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Last Updated: Tuesday, 3 August, 2004, 16:40 GMT 17:40 UK
MOTD through the ages
Former Match of the Day presenter Jimmy Hill
Jimmy Hill began his tenure in 1973
"Welcome to Match of the Day, the first of a weekly series on BBC Two. This afternoon we are in Beatleville..."

And so an institution was born, as the words of the legendary Kenneth Wolstenholme opened the first-ever Match of the Day on Saturday 22 August, 1964.

Liverpool versus Arsenal at Anfield was the first game to be broadcast and attracted an audience of 20,000 - less than half the attendance at the ground.

But the popularity of the 1966 World Cup coverage ensured that by the 1966-67 season, MOTD had moved to a new slot on BBC One.

The folllowing year saw five million viewers watch a 22-year-old Alan Ball score twice for Everton on the opening day against Manchester United.

But MOTD's monopoly on televised football was challenged in 1968 with the arrival of ITV's Sunday afternoon show The Big Match, presented by Jimmy Hill and Brian Moore, formerly a BBC Radio football correspondent.

Familiar ditty

The BBC responded with a new theme tune, and the now familiar ditty penned by Barry Stoller replaced Arnold Stock's 'Drum Majorette', the original choice.

November 1969 saw the programme's first colour transmission, with Bill Shankly's Liverpool overcoming West Ham at Anfield.

A record audience of over 20 million watched the 1970 FA Cup final between Chelsea and Leeds, and by 1972-73 viewing figures for MOTD were averaging 12 million in its 10 o'clock slot on BBC One.

Match of the Day commentator John Motson
Motty continues behind the mike
The following season saw Jimmy Hill quit ITV to take over as the show's new presenter.

But in November 1978 Hill's old employers pulled off an exclusive deal with the Football League for future coverage of their matches - the 'snatch of the day' as the headline writers labelled it.

The Office of Fair Trading intervened but the BBC was forced to alternate with ITV for Saturday night football, with MOTD switching to Sunday afternoons for the 1980-01 and 1982-83 seasons.

Both channels were allowed to screen seven live matches from 1983, with ITV choosing the Sunday afternoon slot and the BBC experimenting with Friday evenings.

Viewers were forced to do without their Saturday night fix for four consecutive Saturdays in the autumn of 1983 when a technical dispute at the BBC disrupted transmission of MOTD.

With rights to Football League matches switching exclusively to ITV for the first time in the 1988-9 season, the BBC linked up with the new BSKyB to broadcast FA Cup and England matches.

Lineker in the hot seat

And with Sky winning live rights for the new Premier League in 1992-93, MOTD was relaunched as a Saturday night highlights package.

The new millennium saw Premier League highlights move to ITV, along with popular presenter Des Lynam.

But MOTD has lived on with former England striker Gary Lineker replacing Lynam in the hotseat to front live FA Cup and England matches.

And with Premiership highlights back on the Beeb from the start of the 2004-05 season, fans will continue to whistle that familiar theme tune as MOTD approaches its 40th anniversary.




SEE ALSO
Premiership back on the BBC
26 Jul 04  |  Match of the Day



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