“Van Den Hauwe – One Last Throw Of The Dice…”

Without the benefit of the visual image, the unique medium of radio means that live football commentary comes to life in an entirely different way than television. Pete Jones recalls some of his most memorable moments experienced that way

Pete Jones 13/08/2020 42comments  |  Jump to last

A few years ago, Everton asked fans to write about their most memorable match and I contributed a piece about the Sunderland home game during the 1984-85 Championship season. It wasn't selected, I suspect partly because it exposed just how faulty my memory of the game was. I realised this early on and consequently wrote more about memories than about the match. It could have been rejected because it was rubbish, of course.

Memory is something I'm fascinated by, an interest sparked by reading testimonies of WW1 in general, and the 1914 Christmas Truce in particular. Many historians reject any recollections that were not written down either at the time or very close to it; but at the same time others have chronicled recollections from WW1 veterans 80 years after the event and found them crystal clear.

What all of this showed me is that my most vivid memories are visual, they aren't based on facts and figures but do have a longevity that makes them appear like yesterday. Or at least I think they do.

Take the Sunderland game; I remember the score was 4-1 and that the game followed the 1-2 win at Tottenham in midweek which had put daylight between the two teams at the top of the table. I know that Sunderland scored very early through an Ian Wallace header, after which Everton replied with two Andy Gray diving headers and a peach of a goal from Trevor Steven. Yet I couldn't recall Everton's fourth, and I was convinced that, following their goal, Sunderland were pinned in their own half, if not their own box for the rest of the game. What was more bizarre is that I was convinced the game kicked off early to accommodate the Grand National. Most of this is completely wrong.

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A bit of internet research revealed that the National was seven days previous to the Sunderland game which was on 6 April 1985, and that it was won by a 50-1 outsider, Last Suspect. Despite my recollection, the match kicked off at 3pm. The video of the highlights revealed that Graeme Sharp scored the fourth, but also that, had it been 3-3 at half-time, it wouldn't have been a travesty. Sunderland had a goal chalked off for a very tight offside and there was a stupendous clearance off the line by Gary Stevens.

But I also realised that I could remember Andy Gray's second diving header as I saw it at the time, not from the highlights. I can see it now: Trevor Steven coming back onto his right foot in front of me to cross and Chris Turner's desperate attempt to keep the bullet header out. Interestingly I can remember a remark in the aftermath of the Sunderland goal that couldn't have been recorded; someone behind me saying something like “Typical Everton, they get their noses in front and then throw it away”. I can't remember if we reminded them of the comment at the final whistle. As I say, quite a lot about that day is hazy.

And it's not just me. 3 May 2020 was the 34th anniversary of Gary Lineker scoring the hat-trick against Southampton the following season that failed to win us the championship. I didn't go to that game because I was in Surrey for my cousin's wedding. I spotted the anniversary on the internet (of the Lineker treble rather than my cousin's significant date) and texted congratulations to her. She came back to say that she had always been convinced that she had got married on Cup Final Day, but that was the following Saturday, and probably the worst I've ever felt while supporting Everton.

I remember images, not abstract facts; but it's not like in Harry Potter where the memory can be extracted magically and replayed. If it could, I would see if my earliest football memory really was my dad coming back to my nan's house in Anfield and saying that Everton had won the championship. The date was 11 May 1963, so just before my 6th birthday. I'd also like to check my recollection of the announcement of Everton winning the title in 1970 going across the TV screen as we were watching, and if the image in my mind's eye of Andy King's goal against Liverpool in 1977 is really as I saw it. I can see the dark mass of the upper Gwladys Street stand as Ray Clemence dives and can't stop the shot.

There are of course lots of games that I saw on the TV with commentary, but I cannot for the life of me remember one word. Kenneth Wolstenholme's immortal line “Some people are on the pitch, they think it's all over; it is now!” is probably the only one, but that has been replayed so many times. As a fan of New Order's ‘World In Motion' (apart from the rubbish rap from John Barnes) I probably remember it more from that.

Much more memorable are the games that I followed on the radio, and here it is words that stick in the memory, or at least I thought they did. Radio commentary is singular; it is your only input, unlike TV, and a good radio commentary magnifies the tension. You only have one source and events, usually goals, come as a jolt because you can't follow the action with your eyes. Time is an elastic thing where sport is concerned but it seems to move even faster or slower on the radio, depending on the state of the game. You can make a tension-diffusing cup of tea, but that isn't much help, especially when like me, you don't drink tea. I've even been known to wash the dishes; the tension has been that bad.

That said, I've listened to radio commentaries while watching games at Goodison Park and the commentators do dramatise things a bit. I think it was Radio Merseyside's Graham Beecroft (or Radio City's Graham Beecroft) who used to say danger here as the opposition threatened to break. This sometimes meant that a member of the opposition had ventured across the half-way line but, as we have already established, my memory isn't always reliable.

