Wednesday, 13 April 2011

My Top 20 Greatest Sporting Commentary Moments Countdown (No.10-6)

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

My first two blog post which can be viewed here and here gave my countdown from No.20 down to No.11. Here, we make a move into my top 10!

No.10 - "...and I've got to stop, becuase I've got a lump in my throat" - Damon Hill wins the 1996 F1 World Championship (Murray Walker)

I'm a big F1 fan and there will never be a greater commentator than the irreplaceable Murray Walker.

He's known, indeed famed, for his 'Murray-isms' - his frenetically passionate commentary which often turned into amusing on air mistakes. His boy-ish enthusiasm was contagious and I could not watch a Grand Prix and not get excited when he was at the microphone.

For all of his 'Murray-isms', my choice at No.10 has to be the emotional moment when he saw home his great friend Damon Hill to win the 1996 F1 World Championship. It was indeed, history in the making as Damon, as Walker explained during the course of the final lap commentary, became the first son of a F1 World Champion to emulate that achievement. Murray Walker of course, having commentated since the 1940s, knew Damon's father Graham very well. The latter was a double World Champion in 1962 and 1968 (not 1965 as Murray said in his commentary!) but was killed in a flying accident in 1975 when Damon was only 15 years old.

So the family story made it that much more personal for our Murray and his commentary style was one that was always passionate so his famous response here, was typical of the man.

No.9 - "...and Emlyn Hughes left" - The Hillsborough Disaster (Peter Jones)

My entries to date have been full of raw emotion, passion and gusto...and often humour.

But these attributes aren't always required to make a fine contribution with a microphone. Indeed, sometimes, less is better.

Here, the late BBC radio broadcaster Peter Jones gives his final offering of the Hillsborough disaster on the 15th of April 1989. His words were full of poignancy as he mentioned in a hushed and melancholic tone, his final observations on what had been a devastating day.

He made it feel very personal. His observations of what remained, struck the sad tone that was just right for this awful, awful day.
"The gymnasium here at Hillsborough is being used as a mortuary for the dead and at this moment, stewards have got little paper bags and they're gathering up the personal belongings of the spectators and the red and white scarves of Liverpool and the red and white bobble hats of Liverpool and red and white rossetes of Liverpool and nothing else".
No.8 - "...and I don't think Foreman's going to get up...AND HE'S OUT. Oh my God, he's won the title back at 32" - The Rumble in the Jungle (Harry Carpenter)

To the world of boxing and again, like with Formula One above, there was only one commentator in the ring - Harry Carpenter.
He was beloved by the great and good in this most ferocious of sports - including the great Ali.
Indeed, his commentary when Ali stunned George Foreman in the Rumble in the Jungle in Zaire in 1974, lives in history alongside that famous right hand blow that brought Foreman to his knees.
Ali had been struggling during this 8th round. He'd been up against the ropes as Foreman laid punch after punch after punch into the former World Heavyweight Champion of the world. It looked to anyone who was watching that this man was on his last legs. But this was no ordinary boxer, this was Muhammed Ali.
Carpenter's radio commentary (which added the colour to the picture that the listener could not see) gave us in unbelieving words, the incredible sight of Ali turning the contest around in one, final, lethal move.

"...suddenly Ali looks very tired indeed. In fact Ali, at times now, looks as though he can barely lift his arms up . . . Oh, he's got him with a right hand! He's got him! Oh, you can't believe it. And I don't think Foreman's going to get up. He's trying to beat the count. And he's out! Oh my God, he's won the title back at 32!"
What more could you want with radio commentary? You were made to feel as if you were ring-side!
No.7 - "...its only 12 inches high, solid gold, and it means England are the world champions" - 1966 English World Cup (Kenneth Wolstenholme)

His famous line as Geoff Hurst scored his hat-trick concluding, World Cup winning strike for England is of course probably the most famous line in commentating history.
But the iconic "And here comes Hurst. He's got... some people are on the pitch, they think it's all is now" I think overshadows the simplicity of Kenneth Wolstenholme's wonderful words when Bobby Moore went up to lift the Jules Rimet Trophy from Queen Elizabeth II.

No.6 - "...its up for grabs now" - Liverpool Vs Arsenal 1989 League Championship Decider (Brian Moore)

Just missing out on the top 5 at No.6 was Brian Moore's commentary to what was the most extraordinary finale to a football league season ever witnessed.
By sheer coincidence, the final match of the season on May 26th 1989 was between the top two teams in the First Division and the teams were close enough on points for the match to act as a decider for the First Division Championship. Arsenal needed to win the game by at least two goals to take the title, while Liverpool enjoyed home Anfield advantage and had won the FA Cup the previous weekend.
The match had been originally scheduled to be played on April 23rd. However, on April 15th, Liverpool's FA Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest was the scene of the Hillsborough disaster. The Liverpool-Arsenal fixture was postponed, with no suitable date found until after the FA Cup Final. Liverpool beat Everton 3–2 in that game, meaning that if they won the League title as well, it would complete a historic second Double.
Liverpool were therefore looking good to follow up on their league and cup double of 1986 as it was presumed that the mighty Reds would not lose by a two goal margin at fortress Anfield. Why? Because Liverpool had not lost by a two goal margin at home in 3 years whilst Arsenal had not won there in 15 years.
Leading up to the crunch decider, the Daily Mirror's sports section led with the headline "You Haven't Got A Prayer, Arsenal".
But, leading 1-0 going into injury time, Arsenal did this...

Quite incredible and Brian Moore's commentary summed up the extraordinary moment when the gap opened up for Michael Thomas to take his chance. He took it, and in doing so, upset the form book and brought a staggering conclusion to the duel.

Brian Moore meanwhile, gave the words and the sound that sets this moment in its righful place in sporting history. 


Stay tuned...
So there's we are. My top 20 countdown has come down to the top 5. You have already seen some extraordinary commentating moments but the cream of the crop is yet to come.

So stay tuned for my final installment tomorrow, when I crown my greatest sporting commentary moment of all time.

No comments:

Post a Comment