Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Kenneth Wolstenholme, DFC (born Worsley, Lancashire,. July 17 1920; died March 25 2002) was the original football commentator for BBC television in the 1950s and 1960s, responsible for the game's most famous commentary phrase.
Wolstenholme started his career as a journalist with a newspaper in Manchester, before joining the RAF as a bomber pilot. After the war he became a freelance journalist, working for BBC radio before moving to television in 1948.
While most sports commentators gain some recognition if their career is long enough, Wolstenholme is almost entirely remembered for his commentary of the 1966 Football World Cup Final, specifically the words he used as the match came to a conclusion during injury time, as a small pitch invasion took place just as Geoff Hurst scored to put England 4-2 ahead:
These have become arguably the most famous words in English football, and among the most famous phrases in modern English. Wolstenholme always said that it was just a natural verbal piecing together of the situation before him and it took years before he realised just how well it fitted.
Wolstenholme commentated on English domestic football's most famous games of the 1950s and 1960s, including the first ever game featured on Match of the Day in 1964. He covered every FA Cup final between 1953 (the Matthews final) and 1971 (the year of Arsenal's "double"). He was also the BBC's main man at the 1970 World Cup, commentating with panache on the final between Brazil. He left the corporation in 1972 after David Coleman was installed as the BBC's top commentator.
Wolstenholme went into semi-retirement, but re-appeared on TV to provide reports and occasional features for Channel 4 when they earned rights in the early 1990s to show Serie A games from Italy. His most famous phrase was hijacked shamelessly for the sports quiz They Think It's All Over, on which he once appeared as a guest.
"Oh, that was sheer delightful football!" - after Carlos Alberto's memorable fourth goal for Brazil in the 1970 World Cup final
"There's the man who's really fighting for his Cup medal - can he score the winning goal now?" - on Stanley Matthews, seconds before the veteran winger set up the winner in the 1953 FA Cup final
"And a great tackle, almost on the line!" - ironic quote after a policeman grabbed a pitch invader and forced him to the turf at Wembley during the 1966 FA Cup final
"Yes, yes, yes - no! The linesman says no! The linesman says no. The linesman, who only speaks Russian and Turkish...it's a goal!" - describing the immediate debate as to whether Geoff Hurst's shot had crossed the line or not in the 1966 World Cup final
"Are we going to see a dramatic ending? Yes we are!" - seconds before and after Ronnie Boyce scored a last-minute winner for West Ham United in the 1964 FA Cup final
"And the Liverpool fans are all saying "If only he'd done it two minutes ago!" - assessing the reaction of Liverpool supporters after Steve Heighway scored two minutes into the extra-time period during the 1971 FA Cup final
"It's only eight inches high, solid gold, and it means that England are the world champions!" - describing the scene as Bobby Moore collected the Jules Rimet trophy from the Queen and showing it to the Wembley crowd after England's World Cup win
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