While Graham Beecroft gets an honourable mention for commentaries, it is Clive Tyldesley, then of Radio City, who is for me the voice of Everton's glory years in the eighties. It was my original intention to regale you with the words used to describe some of the great moments in Everton's history, many of which were issued on cassette tape (look it up on the internet if you don't know what I'm talking about, kids). However when I dug the tapes out of the box and put them in my venerable cassette player, all that happened were a series of clicks and a jammed lid. I'm sure it's all on the electrical interweb somewhere (along with how to fix the cassette player), but I don't want to head there just yet. So I'm going to have to rely on memory yet again, but not just my memory; I contacted my friends in the Everton historical community to see what they remember.

My friend Tony was a particularly good source of recollections. In particular, he remembered the commentary from the away game at Spurs four days before the Sunderland game in 1985 (and, as we have now established, the week after Aintree). He can remember Clive Tyldesley's words as Trevor Steven dispossessed the Spurs left-back Mark Bowen and bore down on goal – "He's round the keeper, Trevor Steven must score — he has scored!" I must have heard it but I can't remember the words. I'm sure I heard Clive describe the amazing save that Neville Southall made from Mark Falco's point-blank header but, although I can see that in my mind's eye from the highlights, I can't recall how he described it.

I am sure I was ecstatic at the final whistle at White Hart Lane; and that it was the point at which I started to believe that it might be our year. I suspect the guy behind me at the Sunderland game felt the same way, and it was the damage to the green shoots of optimism that prompted his comment when Ian Wallace scored for Sunderland. Suddenly it all falls into place.

Tony also recalled a commentary that I am sure didn't appear on any post-season compilation tapes. He was listening to Everton playing in a howling gale at Newcastle in the late '80s when Graham Beecroft said "The beleaguered Everton defence now know how General Custer felt at the Alamo." Tony and his dad absolutely cracked up and laughed to the end of the game, despite it ending in a 2-0 defeat; they recognised that the battle of Little Big Horn and the Alamo were over 1,200 miles and 42 years apart.

It sounds like I'm picking on Graham Beecroft but I'm not (honest). Tony's prodigious feat of memory illustrates the great irony of sports commentary, that it is the mistakes that get remembered long after the commentaries and often the events are forgotten. They are mercilessly seized upon and preserved for posterity. This is not to criticize commentators in general; I've appeared on radio and found it nerve-wracking trying to avoid saying something stupid. Given the sheer amount of commentary and the number of words, it is inevitable that the odd mistake creeps in. These are obviously not limited to football; indeed, the varying rhythms and pace of different sports make for a wide range of commentary cock-ups. Some are so good they are classic comedy moments in their own right, transcending sport entirely.

Most of the errors result from momentary brain fades by the commentator; for example, in the early days of televised snooker, when ‘Whispering' Ted Lowe said "And for those of you who are watching in black and white, the pink is next to the green". Again, if you don't remember black and white TV, put it into your search engine of choice; but if you know the difference between 425 and 625 lines, then you'll understand.

However, the king of the commentary cock-up was BBC's long-serving sports anchorman, David Coleman. He presented programmes on almost every sport for decades and he even gave his name to the comedy genre — Colemanballs. It took its name from the column in the satirical magazine ‘Private Eye' which documented the errors fortnightly. Coleman's classics are, to quote his favourite line "quite remarkable" and tended to result from his excitement and enthusiasm. As he was the BBC's go-to guy for decades, including apparently six Olympics and four World Cups, there are plenty of examples to choose from. My favourites include:

"That's the fastest time ever run — but it's not as fast as the world record…"

"This is a truly international field, no Britons involved."

"And the line-up for the final of the women's 400 metres hurdles includes three Russians, two East Germans, a Pole, a Swede and a Frenchman."

"He is accelerating all the time. The last lap was run in 64 seconds and the one before that in 62…"

And I think my number one, the subtly stupid - "Her time is about 4:33, which she's capable of."

Coleman presented Grandstand for years and football provided a new set of clangers. For example, he illustrated why the word ‘literally' should be banned from sports commentary: "He missed the goal by literally a million miles." Sometimes he was geographically challenged - "Both of the Villa scorers — Withe and Mortimer — were born in Liverpool, as was the Villa manager Ron Saunders who was born in Birkenhead." I didn't hear that live as I was at that game, against Liverpool, on 10 January 1981; Coleman's words bring it all back.

Sometimes you can see what he was trying to say; substitute gone for lost and "Forest have now lost six matches without winning" would make perfect sense. Some sentences started well but went downhill, as in "The front wheel crosses the finish line, closely followed by the back wheel." Maybe cycling (or maybe motorcycling) wasn't his thing. As for "If that had gone in, it would have been a goal" – that defies any rational explanation.

So famous did Coleman's gaffes become that some classics were attributed to him even when it was someone else. The great Cuban runner, Alberto Juantorena, had a 9-foot stride which allowed him to storm away from the competition and resulted in the classic "And there goes Juantorena down the back straight, opening his legs and showing his class." This is often quoted as "Juantorena comes off the bend, opens his legs and shows us his class" which is slightly funnier; however, it wasn't Coleman but the BBC Athletics commentator Ron Pickering. Some gaffes attributed to Coleman may even have been invented. The line "Harry Commentator is your Carpenter" could well be a figment of my imagination but is so good that I struggle to remember the BBC's long-serving boxing correspondent's real name.

