Sky Sports commentator Martin Tyler shares his memories of John Motson, who died on Thursday at the age of 77; "He was economical with his words, but he punched them out when he spoke and they had great resonance"
Friday 24 February 2023 06:20, UK
Sky Sports' Martin Tyler has shared his memories of John Motson, after his legendary fellow commentator died at the age of 77 on Thursday.
I was very shocked to hear the news. I didn't know John had been ill and I'm finding out now that he had been a little bit ill over the past year or so. I hadn't seen him so much since he disappeared from the gantry, but I saw 45 years of him on the gantry!
First of all, he was somebody I admired in terms of the profession enormously. His preparation was second-to-none, his attention to detail, his wish to know everything possible about the game he was about to broadcast. He was a real example to me for that.
Before my first television game back in 1974, he sent me a telegram, which said 'Talk little, but say a lot'. And I think that summed up John, really. He was economical with his words, but he punched them out when he spoke and they had great resonance.
He was a funny guy away from the microphone, a bit quirky as a person, and had a great sense of humour. I think the sheepskin coats were to do with a game where he was doing a live interview, with snow on the pitch, and the coat came to the fore. I don't know whether he got a regular supply of sheepskin coats from the manufacturers after that!
It is cold on the gantry and perhaps emphasised that point. I'm grateful Sky have provided me with a lot of warm clothing over the last 30 years, so maybe I should thank Motty for that as well.
He helped a lot of people as well; he certainly encouraged me at the beginning and we virtually went round the world together, first of all when I was working for ITV and he was with the BBC and when I moved to Sky, the same thing applied.
What I think helped him, though he might not have thought it at the time, was the rivalry with Barry Davies. I think the BBC did very well to push the two of them, with the two encouraging each other a bit like Ronaldo and Messi, to try and strive to those high levels. The Beeb were blessed to have two such great voices.
I've always felt stats are part of the game and John set the standard for that. He was probably the first commentator in the television world to look at that kind of detail. In the early days, there was no internet or any way of really knowing and checking out things without doing it yourself.
You'd be looking through back copies of football yearbooks, checking every conceivable source and talking to the clubs themselves. It's about how to apply them as well and John was very good at that. A stat for stat's sake is probably not a good thing, but a stat that's relevant to something that's happening on the field is the key. He was a master of that.
Any commentator will tell you you've got to be there for the moments. I had to wait a long time for Sergio Aguero to give me a little bit of the limelight in 2012, but John was well ahead of that.
It is very sad that we have lost somebody who has been at the real top of a profession that I've strived to be part of. On the back of losing Dickie Davies in the last few days as well, broadcasting has taken a double hit.
We were friends but rivals in a way as well, I suppose. Yet I was full of admiration for him and my deepest sympathies go to his family at such a sudden loss.
Time marches on and John has left a great legacy with the soundbites, the voice associated with so many great occasions, great goals. It was a great career and a really good life and I'm sorry it's come to an end today.