John Motson

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John Motson OBE
John Motson.jpg
Motson preparing for the Manchester derby at Old Trafford, 10 February 2008.
Born John Walker Motson
(1945-07-10) 10 July 1945 (age 70)
Manchester, Lancashire, England[1]
Education Culford School, Bury St Edmunds
Occupation Football commentator
Employer BBC Sport
Spouse(s) Anne
Children Frederick

John Walker Motson, OBE (born 10 July 1945, Manchester, England), also known as Motty, is an English football commentator. Since 1971, he has been a commentator for over 1,500 games on television and radio, including covering all the major football championships: World Cups, FA Cups, and 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. The Euro 2008 final was his last live television broadcast. He has continued since then to cover games for Match of the Day highlights and appear on BBC Radio 5 Live.

Early years[edit]

The son of a Methodist minister, Motson was 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. Three years later, he gained a role with Match of the Day and became a regular commentator in the 1971-72 season.[4] 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: "It changed my life because my boss on Match of the Day realised I could be trusted to commentate on a big match."[5]

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 contractual dispute with the BBC. Between 1977 and 2008, Motson commentated on most of the FA Cup finals that the BBC covered.[6]

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.

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".[7]

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'.[8]

In 2008, following the BBC's loss of rights to cover live FA Cup football[9] 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)[10] 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.[11]

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.[12]

From 2015 Motson provided the commentary and narration to the CBeebies football program Footy Pups,[13] emphasising good sportsmanship.

Personal life[edit]

Motson lives in Hertfordshire with his wife, Anne. He has one son, Frederick (born in 1986).[2]

Motson is a supporter of Barnet F.C..[14] His other hobbies and interests include running half marathons, the cinema, and reading thrillers.[2]



  1. ^ "Fame and fortune: John Motson". The Daily Telegraph. 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". London: The Independent. Retrieved 23 August 2008. 
  4. ^ "1971-72". Retrieved 14 December 2014. 
  5. ^ 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. 
  6. ^ Jim White. "FA Cup final whistle to blow on John Motson". Telegraph. Retrieved 24 February 2013. 
  7. ^ Motty's Perfect Pitch BBC Sport
  8. ^ BBC – Radio 4 – Great Lives
  9. ^ "The Independent - 404". The Independent. 
  10. ^ "They think it's all over for Motty". Daily Mail (London). 5 April 2008. 
  11. ^ "Football: News, opinion, previews, results & live scores – Mirror Online". Retrieved 24 February 2013. 
  12. ^ "Euro 2008: John Motson's finals farewell", Daily Telegraph, Steve Wilson, 24 June 2008
  13. ^ "Footy Pups credits". Retrieved 19 December 2015. 
  14. ^ MOTTY BOOSTS THE BEES | Barnet | News | Latest News | Latest News

External links[edit]