All of this illustrates that, despite the millions of words of commentary, it is the occasional mistakes that get remembered. But Coleman could be a fine commentator. To hear him at his excited and enthusiastic best, I looked for Ann Packer's sensational run to win the 1964 Tokyo Olympics 800m final. Packer, the mother of the Brightwell brothers who were teammates of Andy Hinchcliffe at Manchester City, stormed to the win from near the back. Coleman expressed the excitement that we felt watching it; it even reminded me of the tune that accompanied the coverage of the Tokyo games, so evocative was it. I must admit some sympathy for getting carried away with British athletic success; it's easy to forget just how unsuccessful most British athletes were at the Olympics that Coleman covered. His unfailing optimism was nearly always dashed as the plucky Brits, needing to "pull out the big one", failed to do so.

Unlike David Coleman, most sporting commentary and interview errors are one-offs. Among my favourites with an Everton theme are Gordon Lee's line "Just because you are dead doesn't mean you have to lie down and be buried." And "If you don't believe you can win, there is no point in getting out of bed at the end of the day." That's everybody's favourite former bin man and the world's greatest goalkeeper; I can almost hear him saying it. Casting the net wider, one of my absolute favourites came when Allan Clarke, at the time manager of Leeds Utd, was asked what he thought of something by ITV's Brian Moore. He replied "I don't think, Brian; you don't think in this game"; I still find it hard not to quote it when anyone asks me what I think.

Some statements only become funny due to subsequent events, usually when predictions go wrong. For example, Ron Atkinson's typically overconfident statement on camera before the start of the 1984-85 season, when he said that the 1st Division championship would be a two-horse race. He couldn't see anyone other than Manchester Utd and Liverpool challenging; by the following May, his Man Utd team had finished 4th. I am not a fan of big Ron, and Neil Warnock is not my cup of tea either, which is probably why I laugh at his characteristically bonkers quote: "Games don't come any bigger than the FA Cup semi-final."

Most of these quotes are very old now I look at them, which probably means I haven't been paying attention recently. One man who has kept the flag burning or the torch flying for the verbal gaffe is Chris ‘Unbelievable Jeff' Kamara on Sky Sports. We don't have the channel anymore and, to be honest, I only miss the mistakes, of which Kamara's "The corners are coming in from left, right and centre. Actually, no, just left and right" is up there with the best. What made it was the look on Jeff Stelling's face; it was comedy gold.

However, I think of commentaries that make me laugh the most come from cricket. Here, the rhythms are slow enough for the gag to be deliberate and carefully set up, with Test Match Special's Jonathan Agnew a master. His wind-up of Geoffrey Boycott over the downgrading of his 100th hundred was a masterpiece for which my least favourite professional Yorkshireman fell – hook, line and sinker. As with other sports, some cricket gaffes can be imaginary; the former producer of TMS, Peter Baxter, insists that nobody ever said "The bowler's Holding the batsman's Willey". However, when Jonathan Agnew commentated on Ian Botham stepping on his own wicket in a 1991 Test Match with the words "He didn't quite get his leg over", his co-commentator Brian Johnstone slowly dissolved into uncontrollable giggles. It has been voted the best piece of sports commentary ever; it certainly cracks me up whenever I hear it.

There is also the possibility that the commentary gaffe may not be entirely accidental. Syd Waddell, the darts commentator, was famous for his carpet chewing style, but Syd was a Cambridge graduate and his immortal line, "There's only one word for that - magic darts" may not have been entirely off the cuff. Allegedly.

But for one commentator, the gaffes are a major part of the entertainment. Murray Walker's Formula 1 commentaries on what can often be a very dull spectacle are legendary. The late great Clive James described him as commentating like his trousers were on fire. Walker was also described as the man who talks in BLOCK CAPITALS, which may be another of Clive James's, and I find when I quote Murray that typing the words in upper case adds to the effect. If you read some of Murray's classics:

"Cars are going off the track – left, right and centre!"

"With half the race gone, there's still half the race to go!"

"Do my eyes deceive me or is Senna's engine sounding rough?"

And then read them as:




…you get the idea.

Like David Coleman, the gaffes were the result of excitement and enthusiasm (or over-excitement and over-enthusiasm) rather than stupidity, for Walker is no fool. He had a parallel career in advertising in which he worked on many successful campaigns; he came up with the name for the Vauxhall Ventora and thought up the Opal Fruits jingle "Made to make your mouth water!" He is often credited with the Mars Bar line "A Mars a day helps you work, rest and play" but modestly points out that, while he was part of the team, the words were not his.

Murray Walker's double act with the late James Hunt was also one of the great commentary partnerships. Hunt the Shunt had hit most of the barriers on most of the circuits before winning the World Championship, but understood the sport deeply. A man who not so much burned the candle at both ends but broke it in two and had four flames going simultaneously, Hunt's dry, hungover summaries were a perfect counterpoint to Walker's smouldering keks delivery.

