George Davidson

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George Davidson (27 June 1902–2 November 1995) was a Scottish football commentator for the BBC and master mariner.


George Davidson, a master mariner, was head of the navigation department at the James Watt College in Greenock for many years until he retired in 1963. He had a lifelong connection with the sea. At 17 he left Gourock and followed his father into the merchant service, sailing five times round the world. On board the Ben Gloe, he sailed into the Japanese port of Yokohama just in time to witness one of the world's biggest disasters, the earthquake of 1923 which all but destroyed Tokyo and Yokohama.

On a happier adventure, George sailed into Fremantle and met Nell, the Australian girl who would become his wife. They were married in 1934 and settled back in Gourock, where they raised their three children: Marcus, a shipyard executive in Vancouver; Russell, a professor of econometrics in Marseilles; and Lynn Chambers, a radio producer in Scotland.

BBC career

Davidson's early passion for Greenock Morton led him to the BBC, which was then based at Blythswood Square. Producer Robert Dunnett employed him on the Saturday sports programme, Fan Fare, alongside men such as R E Kingsley, better known as 'Rex'. After the Second World War that programme became Sportsreel, produced by memorable figures like Eddie Fraser, James Crampsey, and Archie P Lee, and fronted by Peter Thomson.

Within that structure, George Davidson took his prominent place and went on to become the first commentator of televised football in Scotland. He was part of the BBC Scotland Saturday night sports programme that produced distinctive characters like Peter Thomson, Jameson Clark, Jack Inglis, Bill Fraser and Andy Cowan-Martin.

He was replaced in the BBC commentary box by Archie Macpherson.


In an obituary for the Glasgow Herald, Jack Webster recalled some of the memories Davidson regaled him with:

"Nobody believed me when I forecast that Scotland would beat England in the year that the latter won the World Cup at Wembley. I told them we would do it with old-fashioned talent like Baxter's. And we did."

He also remembered that the film of Celtic's sensational 7-1 drubbing of Rangers somehow failed to survive for posterity and that this led to much ribbing of colleague Peter Thomson, whose leaning towards Rangers was hard to disguise.[1]

Final years

Davidson was registered blind around 1980. Although he retained a little peripheral vision, he was unable to read and was glad he could at least listen to the radio and keep in touch with the sporting domain which was once so much his own. Even in his eighties, people would comment on his distinctive voice, familiar from his broadcasting days.

In 1994, after Nell Davidson, his wife of almost 60 years, was taken to hospital, a home-help found George unconscious on the floor. He was taken to the same hospital, suffering from pneumonia. Still poorly, he was wheeled to Nell's bedside and was there when she died.

From that point on, he lived in the Sir Gabriel Wood home for retired mariners in Greenock, glad to have the loving attention of daughter Lynn and her family, who lived nearby.

He died a year later on 2 November 1995 at the age of 93.


  1. 'Obituary: George Davidson', Glasgow Herald, 4 November 1995.