John Motson coat: why was BBC commentator famous for wearing a sheepskin coat?

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John Motson enjoyed an incredible 50 year career in broadcasting which saw him commentate on more than 2000 football matches

Whenever football fans think of the late John Motson they almost instantly associate him with an iconic sheepskin coat.

Motson covered many of football’s biggest events on the BBC during an incredible 50 year career in broadcasting and many of the game’s greatest players and managers have described him as “the voice of football”. Motson delivered countless iconic lines during his time in the commentary gantry and he was widely renowned for wearing a trademark sheepskin coat throughout his career.

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But why did John Motston start wearing a sheepskin coat and how did it become so iconic? Here is everything you need to know.

Why did John Motson wear a sheepskin coat?

John Motson was one of the most well known broadcasters in football and he was synonymous for wearing a sheepskin coat - but the commentator never intended to make the coat his trademark and it was something that simply happened organically.

Motson’s winter wardrobe shot to national stardom in the build up to an FA Cup tie between Wycombe Wanderers and Peterborough United on 8 December 1990. The BBC commentator explained that the game was called off due to heavy snow.

Motson did a pre-match report for BBC grandstand while wearing the coat and it resonated with football fans around the world. Motston said at the time: “Well I’m afraid Mark West and Martin O’Neill are going to have to wait a few days longer if they are going to add another chapter to Wycombe’s famous cup history.”

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John Motson has died aged 77. (Kim Mogg National World)John Motson has died aged 77. (Kim Mogg National World)
John Motson has died aged 77. (Kim Mogg National World) | Kim Mogg - National World

Motson went on: “As you can see, this part of Buckinghamshire is absolutely snowbound. And there’s a bit of gale hurtling around me as well. This has all happened, believe it or not, in the last hour and a half…”

What did John Motson say about the coat?

John Motson reflected on the iconic moment a year before his retirement in 2018, he said: “I didn’t set out to make the sheepskin coat anything special, but it happened when I was at Wycombe in 1990 and the snow came down. I looked forlorn and it just stuck from then on.”

Motson added that he has always paid for his own coats throughout his commentary career. He said: “I have always had them to measure. Even when it is warm people ask where the coat is. I’ve always paid for my own. People think the BBC pay for them but they don’t.”

Motson owned around “nine or 10” sheepskin coats over the years. The majority of which have been bought from London’s Savile Row.

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One of Motson’s coats has been placed on display in the National Football Museum in Manchester to honour the commentator and his contribution to football.

Photographer Stuart Roy Clarke captured the iconic image of Motson wearing the coat for the first time. Clarke said: “I can see Motson’s brown sheepskin coat, standing out against the white of the snow.

“So, without delay… I prise open the gates and cock the shutter of my camera. One shot and I create a photo, a moment in time, that will help elevate Motson and his coat to national treasure status and please audiences for many years to come.”

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