One classic moment seemed to show that Murray had a sort of negative delay; instead of being a couple of seconds ahead, he seemed to be a couple behind. He was commentating on the closing stages of a race in which Nigel Mansell was leading and was saying something along the lines of "NOTHING CAN STOP NIGEL MANSELL TAKING THE CHEQUERED FLAG!" … just after one of the tyres came off the car. Hunt drily pointed out that the left rear was bouncing across the circuit. For me it was one of the great moments in sport, summed up by another of Murray's classics — “UNLESS I AM VERY MUCH MISTAKEN! YES! I AM, VERY MUCH MISTAKEN!” I like Formula 1 but it can be turgid with only occasional excitement, so Murray's commentaries were a big part of the fun. His periodic gaffes certainly didn't affect his popularity, at least not around here.

Even Clive Tyldesley has been known to come out with the occasional error; I can forgive him "Samuel Eto'o is reputedly the highest-paid player in the world at £350,000 per week - that's £5,000 a day". My mental arithmetic gives me no room to criticize.

But is something written down from a commentary really a commentary or just a funny line? Is it any different from a newspaper blooper, like one of my favourite editing failures, from the York Advertiser - While City were fighting a bad attack of wind, their FA Cup opponents (Altrincham) were providing the biggest Cup upset so fart this season? For that matter, is a recorded radio commentary really the same when you know what's going to happen? You can reconstruct the emotion but you can't recreate the tension.

If I limit myself to trying to remember a piece of commentary which I haven't got recorded, found on the web, or seen written down, I'm struggling; although as we are talking about events 35 years ago, I'm not getting too worried about it. It's what makes memories so interesting. The only one I can remember is the title of this piece; the voice is Clive Tyldesley's and the occasion was an FA Cup tie at Middlesborough's old Ayersome Park. Until I looked it up, I couldn't remember which year it was beyond it being late '80s, but I knew that the game ended 2-2. As far as I know, it isn't on any compilation tapes anywhere, so I remember it as I heard it at the time. I'm not the only one to recall the game either; it was mentioned by Everton stat supremo, Steve Johnson, whose epic Everton Results website was my first port of call to find the date of the game. Regular ToffeeWeb contributor, Rob Sawyer, also remembered the game, and recalled a similar experience to mine.

Everton had taken the lead only to be pegged back with a goal seconds from the end of normal time. Boro then scored in extra time and, as stoppage time in extra time started, Everton were awarded a free-kick deep inside their own half. As Pat Van Den Hauwe got ready to take it, everyone else piled forward. I was listening in the kitchen, leaning against the lucky cupboard, something I'd done a lot during those years when the lucky cupboard was very lucky. Clive Tyldesley's words screwed up the tension another notch: “Van Den Hauwe — one last throw of the dice……”. What followed was something like “On by Sharp, Heath, Steven arriving, HE'S SCORED!”

It was one of those moments when I went absolutely crazy, such was the excitement and relief. It had happened when Andy King scored in 1977 against Liverpool and again at the final whistle in that game. I also remember losing it completely when Adrian Heath scored against Southampton at Highbury in 1984; had I been nearer the pitch, I would have joined the current metro mayor of Manchester out there. But there was something about Trevor Steven's goal at Middlesborough, perhaps because I was in the privacy of my own kitchen, which meant I went completely bonkers. It may be why Clive Tyldesley's words have stayed with me, such was the unrestrained joy that followed. I still get a buzz just typing the words.

While I've been working on this, it has been announced that Clive Tyldesley is leaving ITV football commentary. I can't believe that it will be the last we hear of him, given his track record and the sheer number of different ways to follow games these days. But I wonder if anything in the future will match the excitement of that Boro game, especially as you can now get commentaries on different platforms, each of which seem to get increasingly out of phase. And that is before you introduce the malign influence of VAR spending five minutes to get decisions wrong.

I was going to finish by saying thanks for the memories as Bob Hope used to sing, but it might have been Dean Martin, or was that ‘Memories Are Made Of This'? Maybe I'm confusing him with Perry Como, or was that ‘Magic Moments'? Unfortunately, I think I've proved comprehensively that the song that best sums all of this up is the old Maurice Chevalier number ‘Yes, I Remember It Well' in which the French crooner ironically shows that he doesn't. But I do remember that radio commentary in general, and Clive Tyldesley in particular, has been a big part of supporting Everton, good and bad. It is how I experienced lots of magic moments – even if my memories aren't made of them.

Pete Jones — © 2020.

This is dedicated to the man in the title. I've got to know Pat a little through Everton in the Community and he is nothing like his old nickname; he's sharp, funny and a thoroughly good egg. The only extreme aspects of his personality are modesty and humility despite all of his achievements. When I asked him what he remembered about the winning goal at Norwich the last time we won the Championship, he clammed up and said “I just shut me eyes and ‘it it”; Knowing Patrick, he'll probably give me a hard time about even mentioning it.

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Reader Comments (42)

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Jim Townson
1 Posted 14/08/2020 at 00:42:11
You may find this YouTube video of interest Peter,

Everton Season Review Champions 1984

Someone has matched Clive Tyldesley's commentary to the pictures. Part 2 never arrived... 😢

Dennis Stevens
2 Posted 14/08/2020 at 00:56:23
Who did that cricket one about a fielder standing with their legs wide apart waiting for a tickle?
Derek Taylor
3 Posted 14/08/2020 at 01:28:29
The legendary Fred Trueman said of Reverend David Shepphard who later became Bishop of LIverpool+
Jack Convery
4 Posted 14/08/2020 at 01:36:24
I remember the Mboro equaliser like it was yesterday. Me and our kid jumping around the bedroom like idiots and me ma shouting cos we nearly brought the ceiling down. I love radio commentaries. The atmosphere of a night game seems somehow heightened and a winning result more significant for some reason.

