Tuesday, 12 April 2011

My Top 20 Greatest Sporting Commentary Moments Countdown (No.15-11)

This is the second blog post countdown of my top 20 greatest sporting commentary moments.

My first blog post which can be viewed here gave my countdown from No.20 down to No.16. Here, I continue with No.15 down to No.11.

No.15 - "What a Goal! Radford the Scorer!" (John Motson)

It was one of the greatest upsets in FA Cup history. Mighty Newcastle United from the old 1st Division, were humbled by lowly non-league Hereford United, then of the Southern League, at their Edgar St ground in 1972.

Ronnie Radford's equalizing goal here that cancelled out an earlier Newcastle strike, went on to be voted the BBC 1971/1972 Goal of the Season. Ricky George scored the second goal to give the minnows a famous victory.

But it was John Motson's never to be forgotten commentary for Ronnie Radford's stunning initial strike that makes it in at my No.15. It very simply captured the sheer shock of the goal and the delerious response of the home fans who invaded the pitch to celebrate. Ironically, it was the first time that Motson commentated on what be the lead game for that week's edition of Match of the Day. He would go on to commentate in World Cup finals but rarely did he have a goal to savour in such special circumstances as that that was scored in Hereford in 1972.

No.14 - "Where were the Germans? But frankly, who cares?!" - The 1988 Seoul Olympic Hockey Final (Barry Davies)

Hockey was never a fashionable sport. Never that is, until Britain won Olympic Hockey Gold at the 1988 Seoul Olympics.

In the final, Britain were playing the old enemy Germany. Britain won 3-1 and after Imran Sherwani scored Britain's third goal, Barry Davies in his commentary made the irreverent comment that could easily have landed himself in hot weather with the BBC. But as it happened, it went down instead in commentating folklore.

Here's a clip about the story of Britain's unlikely success, followed by another of the famous Barry Davies quip itself.

No.13 - "YOU'VE WON IT KELLY, YOU'VE WON IT!" - Kelly Holmes wins 800m Olympic Gold in the 2004 Athens Olympics (Steve Cram)

Another moment to remember from the athetics track and from the Olympics was from the 2004 Athens Olympics when Kelly Holmes won the first of her two Gold Medals.

Steve Cram gave the passionate, emotional commentary as Kelly Holmes won a disbelieving gold medal in the 800m.

"Come on Kelly Holmes. IT'S GOLD. Kelly's won the Gold for Great Britain...YOU'VE WON IT KELLY, YOU'VE WON IT! YES, YOU'VE WON".

No.12 - "...With All this Mayhem, Foinavon Has Gone off on His Own" - The 1967 Grand National (Michael O'Hehir)

It was, and remains, one of those most incredible Grand Nationals ever and it is the second of three entries from the races to make my top 20.

Foinavon was a 100/1 rank outsider for the 1967 Grand National. In fact, such was the unlikelihood of his winning, his owner Cyril Watkins didn't even turn up at the course on the big day itself!

For the first circuit and a half, Foinavon played no real part in proceedings, and the race was largely inconsequential with 28 of the 44 starters safely over the 22nd fence (Becher's Brook). However, the most dramatic moment of the race, and perhaps of Grand National history, came when a loose horse — Popham Down, who had been hampered and unseated his rider at the first fence — veered dramatically to his right at the 23rd fence, slamming into Rutherfords and unseating its jockey Johnny Leech. A pile-up ensued. Rondetto, Norther, Kirtle Lad, Princeful, Leedsy and other horses hit the ground, then began running up and down the fence preventing others from jumping it, and bringing the race effectively to a halt. Some horses even began running in the wrong direction, back the way they had come.

In the midst of this chaos, commentator Michael O'Hehir, with speed and unflustered coolness, was able to identify Foinavon, who avoided the carnage and went on to a famous victory. His eye for detail and his extensive pre-race research meant that he could keep on top of the absolute mayhem that was happening all around him.

Here he explains in audio how meeting with the jockey John Buckingham before the race allowed him to identify the outsider Foinavon and in doing so, meant that he could effectively commentate on what was to become an iconic moment in the history of his sport.

After the race, O'Hehir suggested that the 23rd fence may one day be named in honour of this famous event. In 1984, the Aintree Executive did indeed officially name it Foinavon.

No.11 - "...Maggie Thatcher, can you hear me? Maggie Thathcer, Your boys took one hell of a beating!" - Norway 2-1 England in 1981 (Bjorge Lillelien)

One of the most memorable pieces in the history of footballing commentary, came from an excitable Norwegian Bjorge Lillelien when Norway humbled the former world champions in a 1981 World Cup qualifier.

The wonderfully over-the-top response, in which he conjured up the images of Lord Nelson, Lord BeaverbrookSir Winston Chuchill, Sir Anthony Eden, Clement Atlee, Henry CooperPrincess Diana and Margaret Thatcher demonstrated his overwhemling passion for the performance that he had just witnessed.

It was ridiculous, and the listening world loved it! Memorable? You betcha!

Stay tuned...
So there's a further sample of some of my greatest sporting commentary moments. But we are merely half way through my countdown.

So stay tuned for my next installment tomorrow when the countdown continues into the top 10...


  1. I like these posts :D
    next addition tomorrow?

  2. Really enjoying these, certainly hoping for a few of my own favourites to be in the top 10

  3. Third post up earlier Tom - feel free to add to that!

    The top 5 to be published tomorrow I'm hoping.