James Alexander Gordon: A weekly reminder of what the game was 0

Many have already written about James Alexander Gordon’s death and all of those people have reaffirmed what a seminal part of football he was.

When someone dies, the temptation is always to over-eulogise and that nearly always leads to a lack of sincerity.  What’s notable in this instance, however, is just how much James Alexander Gordon’s voice resonated with fans and how much of a gap his passing leaves in the sport.

What an amazing remark to be able to make about someone who, for nearly forty years, occupied what should have been a tiny corner of the broadcasting world.  His voice was memorable without being special and his role was relatively mundane; James Alexander Gordon being James Alexander Gordon isn’t necessarily the reason for our affection, instead it’s what he represented.

Hearing the tones and inflections of his voice will always remind me of being really young.  For most of us beyond a certain age, James Alexander Gordon entered our consciousness before football really did.  Before we went to matches, before we really knew what supporting a team was about, and before we understood the game at all we had heard Sports Report.  As Gordon ran through the scores from the day, the implications of the results never entered your mind and they never provoked anything beyond, maybe, a general curiosity as what Cowdenbeath might be like to visit.  We all tried to guess the scores before he read them, we all giggled childishly at the funny place-names in Scotland.  It was a common ground and he was a reference point for almost everybody in the country.

I can’t recall the last time I heard James Alexander Gordon on the radio and, bizarrely, that in a way conveys exactly what he was.  If you were to go back through the BBC archives and listen to his recordings from different decades, I don’t believe you’d notice any difference.  Listening to him in 1984 and 2004: it would be the same.  He was a reassuring constant in a game that has changed beyond recognition.  Beyond Financial Fair Play, commercial strategies and millionaire players, James Alexander Gordon reminded us weekly that the game is still simple and, at its root, is really just determined by nils, ones, twos and threes.

It’s assumed that football is better in high-definition, that we are better for knowing about transfers before they happen and that we all want to see Vines documenting every intricacy the game produces, but James Alexander Gordon couldn’t be modernised and his job couldn’t have just been done by a slick haircut and an iPad.

And there was something nice about that, and something I’ll miss.

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