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At the very least, top-dog Greg Dyke should have organised a knighthood for Coleman in today's New Year's honours. That is the sort of thing bosses of big corporations are actually for, isn't it?And just think of some of the phoney twerps who have been dubbed Sir of late. With a final defiant croak, the Lord of the Larynx wrapped up his 16th Olympic Games - summer and winter - in Sydney in October.
But the national treasure had mellowed by the time Spitting Image came along and he would engagingly chortle at his crazed, check-capped puppet, finger in earpiece, squealing: "Er, reallyquiteremarkable, and er, I think it's impossible tokeepupthislevelofexcitementwithoutmyheadexploding . ." At super Sydney last summer, it must be said, the famed and bouncily keen effervescent gurgle had become an ancient's gargle, the once compelling machine-gun yodel now an indecisive splutter. Even in his athletics and football commentaries, you realised what a formidable opponent he was because he had a hard-nosed attitude about sport and news, which few us had in television.And as he was being lap-of-honour chauffeured that week around the chat-show sofas, Murray would have been the first to admit that as a one-off single-sport specialist, he was but a speck and a pygmy in the wide historical scope of sports broadcasting compared with Coleman's pioneering and sustained accomplishments.His own present masters are obviously boneheadedly unaware of the unremitting, trail-blazing resplendence of Coleman's sportscasting youth and his prolonged prime.And over the 12 or 13 years on the programme the only thing that changed was that his parting got wider and his sweaters got worse." Stuart Storey (former Olympic hurdler and athletics co-commentator since 1974) "David always said he would give up everything to be an Olympian like the rest of us in the commentary box; well, he was. When I entered the BBC I was fortunate because I learned the profession from him. He had everything: a great ability to read a situation really well.He would always know when to put in the big hit-line, which when you heard it later you always wished you had said because it usually summed up everything perfectly.His colouring-in of the nation's first fuzzy monochrome pictures with his knowingly passionate prattle - twigging to engaging, precise perfection both the performers' and the viewers' aspirations - uniquely yanked sports comment and commentary away from the aloof, semi-patronising patrician-plummy moustache-strained forerunners such as Leslie Mitchell of Movietone News or the BBC's Peter Dimmock.
It was the latter, in fact, who as head of sport gave the young BBC Midlands newsroom cub from his hometown Stockport Express his first national broadcast - on May 6 1954, the night Roger Bannister "broke" the four-minute mile.His race-reading of successive Olympic 100 metres finals - identifying eight men tearing straight at him in a 10-second blur - was a genius party-piece of splendour. Frank Bough (Coleman's successor on Grandstand) "He made his considerable reputation from being able not only to take talkback in his ear, change his mind in a trice, get his facts right and, most of all, sight-read the football results on the teleprinter, but also to interpret them and amplify them in the most amazing way.His most epic journalistic hour, or rather hours, came with his prolonged and sombre vigil, working off just one distant fixed camera, after the 1972 Munich Olympics murders. Coleman was the only one who could tell you that that win had put Arsenal on top of division one on goal average, or that was East Fife's first score draw in 19 consecutive games.The man is simply a legend." Ron Atkinson (football manager, TV pundit and Guardian columnist) "I never worked with David on Match of the Day but I've always had the greatest admiration for him.I remember the very early days when he was working for something called Sports Special.His enthusiasm and love of knowledge always came through.