John Motson: Birmingham City, West Brom & Wolves pay tribute to football commentator

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Tributes have flooded in for BBC football commentator John Motson, who has died aged 77

Football clubs in the West Midlands have been paying tribute to legendary football commentator John Motson.

Popularly known as ‘Motty’, the former BBC commentator John Motson has died at the age of 77. During his career, Motson covered 10 World Cups, 10 European Championships and 29 FA Cup finals for BBC Sport.

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From the late 1970s to 2008, Motson was the dominant football commentary figure at the BBC, excluding a brief period where his friend and rival Barry Davies was selected for two FA Cup final commentaries, the 1994 World Cup final and the UEFA Euro 1996 semi-final between England and Germany.

Motson retired from live television commentary in 2008 but continued to cover games for Match of the Day highlights, he appeared on BBC Radio 5 Live as well as commentating on CBeebies’ Footy Pups. In September 2017, Motson announced his full retirement from the BBC and nearly a year later, the Lancashire-born commentator started work for TalkSPORT.

Tributes from Blues and Wolves and West Brom

Clubs and figures from across the football world have paid tribute to Motty this morning (23 February). Birmingham City posted a picture of the commentator on Twitter, with the caption: “Legends are not always on the pitch. Rest in peace, John Motson.”

West Bromwich Albion posted a clip of Tony Brown’s iconic goal against Oldham Athletic to secure promotion in 1976. The caption read: “An iconic Albion moment. An iconic commentator calling it. Thank you for everything, Motty.” Wolves alsopaid tribute, posting on Twitter: “An icon of the game. You will never be forgotten. Rest in peace, Motty.”

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Motson’s most notable moments

Born in Salford, Motty’ first joined the BBC on a full-time basis as a sports presenter on Radio 2 in 1968 having previously been at BBC Radio Sheffield beforehand.

One of Motson’s most iconic moments in his career was when he covered the memorable FA Cup replay between Hereford United and Newcastle United in February 1972. Non-league Herefored beat Newcastle 2-1 with the late Ronnie Radford scoring a winner which still remains FA Cup folklore.

The match had been postponed so many times, it was eventually scheduled to be played on a fourth round FA Cup day and because of the potential for an upset, the BBC bosses decided the game should be bumped to the top of the Match of the Day programme. Motson believes that this FA Cup upset and the story of the season subsequently made his bosses believe he could be trusted with more TV matches and the commentator was given a three-year deal.

Motson also noted that he believes had it not been for Radford’s goal, he would never have had a TV commentary career. The famous line following the goal was: “Oh what a goal! Radford the scorer. Ronnie Radford! And the crowd are on the pitch. What a tremendous shot by Ronnie Radford.”

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John Motson in his iconic sheepskin coatJohn Motson in his iconic sheepskin coat
John Motson in his iconic sheepskin coat

Motson also commentated on the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest when the Hillsborough disaster occured. He found himself, however, commentating on a tragedy rather than a football match and he later appeard as part of the Hillsborough inquiry, since he had been a witness.

In May 2018, BBC Two celebrated their legendary commentator’s career with an evening featuring three special programmes - Motty Mastermind, Motty - the Man behind the Sheepskin and Countdown to the Full Motty.

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