Derek Rae and Tommy Smyth are confirmed to be the first commentating crew. They do a very good job of “off-tube” commentating from ABC Studios and player recognition, and most importantly, no filler nonsense (which has been ESPN’s biggest problem in every sport they cover). Rae is from Scotland, has a very good tone and he and Smyth seem to have intelligent banter, not the nonsense that ESPN gave us in World Cup 2006 with Marcelo Balboa.
The 2nd pair is Adrian Healey and Andy Gray or Robbie Mustoe. I don’t need an opinion, just a time to faint in shock that ESPN grabbed a great analyst like Gray.
The international feed requires just one commentator….which makes me sad, because I think we could do without some analysts covering the NFL or the NBA in favor of one guy. Note that although TSN is like a sister station of ESPN in Canada, TSN grabs this feed for any international competition.
Tony Jones: Boring, dull, ditchwater dull, horrible voice, dull, boring, boring, dull, dreary. By the way, he is boring.
John Helm: This video describes him perfectly, Mr. Helm at his er…finest in 2006.
Dave Woods: Heard him for the first time watching the FIFA U-20 World Cup. Very good tone, good goal calling, mind doesn’t wander off into the woods (unlike the 2 folks I mentioned above) not the best commentator out there but he is miles ahead of Jones and Helm.
Steve Banyard: We’ve got a winner! Best young football (soccer) commentator out there! He tries really hard to get those player pronunciations correct, even designed a website for commentators as well. Lets the crowd get involved quite often, his goal calls usually go like “It’s Cristiano RONALDO!!!!!!!! STUNNING FREE KICK!”. Enthusiastic, articulates himself well, too bad Helm gets the final.
Admittedly I haven’t been to England but I’ve watched some games that have been broadcast via BBC feed. They have done a great job throughout, let’s see what happens this time…..please note the commentator pairings vary throughout.
Play By Play
John Motson (the man pictured at top of the post): This is his last tournament for the BBC before retirement. He is 62, considered to be one of the best commentators ever, has nearly a perfect voice, but recently he has just been horrible. Player recognition is bad, he messed up the goal call in the 2008 FA Cup Final, and I think the Beeb notices this, he has been used rarely on their famed Match of the Day (Premier League coverage) program.
Guy Mowbray: Have to say I’ve heard him once and he is primed to take over the #1 spot that is currently being held by Motty. He doesn’t work with a co-commentator that often so this is a big tournament for him to impress the boss.
Jonathan Pearce: Screechy, yelling, I think he used a Harry Potter reference a while ago and it was awful. Just not a good commentator and is not ready for big matches.
Steve Wilson: Haven’t heard of him, can’t put notes on that one. I’ve been watching World Cup highlights and two of them involved Lawro and Wilson. No screeching like Pearce and captures the excitement quite well. This is his chance to showcase his commentary skills to the boss to take over Motty’s #1 spot.
Mark Lawrenson: Useless. I think that’s why Motson has been so poor.
Gavin Peacock: Haven’t heard him at all.
Mark Bright: See Peacock.
It has been confirmed though that Motson and Lawrenson will call the final.
Well after England bombed, they lost about $20,000,000 because they were going to have joint coverage of the final with the BBC. Instead they will air evening highlights. There have been 3 confirmed commentators, analysts have not yet been mentioned.
Play By Play
Clive Tyldesley: One of the best. So what if he is biased towards Manchester United? If you want a sample of one of his most famous games, go here.
Peter Drury: Human dictionary, over the top, voice has a horrible screech….heard him call Premier League games and he drives me up the wall. He literally yells things at random and it makes me want to listen to nails on a chalkboard.
Jon Champion: ITV should be paying this guy to come back to ITV full time. Setanta Sports yanked him away to do Premier League games and now Champion only does UEFA Cup games and Championship (1 tier below Premiership) highlights. He was made for big matches, he is the commentator for Pro Evo Soccer 2008, I think he can become a #1 commentator for BBC or Setanta.
David Pleat: Not often does a guy come around like Pleat. He is bar none the worst analyst as far as player pronunciation of even something simple as Nani (he called him Nano). Really adds nothing to the game and with his usual “I think the grass is very green today Clive” inane babbling, ITV should haul him out of there.
Jim Beglin: Gets a lot of good reviews I hear….
Australia, New Zealand, etc.
Martin Tyler: ….LEGEND! That’s all I have to say about him, fantastic commentator, raises his voice when he needs to, actually played for the University of East Anglia so he should know the game very well. Great for him to work on yet another tournament to add to his wonderful achievements.