Legend is a word that is used all too freely in football. Players who are very good, even World class, are sprayed with this wonderful word that encompasses the true dimension of being the best, yet few deserve it.
One man, who can rightly be described as a football legend, was Arthur Montford.
I only met Arthur a few times, having been privileged to play football in an era where broadcasters were not the perceived stars of the show they are today. Unassuming, yet somehow assertive, with a presence that belied his manner, Arthur was a true legend.
I grew up watching Scotsport (and Sportscene). They became a staple of the football diet and, Sunday dinner wasn’t complete without the Scotsport tune in the background and the dulcet, eccentric tones of Arthur Montford describing the action. The game never seemed dull when Arthur was commentating and that in my opinion was his greatest skill.
He was a fervent supporter of Morton, having been a childhood friend of the long time chairman Douglas Rae and rarely missed a match. This, typifies his passion for football as a whole. I mean, why else would ANYONE wish to follow Morton every second Saturday. But that was Arthur, at his happiest, watching football, talking about football, breathing football.
He was a gentleman, with a knowledge of the Scottish game and it’s players rarely rivalled, although as the years went by and his mind deteriorated slightly, some of that knowledge inevitably wained. I know this from personal experience as I bumped into Arthur coming out of a paper shop a couple of years ago in Torrance, a suburb just north of Glasgow. I said “Hello” and we stood chatting for a few minutes as I regaled the stories of players I knew and mutual friends in the media. But I honestly don’t think he remembered who I was, but do you know what, to Arthur it didn’t matter that I was just another punter talking football. I’m sure he’d have quite happily stood there furnishing my ego for a while longer, but unfortunately my works’ van was waiting for me and we parted with a smile.
Ever the gentleman, he would never realise that I was the one in the priviliged position of being able to chat to the legend that was Arthur Montford.
It’s different now, with Sky cameras covering every angle, but somehow, Arthur had the ability to do that on his own. The passion he had and the sheer determination to make a bad game a good one, meant that you often felt you had been there. On a Sunday afternoon, Glen Michael had cleared the way and Paladdin had magic’ed his way through numerous Tom and Jerry’s, the chair was pulled and you took your seat in the ground. The game you were watching now certainly wasn’t the one you were at, as Arthur’s commentary brought the 0:0 draw to life in his own inimitable way.
They don’t make them like that anymore and, in Arthur’s own words, his passing really is this time “a disaster for Scotland”.
And as I said earlier, but unfortunately nowhere near as inimitably as the man himself, it’ll be some stramash at the Pearly Gates.