Legendary commentators bring sport alive

FOR a generation of television viewers through the glory days of British broadcasting, the great sporting events which provided the timeframe against which our lives have passed were described by a group of commentators the gathering of whose like we are unlikely to see again.

Idiosyncratic, bursting with individuality and passion for their sports, but most of them largely untutored, they provided the soundtrack for moments of joy and disappointment which punctuated the post-war years. Dan Maskell at Wimbledon, John Arlott and Brian Johnston at Lord's, Peter Alliss at The Open, Harry Carpenter at the Ali fights, Murray Walker at Silverstone, Peter O'Sullivan at the Grand National, and of course Eddie Waring's rugby league.

Football had Arthur Montford and still has Archie McPherson and John Motson. And of course there was Kenneth Woolstenholme.

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Rugby Union lost its voice in 2002 when Bill McLaren finally retired and now the nation mourns his passing at 86.

Rugby has never been the easiest game for the those with only a passing interest, but with Bill in the commentary box the uninitiated were guaranteed both understanding and entertainment. The era of pioneering sports broadcasting masters has come closer to its end but it is not just a game which has lost one of its favourite sons, but the whole country.