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  Friday, 14 February, 2003, 21:31 GMT
History of Match of the Day
Match of the Day
Technological advances aided Match of the Day
BBC Sport Online brings you a potted history of Match of the Day, 36 years after it was first broadcast.


Match of the Day made its debut in August 1964, broadcasting highlights of Liverpool v Arsenal on BBC Two.

A television audience of just 20,000 is attracted as the programme starts as a nervous experiment. The audience is less than half the figure that witnessed the game first hand at Anfield.

The technological advance of electronic cameras and videotape, transmitting outside broadcast events to a central source for editing, makes the whole thing possible.

Kenneth Wolstenholme
Kenneth Wolstenholme became famous after 1966


The show is propelled into a peak-time slot on BBC1 following England's World Cup triumph. And so begins the Saturday night ritual of watching top flight action.


Trial by television is born as the invention of the 'video-disc' allows slo-mo replays for the first time. And those replays straight away prove that a West Bromwich Albion goal against table-toppers Leeds is offside.

"Leeds will go mad," proclaims Barry Davies and so they do. A pitch invasion by the crowd and the Leeds bench ensues and the Elland Road club's misery at missing out on the title is further compounded as they are forced to play their first four home games of the following season on a neutral ground.


New commentator John Motson leaps to public attention with his reaction to Ronnie Radford's winning goal for Hereford against Newcastle in an FA Cup third round replay.

Viewing figures have by this time soared to 12 million, with ITVs Sunday show The Big Match also attracting around eight million.


Jimmy Hill
Hill teamed up with Bob Wilson

Jimmy Hill signs from ITV to front the programme alongside the now retired Arsenal goalkeeper Bob Wilson.

Known as 'The Chin', Hill trims his beard to mark the transition.


Sadly Match of the Day gets a taste of what's to come in the shape of hooliganism as the referee is forced to take the Millwall and Ipswich players off at The Den during an FA Cup tie.

Ipswich go on to crush The Lions 6-1 on their way to Wembley success over Arsenal.


The show moves to a Sunday afternoon slot and Hill and Wilson swap their suits and ties for shirtsleeves and pullovers.

Once again the show's replays prove conclusive. A Clive Allen shot for Crystal Palace against Coventry hits the stanchion inside the goal and bounces straight back out although the match officials assume it has hit the bar.

As a result most clubs redesign their netting, a move initiated by the Coventry chairman - a certain Jimmy Hill.

1981 sees the show back on Saturday nights before Sunday afternoon service is resumed again in 1982.

Des Lynam
Des Lynam was a regular host of Match of the Day


Live League action hits the screens as the BBC and ITV sign a deal with the Football League to each screen seven live games during the season.

ITV opt for Sunday live action while the BBC experiments with Friday nights in addition to the Match of the Day show on Saturday evenings.

A strike by technical staff blanks out four Saturday evening broadcasts.


Crowds are down following the Heysel disaster and negotiations for a new television contract break down as the TV companies are accused of acting as a cartel.

It's not until the FA Cup third round at the start of January 1986 but it will be another seven years before Saturday night league football returns to our screens.


The show is renamed Match of the Day - the Road to Wembley, as the BBC counters ITV's move to secure League football on a four year deal, by agreeing a five year package to cover the FA Cup.


Gary Lineker
The new face of Match of the Day
The BBC enters into a partnership with Sky Sports to cover highlights from the newly formed FA Premier League.

It sees a return to the old format of three featured games but now also includes all the goals from the other top flight games.


ITV win the rights to show highlights of the Premiership as from the beginning of the 2001-02 season, but Match of the Day will continue with action from the FA Cup and England internationals.

19 May 2001

Last Match of the Day to show Premiership highlights.

Links to more Match of the Day stories are at the foot of the page.

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Links to more Match of the Day stories

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