John Motson

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John Motson
John Motson.jpg
Motson preparing for the Manchester derby at Old Trafford on 10 February 2008.
BornJohn Walker Motson
(1945-07-10) 10 July 1945 (age 73)
Salford, Lancashire, England[1]
EducationCulford School, Bury St Edmunds
OccupationFootball commentator
Spouse(s)Anne Motson
ChildrenFrederick Motson

John Walker Motson, OBE (born 10 July 1945), also known as Motty, is an English football commentator who currently works for Talksport. Since 1971 he has been a commentator for over 2000 games on television and radio, including covering all the major football championships: FIFA World Cups, FA Cups, and UEFA European Championships.[2]

For a 30-year period, from the late 1970s to 2008, Motson was the dominant football commentary figure at the BBC, apart from a brief spell in the 1990s, when his friend and rival Barry Davies was selected for two FA Cup final commentaries and the 1994 World Cup final.

In 2008 Motson announced his retirement from live television commentary. He has continued since then to cover games for Match of the Day highlights and appear on BBC Radio 5 Live as well as commentating on CBeebies' Footy Pups.

Early years[edit]

The son of a Methodist minister, Motson was born in Salford, Lancashire, and educated at Culford School, near Bury St Edmunds. Culford is a public school where football was generally frowned upon at the time and rugby union, hockey and cricket are the major sports.[3]

In 1963, Motson's career began in the newspaper business as a reporter in Barnet. In 1967 he worked for the Sheffield Morning Telegraph,[2] where he first covered football.

Broadcasting career[edit]

Motson's broadcasting career took off when the BBC hired him in 1968 as a sports presenter on Radio 2. His first radio commentary was for a match between Everton and Derby in December 1969.[4] Three years later, he gained a role with Match of the Day and became a regular commentator in the 1971–72 season.[5], his first match was 0-0 draw between Liverpool vs Chelsea. On 5 February 1972, Motson covered the FA Cup third round replay between Hereford United and Newcastle United for Match of the Day, which the BBC anticipated as a five-minute segment following their two main games. Non-league Hereford won the match 2–1 and it became the main featured game on the programme. Motson later said:

Motson regards the Hereford United v Newcastle United match as his big break through.[7] Through a bad winter, the game itself was a 3rd round FA Cup replay that had been postponed many times and was eventually rescheduled to be played on a 4th round FA cup day.[7] Because of the potential for an upset, the BBC bosses decided the game should be bumped to the top of the billing on the BBC's Match of the Day program.[7] Described as the FA Cup's greatest ever giant killing,[7] Motson claims it was this FA Cup upset, and the story of the season that made his bosses at the BBC decide he could be trusted with more TV matches; consequentially Motson believed because of this game he was later given a 3 year deal.[7] Motson also believed if Ronnie Radford had never scored his famous goal he would never have had a TV commentary career.[7] Motson's commentary on the Radford goal:

Motson's first FA Cup Final as a commentator was for the 1977 match between Manchester United and Liverpool. Motson was drafted in as a late replacement for David Coleman, who was in a contractual dispute with the BBC. Between 1977 and 2008, Motson commentated on most of the FA Cup finals that the BBC covered.[8]

In April 1989, Motson commentated on the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest when the Hillsborough disaster occurred. Motson found himself commentating on a tragedy rather than a football match, and he later appeared as part of the Hillsborough inquiry, since he had been a witness.

Motson was the subject of This Is Your Life in 1996 when he was surprised by Michael Aspel during a charity cheque presentation at the Bayswater Families Centre in London.

Motson featured alongside Mark Lawrenson as the primary commentator in EA's Euro 2000 video game.

