Sports commentators have always provided their audiences with laughter, often unintentionally. Gaffes by sports commentators are so common that British satirical magazine Private Eye has long had a special section for them, Colemanballs, named after gaffe-prone British commentator, David Coleman.
British cricket commentator and BBC presenter Brian (Jonners) Johnston was also famous for gaffes during live broadcasts. His most famous occurred during a cricket match when he quite innocently, and factually, said: “The bowler’s Holding, the batsman’s Willey.”
Jonners’ most famous broadcast clip, though, occurred during live commentary at London’s Oval cricket ground in August 1991. Commentating with fellow broadcaster Jonathan Agnew, he and Agnew both dissolved into helpless laughter on air after remarking that English cricketer Ian Botham had “failed to get his leg over.” Hear the clip here.
Here are some of sport’s other entertaining gaffes from commentators so engrossed in the action they clearly forgot to think about what they were saying.
Steve is going for the pink ball. For those of you watching in black and white, the pink is next to the green.
(Ted Lowe; snooker)
The line-up for the final of the Women’s 400 metres hurdles includes three Russians, two East Germans, a Pole, a Swede and a Frenchman.
Stephen Hendry jumps on Steve Davis’s misses every chance he gets.
(Mike Hallett, snooker)
This is really a lovely horse. I once rode her mother.
One of the reasons Arnie (Arnold Palmer) is playing so well is that before each tee shot his wife takes out his balls and kisses them.
(US PGA Commentator)
Well Clive, it’s all about the two Ms: movement and positioning.
(Ron Atkinson; football)
Rob McLean: John Hartson is playing superbly today.
Sandy Clark: Yes Rob. There’s no one better today.
Rob McLean: So who’s your man of the match?
Sandy Clark: Alan Thompson
As soon as Lee Trundle scored that goal for Swansea you knew this wasn’t going to be a nil-nil draw.
I imagine the conditions in those cars are totally unimaginable.
(Murray Walker; Formula One racing.)
He’s very quick for a man of his age. I suppose you’d call him ageless. He’s 33 or 34.
(David Pleat; football)
Lastly, a quote from football player Phil Neville summing up all that’s best about sporting ambition…
Fourth spot is what we’re aiming for… we don’t want to be second best.