Football: Legendary commentator John Motson, 72, to retire

John Motson commentating on the Arsenal-Watford English Premier League match at the Gunners' Emirates Stadium on March 11, 2018.
John Motson commentating on the Arsenal-Watford English Premier League match at the Gunners' Emirates Stadium on March 11, 2018.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Legendary BBC commentator John Motson retires today, after half a century of loyal service that made him and his trademark sheepskin coat a fixture of English football fans' weekends.

The 72-year-old, who has commentated on 29 FA Cup finals and six World Cup finals, will receive a special award from Crystal Palace and manager Roy Hodgson in recognition of his longevity after the final whistle has been blown on Palace's game with relegated West Bromwich Albion.

Motson, who in the days when the gantry was exposed to the elements was seen shielding himself from pouring rain or blizzards bedecked in sheepskin, is sanguine about the end being in sight.

"At the moment I'm perfectly balanced and quite cool about it," he told Press Association Sport. "I'm not going to make a really big deal of it.

"I've known since September that this was going to be my last season."

Motson, whose anorak-style knowledge was a perfect foil to the more cultivated approach of fellow BBC commentator Barry Davies, says he has never changed his modus operandi - and his wife Annie has always played a key role.

"I'm old-fashioned, I'm a dinosaur," said Motson, who was awarded the Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for his services to sports broadcasting by Queen Elizabeth II in 2001.

"I don't work off a computer and I don't delve into the club websites.

"My research is based mainly on my wife's wonderful record book which she keeps dutifully and diligently every day of the season with all the teams, matches, appearances, goalscorers, newspaper cuttings. You name it, she's got it all in one big volume."

Motson, whose many memorable lines included "The Crazy Gang has beaten the Culture Club", when unfashionable Wimbledon beat star-filled Liverpool in the 1988 FA Cup final, said it may not be the last one hears from him.

He said: "The voice is still working, it's still strong. So if there is a way I could use it or someone could come up with a route I could go down, I suppose I would have to think about it."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 13, 2018, with the headline 'Commentator Motson, 72, to retire today'. Print Edition | Subscribe