Thursday, 14 April 2011

My Top 20 Greatest Sporting Commentary Moments Countdown (No.5 - No.1)

This is the fourth and final blog post installment of my top 20 greatest sporting commentary moments countdown.

My first three blog posts which can be viewed here, here and here, gave my countdown from No.20 down to No.6. Here, we countdown through my Top 5 to the big one - my No.1 Greatest Sporting Commentary Moment of all-time!

But before we move into the Top 5, a reminder of the 15 that came before it...

At No.20 - Ian Botham’s 'Leg-over' (Agnew and Johnston)

At No.19 - Tiger Wood's 16th hole chip at the 2005 US Masters (US commentary)

At No.18Sally Gunnell "Gets the Gold" at Barcelona '92 (David Coleman)

At No.17Steve Davis Vs Dennis Taylor in the 1985 World Snooker Final ('Whispering' Ted Lowe)

At No.16 - "Dessies done it" - Desert Orchid wins the 1989 Cheltenham Gold Cup (Peter O’Sullevan)

At No.15 - "What a Goal! Radford the Scorer!" (John Motson)

At No.14 - "Where were the Germans? But frankly, who cares?!" - The 1988 Seoul Olympic Hockey Final (Barry Davies)

At No.13 - "YOU'VE WON IT KELLY, YOU'VE WON IT!" - Kelly Holmes wins 800m Olympic Gold in the 2004 Athens Olympics (Steve Cram)

At No.12 - "...With All this Mayhem, Foinavon Has Gone off on His Own" - The 1967 Grand National (Michael O'Hehir)

At No.11 - "...Maggie Thatcher, can you hear me? Maggie Thatcher, Your boys took one hell of a beating!" - Norway 2-1 England in 1981 (Bjorge Lillelien)

At No.10 - "...and I've got to stop, becuase I've got a lump in my throat" - Damon Hill wins the 1996 F1 World Championship (Murray Walker)

At No.9 - "...and Emlyn Hughes left" - The Hillsborough Disaster (Peter Jones)

At No.8 - "...and I don't think Foreman's going to get up...AND HE'S OUT. Oh my God, he's won the title back at 32" - The Rumble in the Jungle (Harry Carpenter)

At No.7 - "...its only 12 inches high, solid gold, and it means England are the world champions" - 1966 English World Cup (Kenneth Wolstenholme)

At No.6 - "...its up for grabs now" - Liverpool Vs Arsenal 1989 League Championship Decider (Brian Moore)

So now, this is it. The Top 5, or as I'm going to re-name it (because I've left one out which I forgot!), my Top 5.5!

Please do leave your comments as I genuinely like to know my readers thoughts on the choices that I have made. No doubt you will like some more than others. Hopefully, some have refreshed a far and distant memory whilst for those who may be viewing some of these clips for the first time, I hope this is proving to be an enjoyable educational experience!

So, here we go...

No.5.5 - "IT'S LINFORD CHRISTIE" - 1992 Barcelona Olympics 100m Final (David Coleman)

One of only two commentators to achieve two entries in my chart, the first is David Coleman. As mentioned previously, Coleman had a natural ability in the greatest sporting events, to encapsulate the need to provide information whilst imparting drama into his commentary at the same time.

As I've already said, I am biased in that the 1992 Barcelona Olympics was one of the seminal 'coming-of-age' sporting occasions of my childhood. I was only 10 at the time, but the vivid recollections of sounds and images from that glorious celebration of sport are still with me, burning bright.

The one that burns brightest, is Coleman's wonderful commentary of Linford Christie's victory in the 100m final. His delivery increased in tone as the race progressed before he reached the epic crescendo as Christie crossed the finishing line to win the Gold Medal.

Wind forward to 4m 05 seconds for the commentary in question.

Bloody brilliant!

No.5. - "Good luck mate" - Cliff Thorburn's 147 at the 1983 World Championships (Jack Karnehm)

It all began with a fluke on the first red.

Little were we to know that that piece of good fortune for Canadian Cliff Thorburn would result in the first ever maximum 147 break in the Snooker World Championships. Thorburn, the World Champion in 1980, diligently made his way through the 15 reds and as he closed in on the final colours, the tension in the arena built-up as all who were watching realised that they were on the verge of watching a historic moment in snooker history.

