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Gerald Sinstadt dies age 91: BBC commentary legend who took public stand against racists

Legendary BBC and ITV commentator Gerald Sinstadt, who was one of the most recognisable voices in television during the 1970s, has passed away aged 91

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Orgasmic in its appreciation, Gerald Sinstadt’s voice provided a soundtrack worthy of the rasping finish.

“Oh, what a goal,” he yelped, half an octave above his normal vocal range, as Cyrille Regis concluded the scoring in a classic for the archives.

And once more for luck, as if to underscore the quality of Big Cyrille’s emphatic shot: “What a magnificent goal.”

West Bromwich Albion’s 5-3 win against Manchester United at Old Trafford in December 1978 was probably the high-water mark of manager Ron Atkinson’s reign.

The Baggies’ so-called ‘Three Degrees’ – Regis, Laurie Cunningham and Brendan Batson – were at the peak of their powers, and United were so impressed with the swaggering performance of Big Ron’s team they handed him the job at Old Trafford three years later when Dave Sexton was sacked.

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Legendary commentator Gerald Sinstadt has died aged 91
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Arguably, it was also the pinnacle of Sinstadt’s career as a commentator.

Not only did his soundtrack do justice to the extravagant entertainment set before ITV’s Big Match audience on a Sunday afternoon, but he became one of the first broadcasters to call out racist pond life.

When Cunningham, whose exotic gifts would earn him a move to Real Madrid before his life was cut short by a car crash, was booed by bigots in the 45,091 crowd, Sinstadt was dismissive of their ignorance.

He almost purred with approval when the morons’ taunts were cut short by a crisp, first-time finish from Cunningham’s pass – or, as he put it, “repaid by Tony Brown.”

Gerald Sinstadt, one of the most distinguished football commentators of the 20th century, has died at the age of 91.





If his face was not the most recognisable in his trade, his voice was one of the most distinctive.

From 1970 to 1982, he worked at four World Cup tournaments for ITV, including West Germany’s controversial semi-final win against France 39 years ago, when goalkeeper Toni Schumacher’s assault on Patrick Battiston went unpunished.

He also ‘called’ Denis Law’s back-heeled winner for Manchester City to relegate United in 1974 (although results elsewhere would have condemned them to drop).

And his body of work at the Olympics for the BBC included the first four of Sir Steve Redgrave’s five rowing gold medal races.

But as he takes his place in the celestial commentary box, we owe Sinstadt a vote of thanks for his social conscience and taking a stand against the racists.








Sinstadt was not afraid to stand up to racists
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In an era when unacceptable attitudes towards black players took root, he made a stand for decency.

His broad-mindedness allowed him to export his talents from sport into other areas of entertainment and he became a producer of TV programmes on his other big passion – opera.

From penalty area to operatic aria, he was an accomplished broadcaster, but his life was also shaped by tragedy.

Born in Folkestone in 1930, the only child of shopkeepers Jim and Winifred Sinstadt, he waved goodbye to his parents aged 10 when he was evacuated to the country as the Battle of Britain loomed.

He never saw them again as a German air raid killed both parents just a few months later.

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Providence would continue to shape his life more than half a century later, when he rang Port Vale to arrange an interview and was put in touch with the club’s commercial manager. Margaret would become his third wife.

She said: “The first time I met Gerald was at the local train station. But when the train pulled in I was not sure which passenger he was because I had never seen a photograph.

“It was only when he spoke I realised I had the right man.”


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