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Barry George Davies MBE (born 24 October 1937 in London, England) is a British sports commentator.

Contents

Broadcasting career

Although best-known for his football commentary, Davies has also put his talents to numerous sports including beach volleyball, ice skating, tennis, gymnastics, hockey and athletics, primarily in the BBC's Olympics coverage. He was also the 'Voice of the Boat Race' for years between 1993 and 2004, when the BBC lost the coverage of the event to ITV, and the presenter of Maestro in the 1980s, a series interviewing retired sporting legends.

Davies was educated at Cranbrook School - which also numbers commentators Brian Moore and Peter West amongst its alumni - and King's College London, where he read Dentistry. He started his broadcasting career with British Forces Broadcasting whilst serving in the army in West Germany. He joined BBC Radio in 1963, working concurrently as a sports journalist for The Times. Ahead of the 1966 World Cup he made his first steps into television with ITV. He made his debut on a Fairs Cup tie between Chelsea and A.C. Milan, before covering England's pre-World Cup friendly with West Germany. During the World Cup in England, Davies covered all the matches in the North East.

His spell with ITV continued for another three years, providing commentaries for ABC and Granada Television. Davies also covered the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City, commentating on a number of sports. When LWT launched in 1968, he was the choice of the Deputy Head of Sport John Bromley to commentate on and present their new football show The Big Match. Bromley's boss Jimmy Hill won the argument though and installed his choice, Brian Moore, in the role - a role he would fill for another thirty years.

Most of Davies's career has been spent in the opposite camp, with the BBC. For 35 years he was synonymous with the Match of the Day programme. He made his debut in unusual circumstances on 9 August 1969. The programme was to take up a new format, providing each region with its own second match. Davies was signed primarily to cover matches in the North of England and was assigned League Champions Leeds United's match with Tottenham Hotspur on day one. However on the day before the broadcast, main commentator and presenter David Coleman lost his voice. Davies stepped in and commentated on the main match, Crystal Palace v Manchester United, and co-presented the show.[1] His final appearance on the programme came on 25 September 2004 (Manchester City vs Arsenal). Davies's reason for retiring from football commentary was that he felt he was not getting enough "big" matches, and was being "downgraded".[2]

As a BBC football commentator Davies covered nine World Cups (he also covered one with ITV, in 1966, making a total of ten covered) - including the 1994 final - and seven European Championships. He commentated on the final of the 1972 tournament in Belgium. He was usually overlooked for the big finals, covering only two FA Cup finals in his career - 1995 and 1996, as John Motson regularly landed the key games. Although Motson and Davies were often portrayed as firm rivals for the main commentary spot at the BBC, the pair have spoken of their respect for each other, with Davies insisting there has "never been any animosity" between them.[1]

Davies was to enjoy most of his leading games in the finals of the European Cup, which was covered by BBC in alternate years (by agreement with ITV) during the era of English dominance in the late 1970s and early 1980s. He commentated on twelve in all - including triumphs for Liverpool and Nottingham Forest, and the horrors of Heysel in 1985. He also tended to commentate on the draws for the World Cup and European Championship and on the Football League Cup final on the rare occasions it was shown on the BBC.

Despite usually missing out on commentating on the final itself, Davies would normally be chosen for at least one England match in a major finals if they qualified. Famous England matches he commentated on include the quarter-finals against Argentina in World Cup 1986 and Cameroon in World Cup 1990 and the semi-final of Euro 96 against Germany. He was also often the BBC's choice of commentator if Scotland were involved in a World Cup match, such as the opening game of World Cup 1998 against Brazil.

Davies continues to work for the BBC on a freelance basis, covering the Winter Olympics and Commonwealth Games and in the summers of 2007 and 2008 could be heard commentating on the French Open, the Wimbledon Championships before covering the hockey and beach volleyball at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. That same year, he also resprised his role as the voice of the Boat Race by leading the commentary team on the radio station LBC, renewing it in 2009 - the last year that LBC has the radio rights to the contest. He has also appeared as a guest panellist on the long-running BBC game show, Call My Bluff.

On August 23, 2007, Headline press published his memoirs of 40 years in sports broadcasting, entitled 'Interesting, Very Interesting' after a commentary line from a match between Derby and Manchester City in 1974. When promoting the book on Talksport programme Hawksbee & Jacobs, Davies revealed that he was a fan of Tottenham Hotspur. Davies said he did not want to be accused of bias, so did not want to reveal who he supported during his career, or even where he was born. With it now being the norm for commentators to reveal their favourite sides, Davies was possibly the last television football commentator to keep his loyalties to himself during his career; he revealed on a radio interview with Simon Mayo in 2007 (after he had retired from football commentary) that he supports non-league side Windsor & Eton.