The best cricketing commentary was Brian Johnson - The bowler's Holding the batsman's Willey. Sheer class.

Tony Hill
5 Posted 14/08/2020 at 03:18:03
I was at that Boro game. Going there in the 80s was like visiting a chemical factory on the moon.

Pat is one of my favourites and he showed us his lovely Blue soul on Howard’s Way.

Tony Hill
6 Posted 14/08/2020 at 03:32:48
PS nice enough fella, Tyldesley, but I never thought his heart was anywhere near us except by way of professional duty. I appreciate this may not be the majority view but I think ITV are right to demote him; he’s become a fucking witterer.
Michael O'Malley
7 Posted 14/08/2020 at 08:20:10
Physco Pat was my absolute favourite player in that side. He was a great full-back who could also play centre-half.

One of my favourite memories was going down to Norwich in 1987 when he scored the only goal of the game to clinch the league title. Fantastic memories, especially in these dark days.

Chris Williams
8 Posted 14/08/2020 at 09:17:57
Another couple of gaffes:

The batsman's Holding the bowler's Willey

There's a wonderful sight. The Queen Mother kissing the cox of the winning crew (on the radio, after the Boat Race).

Eddie Dunn
9 Posted 14/08/2020 at 09:23:49
Thanks for the entertaining read, Pete.

You mention memories and how they can become somewhat distorted. I was at Norwich when Pat got the winner to clinch the title, I had gone up there from London on the train. Whilst most Blues were on that dreaded cross-country marathon, many London based Blues were heading to Liverpool Street.

I hardly recall anything of the game itself, only that it was sunny, I had a pint in a local pub to find other Evertonians ensconsed. I remember the delirium of the goal but, like most around me, it took a minute or two before we knew Pat had scored it, such was the confusion.

I was in the away end when Nev made those saves at The Lane. He was at the other end when he made That save from Falcao.

I was also at the Cricket at the oval when Botham stepped on his wicket. I had my Walkman with me but to this day I can't remember if I heard the laughter at the time, or later on when I got home.

In Rotterdam, my memories of the game are a mingled mash-up of real alcohol-fuelled events and TV footage. As soon as we got home from there, we all sat down and watched the recording.

As for the radio commentaries, the old Radio 2 had some great old-fashioned stalwarts and I miss the likes of Jimmy Armfield giving measured insights and analysis. The current crop of vacuous dimwits is a sad reflection of our dumbed-down media.

Tony Abrahams
10 Posted 14/08/2020 at 09:31:10
It's unusual to really remember an Everton game I didn't attend but this is one game that springs right into my memory, Pete.

I was living in digs in Nottingham, and all the lads were round the radio laughing because Everton were losing, and I knew they couldn't wait for the final whistle so they could all destroy me, because I never shut up about the Blues.

I went up to my room at the top of the house, “Bastards," I thought, "at least I can kick them down the stairs when they all run up to destroy me” then Steven scored, and I was able to run round the house and absolutely wreck every bedroom in the house, before I made it downstairs, and everyone of them was sitting around the pool table, waiting for me.

Fuckin-gerrin – you horrible bastards- yers nearly had me, I was screaming, and you would have thought everyone in the house was a Boro fan, they were all that gutted.

I danced round the room screaming, before running out shouting “Yers better go and check yer bedrooms, we've had burglars," and ran upstairs to lock my bedroom!

Funny memories, Pete, I think I will wind Pat up the next time I'm in his company, because I never knew he took the free-kick!

Derek Thomas
11 Posted 14/08/2020 at 09:31:17
An epic saga there, Pete, god knows how long it would've been if your memory was perfect.
Dave Abrahams
12 Posted 14/08/2020 at 10:27:35
Absolutely brilliant piece of writing Pete, television nearly destroyed the wireless but it came back fighting and beats it hands down at times, making you use your imagination. “Books at Bedtime” was one of my favourites.

“You know what I mean, Harry” was on TV, Harry Carpenter and Frank Bruno it became a favourite with boxing fans.

David Coleman, I met him at Manchester just before the Everton - Liverpool semi-final in 1971, he was getting ready to go into a Portacabin:

“Go in there and spout your usual rubbish” I said to him with a smile on my face.

“Thank you, Scouse,” he replied, “Very generous of you.” Ruffling my hair with a bigger smile on his face.

My own gaffe on radio was when Howard Kendall was announced as Everton's manager for the third time. Andy Gray had messed Everton around about the job, angling for a better contract on TV.

I had got on the phone to give my verdict starting with “Before I begin, here's a large strawberry (meaning raspberry) for Andy Gray," blowing one down the phone. The announcer was too surprised to point out my mistake.

Pete, your final paragraph on Pat, you've got him spot on.

Craig Walker
13 Posted 14/08/2020 at 10:35:13
Amazing that you would quote "one last throw of the dice", Pete. That is probably the one bit of Clive Tyldesley commentary I can recall from many hours of listening to him.

