Stand poser surprises Motty

HE has had a vantage point on some the biggest games in history and John Motson was surveying the scene from the world’s oldest football stand during a visit to Great Yarmouth.

It may have been lacking the atmosphere of a packed Wembley Stadium, but Mr Motson was suitably impressed by the ornate Victorian splendour of the Wellesley Road stand.

Affectionately known by fans as Motty, the BBC Match of the Day commentator was making his first visit to the town with former footballer Ricky George.

Despite being famous for his grasp of football facts, Mr Motson was forced to admit he was not aware of the stand’s place in the history books.

The stand, which dates from 1892, has recently re-opened to spectators following the completion of a �200,000 restoration project.

He said: “Ricky acquainted me with the fact that Yarmouth had the oldest football stand in the world on the way here.

“I didn’t know that previously. You learn something every day.

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“I’ve never been to Yarmouth in my life and am very pleased to have made it at last.

“The nearest I have been to this part of the world would be Norwich. I covered many Canaries’ matches down the years for Match of the Day.”

The veteran broadcaster visited the town last Thursday to talk about his 40 years behind the microphone in an event at the Furzedown Hotel organised by Yarmouth Football Club.

He was accompanied by Mr George, whose winning goal for giantkillers Hereford against Newcastle in an FA cup tie in 1972 helped launch Mr Motson’s TV career.

Sharing memories of some of the games’ great characters and matches, he recalled Norwich City’s famous UEFA cup run in 1993 and tipped the current Canaries side to challenge for promotion.

“The main memory I have got is the club’s European run when Norwich won 2-1 against Bayern Munich in the Olympic Stadium,” he said.

“I covered the second leg and two or three of the European matches before they went out to Inter Milan.

He added: “The Championship is very interesting and very tight.

“I think QPR and Cardiff have got the edge on the others, of course they can always hit a bad patch; but that to me looks like one and two.

“At the moment a cluster of clubs, Norwich is certainly among them and maybe their great rivals Ipswich, will be battling for the play offs.”

Mr Motson, who has commentated on nine World Cup finals, was part of the BBC broadcasting team at the 2010 tournament in South Africa.

He said: “I had done the previous World Cups as a commentator, but in South Africa I was a studio man based in Cape Town, which was completely different.

“I was there as a historian to put the thing in perspective and recall things that had happened in tournaments gone by.

“Everybody has got to be hopeful that England can get the 2018 World Cup.

“I think it is between us and Russia and, at the moment and the way the wind is blowing, England have got every chance.”

Great Yarmouth FC commercial manager Carl Harding said: “It is fantastic for the football club to have John here when you consider he has not even been to Yarmouth before. The event was a sell-out, which shows the following John has within the football community.”