In 2001, speech therapist Jane Comins conducted a voice profile analysis to study the patterns of eight top television and radio commentators. The criteria included pitch, volume, rhythm and tone, and Comins found that Motson scored the best results. This was backed by 32% of football fans in a survey who voted him Britain's favourite commentator. This is despite Motson having a characteristic speech impediment – sibilant speech, in which he pronounces the "s" sound as "sh".[9]

When Premier League television highlights moved to ITV in 2001, and Match of the Day was no longer a weekly fixture in the schedules, Motson returned to radio on BBC Radio Five Live's coverage of the Premiership, but continued to make frequent appearances on live TV coverage and contributions to BBC Sport's website – which he has been doing since the site was launched in July 2000.

In 2004, when the Premier League television rights returned to the BBC, Motson resumed his weekly place on Match of the Day, although he has also continued to perform occasional radio commentaries.

In 2007, Motson appeared on the BBC Radio 4 biographical programme Great Lives and he nominated Brian Clough as his 'great life'.[10]

In 2008, following the BBC's loss of rights to cover live FA Cup football[11] and the BBC's refusal to release Motson from his contract to join Setanta Sports (to whom the rights had been sold, along with ITV)[12] he announced his retirement from live television commentary. The Euro 2008 final was his last live television broadcast. He has continued to cover games for Match of the Day highlights.[13]

Although Motson did not commentate on any live matches at the 2010 FIFA World Cup, he travelled to South Africa as part of the BBC team for the tournament, occasionally appearing as a studio guest on the Match of the Day highlights show, as well as providing reports on the BBC website.[14]

Since 2015, Motson has provided the commentary and narration to the CBeebies football programme Footy Pups'.[15]

Motson is also an ex-commentator for the FIFA video games series by EA Sports, and has worked alongside Ally McCoist, Andy Gray, Des Lynam, Mark Lawrenson and Chris Waddle. Motson first joined the franchise for FIFA 96; he and McCoist were replaced by Gray and Clive Tyldesley for FIFA 06 but later returned for FIFA Manager 08.[16][17][18][19][20][21]

In September 2017, Motson announced that he would retire from the BBC at the end of the current football season.[22] His last live radio commentary was on a match between Arsenal and Watford on 11 March 2018.[4] His final TV commentary was a match between Crystal Palace and West Bromwich Albion and was broadcast on Match of the Day on 13 May 2018.[23]

On 19 May 2018 BBC Two celebrated Motson's career with an evening featuring three special programmes - Motty Mastermind, Motty - The Man Behind the Sheepskin and Countdown to the Full Motty.[24][25][26]

In August 2018, John Motson was unveiled as the voice of Football INDEX, lending his voice to national TV and radio advertisements for the 2018/19 football season. [27]

Personal life[edit]

Motson lives in Little Gaddesden in Hertfordshire[28] with his wife, Anne. One of his nicknames is 'the Maestro'. He has one son, Frederick (born in 1986).[2]

Motson is a supporter of Barnet F.C..[29] His other hobbies and interests include running half marathons, the cinema, and reading thrillers.[2]


  • Motson, John (1972). Second to None: great teams of post-war soccer. Newton Abbot, Sportsmans Book Club. ISBN 0-7207-0605-X.
  • Motson, John (with J. Rowlinson) (1980). History of the European Cup. Queen Anne P. ISBN 0-362-00512-5.
  • Motson, John (1996). Motty's Diary: a year in the life of a commentator. London, Virgin Books. ISBN 1-85227-620-7.
  • Motson, John (1994). Match of the Day: the complete record. BBC Books. ISBN 978-0-563-37062-8.
  • Motson, John (2004). Motty's Year. BBC Books. ISBN 978-0-563-52174-7.
  • Motson, John (2004). Motson's National Obsession: The Greatest Football Trivia Book Ever. Sanctuary Publishing Ltd. ISBN 978-1-86074-601-7.
  • Motson, John (2005). Motson's FA Cup Odyssey. Robson Books Ltd. ISBN 978-1-86105-903-1.
  • Motson, John (2006). Motson's World Cup Extravaganza. Robson Books Ltd. ISBN 978-1-86105-936-9.
  • Motson, John (20 May 2010). Motty. Virgin Books. ISBN 978-0-7535-1813-7.