I was still at school in Wigan and could only get to Goodison when my dad would take us. We'd go maybe 6 times per season but always Saturday 3 pm games. I can remember listening to that cup tie in our front room and dad walked out in disappointment. I remember going crazy too when we scored.

I also remember listening to Radio City during a mighty topsy-turvy cup-tie with Sheffield Wednesday when there would be multiple replays. Everton went to their place and thumped them 5-0 (I think) in the second replay.

I remember listening the Lineker hat-trick game against Southampton. My recollection of that game was that rumour circulated that Liverpool were losing and Goodison started cheering. It was a false rumour. I can still get the sick feeling seeing Dalglish hit that goal at Stamford Bridge.

There were disappointments – I'll never forget taking my football to the local field in tears straight after the '85 and '86 finals but they were great days.

I always preferred Kev Keetings as a commentator. I hear him the odd time on Sky – I think he used to do some La Liga games. I think he was a good commentator.

Alan J Thompson
14 Posted 14/08/2020 at 11:17:59
About 40 years ago on TV in Sydney was a Sunday morning sports programme hosted by a somewhat self-important Rex Mossop who claim to sporting fame was that he was selected to represent Australia at both Rugby Union and Rugby League.

Mossop lived in a beachside suburb that was popular with nude sunbathers and one day he made a citizens arrest of a man coming off the beach in his altogether.

Mossop was interviewed by TV and it was aired on most stations for several hours before anyone realized what he was saying which was; "I'm sick and tired of having male and female genitals shoved down my throat!"

Richard Duff
15 Posted 14/08/2020 at 11:56:44
Thanks, Pete,

Reading your article got me thinking about Everton games on the radio and, although there are a few I remember, the first one I thought of was that 2-2 with Boro. They were a good team and a bit of a fairytale so it seemed that the neutral was very much rooting for them, especially having held us to a draw at Goodison in the first match.

Memorable for the tension, the noise and the expectation, but also for my own circumstances. I had recently had a bedroom to myself, with my brother moving across the hall and this new-found freedom and space allowed me to turn it into an imaginary stadium. With a small potato sized "ball" made of sellotape and a big squashy bed to land on, I would listen to the game while bouncing the ball off the wall and performing diving headers into the "net" of the radiator.

I was a fair dreamer and would often allow the opposition a goal or two before retrieving the situation for an Everton win.

This is what I was doing when Trev scored on the radio and with no pictures or replays, it was easy to recreate the goal in 20 different ways, which I set about doing.

Eventually it wasn't the bed that broke from cushioning the landings but the radiator fixing in the top left did give way and it fell down the wall on that side. A very unhappy Dad not only had to re-attach it somehow but had to listen to the post-game ramblings as well. We still talk about it now.

As I say, Thanks!

Patrick McFarlane
16 Posted 14/08/2020 at 12:43:07
Having looked at that cup game at Boro again, Tricky Trevor's 'goal' looks more like an oggy by the Boro defender – who cares!

It was a memorable moment to savour as the media were loving the fact that Everton might lose to an underdog.

Boro v Everton

Dave Southword
17 Posted 14/08/2020 at 13:50:27
Chris #8,

That cricket one wasn't a gaffe – he'd been waiting years to say it!

Paul Birmingham
18 Posted 14/08/2020 at 14:03:04
Those were the days... scary where time has gone since, and how fortunes in football can change.

How we could do with Pyscho Pat character in the current team.

Jay Wood

19 Posted 14/08/2020 at 14:35:41
A fun read as ever Pete. Well done.

I used to always pick up the latest Private Eye edition of Colemanballs when they came out. They ran well into double figures. Always good value for money.

Haven't Private Eye expanded the term to 'Mediaballs' these days to encompass all manner of gaffes?

John [grey] Major came out with some beauts, like this:

"When your back's against the wall it's time to turn round and fight"

Jack Convery
20 Posted 14/08/2020 at 17:04:14
Heard on an archaeology programme when examining an ancient skeleton:

"He was decapitated? Is that what killed him?"

By the way, that save from Southall, tipping it onto the bar – what a goalie and what a man. Pickford – eat your heart out!

Gerry Morrison
21 Posted 14/08/2020 at 17:44:43
Thanks for that, Pete. What a great read.
John Pendleton
22 Posted 14/08/2020 at 19:01:59
Tony Hill (5) - having lived there for 20 years I thought I'd heard them all but that made me titter.

I have very fond memories of that particular Boro game from a particularly unique perspective. I was there but I wasn't.

A student at Teesside Poly in Middlesbrough, I had a ticket to go in the Boro end with two other students - a Boro fan and a Newcastle fan. Whatever the outcome, me and the geordie were sworn to non-reactionary silence throughout as certain Holgate End members would have considered all their Christmases had come at once - discovering amongst them a scouser and a geordie - and both students to boot (literally).

However, a couple of days earlier I had a freak accident with a combination of stairs, a pint glass and gravity doing their worst. Off to Middlesbrough General Hospital I went, via a 500 meter long ambulance journey no less. Surgeons patched me up (for which I am eternally grateful) and I was admitted to post surgery recovery on the second floor. No game for me. To make things worse, Ayresome Park was a mere 300 metres away. Amongst my visitors was the Boro fan and his very confused brother who, for the promise of a future pint with a 'fuckin' stooodent', gratefully relieved me of my part-bloodsoaked ticket.

