James Alexander Gordon – A Tribute To The Voice Of Football

James Alexander Gordon (Image from BBC) Before the start of last season we ran a story about the retirement of BBC Five’s much loved broadcaster James Alexander Gordon. Its with deepest sympathy that we report that James has died after a long battle with cancer. He was 78. At this time, we would like to remember James by re posting the original post from his retirement announcement as it was a fitting tribute to James and the legacy he has left behind. RIP James Alexander Gordon.

Excitement is building around the start of the new English Premiership season, with the return of Mourinho to Chelsea, a Chilean revolution happening at Manchester City and new management for the first time in 26 years at Manchester United. Saturday 17th August sees the kick-off of the new campaign and a return to formality except for one noticeable different. Viewers who listen to BBC Radio Five Live’s classified check will notice a new voice next season, following the retirement of the much loved broadcaster James Alexander Gordon. Gordon has been reading the classified results on BBC radio for close to forty years but is having to retire following the remove his larynx after being diagnosed with cancer surgery.

Gordon never missed a results  (Image from BBC)

Gordon never missed a results
(Image from BBC)

The Scottish born broadcaster is one of the most famous people in British sport, but few would recognise him as he walked down the street. That would be until they heard his unmistakable tones which would indicate that they were in fact talking to a broadcast legend. For nearly 40 years, football fans all across Britain tuned in to listen to the scores being read out by Gordon and were hooked on his every word. His voice was captivating and his style was very much unique to him, often using slight inflections to give the listeners subtle hints as to who had one the game just before he read them out. Gordon’s exact pronunciation of every team in the British leagues helped many a fan learn more about the beautiful game and the teams within it. It was as if Gordon was born to broadcast but it had never really been his plan, just something he stumbled into.

Gordon was the voice of the BBC scores for 40 years  (Image from BBC)

Gordon was the voice of the BBC scores for 40 years
(Image from BBC)

Gordon was born in Edinburgh in 1936 and unfortunately spent the early part of his childhood in hospital after contracting Polio. Later in life, his love of music drove him into the music business as a publisher before eventually transitioning across to the BBC as an announcer and newsreader in 1972, primarily for Radio 2. Only a year later and as Gordon described it “much by accident” he was handed the job of announcing the football scores on Radio Five Live, as a replacement for John Webster. Unsure what to do, Gordon brainstormed in a dimly lit room in BBC Television Centre about how he was going to do it. He test various methods from adding commentary such as “Manchester United were unimpressive today losing 2-0 to Arsenal” but felt he had no right to judge how the team had played, by looking solely at the score. That’s when he decided to use his musical training to add excitement to each team name and make it more interesting for the listener. Bosses at the BBC were initially hesitant but after listeners wrote to praise his first broadcast, a legend was born.

Hard act to follow - James Alexander Gordon  (Image from Getty)

Hard act to follow – James Alexander Gordon
(Image from Getty)

Gordon went on to read the scores for close to forty seasons, without ever missing a show. His performances were so exact and so brilliantly delivered that some believed that the scores were done automatically, with Gordon recording each team once and some magical computer pasting the pieces together to make the results. But they were all Gordon, each and every one. One of Gordon’s biggest fans was comedian Eric Morecambe who would tune in whenever possible to hear Gordon read out the scores. The two became friends but Morecambe never called Gordon by his first name, James instead he always greeted him by mimicking the tongue-twister score line which he has become synonymous with (despite it never happening) – ‘East Fife 4 Forfar 5’. At Morecambe’s funeral, his wife joked with Gordon that all Eric ever said about James was that he was desperate to hear Gordon say that score. Unfortunately he never got the chance before Morecambe passed away.

Gordon's fan - Eric Morecambe  (Image from Getty)

Gordon’s fan – Eric Morecambe
(Image from Getty)

Gordon has spoken out publically since his decision to retire, unable to perform following the removal of his larynx:

“It’s with great sorrow that I have to give up the most exciting part of my career, the classified football results. They have been my life. I was terrified at first, but I put my heart and soul into it and have loved it ever since.”

Whoever is chosen to replace James Alexander Gordon as the voice of the football scores has a tough job ahead of them. But as long as they remember Gordon’s best piece of advice – the most important thing is making it exciting for the listener – the listeners will continue to get the football scores they want, in the style that is distinctly Gordon.

