As we continue our look at cult heroes in the world of football the focus turns to one of the most iconic voices in British broadcasting. We only ever hear from him once a week but his considered style has made him an irreplaceable part of following football on a Saturday afternoon.
For a generation of fans, James Alexander-Gordon’s segment on ‘Sports Report’ was the only way of reliably getting all the day’s football results in one place, and as exposure to him was only for ten minutes, once a week, his near mythical status has grown over the last 39 years
Alexander-Gordon, 75, has been the voice of the classified football results since 1972. Formerly a music publisher, he was picked out after reading aloud a small piece about his profession for recording. From there, the rise to national radio was swift.
Adopted as a child, the future broadcasting icon revealed in an interview with the New Statesman in 2000, that his adoptive father had complained about the quality of the journalists reading the results over the radio. Alexander-Gordon is said to have retorted; “I’ll read them one day.”
Perennially unwell during his formative years, Alexander-Gordon spent his childhood in and out of hospital for treatment of a severe case of polio. Also troubled by a speech impediment, his now distinctive style was born out of years practicing reading the shipping forecast.
Many interviews with the enigmatic broadcaster have highlighted the incredible support provided to him by his parents, in particular the role his father had in developing Alexander-Gordon’s dreams of broadcasting. Despite his severe handicaps, the young boy was encouraged to try everything he could.
With a distinctive Scottish accent, Alexander-Gordon was initially put to work on weather bulletins and news broadcasts, a duty he maintained on BBC Radio 2 until the early 1990s, when he retired from full-time broadcasting. His role on a Saturday remains his only weekly engagement, but one that he is undoubtedly wed to.
It is hard to think of a world where the football results are read out by any other voice than Alexander Gordon’s, and the day that Mark Pougatch introduces a different broadcaster to give a full check on the afternoon’s action, will be undeniably sad and seminal. Even though we now have ‘Soccer Saturday’ and ‘Final Score’ – not to mention all of the internet based results systems, listening to the opening minutes of ‘Sports Report’ should be something that every football fan continues to make time for.
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