Saturday, July 27, 2013

It was with much sadness that I heard that James Alexander Gordon has had to retire from the BBC following the loss of his larynx as a result of throat cancer.  He had read the classified football results since 1974 and, as has already been said, "Saturday teatimes will never be quite the same again."

The news brought memories flooding back to the distant radio days of my youth, when television had not entered the consciousness of my family or, indeed, anyone else in my boyhood `village by the sea` on the shores of Southampton Water.   Not long after the war ended my father had returned home after five years as a prisoner of war and we settled in a cottage in Hythe, where my father worked for BOAC on their flying boat maintenance base.   Not long after we moved in, I contracted a pretty serious kidney disease which saw me spend months in Southampton Children`s Hospital and months more convalescing at home - in all I lost over a year of schooling, which probably explains why I have been doggedly trying to catch up ever since.

Anyway, spending months at home with my mother and our faithful Cossor radio for company made me appreciate just how marvellous it was and I still have fond memories of programmes such as Dick Barton- Special Agent, At the Luscombes, the Charlie Chester Show, In Town Tonight and, inevitably, the weekly ritual concerning the classified football results.

Now my father had his routines, one of which was slavishly to do the football pools every week - Vernons, I think it was - in the straw-grasping hope of winning the jackpot by predicting eight draws (not just score draws) and fulfilling his dreams of avarice.   As part of the ritual, he would tune in to the football results at 5.00pm each Saturday and meticulously write down the results against the fixture list as they appeared in the newspaper.   

I was fascinated by this and wanted more than anything to be able to write down the results myself as they were broadcast.   But that was my father`s prerogative, of course - part of his ritual - and so, as I had all the time at my disposal during my convalescence, each Saturday I used to get some plain paper and carefully copy out the fixture lists from the newspaper, leaving room for me to write in the results for myself as they were announced.

It may have been an exercise in futility but it did introduce me to the BBC announcers who read out the results.   And the retirement of James Alexander Gordon recalled the equally dulcet, if perhaps more clipped, tones of those early pioneers of the art, such as John Hobday, Jimmy Kingsbury and Robin Boyle.  If I have got the technology right, the link below should produce a recording of Sports Report from 30 October 1948, when you might hear presenter Stephen Grenfell introducing Robin Boyle who reads the football results (including an annoying draw for Portsmouth) although I`m sure James Alexander Gordon would never have said "nought."  Just click on the link, turn the sound up and see if it works:-

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