Memorable Quotes

As with any long-serving commentator, Davies has managed one or two eternal lines in his time. Below are a few of the more memorable sound-bites attributed to him:

  • "And Leeds will go mad. And they have every right to go mad" (After a refereeing decision effectively cost Leeds United the League Championship) in 1971.
  • "The crowd think that Todd handled the ball.... they must have seen something that nobody else did."
  • "If it had gone in, it would have been a goal"
  • " ....Neal against Knuyp.. (Neal scores penalty).. and with such simplicity surely now the European Cup is won.." Liverpool's 1st European Cup win against Borussia Monchengladbach 1977
  • "A peep, peep, peep, another peep, and that's it." (Greeting a final whistle)
  • "And Watford acknowledge the support of the crowd, indeed of the crowd that supported them."
  • "While the debate raged on as to who should join him, he just kept scoing goal."(On Christian Vieri in a documentary of France 98, Stars of the 98 World Cup.)
  • "You have to say that's magnificent." (Davies on Diego Maradona's second goal for Argentina against England in the 1986 World Cup, minutes after his controversial handballed goal.
  • "Where were the Germans? [pause] And quite frankly, who cares?" (After Great Britain's third goal in the 1988 Olympic Hockey final against Germany.)
  • "Poland nil, England nil, though England are now looking the better value for their nil."
  • What an unbelievable day this is. This is the stuff of schoolboy comics." (On the absorbing 3-3 draw between Oldham Athletic and Manchester United in the 1990 FA Cup semi-finals, just hours after Crystal Palace had beaten Liverpool 4-3 in the same competition).
  • " Is Gascoigne going to have a crack?.... he is you know, Oh I say, BRILLIANT!" (On Paul Gascoigne before scoring a free-kick for Tottenham Hotspur against Arsenal in the 1991 FA Cup semi-final at Wembley)
  • "Brilliant, Brilliant!" (Davies recognises the quality of Tomas Brolin's winner for Sweden against England in Euro 92 rather than dwelling on England's shortcomings).
  • "BRUUUUUUUCE! UNBELIEVABLE!" (When Steve Bruce won the league for Manchester United against Sheffield Wednesday in 1993)
  • "The Dutch fans look like a huge jar of marmalade." (They wear orange team shirts.)
  • "It's Brazil 2 Scotland 1, so Scotland are back where they were at the start of the match." (from opening match of World Cup 98)
  • "Beautifully brought down by BergKAMP... OH WHAT A GOAL!! (Commentary on Dennis Bergkamp's amazing last-minute goal against Argentina, leading the Netherlands into the semi-finals of the 1998 World Cup.)
  • "Oh, that's fairytale, that's Boy's Own stuff. But it's been that sort of night, and it's been wonderful to see" (After Robbie Fowler came off the bench to put Liverpool 4-3 ahead in the 2001 UEFA Cup Final against Alaves)
  • "Italy lost because they WILL NOT LEARN!!" (After Italy bow out of World Cup 2002 to the South Koreans after trying to defend a one goal lead and having it backfire on them)
  • "The Games are coming to London...absolutely brilliant!" (After it was announced London would host the 2012 Summer Olympics.)
  • "That sort of tackle belongs in the Super Bowl!" (One of his famous lines from Actua Soccer 2 and Premier Manager 97)
  • "Neat little short pass" (One of his lines from Actua Soccer Club Edition, which humorously sounds like 'Knickers and a short pass' due to the poor sound definition.

Davies would regularly refer to matches as "the contest" and "lovely goal" would frequently be his reaction to a well-taken goal.

"Giggs starts to go, Unsworth goes with him..........Ooooooohhhh dear oh dear and I'm afraid that's the end of Unsworth". Man Utd vs Everton at the start of the 1995/96 Premiership season.

Guest appearances

Davies brought his talents to the comedy world in cult BBC sketch show Big Train, commentating with his distinctive enthusiasm on the fictional "World Stare-Out Championships" with Phil Cornwell - one of the most memorable sketches in the series. It was also a knowing satire on Davies' extraordinary skill in commentating authorititavely on sports about which he knew little (in an interview with Brian Viner for the Mail On Sunday, he once said that, as far as sports broadcasting was concerned, he was "the jack of all trades, but the master of bugger all!").

In 1995 Davies put his voice to Actua Soccer by Gremlin Interactive, arguably the first football video game to offer a realistic match commentary (the offering of its contemporary, FIFA '96, seemed clunky and repetitive by comparison). He also provided commentary in all of the many sequels to the game, including the UEFA European Championship official video game of the 1996 UEFA European Championship (Euro '96). Trevor Brooking joined Davies as co-commentator in the later titles.

Since 2003, Davies has voiced the various football video games produced by Codemasters: the two Club Football titles released in 2003 and 2004, England International Football (also 2004, released to tie in with that year's Euro 2004 competition), and the LMA Manager series since LMA 2004.

External links

Bibliography

  • Smith, Martyn (2004). Match of the Day: 40th Anniversary. BBC Books. ISBN 0-563-521813.  

References

  1. ^ a b Smith (2004), p 46-47
  2. ^ "Davies hangs up his boots". guardian.co.uk. http://media.guardian.co.uk/bbc/story/0,,1311928,00.html. Retrieved 2009-01-20.  
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