Eye On The Experts: John Motson

For many people John Motson is quite simply the voice of the game. He's been doing his commentary gig since 1971 and long may it continue, say Johnny and Al...

Last Updated: 11/04/14 at 09:40 Post Comment

Latest Articles

The F365 Football Phils Quiz

Post comment

And by Phils, we mean Filipes, Filipes, Philips, Philipps and any other variation you can conjured. How much do you know. Phil your boots...

The F365 Football Phils Quiz: The Answers

Post comment

How well do you know your Phils? Any self-respecting person should get at least 12...Phils should get 18-plus...

All Articles

John Nicholson and Alan Tyers look at some of football's pundits and commentators and try to pin down what makes them good, what makes them bad, and what makes them ugly. This week, I say! Is it? Well! It's John Motson...

Style
Sheepskin coat so famous that it became a shorthand for everything Partridge-like and naff about middle-aged football commentators. Unflattering NHS specs of the sort that suggest chronic loneliness. Unmistakeable voice.


Special Interest
Knowing random facts about players and shoehorning them into commentary, no matter how clunky that might make things sound.


Strengths and Weaknesses
Voice. Love it or hate it, it IS football on the TV. We hadn't heard Motty for a while until Saturday's Match of the Day and had semi-forgotten just how distinctive his style it. I say! Dear me! Saying a player's full name without further elaboration! Sounding like you might just have stepped on a plug while wearing only socks! Motty is still playing the hits. To be in your late 60s and still have a boyish thrill and giggle about you is a sign of a well-lived life.

Now sounds like a mad relation who shows up at your house barking phrases at random. But goodness gracious he has been doing this stuff for a long time. He has been on BBC TV since 1971. 1971! Most of today's commentators were still in shorts. Or not even born.


Tactical genius or tactics truck?
The Motson method largely consists of identifying players and telling you how many appearances they've made on a Tuesday. We cannot off the top of our heads remember him ever getting involved in a tactical discussion as such. Which isn't to say he knows nothing of football. Indeed, he's a reminder that the sport isn't just formations and passing tactical fads, it is also pointless facts and references to arcane players from 1949.


Leg squeezer geezer?
Not in the modern sense, but he clearly enjoys his status as the loveable loony uncle of football and is never shy of a "My great celebrity friend..." type moment. We hear he is good value on the After Dinner circuit where, we fondly imagine, humour is resolutely stuck in 1978. In that regard, perhaps surprising that he hasn't let slip a non-PC gaff at some point nor been tainted by working in the Sodom and Gomorrah hellhole that was the BBC in the 1970s. Too busy covering Coventry v Orient in the Cup, probably.


Bantersaurus Rex?
Motty's sense of humour, one imagines, must seem almost entirely alien to the modern footballer. Or even the not-so-modern footballer. If a footballer did some banter to Motty, he'd just do that annoying little self-chuckle and carry on regardless. He was a regular on 5live's Monday Night Club last season and a welcome one at that. Being from a different generation where confidences could be told and not divulged, his disdain for the press man's job of over-inflation and general shafting was often apparent. Also showed intolerance of intolerance towards a player after a few bad games. He's from a slower, older football culture where judgements were formed over a longer period and you didn't always have to have an opinion about everything instantly.


Cliché counter
So high that it almost comes full circle. He effectively invented so much of the way commentators speak and frame football matches that he himself now sounds like a parody of how football commentating is done. Such is the lot of the innovator. Very much so.


Why does he get gigs?
Well, he doesn't get as many as he used to, but he's had a bloody good run. An older voice is always a welcome counterpoint to the modern self-absorption and even though he does that old geezer's thing of talking about people from 30 years ago as if they were still quite a contemporary reference, Motty offers a unique colouration to the football canvas. For many people he is quite simply the voice of the game even now, and, whether you think he should be put out to pasture or not, surely there should still be some room for the occasional appearance from the sheepskin-coated daddy of them all? That image of him standing in the full-length coat in the snow, with a microphone, slowly but surely getting buried in a drift, will remain iconic of an era and of a profession. Few of us will ever be so lucky.

John Nicholson and Alan Tyers

See extracts from Alan's new book 'Tutenkhamen's Tracksuit: The History of Sport in 100ish Objects' here.

Check out John's new series of crime novels about life, death, sex and UEFA Cup football, here.

You can also follow Alan and Johnny on Twitter.

Football365 Facebook Fan Page

The Football365 fan page is a great place to meet like minded people, have football related discussions and make new friends.

Most Commented

Readers' Comments

H

e made his power play to try and get Sheikhy to raise his wages or trade him to PSG. PSG were probably not interested and he is stuck with no cake and no vacation. @Jay_D> Surely you jest about FFP being real, right? All Platini is doing is making billionaries pay measly fines, so he and his cronies can get rich. If a fool can pay 50 mil for David Luiz, he will happily pay some fine to UEFA. FFP has failed as for it to succeed UEFA had to take it...

Synergy
Toure: I am staying with City

G

uess we can expect Toure's explanation of his behaviour around the same time Pete Townshend publishes his book then.

ceeps
Toure: I am staying with City

D

amn you Yaya, don't scare me like that! I only ate the icing. I didn't eat the soft and scrumptious middle - I will buy you another cake!

MCFC87
Toure: I am staying with City

Latest Photos

Footer 365

Premier League: Brendan Rodgers insists Liverpool will move on without Luis Suarez

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers insists there is no bad blood between the club and the outgoing Luis Suarez.

Transfer news: Liverpool appear to be close to completing a deal for Loic Remy

Liverpool are closing in on the signing of Loic Remy with the French forward reportedly having his medical in Boston.

Manchester United still global giant and prepared to spend big insists Ed Woodward

Manchester United executive vice chairman Ed Woodward insists the club are still the biggest in the world.

Mail Box

Anyone But Rooney. Or Baines. Or Hart.

There isn't a great deal of excitement in the Mailbox regarding England's potential new captain, but we have good stuff on Gerrard's development and a one club man team...

Goodbye Patrice And Farewell Steven...

Man United fans say a fond farewell to Patrice Evra in the mailbox while there are also thoughts on Steven Gerrard's retirement from England duty. Plus, some rare cricket bantz...

© 2014 British Sky Broadcasting Ltd. All Rights Reserved A Sky Sports Digital Media property