John Walker Motson OBE
(born 10 July 1945
, Greater Manchester
), sometimes known as Motty
, is an English football
The son of a Methodist minister, Motson was educated at Culford School
, near Bury St Edmunds
Motson's career began in the newspaper business as a reporter on the Barnet Press and the Sheffield Morning Telegraph, where he first covered football. It began to take off when the BBC hired him in 1968 as a sports presenter on Radio 2. Three years later, he replaced Kenneth Wolstenholme at Match of the Day. After initially having a small role on MOTD, Motson covered the famous FA cup fourth round replay between Hereford United and Newcastle United on 5 February 1972, which the BBC thought would be a five minute segment following their two main games. Non-league Hereford won the match 2-1; it became the main featured game on the show and launched Motson's career.
Since 1979 Motson has commentated on all the major championships: World Cups, FA Cups, and European Championships. Most recently, he was commentator for the 2008 European Championships Final. He was commentating on the FA Cup Semi-final of 1989 between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest when the Hillsborough Disaster occurred. Motson found himself commentating on a tragedy rather than a football match, and he would later appear as part of the Hillsborough enquiry, since he had been a witness.
Apart from a brief spell in the 1990s, when his friend and rival Barry Davies was selected for two FA Cup final commentaries and the 1994 World Cup final, Motson has been the dominant football commentary figure at the BBC since the late 1970s. His first FA Cup Final as commentator was 1977 in the match between Manchester United and Liverpool.
Motson's popularity has extended to the Internet, where BBC Sport Online created a Mini Motty "desktop toy" to keep fans up to date on action in the Premiership, FA Cup, and other leagues throughout England and Scotland. In 1996, Motson published a book entitled Motty's Diary: A Year In The Life Of A Commentator. Two years later, BBC One gave him his own TV programme, entitled The Full Motty.
John Motson is famed for his sheepskin coat, which, on satirical quiz show They Think It's All Over, he revealed that he bought off a man in Hornchurch along with 7 identical coats, hoping that they would span his career. However, they appear to have petered out over the recent years so his career may have lasted longer than expected.
Previously Motson and a summariser, including ex-professionals Mark Lawrenson and former Rangers star Ally McCoist, lent their voices to U.S. videogame maker EA Sports as English-language commentators for its popular FIFA series, but were replaced for FIFA 2006 by Clive Tyldesley and Andy Gray.
When Premiership television highlights moved to ITV in 2001, and MOTD was no longer a weekly fixture in the schedules, Motson returned to radio on BBC Radio Five Live's coverage of the Premiership, but continued to make frequent appearances on live TV coverage and contributions to BBC Sport's website – which he has been doing since the site was launched in July 2000.
In 2001, speech therapist Jane Comins conducted a voice profile analysis to study the patterns of eight top television and radio commentators. The criteria included pitch, volume, rhythm and tone, and Comins found that Motty scored the best results. This was backed by 32% of football fans who voted him Britain's favourite commentator.
Motson resumed his weekly place on Match of the Day when the rights returned to the BBC in 2004, although he has also continued to perform occasional radio commentaries.
In 2006, Motson appeared in the Aardman Animations movie Flushed Away, playing the part of the football commentator.
Although suspected by some of supporting Charlton Athletic, Ipswich Town, Derby County (often seen at matches with his son) or Manchester United, he is in fact a self confessed Barnet F.C. supporter. His commentary partner was often Mark Lawrenson. He has stated that the FA Cup final between Coventry City and Tottenham Hotspur in 1987 was "the finest FA Cup final I've ever had the pleasure of commentating on".
John lives in Hertfordshire with his wife, Anne, and their son Frederick (Derby County F.C. fan).
In 2007 he appeared on the BBC Radio 4 biographical programme Great Lives and he nominated Brian Clough as his 'great life'.
In 2008, following the BBC's loss of rights to cover live football, he announced his retirement from live commentary. The Euro 2008 final was his last live TV broadcast. He will continue to cover games for Match of the Day highlights, but will not, for instance, commentate on the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. He will auction his sheepskin coats on eBay for charity.
- "Radford...now Tudor's gone down for Newcastle...Radford again...OH, WHAT A GOAL!!! What a goal! Radford the scorer! Ronnie Radford! And the crowd...the crowd are invading the pitch! No goalkeeper in the world would have stopped that!" - after arguably the most famous goal commentated upon by Motson; Ronnie Radford's spectacular equaliser for non-league Hereford United against Newcastle United in 1972 - regarded as the goal from which Motson's career has never looked back.
- "Jimmy Greenhoff with the header on for Pearson, a chance on here - and Pearson is the scorer!" - the first goal in an FA Cup Final commentated upon by Motson; Stuart Pearson's opener for Manchester United in the 1977 game at Wembley.
- "For those of you watching in black and white, Tottenham Hotspur are playing in yellow" - seconds into a 1978 league fixture for Match of the Day at The Dell between Southampton and Spurs.
- "Arconada...ARMSTRONG!" - the two words which Northern Ireland fans remember more than any others, as Gerry Armstrong's goal beats 1982 World Cup hosts Spain and silences the stadium.
- "Tigana again....Tigana....Tigana....Platini...GOAL! Platini for France, with a minute to go, it's 3-2. I've not seen a night like this in years!" - after Michel Platini's last-gasp winner for France against Portugal in the Euro 1984 semi-final.
- "It's like they are running around the pitch playing with themselves" - referring to the Brazil national football team.
- "Mrs Thatcher has her own cup final later this month" - after the BBC camera spotted the then Prime Minister in the Wembley crowd prior to the 1987 FA Cup Final, which was played just before the 1987 UK general election.
