Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 25 October 2014

Radio man Gordon was 'special'

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Jimmy Armfield led the tributes to James Alexander Gordon after the BBC broadcaster, whose voice was synonymous with the classified football results on the radio, died at the age of 78.

Armfield, the former England captain turned BBC pundit, described his former colleague, who retired last year after four decades with the corporation and had been battling cancer, as "something special".

Edinburgh-born Gordon, popularly known by his initials as JAG, joined the BBC in 1972 and went on to become one of the most recognisable voices on radio, reading the results first on Radio 2 and then Radio 5 Live.

His delivery made it possible to predict, during Sports Report at 5pm each Saturday, whether the result had been a home win, away win or draw simply from the inflection.

Gordon retired in July 2013 after having his larynx removed to treat throat cancer, which meant his voice was no longer strong enough to broadcast. He was replaced by former Radio 4 newsreader Charlotte Green.

"I think 5 Live and the football results have lost a friend today," Armfield said on Radio 5 Live.

"Before he came into it, I can remember before I joined the BBC, the style was more regimented. He came in and he put a slightly different slant on it. He knew when to go up with the voice, down with the voice and he just seemed to pitch it just right. And he did it all with perfect annunciation.

"That lovely voice, with the little trace of Scot in it, had the highs and lows just right.

"The thing about him was altogether, he's actually become synonymous with it. Over those three decades we had together I always thought he really was something special.

"He was a consummate pro, he really was."

Many tributes were quick to flood in following the announcement of his death, with Match of the Day host and former England striker Gary Lineker saying on Twitter: "A voice we all know, the voice of the football results, James Alexander Gordon has died. Tottenham Hotspur 1.. Newcastle United 1.. #RIP."

England goalkeeper Ben Foster tweeted: "RIP James Alexander Gordon. Saturday afternoons checking Teletext and listening to the footy scores was The best."

BBC pundit and former Wales player Robbie Savage said "Such sad news about James Alexander Gordon who has sadly passed away, what a fantastic man with a great voice. RIP James."

Richard Burgess, head of BBC Radio Sport, said: "James was an iconic radio voice, who turned the classified football results on BBC radio into a national institution.

"He was also a true gentleman, who was loved and admired by his colleagues.

"He took enormous pride in his work and I know he was greatly touched by all the tributes he received upon his retirement last year."

Gordon, who contracted polio as a child and had to wear leg supports until his late teens, joined the BBC as an announcer and newsreader after a career in music publishing. He began reading the results in 1974.

Gordon was married to Julia, with a son, David, and two grandchildren, Molly and Martha.

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