John Motson


Love Football. Hate Germany. Heh heh.

No one could fault John Motson for lack of commitment to the game. The man lives, breathes, and most likely eats football. Renowned for commentating on Subbuteo matches at home to warm up for big games, he brings a singular devotion to his job.

Whilst he could – and does – talk for England, he cuts a disconcertingly taciturn figure in the Football Focus studio whenever Stubbsy drags him in for a spot of extracurricular punditry duty. It seems that Motty is far less comfortable being a talking head than merely a speaking voice. As anyone with a high-definition widescreen television will tell you, perhaps that’s for the best.

It’s hard to pin down exactly what makes Motty the man that he is. In an attempt to get to the bottom of this mystery, we’ve categorized some of his top quotes along the lines of things that give him trouble.

Colour trouble…

“Northern Ireland were in white, which was quite appropriate because three inches of snow had to be cleared from the pitch before kick off.”

Camouflage gear is often the difference between victory and defeat in a football match.

“The referee is wearing the same yellow-coloured top as the Slovakian goalkeeper. I’d have thought the UEFA official would have spotted that – but perhaps he’s been deafened by the noise of this crowd.”

The UEFA official is presumably either a bat or a whale.

“Nearly all the Brazilian supporters are wearing yellow shirts – it’s a fabulous kaleidoscope of colour!”

Motty’s kaleidoscope must be on the blink.

“It must be like being stuck in the middle of a giant Outspan.”

In fact, Motty, sitting amongst Dutch fans is not much like being stuck inside an orange.

“For those of you watching in black and white, Spurs are in the yellow strip.”

The all-time Motty colours classic.

Number trouble…

“If David Beckham claims that goal, it will be only the second goal he has scored for England… well, no, it won’t be… it’ll be the fourth or fifth free kick, I think… but certainly the one in Sapporo is the one we remember most in recent times… but how often has he changed the direction of the game for England?”

How often has Motty changed the direction of this sentence?

“You couldn’t count the number of moves Alan Ball made… I counted four, and possibly five.”

Other people can also count to five, Motty.

“I’ve just heard that in the other match Real Madrid have just scored. That makes the score, if my calculations are correct, 4 – 3! But I’m only guessing!”

In fact, we doubt that you can count to five yourself.

“I’ve lost count of how many chances Helsingborg have had. It’s at least five.”

Actually, you definitely can’t.

“In a sense it’s a one-man show… except that there are two men involved, Hartson and Berkovic, and a third man, the goalkeeper.”

But unfortunately you can count to three.

“He’s not quite at 110 per cent fitness.”

At least 10 per cent off.

“It’s Arsenal 0 – 1 Everton, and the longer it stays like that the more you’ve got to fancy Everton to win.”

Intensive statistical analysis shows Motty to be correct.

“There is still nothing on the proverbial scoreboard.”

The actual scoreboard might have said something else.

“And how ironic that the time on the clock is 66.”

Ah yes, Motty. England score against Germany in the 66th minute, and they also beat Germany to the World Cup in 1966. How apt. Now, you won’t go labouring the point, will you? Oh, you will…

“And what a time to score! Twenty-two minutes gone!”

What a time. All you have to do to make it 66 is multiply it by three.

“And is that the moment when Sven-Goran Eriksson stopped being a lucky manager?”

The moment? Pick any minute corresponding to a year in which Germany beat England.

Foreign places trouble…

“England are playing this game in Bratislava because there’s a much better atmosphere than in Prague!”

That, and maybe also because Prague is the capital of the Czech Republic, not Slovakia.

“The World Cup is a truly international event.”

A few countries other than England have got involved over the years.

“And that’s England’s finest victory over the Germans since the war!”

Say no more, Motty. We know what you mean.

“Middlesbrough are withdrawing Maccarone the Italian, Nemeth the Slovakian and Stockdale the right back.”

Motty invents a new nationality.

Breakfast obsession trouble…

During World Cup 2002, Motty became rather fixated on the fact that while the matches were being played in the evening in Japan and Korea, it was actually early in the day in the UK.

