Football: Fan's eye view - No 237: The Commentators - Motson and Pearce locked in a sealed room
Saturday 20 December 1997
My days of trekking round the country in the wet and the cold are long gone, overtaken by my age and the cost, even the availability, of tickets. A casualty perhaps of all-seater stadiums, I have become reliant on the television, taking what is on offer so now I have no escape from the commentator who has become, by default, my surrogate companion. The commentator is inescapable, my friend or my nightmare.
I grew up hearing Kenneth Wolstenholme and David Coleman, both with a style still redolent of those announcers in evening dress. Then there was Star Soccer on the then ATV Midlands network on a Sunday afternoon, perfect after a traditionally large lunch, with Hugh Johns, of patrician style, and Barry Davies, who was going through his "corner ball" phase.
Davies, as far as I am concerned, is welcome anytime, as indeed is Brian Moore. Both, though, have started to get a little bit predictable and nationalistic: a bit like real life, really. Whatever else, though, keep John Motson away from me, the anorak from hell with an irritating voice to match, a man with many facts but little wit.
Commentary on the major channels has been in the same hands for 20 years or more which only leaves Channels 4 and 5 with the opportunity to provide some new blood, and up-to-date wit. Football Italia has provided it, and it is with James Richardson, Gary Bloom and Peter Brackley that I place my sofa-bound future hopes for a good companion.
Wit and wisdom can come in lightning flashes, like the time that one commentator on Serie A told summariser Luther Blissett that he had called his dog Blissett, not after him but the erstwhile Brentford striker, Gary. Such moments make priceless televised football.
Unfortunately, Channel 5 has turned up something nasty; something that calls itself Jonathon Pearce. There is something to be said for leaving at least one stone unturned. If Motson irritates me, then Pearce annoys me to the point of television destruction. He is the proverbial "neighbour from hell" because he transgresses the rule I hold dearest: let the action speak for itself unless there is something to contribute. I sometimes dream about Motson and Pearce locked in a sealed room together: I do not mind what they talk about, only that the door is sealed and stays so.
We all have our opinions, those of us relegated to watching less than the real thing. I admit to being a television groupie, by necessity or choice, but there again, even Jenny Fabian, author of the original Groupie, has started writing about football. But even the commentators I hate, I love to hate.
Weather bomb in pictures: Storms cuts power for tens of thousands – and snow is on the way
Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
Russell Brand was rendered speechless on Question Time by this man
Fury at Airbus after it hints the super-jumbo may be mothballed
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Shock poll shows voters believe Ukip is to the left of the Tories
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits record low as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Ukip candidate jokes about 'shooting peasants' in racist and homophobic rant
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
Germany sees 'visible rise' in support for far-right extremism in response to perceived 'Islamisation' of the West
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
£15000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We currently have an opportunit...
£17000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We currently have an opportunit...
£25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity to join ...
£190 - £200 per day: Ashdown Group: Payroll & Finance Manager - Covent Garden,...