Kenneth Wolstenholme

Ken Wolstenholme would often moan that he only got paid £80 for the commentary that made him a football legend: "They think it’s all over – it is now."

He even considered suing the TV show that "borrowed" his most famous uttering for its title, but in the end decided to make do with the glory.

The fact that he said it at all, after England’s fourth goal against West Germany in the 1966 World Cup Final, showed how far ahead of his time he was. BBC commentators then tended to be of the restrained, cut-glass vowel sort. Ken’s obvious passion for the sport was a revelation and made him the most popular football commentator of his time.

He cheerfully admitted that he didn’t even remember saying it and was constantly surprised to see it acquire legs of its own.

Good-humoured and charmingly self-deprecating, he roared with laughter when, a couple of years ago, he was telling a group of journalist golfing pals at Moor Park that he was only paid £80 for the broadcast and the irreverent Frank Clough of The Sun, also sadly no longer with us, replied: "And have you spent it yet, Ken?" – a reference to his carefulness with money.

He was a keen member of the Press Golfing Society, although when he retired to Devon to be near his only daughter he only played occasionally. He had been suffering from heart trouble and was admitted to hospital in Torquay where he died on 25 March, aged 81.

Born on 17 July, 1920, in Worsley, Lancashire, he was educated at Farnworth Grammar Schooland although he wanted to be a journalist, joined the RAF in the Forties, trained as a bomber pilot and flew 100 missions for which he was awarded the DFC and Bar. After the war he joined the BBC’s northern service, graduated to television in 1948 and over the years covered more than 2000 football matches, 23 FA Cup Finals and five World Cups.

In 1970, when Wolstenholme’s contract came up for negotiation, he was offered a new one that included a pay rise but not the ‘senior’ standing he thought was his due. The following year his final words for the BBC from the European Cup Final at Wembley were: "So it’s good night from Wembley – and goodbye from me, goodbye".

Philippa Kennedy

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