I’ll start be stating the bleeding obvious, that we are all missing football and never again we will complain that there’s too much of it on the telly. If like me, you’re currently getting your footy fix by trawling through hours and hours of You Tube footage then you may feel, like me, that we really do miss some of the great commentators who have either sadly left us or have been put out to semi-retirement.
I feel lucky enough to have grown up in an era which produced some of the greatest people to ever sit in a commentary box; people like Moore, Coleman, Motson, Johns, Davies, and a pre-pubescent Tyler, despite only two of them making this list. With that in mind, we’re calling it “Five of the greatest lines of football commentary ever”. Oh I say!
KENNETH WOLSTENHOLME -1966 WORLD CUP FINAL:
I make no apologies with starting with the most famous of them all, Kenneth Wolstenholme’s description of England’s fourth goal on that famous Wembley day in 1966. You all know the story and if you don’t, then you probably won’t be reading this anyway, but the sheer relief that went around the national stadium and the entire country when Sir Geoff Hurst fired home in the dying seconds of extra-time, looks likely to never be repeated (at least in my lifetime).
The fact that some supporters, already satisfied with the 3-2 score line, started an impromptu pitch invasion has ensured this piece of commentary, unless something quite miraculous happens, will forever remain the standard by which all the others are judged. As our Ken would say after being recruited by Channel Four for voiceover work on its fledgling Italian coverage; “Cue titles”.
KENNETH WOLSTENHOLME – 1967 CHARITY SHIELD:
12 months later old Ken was at it again obviously now revelling in his new found stardom, this time the venue was Old Trafford and the traditional curtain raiser which saw league champs Manchester United take on FA Cup holders Spurs. Back in those days the league title winners hosted the game but it was the visitors from North London who raced into a two-goal lead, which included an amazing goal from Tottenham keeper Pat Jennings. Back came United who drew level thanks to two blistering efforts by Mr Wrapover himself – Sir Bobby Charlton.
The second was an absolute joy to watch as Denis Law and Brian Kidd combined beautifully to set up the World Cup winner whose shot was so powerful; it almost broke the back of the net. Once again Wolstenholme described it perfectly when he claimed (at around 1.14 below) that it was a goal; “Good enough to win the league, the cup, the Charity Shield, the World Cup and even the Grand National”.
DAVID COLEMAN – 1962 WORLD CUP, SANTIAGO:
I was reluctant to put this on the list as its not actually a commentary, but the way that David Coleman sets the scene before the highlights of this 1962 World Cup Group Two clash between hosts Chile and Italy, leaves the viewer in no doubt that things are about to get a little nasty. It was your archetypal dirty Johnny foreigner intro but so violent was the contest, the only thing that didn’t happen during 90 chaotic minutes, was one of the players actually being murdered by an opponent.
English referee Ken Aston set the tone by booking a player within 12 seconds; seven minutes 48 seconds later, he’d produced his first red card with Italy’s Giorgio Ferrini getting an early bath and the match deteriorated after that. The Italians were down to nine by the interval and thankfully, for their own safety, the hosts ran out 2-0 winners to claim the spoils in what was nicknamed “The Battle of Santiago”.
JOHN MOTSON – 1988 FA CUP FINAL:
“Motty” had to make this list of course and after much deliberation, we decided to go for two Cup Final classics. Up first is his famous one-liner at the end of Wimbledon’s shock Wembley win over Liverpool in 1988, which prevented the Merseyside giants from clinching their second double in two years. Kenny Dalglish’s men were overwhelming favourites with many experts predicting the most one sided final in years, but back in the late 80’s the FA Cup could still throw up the odd upset or two and as soon as Dons hardman Vinny Jones scythed down scouse gob-shite Steve McMahon, you sensed a shock was on the cards.
When another professional scouser, striker John Aldridge, allowed Dons keeper Dave Beasant the chance to become the first goalie to save a penalty in the final, you knew the writing was on the wall for the league champions and as match referee Brian Hill blew the final whistle, it was left to “Motty” to combine football and popular culture (at 6.06 below) and proclaim that; “The crazy gang have beaten the culture club”.
JOHN MOTSON – 1977 FA CUP FINAL:
“Motty” had previous in this department and celebrated commentating on his first ever FA Cup Final 11 years earlier, by delivering another priceless moment after Manchester United had beaten Liverpool 2-1 to prevent their bitter rivals from becoming the first club to claim an unprecedented treble.
As United boss Tommy (soon to be sacked for having his end away with the physio’s wife) Docherty ran on to the Wembley turf to celebrate with his players who 12 months earlier, had been embarrassed by Second Division Southampton, Motson, who was a stickler when it came to pre-match preparation, played his trump card by announcing (at 7.24 below); “How fitting that a man called Buchan should be the first to climb the 39 steps that lead from the pitch here at Wembley, to the Royal Box”.