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

Football People On TV: Andy Townsend

Post comment

Our intrepid chums find their way to the door of Andy Townsend, currently embarking on a farewell tour at ITV. If anything, Clive, he hung onto the job too well...

Lovejoy On Football: Even Worse Than You Thought

1 comments

Don't ever think that Nick Miller doesn't put himself through hell for you guys. Long after the famous Taylor Parkes review, he sat down with Tim Lovejoy's book...

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

S

terling needs to be told though that upon entering the Arsenal squad he will re-enact the final scene from Highlander where he will be thrown around a warehouse by cartoon dragons and then be a mere mortal that will only ever spend three to four weeks a season playing football and the rest on the physio's bed. There can be only one.....player available at The Emirates.

rodger's gusset
Arsenal interest in Sterling

T

he game changed in our favour when Carrick came on. We were able to play further up the pitch due to having a player who can give and go with the ball and keep possession. Yet barkley made some runs and Townsend scored a good goal but carrick's inclusion and chiellini's withdrawal made the biggest difference to the flow of the game

ricky villa
Hodgson: Barkley was brilliant

N

o, you've not silenced anyone Andros, i'm afraid. We know you can score a great goal, and it's really handy to have your direct running and willingness to shoot on the bench. But until you can do the other things expected of a winger (beat the man, put a decent cross in, stay wide etc) then you can't expect more than a regular cameo. Wonderful goal though, what a hit! No wonder Buffon wanted the shirt.

badwolf
Townsend: I've silenced critics

Latest Photos

Footer 365

'Win some medals', blasts Merson

Paul Merson challenged Andros Townsend to "win some medals" before calling him out after the Tottenham winger poked fun at him for questioning his England credentials.

Raheem Sterling will not resume Liverpool contract talks until the summer

Raheem Sterling has confirmed that he will not resume talks over a new contract with Liverpool until the summer.

Tottenham striker Harry Kane wants to play for England U21s at European Championship says Roy Hodgson

Harry Kane wants to "finish the job" and go to the European U21 Championship this summer, according to Roy Hodgson.

Mail Box

Is This The End Of Ex-Players As Managers?

Do massive wages and cushty TV numbers signal the end of the ex-high-profile player turned manager? Plus Liverpool fans don't actually say the 'next year' thing...

A Solution For The Premier League's 39th Game...

One morning Mailboxer solves the 39th game conundrum. Plus England were actually alright, Harry Kane is rubbish again and do Arsenal have the most embarrassing fans?

© 2015 Sky Ltd. All Rights Reserved A Sky Sports Digital Media company