John Motson

John Motson
John Motson OBE

Motson preparing for the Harrison Tan Charity Private testimonial at Old Trafford
Born John Walker Motson
10 July 1945 (1945-07-10) (age 66)
Salford, Lancashire, England
Nationality England
Education Culford School, Bury St Edmunds
Occupation Football commentator
Employer BBC Sport
Spouse Anne
Children Frederick

John Walker Motson OBE (born 10 July 1945,Salford), colloquially known as Motty, is an English football commentator on both television and radio, and a writer.



The son of a Methodist minister, Motson was educated at Culford School, near Bury St Edmunds. Culford is a public school where football is generally frowned upon and rugby union, hockey and cricket are the major sports.[1]

Motson's career began in the newspaper business as a reporter on the Barnet Press and the Sheffield Morning Telegraph, where he first covered football. It began to take off when the BBC hired him in 1968 as a sports presenter on Radio 2. Three years later, he replaced Kenneth Wolstenholme at Match of the Day. After initially having a small role on MOTD, Motson covered the famous FA cup third round replay between Hereford United and Newcastle United on 5 February 1972, which the BBC anticipated as a five minute segment following their two main games. Non-league Hereford won the match 2-1; it became the main featured game on the show and launched Motson's career.

Since 1979 Motson has commentated on all the major championships: World Cups, FA Cups, and European Championships. Most recently, he was commentator for the 2008 European Championships Final. He was commentating on the FA Cup Semi-final of 1989 between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest when the Hillsborough Disaster occurred. Motson found himself commentating on a tragedy rather than a football match, and he would later appear as part of the Hillsborough inquiry, since he had been a witness.

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, Motson has been the dominant football commentary figure at the BBC since the late 1970s. His first FA Cup Final as commentator was 1977 in the match between Manchester United and Liverpool.

Motson's popularity has extended to the Internet, where BBC Sport Online created a Mini Motty "desktop toy" to keep fans up to date on action in the Premiership, FA Cup, and other leagues throughout England and Scotland. In 1996, Motson published a book entitled Motty's Diary: A Year In The Life Of A Commentator. Two years later, BBC One gave him his own TV programme, entitled The Full Motty.

John Motson is famed for his sheepskin coat, which, on satirical quiz show They Think It's All Over, he revealed that he bought from a man in Hornchurch along with 7 identical coats, hoping that they would span his career.

Motson and a summariser, including ex-professionals Mark Lawrenson and former Rangers star Ally McCoist, lent their voices to Canadian video game developer EA Sports as English-language commentators for its popular FIFA series. They were replaced for FIFA 06 by Martin Tyler and Andy Gray but returned with McCoist for FIFA Manager 08.

When Premier League television highlights moved to ITV in 2001, and MOTD 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 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 who voted him Britain's favourite commentator.[2]

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

In 2002, Motson appeared in the Aardman Animations movie Flushed Away, playing the part of the football commentator.

He is a Barnet F.C. supporter.[3] He sponsored Barnet winger Albert Adomah, until he signed for Bristol City FC in July 2010.

His commentary partner was often Mark Lawrenson.

He has stated that the FA Cup final between Coventry City and Tottenham Hotspur in 1987 was "the finest FA Cup final I've ever had the pleasure of commentating on".

Motson lives in Hertfordshire with his wife, Anne, and their son Frederick (Derby County F.C. fan).

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

In 2008, following the BBC's loss of rights to cover live football[5] and refusal of the BBC to release him from his contract to join Setanta Sports (to whom the rights had been sold, along with ITV) [6] he announced his retirement from live television commentary. The Euro 2008 final was his last live TV broadcast. He will continue to cover games for Match of the Day highlights, but has stated that I don't see myself going to South Africa for the World Cup in 2010.[7] He will auction his sheepskin coats on eBay for charity.

Motson did travel to South Africa as part of the BBC team for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, occasionally appearing on the Match of the Day highlights show, as well providing reports on the BBC website .[8]

Motson has been increasingly used as a commentator on BBC Radio 5 Live since BBC TV's loss of live football coverage, often commentating live on a wider range of games - international, Premier League, FA Cup and UEFA Champions League - than previously on television.

In the 2010-2011 season Motson, together with his son Fred, jointly won the Gough Square Chambers fantasy football league.


