Legendary BBC Scotland commentator David Francey dies

Former BBC Scotland football commentator David Francey has died in Glasgow, aged 87, after a long illness.

A popular figure in Scottish football, Francey was behind the mic for 35 years. His last match was in 1987 when Scotland played Brazil at Hampden.

"Oh dear, oh dear!" became his catchphrase, but Francey was the main commentator when Celtic, Rangers and Aberdeen won European trophies.

He leaves behind his wife of 67 years and his son, Michael.

Francey was born in to a big family in Knightswood, Glasgow in February 1924.

He developed a love of football at a young age and was a keen player but prospects of a career in the game were scuppered by a cruciate injury in his late teens.

Francey joined the RAF and later worked for the Gas Board and Electricity Board. He approached the BBC as a 28-year-old and was given a 30-second radio slot by head of sport Peter Thomson to demonstrate his talents.

He was always asked back, though never given a full-time contract.

David Francey
Francey was behind the microphone for 35 years as commentator

Alastair Alexander, who retired after 40 years of commentating in 2005, remembered his former colleague fondly.

He said: "I first met David in 1965. He was a marvellous character. He brought life to a commentary; he actually brought smiles to it.

"He had a good rapport with the fans. David Francey had his own style and everybody loved him for that.

"When he was doing his commentaries, Scotland were a forced to be reckoned with and he reflected that era so well."

Francey described Celtic's European Cup win in Lisbon in 1967 to thousands of listeners.

That was the first time a Scottish club had lifted a European trophy.

John Barnes was the BBC Scotland commentator the last time a Scottish team was in a European final, when Rangers lost to Zenit St Petersburg in the Uefa Cup in 2008.

"I loved listening to David commentating. His voice was instantly recognisable and often mimicked," said Barnes.

"I had the privilege of meeting David after he had retired from the BBC in the late 1980s.

"At the time he was doing the odd freelance commentary for commercial stations and I spent a few nights in his company trying to pick up tips from the great man.

"I remember in 1988 we were both covering Hearts against Velez Mostar in the old Yugoslavia.

"David's commentary position was basically pitchside, where the fourth official stands nowadays, but he never flinched, he just got on with the job. A true pro."

Derek Rae, now a commentator at ESPN, said on Twitter: "David helped me get started in the commentary business. A true gentleman as well as a masterful communicator."

David Francey died in Glasgow's Victoria Infirmary on Wednesday afternoon after a six-year battle with illness.

His funeral will be held on Wednesday 21 September.

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