AFPMotson reports at Wembley on the FA Cup final (Chelsea-Manchester United, 1-0)
NOS Nieuws•vandaag, 12:14
He was the voice of football in England for generations and is considered by many to be the greatest commentator ever. Former football commentator John Motson has died aged 77
His big break for the television audience came in 1972, when the puny Hereford United defeated the great Newcastle United at home. Ronnie Radford’s 1-1, a buck on a muddy pitch, went down in history as one of the most beautiful goals ever scored in the FA Cup. And with it the commentary.
“If Ronnie hadn’t scored that goal and his side hadn’t beat the great Newcastle, I don’t think I would be here talking to you,” Motson told a journalist half a century later. “It changed my life, I wasn’t tenured in television at the time.”
He reached the FA Cup final for the first time in 1977. After that he was the voice of every major football final at the BBC. ‘Motty’ eventually did ten European Championships, ten World Cups, two Olympic Games and 29 FA Cup finals.
Gamers know his voice from EA Sports’ popular FIFA games. From FIFA96, his commentary could be heard in the games.
Millions of Britons grew up with his voice on television. Where John Webster and later James Alexander Gordon read the football results in the block ‘Classified Football Results’ on the radio, Motson was the man of the commentary. He covered almost 2500 matches on BBC television since 1971.
Motson’s voice belongs to England as Big Ben and ‘Upstairs, Downstairs’ belong to England.
“England is in love with his voice,” said NOS presenter Tom Egbers at the BBC farewell to Motson in 2017. “A voice of crystal. Motson’s voice belongs to England as Big Ben and Upstairs, Downstairs belong to England. “
“When you hear him, you feel that you are in a stadium. No jokes, no extraordinary sentences. He can get excited in the same way as a supporter who is behind the goal.”
Pen, not laptop
In the farewell conversation with the employer who remained loyal to Motson for decades, his modesty is striking. He mentions the number of cameras on a football field when asked about the biggest change in all these years. He didn’t mind not being able to look back on moments on the field in his early years – the replays weren’t added to the recaps until editing. Above all, it forced him to look closely. “Just like the referee, without tools.”
He took notes with a pen until his last match. Motson was not into modern technology, did not use a laptop or cell phone. He called as often as he could before a game with the coaches of both teams, “or someone else I knew at a club”, to find out about tactics, line-up or injury. It was part of his preparation.
His last game was in London. Crystal Palace v West Bromwich Albion. Afterwards he was honored on the field and treated to minutes of applause. He received it timidly and later said that it really was not necessary at all. “I was just doing my job.”