the end of 1936, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) had its own
regular television service, but it was not until the end of the following
season that the first full match was broadcast live. There are at least
three earlier claims to the first televised football match. A film of
Arsenal’s opening game of the 1936-37 season against Everton was shown, but
this was only recorded action. Part of the 1937 FA Cup Final was broadcast
Football Club certainly hosted a live football event on television, the
following season. This was on a Thursday afternoon, September 16th,
1937 at 3:40 p.m., when manager, George Allison introduced his team. The
programme was only on air for 15 minutes, but the players’ training session,
including part of a practice match with the reserves, was relayed to
Alexandra Palace, from where it was broadcast to the nation, or that part of
London lucky enough to have a television set. Another session was broadcast
from Highbury on the following afternoon.
first football match televised live in its entirety was held on 9th
April, 1938 and it was the annual England v. Scotland fixture, at Wembley
Stadium. At this time, outside broadcasts could only be made from London.
Tommy Walker gave Scotland an early lead and it was enough to give them a
share of the British Championship with their hosts. Interestingly, the same
commentary was used for both television and radio; George Allison had been
commentating for BBC radio since 1927 and now made the transition to TV. He
was joined at the mic by Thomas Woodrooffe, an ex-naval officer, who had
commentated on many varied events for the BBC, though he had been taken
off-air the previous year, for slurring his words whilst broadcasting at a
naval event, after having had a drink too many beforehand!
The same pair described the
FA Cup Final at the same venue, three weeks later, where Woodrooffe was
immortalised by the words, "If a goal's scored now, I'll eat my hat", just
before Preston won the game with a last-minute penalty! A cake, in the shape
of a hat, was subsequently made in order for him to keep his promise.
By the following season,
the last before wartime, it had been decided that the pictures should be
accompanied by a separate commentary to the radio broadcasts, and Allison
secured the television role. By embracing this new medium with enthusiasm,
George Allison had become football's first ever TV pundit and his popularity
was further enhanced by a speaking part in the 1939 movie, 'The Arsenal
Sadly, the Second World
War brought an abrupt halt to television coverage of the national game. The
BBC suspended the service on 2nd September, 1939. Allison was retained for
radio commentaries of wartime fixtures, but the television screens would
remain blank until June 1946, the beginning of a new era in broadcasting
Saturday 9 April 1938 -
Stadium, Wembley, London
- Kick-off 3.00 p.m. GMT
London Television (BBC) - 2:50 p.m. - 4:40 p.m.
commentators George Allison and Thomas Woodrooffe.
Wednesday 26 October 1938 -
Rest of Europe 0
Stadium, Highbury, London
- Kick-off 3.00 p.m. GMT
London Television (BBC) - 3:00 p.m. - 3:45 p.m.
commentator George Allison
(second half coverage not confirmed - radio coverage for second