC at Underhill Stadium for the local newspaper. Then, of course, John exploded onto our screens when commentating on Southern League underdogs Hereford United’s fabled FA Cup victory over top flight Newcastle United in 1972. It was his first ever match on BBC TV commentary duties and a freshfaced Motson screamed: “Oh what a goal! What a goal!” as Ronnie Radford famously hammered into the top corner from 35 yards.
On a personal note, I got to know John very well over the years. He was indeed a lovely person.
When I was at school, I attended a meeting of the Association of Football Statisticians in Central London where John was the guest speaker. I nervously approached him afterwards and said: “I’m hoping to become a football reporter one day.”
He warmly shook my hand and gave me some indepth advice about how to get into the business. I will never forget that moment. In later years, I was reunited with John when we reported together for talkSPORT Radio. This included a live broadcast on the FA Cup Fourth Round Qualifying draw in 2019.
I recall that John was drawing the numbers out of that iconic velvet bag along with pundit Danny Murphy. All of a sudden, local rivals Potters Bar Town and Barnet were paired together so John told listeners: “I was just saying to someone in my local pub last night this was going to happen”! Murphy replied: “Great that you did you preparation for the cup draw down the pub, John!”
But that was typical of John Motson. He was a man of the people and he loved to talk football with everyone.
He is a huge loss.