Gary Newbon: Hearing Moore ’n’ Motty – now you’re talking!

ITV's Clive Tyldesley with Ally McCoist
-Credit: (Image: X)

Clive Tyldesley’s departure as an ITV football commentator after his last stint at the current Euro 2024 made me reflect on the great operators in this field during my career.

Clive did an excellent job for the channel since he rejoined ITV to succeed the best of the lot Brian Moore when the latter retired in 1996.

Nothing lasts for ever, including broadcasting. I was disappointed for Tyldesley when he was relegated to be the channel’s No.2 (four years ago) to Sam Matterface.

Now he has gone against his wishes after being told his contract was not being renewed. He has three years left, however, on his contract with the USA television CBS.

He is still, in my book, an exceptional talent with memorable lines such as the 1999 European Cup final. Manchester United trailing Bayern Munich 2-1. The game is in stoppage time.

David Beckham takes a corner on the left... Tyldesley: “Can United score? They always score!” And they did – both their goals!

So where would Clive be in the top 12 during my career? Number 7.

Top of the list would be ITV’s Brian Moore. A class act with the right words and delivery for the right occasion. He was also a very good presenter who often fronted ITV’s World Cup shows but most of all a great commentator. Certainly the best I worked with.

Brian, an absolute gentlemen to everyone he met, covered nine World Cups and more than 20 FA Cup finals. He was one of the BBC radio men behind the mic at the 1966 World Cup final.

Jimmy Hill took Moore to London Weekend Television where he stayed for three decades. Brian died on September 1 2001, aged 69.

Second: My old school year friend John Motson OBE. We knew each other from the age of 11.

Motty, as he was always known,was famous for his sheepskin coats. He became a national institution at the BBC as a much-loved character and outstanding commentator. He had a style of his own.

Motty,who was four months younger than me, covered ten World Cups and 29 FA Cup finals.

He, too, worked for BBC radio before becoming a regular on BBC TV’s Match Of The Day commentaries.

His big break came in February 1972 when he was carded to go the FA Cup replay between non-league Hereford United and Newcastle United who were hot favourites.

Hereford won 2-1 with a stunning equaliser from Ronnie Radford and then a winner by Ricky George, who was a close friend with Motty until Motty died on February 23 aged 77.

Third: Hugh Johns. The best voice of the lot. I worked with Hugh when I joined ATV in 1971 until Johns left in 1982.

He was a great companion, who was the forgotten voice of the 1966 World Cup final when the credit for a great line went to the BBC’s Kenneth Wolstenholme: “They think its all over... it is now” when Geoff Hurst scored the last goal.

Hugh, like all these commentators, was full of home work and captured the excitement of all the goals. His main programme was ATV’s Star Soccer in the Midlands but he covered four World Cup finals.

Hugh died in his adopted Welsh town of Radyr in June 2007 aged 84. I gave the eulogy at his funeral in Radyr.

Fourth: Barry Davies MBE. Always jostling with Motty for the BBC top spot, but only really beating him to do the 1994 World Cup final in the USA.

Barry covered many sports including Wimbledon tennis in a long career with the BBC, but football was his consistent gig.

He covered many matches with some memorable words and knowing when to let the action tell the story. A classy operator.

He had several years with ITV before starting a long career with the BBC in July 1969.

He had covered the 1966 World Cup final with England before working at nine with the BBC. He finished on Match Of The Day in September 2004. He is in retirement now aged 86.

Fifth: David Coleman OBE: This all-rounder was top of his game for many years at the BBC.

He covered six World Cups and 11 Olympic Games. Born in Cheshire, he moved to Birmingham in 1954 to join the BBC as sports editor.

He became the number one BBC commentator when Kenneth Wolstenholme left in 1971. He did many top matches before John Motson took over.

Younger readers may never heard of him, but I would assure them that David Coleman was a HUGE name in his time and even had a show named after him, ‘Sportsnight with Coleman’.

He hosted many shows from ‘A Question Of Sport’ to the Grand National – rather like Des Lynam, but with the added skill of commentating on football and athletics. He died in December 2013, aged 87.

Sixth: Martin Tyler.: Probably vying for a higher place in this list. Great career with Sky Sports underlining the arrival and explosion of the Premier League.

Some memorable phrases including “Agueroooo!”.

He was with Sky from 1990 to 2023. Now aged 78 and commentating for Premier League productions.

Seventh: Clive Tyldesley: As already described.

Commentators are a subjective choice. Some you like; some you do not. Ever the case with television performers! Those are my choices.

I would have listed others given the space: Peter Drury, Alan Parry and Guy Mowbray who all worked for me in the Midlands, then Jon Champion Steve Bower, Rob Hawthorne, Bill Leslie plus recent new names to TV, Darren Fletcher and Seb Hutchinson.

I am back on Tuesday with Utilita Energy in the Birmingham Mail and Coventry Telegraph.