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John Motson RIP

There will be many comments made following the sad passing of legendary football commentator John Motson. One more won’t make any difference either way but we wanted to write something beyond the twitter digit limitation threshold as it seemed appropriate for one of the men whose career spanned decades of football supporters and transcended club allegiances. John Motson was the voice of football for a huge number of us.

The connection to Watford via a friendship struck up with Graham Taylor, the numerous commentaries covering many games during GT’s golden eras all the way through to reading Sir Elton John’s eulogy at Graham’s funeral and speaking before the first home based GT game against Real Sociedad – he was a friend to Watford. I do suspect however that he was a friend to just about every club he went to though – at least I would like to think he was thought of in that way.

Growing up in the 70’s with limited football on TV, John was a constant, appearing often at a game on “Football Focus” (before the advent of Soccer Saturday and all-day coverage). Appearing pitch side with a player manager or other club associated character he would preface the game that would feature on “Match of The Day”. One famous example is the moment when doing this pre game slot (I think it was at Wycombe) snow fall turned into a full on deluge. Motty – ever the professional – dressed in trade mark sheepskin coat carried on like a trooper, not that the game probably did.

By the mid eighties he was such a household name that he was lampooned by impersonators such as Rory Bremner and Alistair McGowan. His interactions with MOTD anchor Des Lynam is still very much part of the vernacular – “Very much so Desmond!”. He wasn’t so keen on the “Spitting Image” version however and it is not surprising as Motty always seemed to just be a nice guy with a microphone, a love for football and a fact to hand about every player, match or scoreline seemingly to hand.

Himself and Barry Davies (above attending a Watford match with John) were the leaders of the pack when it came to the commentary game despite having hugely different styles. In the 90’s I read “Motty’s diary” a reflection of a year that gave an insight into his preparation for games and the acquisition of those facts that we would have to hand during a match. His memory was not superhuman but his preparation certainly was! His match sheets became collector’s items so lovingly were they created!

Perhaps John was the perfect commentator to help take football on TV from the 1970’s (his “breakthrough being his commentary of the Ronnie Radford Hereford goal in the FA Cup vs Newcastle) through to the Sky and streaming era’s. He seemed to be from a kinder, happier and less anxious time but that never stopped him getting wrapped up in the tumult of a match and getting evermore excited. That love for the game was what always came across.

Imitation is the highest form of flattery and John Motson is much impersonated by today’s commentators but he is never bettered. Did he have a good game? Very much so Desmond!

Our condolences to John’s family.

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