Armed with fresh stitches, a sling and some heavy duty tubigrip, I wandered the wards looking for a radio. No bedside entertainment in those days. With barely half an hour to go a cleaner, a porter and a fellow patient had helped sort out the night's entertainment under a similar promise to keep the noise down for the sake of other patients.

For the first half I had the pleasure of listening at low volume to an incredibly one sided local radio commentary. At 1-0 up I was quietly delighted with progress (even hearing the away end celebration) when things got a whole lot better. Another porter joined us, chatted throughout half time, then announced from nowhere, 'of course, you can watch the game from the fourth floor'.

Clutching my saline drip, pain killer drip on wheels?? and with cold arse hanging out of a surgical gown, I made my way to the fourth floor and to my utter joy the bright lights and about half of one goal end of the pitch was indeed just within view. From the fourth floor height I still had two staff and a floodlight in the way but hey ho, better than some StubHub Goodison views I've had of late.

Of course, Boro equalise at the death and then take the lead in extra time - all at the end I could see. Arm throbbing now - FFS what the hell am I doing? Cheery porters returning to work, I was stood alone at the end of a dark corridor straining for a last minute view of the match I was previously so desperate to attend.

With no concept of time, no radio, no watch I was resigned to no more FA cup too. But Tricky Trev had other ideas. Saw a player leap, saw the ball heading to the left but I couldn't see the goalie's right hand post. The noise was so loud I first thought it was the locals - shit has it gone wide and the ref blown for the final whistle? One long nanosecond later and the goal was confirmed not by the celebrating Everton players out of sight but by the frozen, forlorn stance of 3 or 4 Boro defenders. A similar cheer seconds later confirmed full time and a return leg.

I stayed for 5 minutes to telepathically celebrate with my fellow blues - I smiled, and as promised, kept my counsel, respected my fellow patients and wheeled my way to the lift. Got in and pressed 2 and the doors closed. Only then did my celebrations begin - shouting, banging, good-arm fist pumping away for 2 floors until the lift stopped and the doors slid open. I quietly wheeled myself back to my bed and to my recovery. So I missed Clive's commentary, missed the local commentary and watched that finish alone, tied to a drip, half-naked and in almost complete silence - match that!

In March that year, I believe I was the only outbound passenger flying from Manchester to ski in Bulgaria with one arm in a sling - tough week but I'd paid the deposit.

The hospital, and indeed Ayresome Park, are no longer - flattened for new housing with relevant street names the only legacy. That Boro team are still idolised by locals of a certain age. How we could both do with a Bernie Slaven today!

Dave Abrahams
23 Posted 14/08/2020 at 20:02:21
John (22), cracking post, that will take some beating.
Mike Gaynes
24 Posted 14/08/2020 at 20:39:17
Pete, great article. I read it from a different perspective than most here, as one unfamiliar with the commentators you describe but also as one who has contributed "bloopers" to sportscaster archives myself.

Some of my own on-air gaffes resulted from overenthusiasm at exciting moments, but far more were caused by my ill-advised attempts at humor or cleverness.

As were most of my dumbest lines to women. I cringe more at the memory of those than anything I ever said on-air.

Ian Smitham
25 Posted 14/08/2020 at 23:19:06
Jauntarine opens his legs and shows us his class." Coleman. ,Jauntarine opens his legs and shows us his class. Coleman. ,,michael.kenrick@gmail.com,1,23:09:46,,,ok,2440,08/14/2020 23:09:46,iansmitham,reader,,,no 1085207,39779,toffeeweb,14/08/2020,Harry Williams,,"Ref post 49:

Walsh played the same position as Brands: DOF. He was not the manager, like Brands; he was not the leading goal scorer, like Brands. I am sorry if the truth hurts.

Brands has spent a fortune and the club has finished in its worst position for 15 years. Does Brands get a pass? To be fair, he would probably miss control it..

Regarding the thread, why don't you go back to talking about Barcelona, because that's relevant!!

Paul Kernot
26 Posted 14/08/2020 at 23:39:46
Brilliant Pete. My two abiding memories of listening to game commentary on the radio are:

1. The FA Cup Semi-final vs Aston Villa in the late '70s I think. They were agony but extremely memorable.

2. A World Cup round-robin game of no consequence when Gerald Sinstadt was obviously sitting in a big commentary box close to other commentators. I can't even remember the teams but let's say Chile scored. The guy next to him, obviously Chilean went berserk with the usual South American "Gooooooooaaaaaal" etc. Old Sinstadt simply said, in a surprised tone, "Two, One!"

Don Alexander
27 Posted 14/08/2020 at 00:01:07
Nowt to do with Everton but I remember Coleman in commentary during the late '60s/early '70s on Leeds games repeatedly saying "Lorimer! One-Nil!!"

For those of younger vintage, standing in a wall for one of Peter Lorimer's free-kicks brought genuine fear of life thereafter as a eunuch.