- "The Crazy Gang have beaten the Culture Club!" - reaction to the final whistle as Wimbledon defeated Liverpool in the 1988 FA Cup Final.
- "And chipped in. AND VOLLEYED IN!!! And it's there by David Platt! England have done it! In the last minute of extra-time!" - On Platt's winner against Belgium in Round 2 of Italia '90, commentary later featured in the song Three Lions.
- "It's delirious! It's delightful! It's Denmark!" - reaction as Denmark won Euro 92 (misquoting from "It's De-Lovely" by Cole Porter).
- "The Czech Republic are coming from behind in more than one way now" - in 27th minute of World Cup 2006 game against Italy.
- '"None of the players are wearing earrings. Jakob Kjeldberg, with his contact lenses, is the closest we can get
- "Over The Top, Over The Bar, And He Knows He Should Have Done Better!" His most famous words on the FIFA '98 World Cup Game.
- "England versus Germany games have often caused the tea-cups to topple off the table, so those of you at home watching tonight be careful with the crockery" - Motson before England versus Germany in a crucial 2002 World Cup qualifier in Munich. England would go on to win the match 5-1.
- "Ohhh, this is getting better and better and better! One, two, three for Michael Owen! - Motson as Owen completes his hattrick in that famous 5-1 win.
- "You can smash them now!" - message to viewers in England regarding their early morning beer glasses after David Beckham scored the winning goal against Argentina at the 2002 World Cup
- '"Just like a falling oak, he manages to change direction" - on David Seaman
- '"On a scale of one to ten that was one hell of a strike"
- '"Koller shares a hairstyle with Jaap Stam. Of course, they have no hair"
- '"This is the biggest thing that's happened in Athens since Homer put down his pen" - after Greece won Euro 2004
- '"They are nearer to being out of the FA Cup now than any other time since the first half of this season, when they weren't ever in it anyway" - Commentating on Tottenham Hotspur.
- "The roof is on but the gloves are off"- Commenting during the 2006 World Cup game between England and Portugal.
- "Oh Pearler! Pearler from Pirlo!"-Commentating during the 2006 World Cup, in a game between Italy and Ghana.
- "Zidane's career ends in disgrace!!!"-Commentating during the 2006 World Cup final, in a game between Italy and France.
- "Evra....Oh! What a good ball back to him by you know who..."- when Patrice Evra played a 1-2 with Cristiano Ronaldo during Manchester United's 2-1 win against Arsenal at Old Trafford in 2008.
- "What Drama Here!"- Used in many of his matches.
- "That tackle was so hard, it hurt his whole family!" Another famous quote from the FIFA '98 World Cup game.
- "Shevchenko can't hit a barn door with a banjo for Chelsea!" Commentating after Shevchenko misses a goalscoring opportunity in the 2006/07 season.
- "Oh, Shevchenko! Oh, Shevchenko! A goal out of absolutely nothing!" Commentary after Andriy Shevchenko scored on a curling, long range effort in a league match against Tottenham Hotspur.
- "It's come out to Joe Cole, there's the volley AHHHHHHHHOOOOOOOOOH!!!" Joe Cole's volley for England against Sweden in the 2006 FIFA World Cup.
- "Kranjčar will shoot from here...OOOOOOOH IT`S GONE RIGHT THROUGH!!!" Motty's disbelief at Scott Carson's blunder as Niko Kranjčar tried his luck from long range to produce the opener during England's Euro 2008 qualifiers against Croatia.
- "Beckham, Crouch waiting in the centre........CROUCH...SURELY...YES!!! YES!!!" Motson enjoys Peter Crouch's equaliser for England against Croatia in the Euro 2008 qualifiers.
- "Say something, Mark, say something!" A shellshocked and disheartened Motson imploring his broadcast partner Mark Lawrenson to make some sense of England's disastrous loss to Croatia in the Euro 2008 qualifiers.
- "Wayne Brown with the ball now ..." A classic Motson mistake, as he fuses Wayne Bridge's and Wes Brown's names in the England vs Switzerland game in February 2008.
- "The FA Cup needs a cuddle"
- "It's magic if you come from Madrid, it's beautiful if you come from Barcelona, it's a vindication if you come from Valencia or Villarreal and it's lovely if you come from Liverpool"', summing up the Spanish victory in the UEFA Euro 2008 final on 29th June 2008.
- "I think this could be our best victory over Germany since the war." On the occasion of England's 5-1 defeat of Germany in Munich, September 1, 2001.
- "The World Cup is a truly international event."
- "In a sense it's a one-man show, except there are two men involved."
- "Steve Bruce has got the taste for Wembley in his nostrils!"
- "The goals made such a difference to the way this game went."
- "It's Arsenal 0, Everton 1, and the longer it stays like that the more you've got to fancy Everton."
- "It's a football stadium in the truest sense of the word."
- Motson, John (1972). Second to None: great teams of post-war soccer. Newton Abbot, Sportsmans Book Club. ISBN 072070605X.
- Motson, John (with J. Rowlinson) (1980). History of the European Cup. Queen Anne P. ISBN 0362005125.
- Motson, John (1986). Motty's Diary: a year in the life of a commentator. London, Virgin Books. ISBN 1852276207.
- Motson, John (1994). Match of the Day: the complete record. BBC Books. ISBN 978-0563370628.
- Motson, John (2004). Motty's Year. BBC Books. ISBN 978-0563521747.
- Motson, John (2004). Motson's National Obsession: The Greatest Football Trivia Book Ever. Sanctuary Publishing Ltd. ISBN 978-1860746017.
- Motson, John (2005). Motson's FA Cup Odyssey. Robson Books Ltd. ISBN 978-1861059031.
- Motson, John (2006). Motson's World Cup Extravaganza. Robson Books Ltd. ISBN 978-1861059369.