World Cup commentators : Enjoying Guy Mowbray, not missing Motson

By Nigel Bidmead


Hands up if you are missing John Motson, Mike Ingham or Alan Green.

No? Me neither.

Motson’s farewell tour of the Premier League last season verged on the embarrassing – especially at Chelsea where the chairman Bruce Buck made a fool of himself with a clumsy speech in the press room.

Ingham’s measured style may have lacked enthusiasm but was often a welcome contrast to the hysterical tabloid mob incitement that followed another wretched England performance.

Green was never dull but his contempt for footballers rose too quickly. As one of the Ulsterman’s more esteemed colleagues remarked many years ago, you can tell which commentators have played the game.

On the wireless the excellence of John Murray, Ingham’s successor as BBC Football Correspondent, is the main reason why few yearn for the odd couple.

On television the competition between Guy Mowbray, Steve Wilson and Jonathan Pearce seems to be less intense than that enjoyed, or endured, by Motson and Barry Davies in their heyday. It does, though, keep the standard high with Mowbray the undisputed number one. His calling of England’s opening game against Tunisia was smooth and assured. I prefer Danny Murphy to Martin Keown as co-commentator and it will be interesting to see who gets the nod for the final.

Competition also comes from the commercial opposition. ITV’s Clive Tyldesley is still, after all these years, underrated perhaps because we don’t hear him too often these days. I also like Sam Matterface’s energy but cringe when he tries too hard. I haven’t listened to talkSPORT during this tournament – or any other to be honest.

One voice missing from domestic output during World Cups since 1986 is Martin Tyler. He’s 72, the same age as Motson, but remains the doyen.

In contrast to others who have been around the game for five minutes his contribution to football, on air, in print and on the pitch, remains unrecognised.

He makes a devilishly difficult skill sound easy and is England’s Vin Scully.

He also came up with a terrific line about football commentary.

A couple of season ago at West Ham before a big game against title chasing Spurs (57 and counting) a colleague asked him who was going to win.

“Oh I don’t care about that, I only care about getting it right.”

ANR replies : Yanks & Aussies love Martin Tyler