John Motson: A legend never to be forgotten
Date: February 2023
Legendary English football commentator John Motson has died at the age of 77. His passing has been mourned by fans, players, and fellow commentators who remember him as an icon in the world of sports broadcasting.
The Prince of Wales led the tributes to Motson, tweeting his condolences and calling him a "legend whose voice was football". Motson had a distinguished 50-year career with the BBC, where he became synonymous with English football. He retired in 2018 after covering 10 World Cups, 10 European Championships, 29 FA Cup finals, and more than 200 England matches.
Motson was known to football fans as "Motty" and was famous for his sheepskin coat. He began working for Match of the Day in 1971 and commentated on more than 2,500 games. His enthusiasm and deep knowledge of the game, its players, and managers earned him a place in the hearts of fans for five decades.
Motson's commentary on Ronnie Radford's famous long-range strike which helped non-league Hereford knock top-flight Newcastle out of the FA Cup in 1972 saw him take top billing on Match Of The Day, pushing him into the spotlight and the affections of the sporting public. His diligence, dedication, and knowledge made him a standard-setter for other commentators in the industry.
Gary Lineker, current Match Of The Day presenter, described him as "a quite brilliant commentator and the voice of football in this country for generations". Sky Sports commentator Martin Tyler said Motson was the standard-bearer for those who followed him. Fellow commentator Clive Tyldesley wrote on Twitter: "As a teenager, I just wanted to be John Motson. Nobody else."
Motson's long career also took in two Olympic Games and Wimbledon's memorable 1988 FA Cup final triumph against Liverpool at Wembley as the "Crazy Gang" beat the "Culture Club". He hung up his microphone for the BBC at the end of the 2017-18 Premier League season and was invited on to the pitch after his final game to receive a special presentation from Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson.
Motson's broadcasting career began in 1968 as a sports presenter on BBC Radio 2. His big breakthrough came in 1972 when his commentary of Hereford's famous upset of Newcastle in an FA Cup replay earned him a regular slot on Match of the Day. He called his first FA Cup final in 1977 and from 1979 to 2008 he commentated on every FA Cup final for the BBC. He was also the BBC's voice for other major football finals, including the European Championship and the World Cup.
Motson's contribution to the world of sports broadcasting was recognized in 2001 when he was awarded an OBE for his services to sports broadcasting. The BBC celebrated his career with three special programs in 2018, including Motty Mastermind, Motty – The Man Behind The Sheepskin, and Countdown To The Full Motty.
BBC director-general Tim Davie described Motson as "the voice of a footballing generation," steering fans "through the twists and turns of FA Cup runs, the highs and lows of World Cups and, of course, Saturday nights on Match of the Day." Davie added, "Like all the greats behind the mic, John had the right words, at the right time, for all the big moments. He will rightly be remembered as a legendary figure in British sports broadcasting, respected by those in the game, loved by fans, and an inspiration to those who followed him in the commentary box."
The passing of John Motson is a great loss to the world of sports broadcasting. His voice, enthusiasm, and knowledge of the game will be sorely missed.