First football commentary

Dec 19, 2011, 12:32 AM

Rather like my first radio efforts, the first football commentary came from a garden shed.

It was January 22nd 1927. This was a Division One fixture: Arsenal v. Sheffield United. The broadcast was not without its critics: after all, was it not logical that to broadcast football commentary would lure fans from matches; and reduce press consumption?

The first commentator was a chap called Henry Blythe Thornhill Wakelam, who’d been a rugby player. He appears to have had a great producer: Lance Sieveking. Maybe over a glass of wine or two, Lance decided to divide the pitch into eight numbered squares, to make commentary easier. It is suggested, although not 100% proven, that this could have been the origin of the phrase ‘back to square one’.

This, sadly, is not that first commentary – but it is clearly very, very old. So, listen carefully to hear those squares shouted. After all that, the first ever commentary ended with the score 1-1. This is the first article I have ever written about football.