Motty: Voice of Football RIP

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John Motson commentator 1972-2018

John Motson

John Motson was the son of a Methodist minister who first stimulated his interest in football. He celebrated his 40th anniversary on Match of the Day in October 2011, before retiring in 2018. During his career at the BBC he covered 10 World Cups, 10 European Championships & 29 FA Cup finals.


After an apprenticeship on the Barnet Press weekly newspaper; John moved to the Morning Telegraph in Sheffield where he first covered league football. A short freelance spell with BBC Radio Sheffield was followed by a move to network radio in 1968. Where on Radio 2 (then the sports channel) he presented sports programmes; as well as commentating on football, tennis and boxing.

Match Of The Day

In 1971 John was taken on as a junior member of the Match of the Day team; and from there became a regular contributor. Not only to Match of the Day but also to the iconic BBC sports programmes Grandstand, Football Focus and Sportsnight. Between 1979 and 2008, John was the BBC’s voice on major cup finals. Including his record breaking sixth World Cup Final in Berlin in 2006; and his 29th FA Cup Final in May 2008. An achievement not reached by any other commentator.

Gary Lineker said of Motty: ‘A quite brilliant commentator and the voice of football in this country for generations. He’ll be very much missed. RIP Motty.’

Great Sadness

John almost lost his love of football after commentating on the 1989 FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest at Hillsborough, which resulted in the deaths of 97 Liverpool fans. John had to turn from football commentator to News Reporter as Grandstand (BBC Sports programme 1958-2007) went to him for live updates on the emerging tragedy.

Radio 5 Live

His contribution to BBC Radio Five Live includes past series of Matchday With Motty and Motty’s Magic Matches. He is a regular panelist on Monday Night Cub and still commentates on the occasional Premiership match. Away from football, John provided the commentary on BBC1’s Animal Games in 2004 and Animal Winter Games in 2006.

Stan Collymore on Motson: A sporting icon in his own right, a pleasure to work with and see regularly over many years.

Motty: Autobiography

In September 2009, John published his autobiography Motty – Forty Years in the Commentary Box. He has written several other books; including Motty’s Diary – A Year in the Life of a Commentator in 1986; Motty’s Year and Motson’s National Obsession in 2004; Motson’s FA Cup Odyssey in 2005 and Motson’s World Cup Extravaganza in 2006.

Rory Bremner: Loved Motty. One of the golden age of commentators synonymous with their sport- Alliss, O’Sullivan, Walker, Benaud, McLaren. A legend.

John Motson: Recorded

He researched and narrated more than 30 football videos and brought out the DVD; John Motson’s World Cup Heroes and Villains. He has written for several national papers including a regular column, Motty’s Match of the Day, in the Daily Mail.

Tim Vine: About 2 weeks ago Motty came to a match at Sutton United. I had the honour of sitting next to him. I remember a moment of goal mouth action and on my right I heard ‘ohh’. The classic Motty exclamation. Made me beam with joy. To my generation he was the voice of football. RIP

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John Motson OBE

John was thrilled to be awarded the OBE; for services to sports broadcasting in HM The Queen’s Birthday Honours List in 2001. He was voted Commentator of the Year by the Royal Television Society in 2004; by Four Four Two in 2005 and by FHM and Zoo in 2006. In 2005 he won Contribution To Televised Sport at the Variety Club Sports Awards. John has been awarded three honorary degrees for services to broadcasting from the Universities of Suffolk, Luton and Hertfordshire.

John Motson was married to Anne and they have one son, Frederick. Away from football his interests were running half marathons, going to the cinema and reading thrillers.

Sports Broadcaster Jason Mohammad: Like so many – grew up listening to Motty’s now legendary commentaries on BBC TV.

National Institution

John was once described by one TV writer as “a national institution”; to which he modestly replied “some people think I should be sent to one”.

Where did John Motson fit in the growth of football broadcasting ? (click below)

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