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

Ox The Big Winner On A Day Of Mere Glimpses

Post comment

The Community Shield is not a game to learn things from (five or otherwise), but Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain being fit is a lovely thing. Now is the time to step into the light...

Spurs Halfway To The Perfect Summer

2 comments

One major weakness has been identified and ruthlessly remedied. To complete the perfect summer, Spurs must forget those haunting memories of 2013...

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

I

t's wrong to be making a joke out of Bender's name at the expense of gay people. It's the kind of childish, uncivilised thing that Football365 would deride and ridicule if it was another media outlet saying. Why is there a need for jokes like this? Does it make your writers feel like men? F365 might suggest that I 'lighten up', but it is genuinely traumatic for people who have been oppressed all their lives to be the butt of jokes, and to be told...

anamsport
The Beeriod Gossip

Y

ou can't blame De Gea for wanting to leave, he has enough to do in front of goal as it is as well as taking on the role of Man Utd's version of Derek Acorah in trying to contact and organise a defence that isn't there.

rodger's gusset
Van Gaal downbeat on De Gea

I

f you want to take six points off Arsenal, then that's a great strike force. Can't imagine either of them showing much for the rest of the season though...

foot in mouth
Adebayor & Berbatov: You Have To Admire The Balls

Latest Photos

Footer 365

Arsenal 1 Chelsea 0: Gunners win Community Shield

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain scored as Arsenal won the Community Shield with a 1-0 victory over Chelsea, with Arsene Wenger finally beating Jose Mourinho.

Angel Di Maria poised for medical ahead of move to PSG

Manchester United's Angel Di Maria is expected to undergo a medical in the next 24 hours ahead of a move to PSG.

Mourinho plans to manage into his 70s

Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho believes he is a better manager than he was 10 years ago - and he wants to continue until he's in his 70s.

Mail Box

Neville Has It Wrong On Chelsea...

One Mailboxer says that the Neviller has it slightly wrong on Chelsea. Plus thoughts on sexy Saints, pre-season reviews, Connor Wickham and televised analysis...

De Gea Disrespectful? Remember RVP...

We got dozens of mails from people pointing and laughing at Brian D for suggesting David de Gea has acted disrespectfully; we printed some. And there's more...

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