John Motson: BBC legend set for final live commentary this weekend

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Gazza's tears & the Crazy Gang: Five of Motty's best

John Motson will deliver his final live BBC commentary this weekend when Arsenal face Watford in the lunchtime kick-off on Sunday.

Motson, 72, will be in the comms box for BBC Radio 5 live 48 years after his first live radio broadcast.

He announced in September that he would call time on his BBC career at the end of the season, and he will continue to appear on Match of the Day until May.

His first radio commentary was Everton v Derby in December 1969.

"It seems a long time ago," Motson told BBC Radio 5 live. "Everton beat Derby 1-0 with a goal by Alan Ball.

"When I came back to Euston on the train that night I was walking behind two guys who were blind and I heard one of them saying to the other: 'Wasn't it great to be able to listen to the game?'

"I learned then how radio service could support so many people who could not watch the game on television."

During his career, Motson has covered 10 World Cups, 10 European Championships, 29 FA Cup finals and more than 200 England games.

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Archive: MOTD's tribute to John Motson

Motty on his top three games

It was put to Motson by a caller on BBC Radio 5 live's Football Social on 9 March that his best commentaries were:

  • Brazil v Italy at the 1982 World Cup;
  • Spain v Northern Ireland, also at the 1982 World Cup;
  • France v Portugal at the 1984 European Championships.

"He has picked three great games there," said Motson. "I couldn't have done better if I was asked to pick my top three. I might have included Germany 1-5 England, but those were three memorable games I was lucky to do.

"Certain games you do stick in the memory. Every commentator will tell you the better the game the more opportunity the commentator has to respond to the excitement that is there.

"Those World Cups, European Championships and FA Cup finals, I was lucky to be there."

Motty on how it all started

John Motson
Motson has been working for the BBC for over 50 years

"My way into the job was through local newspapers. In the 1960s I worked on a weekly paper in Hertfordshire called the Barnet Press. After I got an apprenticeship there I went to the Morning Telegraph in Sheffield.

"Fortunately for me, the BBC decided in 1968 to launch what they called 'an experiment', which was local radio. One of the first stations to open was in Sheffield and I was pulled in to do radio reporting - and that led to a job on the old Radio 2 and then Match of the Day.

"I was very fortunate to be in the right place in the right time."

Motty on his most nervous moments

"In the early days all the commentators were nervous because when I started there were no replays, no monitors to check what you said. You were very much out on a limb.

"When I did my first cup final in 1977, it was the first live game I had ever done.

"It was scary. It was totally different to the Saturday Match of the Day scenario. The cup final was not only the only show in town in terms of live matches, but people used to sit indoors and watch it all day because it was an annual event.

"I remember thinking to myself: 'Golly, I'm not sure I could get through this.' But fortunately I did. It was a big test."

Motty on his famous sheepskin coats

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When snow and football collide

"I have one left but I think I've had nine or 10 over the years.

"I have always had them made to measure. I didn't set out to make the sheepskin coat anything special, but it just happened when I was at Wycombe in 1990 and the snow came down. I looked forlorn and it just stuck from then on.

"Even when it is warm people ask where the coat is."

Arsenal v Watford

Emirates Stadium
Sunday 11 March
13:30 GMT
Live commentary with John Motson on BBC radio 5 live; live text commentary online and on BBC Sport app

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