July 17, 1920|
|Died||March 25, 2002(aged 81)|
|Occupation||Football commentator and presenter|
|Known for||Presenting: Match of the Day
Football Comment: "They Think It's All Over"
Kenneth Wolstenholme DFC & Bar (17 July 1920 – 25 March 2002) was the football commentator for BBC television in the 1950s and 1960s, most notable for his commentary during the 1966 FIFA World Cup which included the famous phrase "some people are on the pitch...they think it's all over....it is now!", as Geoff Hurst scored England's fourth goal.
Early life 
Wolstenholme was born in Worsley, Lancashire. His family were primitive Methodists and his brother attended Elmfield College. He attended Farnworth Grammar School, where Alan Ball, Jr. (on whom Wolstenholme commentated in the 1966 World Cup Final) was also a pupil some years later.
World War II 
Wolstenholme started his career as a journalist with a newspaper in Manchester, before joining the RAF, and from 1941 onwards flew 100 missions over Germany and won the DFC and bar as a bomber pilot. Based at RAF Great Massingham in Norfolk, he flew Blenheims with 107 Sqn, before joining Bomber Command's 8 Group Pathfinders flying Mosquitos.
1966 World Cup: "They think it's all over" 
While most sports commentators gain some recognition if their career is long enough, Wolstenholme is best remembered for his commentary of the 1966 Football World Cup Final at Wembley Stadium, specifically the impromptu words he used with impeccable timing as the match came to a conclusion during injury time, as a small pitch invasion took place just as Geoff Hurst scored to put England 4–2 ahead:
Some people are on the pitch... they think it's all over... it is now!
These have become some of the most famous words in English football, and a well known phrase in modern English. Wolstenholme always said that it was just a natural verbal piecing together of the situation before him and it took years before he realised just how well it fitted.
Football commentator 
Wolstenholme commentated on English domestic football's most famous games of the 1950s and 1960s, including the first ever game featured on Match of the Day in 1964. He covered every FA Cup final between 1949 and 1971, the year of Arsenal's "double".
For the BBC he commented the 1960 European Cup Final between Real Madrid and Eintracht Frankfurt at Hampden Park, widely regarded as one of the greatest football matches ever played. Further highlights include his presence in the Estádio Nacional in Lisbon as Celtic overcame Internazionale in the 1967 European Cup Final, at Wembley as Manchester United defeated Benfica to capture the 1968 European Cup and also the BBC's main man at the 1970 World Cup, commentating on the final between Brazil and Italy. He left the corporation in 1971 after David Coleman was installed as the BBC's top commentator, his final BBC commentary being on the 1971 European Cup final between Ajax and Panathinaikos at Wembley Stadium.
Wolstenholme later commentated for Tyne Tees Television in the mid to late 1970s. After this, he went into semi-retirement, but re-appeared on TV to provide reports and occasional features for Channel 4 when they earned rights in the early 1990s to show Serie A games from Italy. He also took on an acting role, appearing in the BBC Radio 4 comedy series Lenin of the Rovers as football commentator Frank Lee Brian.
In 1998, Wolstenholme made a special appearance in EA Sports' videogame World Cup '98, as the sole commentator on the game's classic World Cup matches, recreations of historic World Cup finals that included sepia-toned renditions of the 1930 and 1938 editions.
His most famous phrase was used as the title for the sports quiz programme They Think It's All Over, on which he once appeared as a guest.
Bill Oddie wrote a song about Wolstenholme for the BBC radio comedy show I'm Sorry, I'll Read That Again which includes the lines: "I'm going Wolsten-home/And you can't get Wolsten (worse than) him!" In another sketch on ISIRTA a lady contestant in a television quiz show was awarded Wolstenholme as a prize.
Bolton Wanderers 
Kenneth was a boyhood supporter of Bolton Wanderers and was present as a guest for the final game at Burnden Park in April 1997. As an encore at the club's former home he re-created those words which had made him famous some 31 years earlier only using words which incorporated a Bolton theme.
He also narrated the club's End of an Era video which was released as part of Bolton's move from Burnden Park to the Reebok Stadium.
See also 
- Frank Malley: Obituary: Kenneth Wolstenholme, The Guardian, 26 March 2002
- Charles Starmer-Smith: Class of '66 pay tribute to voice of football, The Daily Telegraph, 26 March 2002