'We got on famously' - George Hamilton remembers John Motson

The legendary BBC football commentator has died at the age of 77
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

19.36 23 Feb 2023

Share this article

'We got on famously' - George...

'We got on famously' - George Hamilton remembers John Motson

Jack Quann
Jack Quann

19.36 23 Feb 2023

Share this article

John Motson is being remembered as a voice 'once heard, never forgotten.'

The legendary BBC football commentator has died at the age of 77.

He enjoyed an illustrious 50-year career with the BBC, working on Match of the Day since 1971.


According to the BBC, he commentated on over 2,500 televised games and covered 10 World Cups, 10 European Championships and 29 FA Cup finals for BBC Sport.

Broadcaster and commentator George Hamilton told The Hard Shoulder about the first time they worked together.

"The first meeting with him was actually on the radio when I was working for BBC in Belfast," he said.

Hamilton was covering Northern Ireland team Carrick Rangers from Luxembourg, who had qualified for the second round of the Irish Cup.

Hamilton was asked to go on BBC Radio 2, with Motson presenting, "because this little team had got into the big time."

"When I got on to the telephone to talk to him, he introduced me as covering a team from the League of Ireland," he said.

"They were so small, Carrick Rangers, in terms of the football firmland, that he hadn't realised the difference between North and South.

"That was the first of it, we had a bit of a laugh over it.

"Then when I met him, obviously it went on from there, I reminded him of the gaffe and he had a laugh again and we got on famously.

"Our paths crossed many a time."

'Time to get out'

Hamilton said he and Moston would often be covering the same matches.

"You'll probably recall that RTÉ used to cover English football on a Saturday afternoon, and I'd be at the same match as John Motson on many occasions.

"Then [with] European Championships and World Cups, our paths would cross as well".

He remembered the last time they shared a match, back in 2008, at the European Championship Final.

"He retired from live commentary then, things were disappearing for the BBC," he said.

"He felt it was time to get out; he didn't stop broadcasting, but he didn't do anymore big games.

"That match, when Spain won the Euros in 2008 in Vienna, was his last big live commentary".

'Very distinctive voice'

Hamilton said Motson became popular with people for several reasons.

"He had a wonderful voice, it was a very distinctive voice, once heard never forgotten," he said.

"He was also, when he came on the scene, he was one of a very exclusive club.

"In the early '70s when he started on television, there were only three BBC commentators.

"So anybody who did live football - and there wasn't very much of it, there was only international matches and the FA Cup - they knew John Motson as a commentator and they identified with the voice," he added.

Listen back to the full interview below:

Main image: Commentator John Motson in November 2009. Picture by: PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo

Share this article

Read more about

BBC BBC Sport English Football George Hamilton John Motson RTE The Hard Shoulder

Most Popular