Barry Davies, the BBC's stately and beloved commentator for many years, spoke to Joe Molloy on Off the Ball this afternoon.
While not exactly a monster of crankiness, he was forthright about his main objection to modern football commentary. His main gripe with the modern school of commentary is their most compulsive need to say almost everything that's happening.
He has written before about his irritation with TV commentators who talk all the time. 'It's very difficult, as the viewer, to sit and enjoy the match with people talking to you all the time', he wrote. Molloy asked him if he felt modern football commentators talk too much.
Yes, I think so. I think, with one or two, the position is worse, because they're not talking to you, they're talking at you. I'm not saying it's wrong but I find a lot of people go along with my views and they're not all of my generation. My children are now in their early 40s but their friends would agree with that and I even find young people saying now 'why do commentators talk so much?'
The distinction between radio and television commentary has become blurred, according to Davies. He believed the jobs were intrinsically different.
A television commentator does not need to breathlessly and urgently inform the viewer of everything that's happening in the style of Micheal O'Mhuircheartaigh. The viewer can see it all.
The Motson/Davies debate cropped up.
Molloy asked Davies whether it got on his wick that Motson was allocated so many more of the biggest games. For instance, Davies only commentated on his first FA Cup Final in 1995, when Everton beat Manchester United thanks to a goal from Paul Rideout.
He made little effort to conceal his annoyance with the BBC's bias towards Motson's style for the biggest matches.
Well, I obviously asked myself that question and occasionally asked people who were involved in making the decision. No one could ever give me an answer. There was a considerable difference in our styles which was good for the programme and it was good for us. But the balance of the major games was very strongly in his favour.
(Sounding weary) One has to accept the fact that people will make decisions. I don't know why they gave him quite the percentage (of big games) compare with my percentage. I don't think it threatened my confidence, it might have increased my irritation.
Davies, of course, always believed that the late Richie Benaud was the best commentator of them all.
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