Ian Smitham
28 Posted 15/08/2020 at 00:21:26
Don, 1978, “Kempes, one-nil”
Ian Smitham
29 Posted 15/08/2020 at 00:25:59
Just for clarity, Physco Pat. For me, right up there among the very best defenders I have seen, especially when covering at centre back. And we love our
David Currie
30 Posted 15/08/2020 at 04:16:21
Ian 29,

Howard Kendall said, apart from Big Nev, Pat was his best signing. Colin Harvey offered him an improved contract and would have played him alongside Dave Watson. The two of them would have formed a good partnership together.

I think Pat regretted leaving even though he won the FA Cup with Spurs. I was a big fan of his and loved his mentality and he could play football along with his natural aggression.

Jeff Armstrong
31 Posted 15/08/2020 at 08:59:13
Van Den Hauwe's book is a love letter to Evertonians.

Well worth a read.

Dave Abrahams
32 Posted 15/08/2020 at 10:25:31
Pat having a go at Arteta, on one of his visits back to Liverpool after he had left Everton, telling him “You're not a proper Everton player, drinking with those bastards” referring to Arteta mixing with Reyna and two or three more Liverpool players... Definitely one of us, Pat, and always will be.
Len Hawkins
33 Posted 15/08/2020 at 11:42:16
Not PVDH related but watching the Olympics on TV, I think it was Athens, waiting for something exciting coming on, it was the end of the women's weightlifting when the commentator, talking about the next competitor from some Easter European country, came out with a classic:

"I walked through the warm-up room on the way to the commentary box and Ludmilla Pushtitova?? was doing a few lifts. I must say, her snatch was very impressive."

Billy Roberts
34 Posted 15/08/2020 at 13:40:12
Pete Jones
Thank you for a superb article on an original subject, I think it may have been Coleman commentating but one that I love is the simple but exhilarating " WATCH PELE...NOW... it's strange because I never heard it originally but the tone and the brilliant anticipation and timing of the commentary matches the brilliance of Pele as he hangs in the air uncannily too long before planting the header. that's how I remember it?????
Articles like this are what makes TW so hard to let go, the responses to a great article become mini classics themselves.
Amongst many John @22 like Dave Abrahams says will take some beating what a story !!!
I almost felt like I was there with you.
David Currie
35 Posted 16/08/2020 at 02:19:10
Dave @32,

Brilliant and well said by Pat regarding Arteta.

Alan J Thompson
36 Posted 16/08/2020 at 07:12:11
Slightly off topic. Yesterday being VJ (VP for the PC) Day, I was watching a movie, Dunkirk made in 1958, and a squad of British troops making their way to Dunkirk stopped an army motorcycle messenger. After some to-ing and fro-ing as to whether they were impersonating British troops, the messenger asked, "Who won the League this year?".

The answers ranged from; "I don't know" - "Nobody, they called it off." - "I know Everton won it last year."

They seek them here, they seek them there, they seek those Evertonians...

Dave Williams
37 Posted 16/08/2020 at 13:05:18
Pat really was hugely underrated, probably due to his hard man image. He really could play, had loads of pace, good in the air and read the game well. His performances in 1985-1988 put him alongside Rats, Hansen and Lawrenson as the best defenders in Europe and it was such a shame that his game started to suffer in the late eighties due to off-field distractions.

A true Everton great and how we could do with him now both for his ability and his fighting spirit.

Lenny Kingman
38 Posted 17/08/2020 at 13:33:17
Coleman commentating on the away World Cup qualifier against Poland 1973. Waxing lyrical followed by egg on face.

Ahh, cool piece of play by Moore. Oh too cool. 1-0.

Paul Hughes
39 Posted 17/08/2020 at 17:17:47
I remember listening to the Boro 2-2 game, but on national radio (presumably Radio 2 Medium Wave). The summariser was from the North East, Bob Stokoe, I think.

For all of extra time, Stokoe was going on about how poor Everton were, how they'd created nothing, how much the Boro underdogs deserved their victory etc etc.

When Steven equalised, there wasn't a peep out of him. I was shouting at the radio telling the biased bastard that I couldn't hear him any more.

Happy days.

Shaun Williams
40 Posted 19/08/2020 at 06:26:07
Great read!

I remember the Sunderland game, Andy Gray probably scored two of the best headers I can remember but when I watched it on Match of the Day that night, I heard what I still think is the best bit of commentary I've ever heard:

"REID... CROSS... GRAY!!!"

Gary Poole
41 Posted 02/09/2020 at 22:33:51
What a wonderful, funny and nostalgic piece, Pete. Like you, I was fortunate to be a local match-goer in the eighties and, for that, I will be eternally thankful.

However, as you say, the experience was enhanced fantastically by our wonderful local radio coverage of the away games. Like you say, Clive T on Radio City was fantastic but Graham B on Merseyside was a great close second.

Great memories, thank you!

Gary Poole
42 Posted 02/09/2020 at 22:43:24
Grey's diving header from Reid's cross was the moment my ex-father-in-law (at the time) looked at me and said "That deserves a cigar" – fantastic!

Like Pete said, my recollection, after Sunderland scored, was that it was totally one-way traffic. Funny how your mind plays tricks when you are used to winning every week!

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