Come Friday night, a voice familiar to many will no longer enter the homes of those eagerly awaiting the classified football results on BBC radio.
James Alexander Gordon, 77, announced today that he will retire from his 40-year post on the programme following a surgery that removed his larynx due to a cancer diagnosis.
“It’s with great sorrow that I have to give up the most exciting part of my career, the classified football results,” he said. “They have been my life.”
The Scot with one of the most recognisable voices on radio, who was featured on Radio 2 and later on Radio 5 live, stated that his voice is no longer strong enough to carry on with broadcast.
“I was terrified at first, but I put my heart and soul into it and have loved it ever since,” he said of the start of his long and iconic career. “The most important thing, though, has been making it exciting for the listener. I want to thank my producer of some 30 years, Audrey Adams, whose love of sport and determination to get it right has made all the difference.
Born in Edinburgh in 1936, he was paralyzed with polio and spent much of his childhood in the hospital. He worked in music before coming to radio, and joined the BBC by 1972 to read news and present programmes. He made his claim to fame in 1973 by reading the Friday evening classified football results.
“How proud I am that I have served the very best of BBC radio sport, albeit in a small way with the classifieds, and I know that the great team will continue to present the best in radio sport coverage,” he said.
Known for his voice of clarity, authority and charm, his inflections when pronouncing the names of the clubs often clued in waiting sports fans whether the match ended in a home win, away win or draw.
“This is desperately sad news for everyone at BBC Sport and we know our sadness will be shared by many millions of listeners,” said Richard Burgess, head of BBC Radio Sport. “For so many of us, James has been a mainstay in our lives – a reassuring and reliable presence every week.
“It’s not an exaggeration to say that Saturdays at 5pm will never be the same again without the warm, melodious sound of his voice, just after the Sports Report theme on BBC Radio 5 live.”
Mark Pougatch, presenter of Radio 5 live Sport, shared the sentiment.
“Even people who don’t really even like football knew who James was, even if they didn’t realise it,” he said. “Such was James’s unique style of reading the classifieds, his wonderful inflections and stresses, that even non-believers of the sport knew the result after the home team’s score. Nobody else will be able to say ‘Wolverhampton Wanderers’ with quite such mellifluous tones.
“But enough of this ‘James’. To those of us lucky enough to work at BBC Radio Sport, he is JAG. And JAG is an institution, a legend and a gentleman all rolled into one.”