Good old Mooro, God rest his soul. First spotted hoisting the guff tablets down from Mt Sinai, with David Coleman in tow. Where would English football have been in the 1970s and 1980s without him?
He was still around in the 1990s, of course, but like Jimmy Hill, by that time the increasingly crowded world of football coverage had nearly edged him out.
Whether presenting The Big Match (desk replete with office equipment, including the huge telephone he never used) or commentating on a big match, Mooro’s avuncular, slightly befuddled demeanour somehow provided reassurance that we were partaking in a small way in a great tradition, the continuous tapestry of football as it spanned the decades.
We shall not see his like again. We probably won’t hear his like again either, because Mooro had a singular style of commentary impossible to reproduce or emulate.
His swan song was that infamous moment in World Cup 1998, as David Batty stepped up to take the penalty kick that would send England crashing out of the tournament, defeated again by ancient adversary Argentina.
Mooro, to co-commentator Kevin Keegan: “Quickly, Kevin – will he score?”
The correct answer, Kevin, was “no”.
“Rosenborg have won 66 games, and they’ve scored in all of them.”
Rock-solid logic there.
“Newcastle, of course, unbeaten in their last five wins.”
The same logic again, its irrefutability doubly demonstrated.
“The familiar sight of Liverpool lifting the League Cup for the first time.”
This is not so rock-solid.
“That’s the 34th time he’s played for his country here tonight.”
There’s nonsense, damned nonsense, and statistics.
“Manchester United have never beaten an Italian side on two legs in European competition.”
They have managed to beat all their one-legged opponents, though.
“Sitting on the Watford bench is Ernie Whaley’s brother, Tom. Both Welshmen.”
What are the odds?
“Zidane has the body of a bear, the mind of a fox and… ah… terrific skills…”
Mooro paints himself into a metaphorical corner.
“You can see how O’Leary is absolutely racked with pain, and realises it.”
If only he hadn’t realised it, there would have been no need for painkillers.
“Adams is stretching himself, looking for Seaman.”
Ooh, Matron. Etc…
“There are those who’ve had his critics.”
Ooh, Matron, Part II
“Mark Hughes – Sparky by name, sparky by nature. The same can be said of Brian McClair.”
That must cause some confusion on the field.
“I wonder if Manchester United are missing the absence of Bruce.”
Surely Bruce wasn’t playing that badly?
“They’ve flown in from all over the world, the Rest of the World team.”
Mooro gave it the full gun with pre-match research.
“History is all about todays and not yesterdays.”
Dictionary for Mr Moore…
“This is going to be a very long thirty minutes with twenty-six minutes left.”
Those post-match four minutes might be quite boring all right.
“Bryan Robson wears his shirt on his sleeve.”
Must be a problem for throw-ins.
“And now that we have the formalities over, we’ll have the national anthems.”
At last the real action starts.
“Wayne Clarke, one of the famous Clarke family, and he’s one of them, of course.”
Can’t argue with that.
And finally, what is arguably the definitive Mooro comment:
“The Champions League winners stand to make £10 million in prize money. That’s before any money they can make on programme sales, hot dogs and the like.”