  • " Tudor's gone down for Newcastle...Radford again...OH, WHAT A GOAL!!! What a goal! Radford the scorer! Ronnie Radford! And the crowd...the crowd are invading the pitch! No goalkeeper in the world would have stopped that!" - after arguably the most famous goal commentated upon by Motson; Ronnie Radford's spectacular equaliser for non-league Hereford United against Newcastle United in 1972 - regarded as the goal from which Motson's career has never looked back.
  • "Jimmy Greenhoff with the header on for Pearson, a chance on here - and Pearson is the scorer!" - the first goal in an FA Cup Final commentated upon by Motson; Stuart Pearson's opener for Manchester United in the 1977 game at Wembley.
  • "For those of you watching in black and white, Spurs are playing in yellow" - seconds into a 1977 league fixture for Match of the Day at Roker Park between Sunderland and Spurs.
  • "And Arconada... ARMSTRONG!" - the two words which Northern Ireland fans remember more than any others, as Gerry Armstrong's goal beats 1982 World Cup hosts Spain and silences the stadium.
  • "Tigana again... Tigana... Tigana... Platini... GOAL! Platini for France, with a minute to go, it's 3-2. I've not seen a night like this in years!" - after Michel Platini's last-gasp winner for France against Portugal in the Euro 1984 semi-final.
  • "Mrs Thatcher has her own cup final later this month" - after the BBC camera spotted the then Prime Minister in the Wembley crowd prior to the 1987 FA Cup Final, which was played just before the 1987 UK general election.
  • "The Crazy Gang have beaten the Culture Club!" - reaction to the final whistle as Wimbledon defeated Liverpool in the 1988 FA Cup Final.
  • "And chipped in. AND VOLLEYED IN!!! And it's there by David Platt! England have done it! In the last minute of extra-time!" - On Platt's winner against Belgium in Round 2 of Italia '90, commentary later featured in the song Three Lions.
  • "And it's been..... deflected... and it's in the net!!!" - The opening goal from Andreas Brehme, England vs. Germany, World Cup 1990
  • "None of the players are wearing earrings. Jakob Kjeldberg, with his contact lenses, is the closest we can get
  • "Over The Top, Over The Bar, And He Knows He Should Have Done Better!" His most famous words on the FIFA '98 World Cup Game.
  • "That tackle was so hard, it hurt his whole family!" Another famous quote from the FIFA '98 World Cup game.
  • "England versus Germany games have often caused the tea-cups to topple off the table, so those of you at home watching tonight be careful with the crockery" - Motson before England versus Germany in a crucial 2002 World Cup qualifier in Munich. England would go on to win the match 5-1.
  • "Ohhh, this is getting better and better and better! One, two, three for Michael Owen! - Motson as Owen completes his hattrick in that famous 5-1 win.
  • " Beckham to take. The 93rd minute at Old Trafford. Beckham.... YES! YES! HE'S DONE IT! DAVID BECKHAM HAS DONE IT! IT'S 2-2!" - Motson beside himself after David Beckham's sensational free kick at Old Trafford (against Greece) sent England into the 2002 World Cup.
  • "Oh, and Bouba Diop is there! Oh, and Bouba Diop is there!" - as Senegal's Papa Bouba Diop shocks world cup holders France by scoring the opening goal of the 2002 World Cup. Senegal went on to win the match 1-0.
  • "Beckham to take the penalty for England. Hold the cups and the glasses at can smash them now, Beckham has scored!" - message to viewers in England regarding their beer glasses after David Beckham scored the winning goal against Argentina at the 2002 World Cup
  • "Mills, Heskey, Owen's sprinting away to the left here against Lucio, MICHAEL OWEN FOR ENGLAND, IT'S A GREAT CHANCE... and he's scored! Michael Owen against Brazil in the World Cup, in the 23rd minute, England are in front! Michael Owen and England sizzling in the heat of Shizoka, and after this the sausages will be sizzling back home I should think!!"- John Motson in overdrive as Michael Owen puts England 1-0 up against Brazil in the 2002 FIFA World Cup quarter-final. Brazil would later go on to win the game 2-1 and knock England out of the World Cup on the way to winning the tournament.
  • "Something came up out of the ground!" - alluding to a possible mole interdiction to David Beckham's penalty kick against Portugal in Euro 2004.
  • " And the unbelievable, the unfathomable, and the almost impossible has happened, Greece have won Euro 2004!" After the final whistle at Euro 2004
  • "This is the biggest thing that's happened in Athens since Homer put down his pen" - after Greece won Euro 2004
  • "Riise's cross... oh, it's for Gerrard... He's got it! Oh, Steven Gerrard! Just when he looked out of it, has equalized for Liverpool with 90 minutes gone, it's 3-3! In surely the best cup final of modern times!" - Commentating after Steven Gerrard's equalizer in stoppage time in the 2006 FA Cup Final for Liverpool against West Ham United.
