Yesterday was a time of sadness and the end of an illustrious era – and I’m not talking about the release of the Jamie Carragher gobbing video. No, Sunday saw the last ever live match commentary by the mighty John Motson – equal parts man, microphone and sheepskin coat, who is bowing out after almost half a century of shrieking hysterically at penalty area action.
He’ll still be appearing on Match of the Day between now and the end of the season, but as the Motson era has almost drawn to a close, it’s fitting that we put him into a commentators’ hall of fame along with some of the art form’s other living (and dead) legends…
Probably the first truly great football commentator and certainly the first one ever. McDougall operated in the early 1920s, before TV or even radio football existed. Commentating only at Alloa Athletic home matches, he created an elaborate system of tin cans with string attached to them, so that every fan could hold a can up to their ear and hear him pontificating on the on-pitch action from his vantage point on the roof of the main stand, albeit in an incredibly fuzzy audible manner.
Also, McDougall had only 25% eyesight and could only offer up guesswork commentary at best. In fact, he was sacked and told to take his complex tin can network away forever in 1925 when he commentated on Alloa v Cowdenbeath while looking at the road that passed by the Recreation Park ground.
LUIS GONZALEZ-GONZALEZ MENDOZA
A Brazilian commentating icon, Gonzalez-Gonzalez Mendoza was the first man to attempt the classic ‘GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOL’ after a goal had been scored. But it wasn’t something he achieved overnight – his first attempt at it in 1966 was little more than a squeak, but he carried on working at it until he perfected it in 1972, with a world record deployment of the word that was timed at 164 seconds.
Gonzalez-Gonzalez Mendoza put his success down to high-altitude training and steroids but he was forced to retire in 1975 when he coughed up his own larynx 97 seconds into announcing a goal by Vasco da Gama.
German commentator and presenter of top-rated score update show ‘BUNDESBANGER’ for 36 years, Dinger is widely regarded as having had the highest football statistical knowledge of anyone in history. Imagine Jeff Stelling in full flow at 4.35pm on a Saturday but barking in German and at ten times the speed – that’s Dinger.
By 1978, keen-eyed viewers noticed that Dinger’s head was starting to swell, and doctors concluded that the amount of information he retained was causing his skull to swear. On the first day of the 1978-79 season, Dinger appeared on screen wearing a tight-fitting rubber helmet, similar to the sex hat now favoured by Petr Cech.
Dinger’s brain sadly imploded in January 1979, during a 0-0 draw between Hamburg and FC Cologne.
The leading commentator in the short-lived ‘French Surrealist’ commentating movement of the 1960s. Short-lived because they operated on radio and fans found it impossible to comprehend what they were going on about. Here is a transcript of a piece of Tulot’s work from Lyon v Bordeaux in the 1964 Coupe de France final, where he describes Lyon’s second goal.
‘A shaft of light appears in the darkness of the woods. It blinks and disappears, and then returns. Is it light or is it truth? Could it be that the earth is truly flat? Possibly. Probably. But now an owl is here. An owl is here. An owl is here. Nestor Combin, from eight yards. Two nil.’