Tony Gubba: Barry Davies pays tribute to late BBC colleague

By Barry DaviesBBC Sport Commentator

If there was a big sporting event, Tony Gubba had a role to play somewhere.

He was a great all-rounder - a presenter, a commentator and a reporter - with the versatility to cover a wide range of sport and he'll be greatly missed.

Tony, 69, who died on Monday following a short illness, was an excellent journalist and had good nose for a story. As an interviewer, he wouldn't let anybody flannel. He would keep asking the questions until he got the answer he thought was reasonable enough.

He was also a guy who was nimble on his feet in every sense, and that included thrashing me on the squash court.

I don't know how best to describe his style other than to say it was distinctive. If you turn on Motty [John Motson], you know it's Motty. If you turn on Tony, you know it's Tony. That was the main point. It was a very clear and warm style.

He would get quite excited at the right moments and he was quite prepared to commit himself if he felt justified. He did his own thing - and I think people liked that. You just have to look at the reaction to his passing.

Jimmy Hill once said that he judged commentators by whether they irritated him or not. It was clear that not many were irritated by Tony.

Tony was always one of the reporters at the FA Cup final and he went on to do the pre- and post-match interviews, which he was very good at. He managed to persuade the players to open up on cup final morning.

I remember Motty and I were very happy when he was the man who had to commentate on a Romania game [against Tunisia] at the 1998 World Cup because the coach had the daft idea to have all players' hair dyed blond. Trying to identify them was pretty difficult but Tony made a good fist of it and managed to get around it.

As well as the number of different sports and roles he did, the longevity of his career was amazing. He was still covering games for Match of the Day - and also took a very tongue-in- cheek approach to ITV series Dancing On Iceexternal-link [following its launch in 2006]. His comments on performances were excellent - and I think doing that show enhanced his reputation.

I can remember how thrilled he was to be doing the 1992 Olympic football final. He didn't have too many chances of doing finals but he got the chance in Barcelona. It was an excellent game with lots of goals - Spain beat Poland 3-2. He was so excited before the game, and even more so after it had finished.

The last time I saw him was at the London Olympics - he was covering the table tennis. We caught up for a coffee and he was his jolly self. We talked about old times and different styles of the modern era.

He was the sort of person who was the same every time you saw him - he was Tony. I never remember him looking down or being fed up. If he had a complaint, he'd make it, but he was very much himself all the time.

Tony had a fine career and my sympathy goes out to his partner Jenny and his two daughters. People will remember Tony Gubba. He's left his mark, there's absolutely no doubt about that.

Top Stories