  • "The Czech Republic are coming from behind in more than one way now" - in 27th minute of World Cup 2006 game against Italy.
  • "The roof is on but the gloves are off"- Commenting during the 2006 World Cup game between England and Portugal.
  • "And the referee has gone across now with his hand in his pocket, he's been told about it! He's off, it's red, it's Zidane! Zidane's career ends in disgrace!!!" -Commentating during the 2006 World Cup final, in a game between Italy and France.
  • "Shevchenko can't hit a barn door with a banjo for Chelsea!" Commentating after Shevchenko misses a goalscoring opportunity in the 2006/07 season.
  • "On a scale of one to ten that was one hell of a strike"
  • "They are nearer to being out of the FA Cup now than any other time since the first half of this season, when they weren't ever in it anyway" - Commentating on Tottenham Hotspur.
  • "What Drama Here!" - Used in many of his matches, although best known for Sammy McIlroy's 88th minute equaliser in the 1979 FA Cup Final.
  • "Uff! What a let off!" - Used in many games if the player narrowly misses or prevents scoring goals.
  • "Oh, Shevchenko! Oh, Shevchenko! A goal out of absolutely nothing!" - Commentary after Andriy Shevchenko scored on a curling, long range effort in a cup match against Tottenham Hotspur.
  • "Mikel playing it up forward to Drogba, it's Drogba again! And Chelsea score! It's Didier Drogba with the first goal in an FA Cup Final at the new Wembley!" - After Didier Drogba's winning goal in the 116th minute against Manchester United in the 2007 FA Cup Final.
  • "Richards, Here's Beckham, Crouch waiting in the center, CROUCH SURELY! YES!! YES!! PETER CROUCH HAS DONE IT FOR ENGLAND!! IT'S 2-2 !! The big man keeps up his PHENOMENAL scoring record, but guess who supplied the cross...DAVID BECKHAM!!" - Motty's reaction after Peter Crouch scored the equalizing goal at Wembley Stadium, after England were down 2-0 at half time. England went on to lose 3-2 in a must-win game, giving Russia the final qualification spot in the group.
  • "Say something, Mark, say something!" - A shellshocked and disheartened Motson imploring his broadcast partner Mark Lawrenson to make some sense of England's disastrous loss to Croatia in the Euro 2008 qualifiers.
  • "The FA Cup needs a cuddle"
  • "Devaney...Odejayi wouldn't mind a diagonal cross here. But Van Homoet has come up as well, that is a diagonal cross it is Odejayi!!!!!!!...It's a goal for Barnsley!!!!. And it's Kayodi Odejayi, in the 66th minute and Oakwell has gone wild!!!" - The winning goal for Championship side Barnsley that knocked Chelsea, the holders, out of the F.A. Cup.
  • "It's magic if you come from Madrid, it's beautiful if you come from Barcelona, it's a vindication if you come from Valencia or Villarreal and it's lovely if you come from Liverpool"' - summing up the Spanish victory in the UEFA Euro 2008 final on 29 June 2008, mentioning Liverpool as Liverpool's Spanish striker Fernando Torres had scored the winning goal.
  • "The World Cup is a truly international event."
  • "It was in 1963 that I first started using the pointless statistic, and I've never looked back since."
  • "In a sense it's a one-man show, except there are two men involved."
  • "The goals made such a difference to the way this game went."
  • "Steve Bruce has got the taste for Wembley in his nostrils!"
  • "OH BALLACK! Anelka, Anelka... 2-0 Chelsea"
  • "Oh, and it's still there on the far side, hits the post, VAN PERSIE!!! Surely number three, no! It's Arsenal's turn this time to be denied by the post! That could so easily have been 3-0!" - Motson going falsetto during an Aston Villa vs. Arsenal match. Arsenal was leading 2-0 at the time, but Aston Villa would come back and claim a 2-2 draw.
  • "Keane making ground too, Lennon's going ALL THE WAY!!!" - Motson going falsetto again during a Chelsea vs. Tottenham Hotspur match.
  • "Oooooh! Off the post!" - A characteristic comment from FIFA 96 and 97.
  • "How close can you be?!" - A comment from FIFA 2003.


  • 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 0362005125. 
  • Motson, John (1996). Motty's Diary: a year in the life of a commentator. London, Virgin Books. ISBN 1852276207. 
  • Motson, John (1994). Match of the Day: the complete record. BBC Books. ISBN 978-0563370628. 
  • Motson, John (2004). Motty's Year. BBC Books. ISBN 978-0563521747. 
  • Motson, John (2004). Motson's National Obsession: The Greatest Football Trivia Book Ever. Sanctuary Publishing Ltd. ISBN 978-1860746017. 
  • Motson, John (2005). Motson's FA Cup Odyssey. Robson Books Ltd. ISBN 978-1861059031. 
  • Motson, John (2006). Motson's World Cup Extravaganza. Robson Books Ltd. ISBN 978-1861059369. 
  • Motson, John (20 May 2010). Motty. Virgin Books. ISBN 9780753518137. 


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