  1. ^ "Fame and fortune: John Motson". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 5 June 2012.
  2. ^ a b c d "Jon Holmes Media Ltd. – Client Information". Retrieved 24 February 2013.
  3. ^ Lawon, James (28 June 2008). "John Motson: The Full Motty". The Independent. London. Retrieved 23 August 2008.
  4. ^ a b "John Motson: BBC legend set for final live commentary this weekend". BBC Sport. 9 March 2018.
  5. ^ "1971–72". Retrieved 14 December 2014.
  6. ^ Rob Mcgibbon (8 June 2012). "John Motson: I'd love to commentate on England playing in a major final | Mail Online". Retrieved 24 February 2013.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g Moynihan, Leo (16 February 2018). "The FA Cup's greatest-ever upset: Hereford vs Newcastle as told by Ronnie, Motty and Supermac". Retrieved 11 May 2018. “Oh what a goal! Radford the scorer. Ronnie Radford! And the crowd are on the pitch. What a tremendous shot by Ronnie Radford” John Motson, Match of the Day, 5 February 1972"
  8. ^ Jim White (17 May 2008). "FA Cup final whistle to blow on John Motson". The Telegraph. Retrieved 24 February 2013.
  9. ^ Motty's Perfect Pitch BBC Sport
  10. ^ BBC – Radio 4 – Great Lives
  11. ^ "The Independent – 404". The Independent.
  12. ^ "They think it's all over for Motty". Daily Mail. London. 5 April 2008.
  13. ^ "Football: News, opinion, previews, results & live scores – Mirror Online". Retrieved 24 February 2013.
  14. ^ Steve Wilson (24 June 2008). "Euro 2008: John Motson's finals farewell". The Daily Telegraph. London.
  15. ^ "Footy Pups credits". Retrieved 19 December 2015.
  16. ^ JJ Bull (19 June 2015). "Revealed: How Martin Tyler and Alan Smith record commentary for FIFA games". The Telegraph. London. Retrieved 11 July 2016.
  17. ^ Luis Henriques (1 April 2005). "FIFA Street". The Globe and Mail. Toronto. Retrieved 11 July 2016.
  18. ^ "On the 'Ead Son!". Maximum: The Video Game Magazine. Emap International Limited (1): 120–2. October 1995.
  19. ^ Ben Wilson (10 January 2016). "The best editions of PES and FIFA: The games that shaped football's greatest (virtual) rivalry". Retrieved 11 July 2016.
  20. ^ James Bragg (9 June 2013). "FIFA '96 flashback video: John Motson's commentary debut and the introduction of 3D graphic". TalkSport. UK. Retrieved 6 September 2017.
  21. ^ "Let's play: FIFA 2002". BBC Sport. 13 November 2001. Retrieved 11 July 2016.
  22. ^ "John Motson: Commentator to end BBC football career after 50 years". BBC News. 6 September 2017.
  23. ^ "John Motson: Legendary BBC commentator receives Bafta honour after final match". 13 May 2018. Retrieved 19 May 2018 – via
  24. ^ "Mastermind - Motty Mastermind". Retrieved 19 May 2018 – via
  25. ^ "Motty - The Man Behind the Sheepskin". Retrieved 19 May 2018 – via
  26. ^ "BBC iPlayer - Watch BBC Two live". BBC iPlayer. Retrieved 19 May 2018.
  27. ^ "Football INDEX | Iconic commentator confirmed as voice of Football INDEX | SBCnews". Retrieved 2018-08-31.
  28. ^ John Walker MOTSON – Personal Appointments (free information from Companies House) Retrieved 2016-10-27.
  29. ^ "Barnet – News – Latest News – Latest News – MOTTY BOOSTS THE BEES". 30 June 2012. Archived from the original on 30 June 2012.

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