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TV nostalgia: The Big Match, and ITV's early 1990s football coverage

Sky never had a man with the silken presenting skills of one Roger Elton Welsby. Or Brian Clough.

Image: YouTube Screengrab

LONG BEFORE SKY SPORTS, before the Premier League, the Premiership, the Premier Division and the Rumbelows Cup, before Gary Lineker and Des Lynam and even before Alex Ferguson won his first title…

We had ITV’s coverage of the old First Division.

For all their newfangled gadgetry, touchscreen punditry, Gary Neville posturing and Geoff Shreeves playing the angel of death, Sky never had a man with the silken presenting skills of one Elton Welsby.

Well, until Jeff Stelling came along.

Here he is interviewing Cloughie before Derby played Spurs on ‘The Match,’ their flagship football show.

“If there was a match for your network to pick, this is a good one. Venables, Cox, me, you, Lineker, Saunders – what more could you want on a Sunday afternoon?”

(YouTube credit: FootballonDVD)

He was right, you know.

Amid all that early-90s bluster, you hear a familiar voice reading out the names. Alan Parry, commentator on the day, would move on to Sky (where he remains more than 20 years later) but poor Elton’s career never really recovered from ITV losing their live rights with the demise of the old First Division.

Having become the last presenter of quiz show Busman’s Holiday, the last we heard of Mr. Welsby was him teaming up with Ricky Tomlinson on a theatre tour, where he’d interview the actor in the guise of Jim Royle.

Here’s ITV’s Saturday evening results service, featuring Bob Colston on classified results duty…

(YouTube credit: RandomChannelUK)

Interesting fact about ITV’s ‘Big Match’ show: Welsby was not the only Elton to present it – footage exists on ‘The Big Match on DVD’ of Elton John presenting the show in 1976.

Of course, we have it here…

(YouTube credit: gabe25591)

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