Classic Football Commentaries

No.1 "Maggie Thatcher, your boys took a hell of a beating!" - Bjørge Lillelien, 1981

It's hard to describe what an incredible speech/rant this is from Norwegian commentator Bjørge Lillelien at the end of the match between Norway and England in Oslo, a World Cup qualifier for España '82. England had beaten Norway 4:0 at Wembley in the opening game of the group, so went into the return match as clear favourites, and when Bryan Robson opened the scoring after fifteen minutes it looked like another drubbing could be on the cards. However, two goals before half-time put Norway ahead and they held on for a famous victory, at the time one of the greatest in their football history.

As the final whistle is blown, a jubilant Lillelien begins his fantastic monologue, alternating between Norwegian and English to make it sound even crazier, taunting England with a list of historical figures, goading the Prime Minister of the time, Maggie Thatcher, and triumphantly declaring his side to be the best in the world! It's brilliant stuff.

The commentary was a mixture of Norwegian and English, but we've translated it all into English for the full effect...

Norway have beaten England 2-1 in football!

We're the best in the world!

We're the best in the world!

We've beaten England 2-1 in football!

It is unbelievable! We have beaten England!

England - the home of giants.

Lord Nelson.

Lord Beaverbrook.

Sir Winston Churchill.

Sir Anthony Eden.

Clement Attlee.

Henry Cooper.

Lady Diana.

We've beaten them all!

Maggie Thatcher can you hear me?

Maggie Thatcher, I have a message for your election campaign.

We have a message for you.

We have knocked England out of the World Cup.

Maggie Thatcher, as they say in your language in the boxing bars around Madison Square Garden in New York: "Your boys took a hell of a beating!"

Your boys took a hell of a beating!

Maggie Thatcher. Norway has beaten England at football.

We're the best in the world!

It's Norway two, England one. What a fabulous night for football.

No.2 "Tigana. Tigana. PLATINI! GOOAALLLL!!!" - John Motson, 1984

With no home nations at the Euro '84 tournament, both the BBC and ITV decided to almost completely ignore the tournament. Luckily, for the epic semi-final encounter between France and Portugal, there were some Saturday night highlights, so we got to hear John Motson completely lose his shit when Jean Tigana set up Michel Platini to grab a last-gasp winner for the hosts at Marseille's Stade Velodrome!


Tigana. Two to his right. And Platini through the middle.

Tigana again.





Platini for France! With a minute to go! It's 3:2!

I've not seen a match like this for years!

No.3 "Maradona... turns, like a little eel" - Bryon Butler, 1986

A brilliant piece of commentary from the 1986 World Cup quarter-final clash between England and Argentina, all thanks to Bryon Butler's wonderful tone and use of words.

The opening line, "turns, like a little eel", is magnificent, and then it builds to a fantastic crescendo as Diego Maradona completes his incredible run to make it two-nil.

Maradona... turns, like a little eel.

He comes away from trouble.

Little squat man.

Comes inside Butcher, leaves him for dead.

Outside Fenwick, leaves him for dead.

And puts the ball away...

And that is why Maradona is the greatest player in the world...

He buried the English defence.

No.4 "Some people are on the pitch..." - Kenneth Wolstenholme, 1966

An iconic piece of commentary from Kenneth Wolstenholme. The climax is setup brilliantly when he notices fans coming onto the pitch, and it couldn't have been scripted any better as Geoff Hurst lashes in the fourth goal...

And here comes Hurst! He's got...

(Notices some of the fans spilling onto the pitch)

Some people are on the pitch!

They think it's all over!

It is now! It's four!

No.5 "Look at his face! Just look at his face!" - Barry Davies, 1974

Simple, but classic. Can anyone ever tire of hearing these couple of lines from Barry Davies in the match between Manchester City and Derby County? Not us.

Describing a shot as "interesting" shouldn't really work, but for some reason it does. As for the "just look at his face" quote, the reason Franny Lee was particularly happy was that Manchester City had sold him to Derby County in the summer, against his will, so going back to Maine Road and grabbing the winner for the Rams against his former club was a sweet moment indeed.

And to be fair, it's an absolutely cracking goal as well being a memorable piece of commentary.

Lee. Interesting...

Very interesting!


Look at his face!

Just look at his face!

No.6 "Oh what... what genius!" - Kenneth Wolstenholme, 1970

Another brilliant bit of commentary from Kenneth Wolstenholme, this time from the 1970 World Cup and the match between Brazil and Uruguay. It completely captures the astonishment of most of those watching as Pelé completely fools the keeper by letting the ball simply go past him.

One of our favourite World Cup moments as well as one of our favourite pieces of commentary.



Pelé sprinting into space. And he's going to get a fourth.

(Pelé completely dummies the keeper).

Oh, what... what genius!

No.7 "And Smith must score..." - Peter Jones, 1983

A great piece of commentary from one of the BBC's finest football commentator's, Peter Jones. His tone is brilliant, you can almost close your eyes and picture what's happening without seeing the video clip itself.

The scene was the 1983 FA Cup Final, with Brighton and Hove Albion and Manchester United tied 2:2 deep in to 30 minutes of extra-time as Brighton's strikers Michael Robinson and Gordon Smith break forward towards United's penalty area.

It results in heartbreak for the Seagulls, but a piece of commentary that brilliantly describes one of the great what-if moments of football.

A ball played forward to Robinson.

Robinson going forward strong.

He's inside the Manchester United penalty area!

He finds Smith!

And Smith must score...

...and he hasn't scored!

And Bailey has saved it.