SATURDAY nights just won’t be the same for TV footie fans after John Motson revealed he is quitting Match of the Day.
The legendary broadcaster will hang up his mic and famous sheepskin coat at the end of the season.
And yesterday John even managed to pen his own Sun headline.
He says: “When I missed out on the FA Cup in 1995 to Barry Davies The Sun’s headline was ‘Motson that’s your lot son’.
“Now you can reproduce that headline because it’s true.”
During his 46 years behind the mic John, 72, has covered ten World Cups, 29 FA Cup finals, ten European Championships and more than 200 England matches.
He was also awarded an OBE for his services to sports broadcasting, written countless books, as well as narrating films and games.
Known affectionately as “Motty”, fans and viewers will miss his encyclopedic knowledge, over-excitable goal descriptions, in-depth stats and occasional gaffes.
And they will also bid farewell to his trademark sheepskin coat, which he wore to practically every game.
The king of stats has commentated on:
10 World Cups
29 FA Cup finals
10 European Championships
More than two hundred England games
Narrated 30 football videos
Written four books
He has an OBE for services to sports broadcasting
Top 10 Mottyisms
- “It’s like they are running around the pitch playing with themselves.”
- “The Czech Republic are coming from the back in more than one way.”
- “Jan Koller and Jaap Stam share a hairstyle, but of course they have no hair.”
- “The World Cup is a truly international event.”
- “It’s Arsenal 0, Everton 1, and the longer it stays like that, the more you’ve got to fancy Everton.”
- “So different from the scenes in 1872, at the cup final none of us can remember.”
- “It looks like a one-man show here, although there are women involved.”
- “The goals made such a difference to the way this game went.”
- “Nearly all the Brazilian supporters are wearing yellow shirts. It’s a fabulous kaleidoscope of colour.”
- “Whether that was a penalty or not, the referee thought otherwise.”
- “For those of you watching in black and white, Spurs are in the all yellow strip.”
He bought his first one when a woman at a party invited him into her garage and showed him a load of the woolly jackets on the floor.
These days he buys them from London’s Savile Row and last night John told The Sun: “I’ve just ordered a new one for this season, I thought I would get one more in.
“I will probably keep it for a couple of years, but won’t buy any more after that.”
The son of a Methodist preacher from Manchester, Motty began his journalistic career on local North London newspaper The Barnet Press before moving to the Sheffield Morning Telegraph.
After doing some radio commentating on the side, his editor at the Telegraph told him his voice was better than his printed words so he switched to broadcasting.
He made his MoTD debut in 1971, but it was his “Oh, what a goal! What a goal!” reaction to Ronnie Radford’s 30-yard screamer in non-league Hereford’s shock FA Cup win over Newcastle in 1972 that really got the then 26-year-old noticed.
A year later he was interviewing England manager Sir Alf Ramsey immediately after his team failed to beat Poland to qualify for the 1974 World Cup.
Motson says: “I don’t think I had a tougher assignment than that.”
Back then he was able to socialise with players and managers, going out for drinks after games.
He says: “When I started at Match of the Day I would go out drinking with the Ipswich Town players.
“It wouldn’t happen now. At my age now it is probably the chairman I am hobnobbing with.”
His statistical knowledge is legendary, with Motson spending up to three days preparing for each match.
Aiding him is his equally football-mad wife Anne.
John, who lives near St Albans, Herts, says: “She’s filled in a wonderful book every season with everything you can imagine in it.
“She has been at my side week in week out for 30 years. She will get a break next season.”
Motty, who has a son Frederick, 31, is also famous for his well-crafted one-liners.
As Martin Buchan collected the FA Cup for Manchester United at Wembley in 1977 Motty, commentating on his first final, said, “How fitting that a man called Buchan should be first up the 39 steps,” knowing that John Buchan had written the novel of the same title.
But no matter how hard he prepares, those infamous “Mottyisms” are never more than a slip of the tongue away.
He recalls: “When I joined Match of the Day some people were still watching in black and white and one boy’s father wrote in to say, ‘It is all very well for you posh people in London to assume everyone has colour television, but me and my son are still watching in black and white’.
“That’s when I said, ‘For the benefit of those of you watching in black and white, Spurs are in the yellow shirts’.”
He stopped doing live commentaries in 2008 and this season will be his last doing highlights. But that doesn’t mean you won’t hear his authoritative tones any more.
He insists: “My voice is still working. I am looking round for other possibilities, I don’t want to lose my association with football or broadcasting completely. We will see what comes up.”
One place you won’t see him is on the Strictly dancefloor or in the Celebrity Mastermind black chair.
He says: “I am not that kind of animal. I won’t be doing reality shows. I also swerve quiz shows in case I get caught on football questions.”
Unlike MotD host Gary Lineker, Motson wasn’t on the list of BBC staff earning more than £150,000 revealed this summer.
But he’s not concerned about earning a fraction of Lineker’s £2million salary because he loves football so much.
John, a keen horse racing fan, explains: “I wasn’t surprised not to be on it. I have never taken much interest in what others earn, I loved football. I still get a kick out of the game.”
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The highlight of his career was reporting on England’s 5-1 defeat of Germany in Munich during qualification for the 2002 World Cup.
He said: “That was the most satisfying England performance.”
And one of his greatest disappointments was never getting the chance to commentate on the national side picking up a major trophy.
He says: “I am losing faith a bit in us winning a World Cup or the Euros. It would be ironic if I retired and they won the next tournament.”
It certainly wouldn’t sound as good without Motty.