“Just one minute of overtime, so you can put the eggs on now if you like.”

Useful cookery information from Motty.

“You can have your breakfast with Batistuta and your cornflakes with Crespo.”

Yes, yes… and your orange juice with Owen and your fry with Figo, etc, etc.

“I can confirm that Trevor Brooking did have his own eggs and bacon before setting off this morning.”

A nation waited with \’bated breath for confirmation.

“England will be having Sweden for breakfast.”

For half an hour anyway.

“Hold on to your cups and glasses…you can smash them now, David Beckham has scored!”

Motty incites domestic hooliganism as Englland go one up against the Argies.

Working practices trouble…

“Trevor Brooking’s notes are getting wet with the rain. I must lend him some of the perspex I always bring to cover mine.”

A disturbing window into Motty’s soul.

“It’s so exciting we’re talking at the same time for the first time ever!”

An unforgiveable lapse. Surprised they weren’t both sacked.

“I was about to say before something far more interesting interrupted…”

You can’t stay on top of your game unless you’re your own worst critic.

“Interesting” facts trouble…

“Actually, none of the players are wearing earrings. Kjeldberg, with his contact lenses is the closest we can get.”

This will end up with someone losing an eye.

“It’s so different from the scenes in 1872, at the Cup Final none of us can remember.”

Ah yes, we remember it well.

“Paul Gascoigne has recently become a father and been booked for over-celebrating.”

Best to limit those celebrations to friends and family.

“And I suppose Spurs are nearer to being out of the FA Cup now than at any other time since the first half of this season, when they weren’t ever in it anyway.”

They were a good way from being out of it then, really.

Praise trouble…

“There’s been no conviction about England… BUT THERE’S PLENTY OF CONVICTION NOW AS WAYNE ROONEY… “

Motty’s commentary can turn on a sixpence.

“Oh, that’s good running on the run.”

Running on the run is even quicker than ordinary running.

“And Seaman, just like a falling oak, manages to change direction.”

Agile trees, those oaks.

“I can’t fault Mark Palios too highly.”

High praise.

“I have to say, he’s done as well as anyone out there.”

Not at all patronisingly, Motty is impressed with Japanese player Nakata’s performance for Roma against Liverpool.

Match analysis trouble…

No football match would ever be complete without Motty’s attempts to elucidate the patterns and trends on the field of play that ordinary mortals cannot perceive.

“Well, frankly, it’s embarrassing.”

Motty’s verdict after a sustained spell of Macedonian pressure against England.

“England have dug themselves out of some deep holes in recent times.”

You only have to dig down about 7000 miles to reach the other side of the world.

“That shot might not have been as good as it might have been.”

Mighty strong words.

“The goals made such a difference to the way this game went.”

No way.

“Not the first half you might have expected, even though the score might suggest that it was.”

Those pesky goals clouding the issue again.

“The unexpected is always likely to happen.”

Should have seen it coming.

“That’s an old Ipswich move – O’Callaghan crossing for Mariner to drive over the bar.”

Sadly, probably true.

“Whether that was a penalty or not, the referee thought otherwise.”

Contrary man, that ref.

“Just look at Keegan’s face, he’s got a look of resignation… I don’t mean, of course, about his managerial position, but rather about today’s game.”

Don’t backtrack, Motty. We know what you meant.

Anatomy trouble

“I know that Gareth Barry has been told by Howard Wilkinson to take a long hard look at these with his left foot.”

Who says that Wilko asks the impossible of his players?

“Bruce has got the taste of Wembley in his nostrils.”

Motty remembers from his O-Level Biology class that taste buds are not the only determinants of taste.

Ooh matron trouble…

Even single-minded Motty isn’t immune to the Ooh Matron curse…

“Brazil – they’re so good it’s like they are running around the pitch playing with themselves.”

A disturbing image, if ever there was one.

“Beattie can’t generate enough power to beat Seaman from that distance.”

Guess that explains what the Saints pin-up was doing in Oleg Luzhny’s pocket all day.

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