ARTHUR Montford, the legendary Scottish sports commentator, as famous for his checkered sports jackets as his classic lines “What a stramash” and “Disaster for Scotland”, has died, aged 85.
Montford spent 32 years as the presenter of Scottish Television’s Scotsport programme where he was best known for his football coverage, although he was also covered a range of other sports, especially golf.
Montford died at home on Tuesday after battling illness over the past couple of years.
Born in Glasgow and raised in Greenock, Montford was a lifelong supporter of his local team Greenock Morton, of which he was honorary vice-president.
He started his career as a print journalist and radio broadcaster before joining Scottish Television in 1957 as a continuity announcer.
But his big break which made him a household name in Scotland came when he was chosen to present Scotsport (originally known as Sports Desk), which became the world’s longest-running sports programme.
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He retired in 1989 after presenting more than 2,000 editions of the programme, including 350 commentaries and 38 Old Firm games.
In an interview with The Scotsman’s award winning journalist Aidan Smith last August, Montford recalled that his greatest-ever match was the 1960 European Cup final at Hampden, when Real Madrid beat Eintracht Frankfurt 7-3. STV were told by rivals BBC that there was no room for their cameras in the gantry in Hampden’s South Stand. He said that, undeterred, they set up in the North Stand and ended up winning the local battle for viewers.
Montford also told Smith: “One of my biggest regrets is being on National Service in 1949 and so missing ‘Jimmy’s Wembley’ (twice in a row Morton keeper Jimmy Cowan helped Scotland win there).”
Sports writer Graham Spiers said: “He was a really fine, very Scottish, couthy commentator, whose words chimed with the ordinary Scottish football fan.
“Arthur belonged to the age of innocence in broadcasting, when you had only one or two games a week being televised by the BBC or STV in Scotland. There was nothing like the mass coverage of today. You lived for these TV highlights, and the sometimes high-octane commentaries of Arthur or Archie Macpherson. They were great days.”
Montford, who continued to play golf twice a week into his 80s, was president and captain of Glasgow Golf Club and rector of the University of Glasgow from 1974 to 1977.
Last night Graeme Ross, Morton’s historian, said: “It’s a shock to hear that Arthur has died. His death is particularly poignant because Morton had its inaugural Hall of Fame dinner last weekend.”
Chic Brodie, an SNP MSP who promotes improvements to golf in Scotland, described Montford as “one of the pillars of the Scottish sporting scene”.
“This is terrible news. It’s a sad day for everyone involved in golf and football. I met him on 2 January many years ago when I played junior football for Downfield Juniors in Dundee. He came up to me in his checked jacket and said ours was the only game on in Scotland and he’d be reporting on it. That’s the sort of enthusiasm he had.”
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