Motson recalls his fondest memories of the FA Cup

‘The FA Cup helped put me on the map as a commentator’: Veteran John Motson recalls his fondest memories of the competition – and reveals he has no plans to return to the microphone

  • John Motson, 76, commentated on nearly 30 FA Cup finals during his career
  • Motson will have a watching brief for the clash between Chelsea and Liverpool
  • The legendary broadcaster says he owes a lot of his career to the FA Cup
  • Motson rules out return to commentary after stints with the BBC and talkSPORT

John Motson has been there and done it. And probably commentated on it.

The legendary broadcaster, 76, called more than 2,000 games during a stellar career on the microphone, including at 10 World Cups and 10 European Championships.

But it is the FA Cup which is the competition that is perhaps most synonymous with Motson, who worked for the BBC for five decades before retiring from the corporation in 2018.

Motson commentated on new fewer than 29 FA Cup finals but will have a watching brief for Saturday’s showpiece at Wembley between Chelsea and Liverpool, the culmination of the 150-year anniversary season of the world’s premier cup tournament.

John Motson commentated on nearly 30 FA Cup finals during his career on the microphone

Motson, 76, was at Wembley Stadium earlier this week to mark 150 years of the FA Cup

The veteran broadcaster has seen it all down the years, including a feeling that the FA Cup had lost its magic. Lost its lustre.

‘I don’t think it has,’ Motson says in an interview at Wembley. ‘The world will wake up on Saturday morning and lots and lots of people will turn on their television on what is still traditionally cup final day, even if the FA Cup has been overtaken – or crowded out – by a lot of other competitions. 

‘But it is still the FA Cup final and it is still watched in countries all over the world, who admire the history and the heritage of the FA Cup.’

Motson has his own long history with the competition. The famous tie in 1972 between Hereford United and Newcastle, where Ronnie Radford scored THAT goal in one of the great cup shocks, was the first he had called for the BBC.

Motson called more than 2,000 games during a stellar career on the microphone

The veteran broadcaster will have a watching brief for the final between Chelsea and Liverpool

‘All of that helped to put me on the map as a commentator,’ he says. ‘I feel very privileged to have been involved from that day really, both with the FA Cup and with Wembley.’

The iconic venue will welcome Chelsea and Liverpool on Saturday. Jurgen Klopp’s side are aiming for a second trophy of the season and what could form part of an unprecedented quadruple, while Thomas Tuchel’s Blues are out for revenge after losing to the same opponents at the same stadium in the Carabao Cup final in February.

Klopp’s team have been lauded as one of the best ever and winning the quadruple – albeit an outside chance given Manchester City currently top the table – would certainly cement that belief.

‘I don’t think if they don’t win the FA Cup that changes what a fine side they have been,’ Motson said. ‘They have proved themselves over the course of the season and the cup final isn’t even the climax for them, because they are in the Champions League final. 

Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool have been hailed as one of the great teams in Premier League history

But Motson warned not to rule out Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea side, who are out for revenge

‘Victory in the FA Cup final would be another trophy for Klopp and another moment to say “where do Liverpool stand amid the great teams who have played here at Wembley?”

‘Don’t forget Chelsea, they will put up a fight despite their recent upheaval and I think it could be a cup final to remember. 

‘You get the two sides of the FA Cup – you get the giant-killing in the early rounds, when some of the more favourable teams field their under-strength sides and get beaten by teams who come from almost nowhere. 

‘But as the competition shakes down, more often than not the final is between two of our leading clubs and that is the way it is this weekend.’

Motson says he has no plans to return to commentating following a successful career

For Motson, he is more than happy to be a mere spectator for what promises to be an intriguing final at Wembley. 

After leaving the BBC, Motson had a brief stint at talkSPORT – which including him apologising for describing Millwall striker Tom Elliott as ‘big, black and brave’ – before officially retiring.

‘I’d like to go quietly into retirement, as I have been doing for the last few years,’ he says. ‘I don’t have any plans [to return] at all. 

‘I had my moment – 50 great years at the BBC and I’m, very grateful to them, and also the two years I spent at talkSPORT as well. I had a wonderful career, I was very fortunate and a lot of it was down to the FA Cup.’

Ricky Villa’s superb solo goal in the 1981 final gave Spurs victory over Manchester City


Ricky Villa goalTottenham 3-2 Manchester City, 1981 replay

‘One of the most iconic cup moments I commentated on,’ Motson says. Few would argue against it being one of the greatest-ever goals in a final as Villa jinked his way through the City defence to win the competition for Spurs.

Steven Gerrard’s equaliserLiverpool 3-3 West Ham, 2006

Liverpool were heading for defeat until Gerrard, their captain marvel, popped up with a screamer from distance to send the match to extra-time before the Reds triumphed on penalties.

Keith Houchen’s diving header – Spurs 2-3 Coventry, 1987

This goal is described as one of the greatest goals in one of the greatest finals. With Coventry trailing 2-1, Houchen flew through the air and headed the ball home to equalise and his side then triumphed in extra time.

Trevor Brooking’s winner – West Ham 1-0 Arsenal, 1980

Brooking was the fastest to react as he turned in a Stuart Pearson strike that had flown across goal in the 13th minute. West Ham held on to win the FA Cup for the third time.

Motty’s first cup final as a commentator – Liverpool 1-2 Man United, 1977

All of the goals in this titanic clash between the two arch-rivals came within four minutes in the second half. Jimmy Greenhoff scored the winner for United.

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