To watch Gordon at his best, click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PeJbah_JMOQ

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Let The Games Begin But First The July Round Up

New Barca boss, Gerardo Martino (Image from Getty)It’s hard to believe that it’s August already but with the summer break drawing to a close, football is back on the menu once again with most leagues kicking off this month. Europa League and Champions League qualifiers have already begun whilst international friendlies like the much anticipated Scotland vs. England match at Wembley thrown in for good measure. But before we can start to look forward, in time honored tradition, BOTN is looking back at the month that has past – July. And what a month it was!

Lots to think about for Rooney (Image from Getty)

Lots to think about for Rooney (Image from Getty)

Speculation around the future’s of two of the Premierships biggest stars, Wayne Rooney and Gareth Bale reached fever pitch last month, with both rumored to be leaving for pastures new. Jose Mourinho wasted no time since coming back to the league with Chelsea to upset Manchester United and new boss David Moyes by suggesting Rooney is wasted at Old Trafford and should move to Stamford Bridge. It was enough to unsettle the petulant player who is now in a huff with United who won’t let him do what he wants. It’s a similar situation at Tottenham with Daniel Levy standing firm in front of the exit door that Gareth Bale is trying to walk out of. With Real Madrid pulling from the other side, Levy is stalling to make sure he gets as much capital as possible for the Welsh Winger before he allows the move to happen. Unlike Rooney, Bale is acting graciously and has refused to issue a formal transfer request but has had secret talks with manager Andre Villas Boas and Levy to tell them about his desire to move to the Bernabeau. One player who has already engineered his move away from the English leagues is the troublesome Djibril Cisse who ended his stay with QPR to join Russian side, FC Kuban Krasnodar. It’s his tenth move of his career and the seventh country he has played in so far that has lead to any questioning if it’s a language or an attitude problem that has resulted in Cisse’s stays at various clubs being limited to less than two seasons.

Tottenham's Gareth Bale could be on his way to Madrid (Image from AFP)

Tottenham’s Gareth Bale could be on his way to Madrid (Image from AFP)

It has been a fairly hectic transfer window for most clubs this summer, with the noticeable exception of one Newcastle United. With Joe Kinnear now fully settled in and the media circus around that almost dying down, attention should be turned to signing players. But unfortunately for Alan Pardew and the Geordie faithful, there have been more exits than arrivals at St James Park than the squad can cope with. Simpson, Harper, Perch, Moyo and Abeid have all left with only 16 year old French midfielder Olivier Kemen arriving. Frustration is not the word for Pardew, as he continues to wait to see if Kinnear is actually going to prove to be any value to the club this summer. If nothing happens, Pardew may resign and join Guus Hiddink on the unemployed list, following the Dutchman’s sensational resignation from Anzhi just a day after Tito Vilanova left his Barcelona hot seat for medical grounds. It seemed like a certainty that Hiddink would get the nod, but the Catalan club surprised many by announcing Argentine Gerardo Martino as their new boss. Martino has a tough job on his hands but with a glittering squad, he should succeed in La Liga. Over in Serie A, one team looking to succeed is tiny Sussuolo who are gearing up for their first ever season in Italy’s top flight after winning promotion from Serie B as champions. It was a fantastic group effort by the players who can now look forward to a selection of David vs. Goliath challenges against the likes of Juventus, AC Milan and Roma.

Sassuolo players celebrate promotion  (Image from Getty)

Sassuolo players celebrate promotion
(Image from Getty)

Also making the news last month was the retirement of the voice of Football – James Alexander Gordon from the BBC after surgery on his throat meant that he was unable to continue his job announcing the football results. Gordon had gained legendary status with fans across the UK for his approach and style in reading the results with celebrity fans like the late Eric Morecambe praising his technique. We said goodbye to another legend last month, with the death of former Manchester City goalkeeper Bert Trautmann. The tall German was known for his heroics during the 1956 Cup final where he played the last 17 minutes of the game with a broken neck. He made a host of last ditch saves as City held on to win the Cup by 3-1. Trautmann was an inspiration to many young goalkeepers including Arsenal’s Bob Wilson and recently to current City stopper Joe Hart.

Trautmann is helped from the pitch by his teammates  (Image from Getty)

Trautmann is helped from the pitch by his teammates
(Image from Getty)

Finally, BOTN covered the issues that concern the modern game with several Nigeria players suspended after two matches played on the same day ending with score lines of 79-0 and 67-0. An investigation uncovered match rigging ties to all four clubs involved as well as the officials and some ground staff in another black mark for Nigerian football. We also looked at the crippling financial implications of chasing the Champions League dream, with clubs like Rangers, Leeds and now AEK Athens paying for past expenditures. Whilst the larger teams grew in size and financial wealth, the chasing pack overspent beyond their budgets on players who were capable of competing in the Champions League, now with disastrous results. On a plus note, we did take a look at rising Austrian star Martin Hinteregger who scored a stunning goal in a pre season friendly as well as looking at the best way to pick your fantasy football team for the new season. Quite a month overall!

