Arthur Montford: Scottish sports broadcaster

His distinctive football commentaries made him an icon north of the border

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The Independent Online

South of the border, before the advent of John Motson, Barry Davies et al, the definitive voices of television football commentary were those of David Coleman and Kenneth Wolstenholme. In Scotland they belonged to Archie Macpherson, still broadcasting at 77, and Arthur Montford. From 1957 until his retirement in 1989, Montford presented more than 2,000 editions of STV’s Scotsport – invariably sporting his trademark houndstooth-check jackets – as well as contributing around 400 match commentaries.

After cutting his teeth as a reporter with the Glasgow Evening News, Daily Record and Evening Times, Montford moved on to radio match reports for the BBC before joining STV as a continuity announcer. His enthusiasm for football – which stemmed from his lifelong allegiance to Greenock Morton – made him an obvious choice to convey the sport’s ebb and flow.

A major opportunity came when Hampden Park staged the 1960 European Cup final, in which Real Madrid routed Eintracht Frankfurt 7-3. However, when Montford and his crew arrived, they found the BBC had taken all the space on the South Stand gantry. They set up in the North Stand and, he always claimed, won more viewers in Scotland.

Covering the national team, Montford’s professionalism wrestled with his patriotism. When Scotland faced Czechoslovakia in 1973, with a place in the World Cup finals at stake, his commentary was laced with warnings to the boys in dark blue; And when Kenny Dalglish’s goal against Wales secured the Scots’ passage four years later, his joy was unconfined: “It’s there! Argentina here we come!”

One quirk of his commentaries was the use of the word “stramash” to describe a goalmouth scramble or brawl. On the day of his funeral, the Scottish Sun’s story was headlined: “Stramashes to Ashes”.

Arthur Montford, sports broadcaster: born Glasgow 25 May 1929; married twice; died Torrance, East Dunbartonshire 25 November 2014.

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