Remembering John Motson; Listen and Learn

Remembering John Motson; Listen and Learn

A few days ago, I learned of the passing of John Motson and was also alerted to another wise saying: “Listen and Learn” to add to the six wise sayings I blogged concerning recently (see here).

According to Wikipedia: John Walker Motson OBE (10 July 1945 – 23 February 2023) was an English football commentator. Beginning as a television commentator with the BBC in 1971, he commentated on over 2000 games on television and radio. From the late 1970s to 2008, Motson was the dominant football commentary figure at the BBC, apart from a brief spell in the mid-1990s. Motson often wore a sheepskin coat during winter months after he reportedly “battled horizontal sleet showers ahead of Wycombe Wanderers’ FA Cup tie with Peterborough United” in December 1990. These coats became Motson’s trademark look, making him instantly recognisable to his audience. In 2008, Motson announced his retirement from live television commentary. He continued to cover games for Match of the Day highlights and appeared on BBC Radio 5 Live as well as commentating on CBeebies’ Footy Pups. In September 2017, he announced his full retirement from BBC commentary, having commentated on 10 FIFA World Cups, 10 UEFA European Championships, and 29 FA Cup finals. In July 2018, he announced he was returning from retirement to work for Talksport.

Lots have been written about John Motson, a legend and an object of affection. The general consensus was that when it came to football commentary he was among the best, if not the best. I have followed him on many occasions over the years, when top level football has been played, and I agree. He has always struck me as a thoroughly decent chap, who knew his stuff, having researched his subject to the point of obsession. He had a way with words and a sense of the occasion to add to one’s watching experience. Many commentators over talk and come out with banalities and over stating the obvious, but not John Motson. I suspect even he could have spoken less, but at least he knew his subject better than any and, when he did speak, he was worth listening to. It strikes me that many (including me) like the sound of their own voice and would rather speak than listen. But we do well to listen more and so learn more, so when we do open our mouth what we come out with is worth listening to.

I end with a 2-minute BBC clip featuring five iconic Motson quotes. Thank you John Motson for who your were and what you did.


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