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The Voice Of British Football Bows Out Before The Big Kick Off

James Alexander Gordon (Image from BBC)Excitement is building around the start of the new English Premiership season, with the return of Mourinho to Chelsea, a Chilean revolution happening at Manchester City and new management for the first time in 26 years at Manchester United. Saturday 17th August sees the kick-off of the new campaign and a return to formality except for one noticeable different. Viewers who listen to BBC Radio Five Live’s classified check will notice a new voice next season, following the retirement of the much loved broadcaster James Alexander Gordon. Gordon has been reading the classified results on BBC radio for close to forty years but is having to retire following the remove his larynx after being diagnosed with cancer surgery.

Gordon never missed a results  (Image from BBC)

Gordon never missed a results
(Image from BBC)

The Scottish born broadcaster is one of the most famous people in British sport, but few would recognise him as he walked down the street. That would be until they heard his unmistakable tones which would indicate that they were in fact talking to a broadcast legend. For nearly 40 years, football fans all across Britain tuned in to listen to the scores being read out by Gordon and were hooked on his every word. His voice was captivating and his style was very much unique to him, often using slight inflections to give the listeners subtle hints as to who had one the game just before he read them out. Gordon’s exact pronunciation of every team in the British leagues helped many a fan learn more about the beautiful game and the teams within it. It was as if Gordon was born to broadcast but it had never really been his plan, just something he stumbled into.

Gordon was the voice of the BBC scores for 40 years  (Image from BBC)

Gordon was the voice of the BBC scores for 40 years
(Image from BBC)

Gordon was born in Edinburgh in 1936 and unfortunately spent the early part of his childhood in hospital after contracting Polio. Later in life, his love of music drove him into the music business as a publisher before eventually transitioning across to the BBC as an announcer and newsreader in 1972, primarily for Radio 2. Only a year later and as Gordon described it “much by accident” he was handed the job of announcing the football scores on Radio Five Live, as a replacement for John Webster. Unsure what to do, Gordon brainstormed in a dimly lit room in BBC Television Centre about how he was going to do it. He test various methods from adding commentary such as “Manchester United were unimpressive today losing 2-0 to Arsenal” but felt he had no right to judge how the team had played, by looking solely at the score. That’s when he decided to use his musical training to add excitement to each team name and make it more interesting for the listener. Bosses at the BBC were initially hesitant but after listeners wrote to praise his first broadcast, a legend was born.

Hard act to follow - James Alexander Gordon  (Image from Getty)

Hard act to follow – James Alexander Gordon
(Image from Getty)

Gordon went on to read the scores for close to forty seasons, without ever missing a show. His performances were so exact and so brilliantly delivered that some believed that the scores were done automatically, with Gordon recording each team once and some magical computer pasting the pieces together to make the results. But they were all Gordon, each and every one. One of Gordon’s biggest fans was comedian Eric Morecambe who would tune in whenever possible to hear Gordon read out the scores. The two became friends but Morecambe never called Gordon by his first name, James instead he always greeted him by mimicking the tongue-twister score line which he has become synonymous with (despite it never happening) – ‘East Fife 4 Forfar 5’. At Morecambe’s funeral, his wife joked with Gordon that all Eric ever said about James was that he was desperate to hear Gordon say that score. Unfortunately he never got the chance before Morecambe passed away.

Gordon's fan - Eric Morecambe  (Image from Getty)

Gordon’s fan – Eric Morecambe
(Image from Getty)

Gordon has spoken out publically since his decision to retire, unable to perform following the removal of his larynx:

“It’s with great sorrow that I have to give up the most exciting part of my career, the classified football results. They have been my life. I was terrified at first, but I put my heart and soul into it and have loved it ever since.”

Whoever is chosen to replace James Alexander Gordon as the voice of the football scores has a tough job ahead of them. But as long as they remember Gordon’s best piece of advice – the most important thing is making it exciting for the listener – the listeners will continue to get the football scores they want, in the style that is distinctly Gordon.

To watch Gordon at his best, click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PeJbah_JMOQ

Like this post? Like us on Facebook now: www.facebook.com/BackOfTheNetBlog or on Twitter: https://twitter.com/BOTNBlog