Weekly football conversation since 2009, with Graham Sibley, Jan Bilton and Terry Duffelen. Listen on Apple, Google, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn or your podcatcher of choice.

Life without Brian

Despite the euphoria of England’s emphatic 5-1 win over Germany in a World Cup qualifier ten years ago today, it was something of a bittersweet victory for me. As television coverage of the match ended, I remember watching the news bulletin that followed where it was announced that Brian Moore, one of the finest TV commentators there’s ever been, had died earlier in the day.

It’s strange to think ten years have passed since then. Somehow it seems like longer to me, but then Brian Moore had been retired from football commentating for three years at the time of his passing. I recall my thoughts at the time, feeling sorry that we wouldn’t hear his voice in accompaniment to live games on TV anymore. That said, Moore followed the pattern of many commentators who forged a television career back in the 70’s: a bright and shouty start, a progression into steady familiarity before a tail-end where the ability to quickly pick out incidents and player names seemed more of a struggle.

I choose not to remember the last part of his career. I don’t have to. Brian Moore lit up far too many football matches with his sincere, warm vocal tones to render that an insignificance. He was gloriously shouty in his early days though. As the main commentator on LWT’s The Big Match in the late 60’s, he adopted the delivery of a man clearly intent on losing all self-consciousness while immersing himself in the joy of watching football during a particularly brilliant era here in England. This he did well into the 1970’s before reining in his commentating style, but continued to remark on the events unfolding before him with reverence, conciseness and intelligence.

What provided an extra dimension to his persona, however, was his ability to present TV programmes as well as commentate on the football matches within them. As the front man to The Big Match for many years, he showed professionalism and composure in bringing together the component parts of each show. For the first few years, that meant co-presenting with Jimmy Hill with whom Moore enjoyed a friendly on-screen relationship. Much later, Jim Rosenthal joined the show to convey minor news stories when The Big Match shed the last of its early innocence, but Brian Moore rightly retained top billing throughout.

He was, to me, a perfect broadcaster. Able to accentuate the elation within football or showing compassion and dignity when the moment requested it, Brian Moore was someone who brought out the very best that the game had to offer. The internet thankfully ensures that his legacy lives on and his contribution to TV’s presentation of football should never be overlooked or forgotten. He remains sadly missed.

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