With only the final black to be potted, the commentator Jack Karnehm captured the mood by simply saying: “Good luck, mate". He was speaking for everyone watching.

When the black found its target, Thorburn gave the moment the visual image that matched the tension and drama that had built-up over the previous minutes. He raised both arms, dropped to his knees and on rising was embraced by Terry Griffiths and Bill Werbeniuk, a fellow Canadian. A wonderful scene of joy and Karnehm's commentary played it's role to the full.

No.4 - "...double 12!" - Paul Lim's 9 Dart Finish in the 1990 World Darts Championship (Tony Green)

As a child and teenager, I'd always watch the world darts championship from the Lakeside on the BBC with my father. For the last 2 years, I've been fortunate enough to have visited the 'Home of Darts' and watch it for myself.

But every year without fail, they will show the footage of Paul Lim's 9 dart finish from 1990. It was the first time that this 'Holy Grail' of darting excellence had ever been witnessed in the World Championships. It has of course been replicated many times now in the break-away PDC World Championships over the past decade and more but incredibly, Paul Lim's achievement in 1990 has still not been matched on the Lakeside stage in the BDO World Championship, over the past 21 years.

Tony Green, BBC's voice of darts, gave the commentary that this piece of sporting history deserved. What amuses me is that he alludes to the fact that Lim had had a chance of a 9 dart finish in his previous match after he threw his first three 180s - little was Green to know when he said that how wonderfully prophetic his words were to prove to be!

No matter how many times I watch it, it still sends the shivers down my spine!

No.3 - "...AND SOLSKJAER HAS WON IT!" - 1999 Champions League Final (Clive Tyldesley)

I'm not much of a Clive Tyldesley fan I'll happily admit to you right now, but when Manchester United turned their 1999 Champions League final against Bayern Munich on its head in injury time, his words blended in with the drama like sausages blend with mash, like Morecambe blended with Wise and like I blend with ridiculous similies.

There are times when commentators sometimes over-egg the pudding and make sweeping predictions that then rebound on them when they fail to materialise, but when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer poked in that incredulous second injury-time strike to land what would be the Red Devils' first European Cup since 1968, we all knew that when Tyldesley yelled out those immortal words, he was right.

No.2 - "RED RUM IS GOING TO WIN THE NATIONAL!" - 1973 Grand National (Peter O'Sullevan)

Peter O'Sullevan joins David Coleman as the only commentators to achieve two entries in my top 20 and this effort has really stood the test of time. Only a few others date back further than the famous words uttered by racing's favourite commentator when a certain Red Rum overtook a tiring Crisp in the final few yards to win what would be the first of a historic 3 Grand Nationals.

It was an incredible finale as Crisp, who had led by such a distance for so much of the race, saw his lead evaporate as Red Rum clawed his rival back in. It was one of the greatest finishes to a Grand National and O'Sullevan's authoritative commentary lent itself to the unfolding drama.

Truly one of the greatest pieces of commentary in sporting history.

But, not in this humble sports fan's opinion, the greatest. For me there is one piece of commentary that blows the rest away...

No.1 - "THIS IS GARETH EDWARDS...A DRAMATIC START...WHAT A SCORE!" - Gareth Edwards 1973 Barbarians Try Vs New Zealand (Cliff Morgan)

It was, most will agree, the greatest try scored in the history of rugby football. It was blessed with having had the good fortune of being matched by the commentary that covered it.

The try scored by Gareth Edwards in the opening minutes of the friendly match between the Barbarians and New Zealand came from the Gods. The commentary by Cliff Morgan, in that distinctly Welsh voice, did likewise.

Ironically, Cliff Morgan's commentary would never have happened had the iconic Bill McLaren not conceded defeat to a bad bout of flu just two hours before kick-off. What would McLaren in full flow have made of it all?!

Of course we'll never know and indeed we don't need too because here we are, watching what in my opinion is the best piece of sporting commentary, ever.

So, there we have it. A countdown of my now 21 (!) top sporting commentating moments of all-time. I hope you enjoyed them and agreed with some of my entries, if not all of them!


  1. Bloody fantastic :D
    Although, I disagree with the last one

  2. Just realised that my No.5 from the Crucible hadn't uploaded - have now put that right.