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How John Motson became the greatest commentator – if not the best | Barney Ronay

The BBC favourite's longevity has elevated him to a position where his ability no longer matters

English football has always had a sense of itself as something noisy and unbound, a business above all of sounds and textures. With this in mind it is not surprising that in England we revere to an usual degree the role of the commentator, the man whose job it is to shout over the top of football in tones of dismay and celebration.

This week the BBC has been celebrating 40 years of John Motson. I'm not here to assault the legacy of Motson, who is a passionate broadcaster and a likable figure, despite the lurking suspicion that football commentary, like being a drivetime DJ on regional radio, is one of those surprisingly cut-throat careers, all trapped ambition, Partridge-esque egomania explosions and lapel-grappling face-offs against the canteen toilet sinks. In any case the BBC is
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