It's difficult to imagine a time when John Motson wasn't commentating. It's almost as difficult to imagine a time when John Motson's commentary didn't stand out as the worst thing in televised football. But back in the 80s he was only as bad as everyone else. 30 years later football fans are looking back on a good 15 years of crying out for him to be shot.
He's gone from being a bit silly to being an odious lazy git who can't be bothered to learn the names of players who aren't already all over the media. Even the names of players he's heard of he rarely bothers to try to pronounce correctly.
This he took to a whole new level in a 2006 friendly between England and Jamaica where he pretended that the Jamaica players didn't even have names. His comment on a Jamaican player running down the wing with the ball was "There's Carragher, trying to win the ball back for England".
After a whole career of being accustomed to having researchers hand him loads of stats on a clipboard to bang off wherever he can shoe-horn them in, pretending that he's just plucked them out of his extensive memory, he now saves them and himself that bit of effort and just bases his entire commentary on whatever the media have been saying about the players involved in recent week. If a player who's been recently hyped up is on the ball Motson will orgasm. If the player on the ball doesn't play in the premier league or a major european club then he'll be lucky if Motson's bothered to find out his name.
Quite probably a great-grandfather by now (hey, if Motson can't be arsed to look things up, why should I bother either?), Motson has mastered the art of talking down to people. His commentary is never aimed at football supporters. It's aimed at 'nouveau footy fans' the ones who casually drop in on a televised match when it's fashionable to do so in front of whomever they're trying to impress. So Motson spends most of the game explaining how many yellow cards make a red and what happens then, or that a foul must be inside the box for a penalty to be given. Very helpful for them and who gives a stuff about the people who want in depth analysis of the more complicated stuff that they didn't quite catch first time around because they were too busy fuming at Mark Lawrenson 's attempt at humour, eh?
I tell you what, why not forget all about that and just think of Motson as a memorable name in TV commentary who's famous for his sheepskin jacket and beautiful innocence and naivety. If it makes you feel better. He'll be dead soon anyway. Surely. Surely!