Full name Donald Mosey
Born October 4, 1924, Keighley, Yorkshire
Died August 11, 1999, Morecambe, Lancashire (aged 74 years 311 days)
Nickname The Alderman
Education Keighley Boys' Grammar School
Don Mosey provided the unequivocal voice of bluff Northern realism on the BBC's long-running and much-loved radio cricket commentary programme, Test Match Special - as an anchor of commonsense to the flights of fancy indulged in by his colleagues.
Never as dogmatic or puzzled by modern trends as his fellow Yorkshireman Fred Trueman, Mosey made good use of his newspaper experience to handle the exacting business of commentary with a sense of proportion that helped to balance the lighthearted approach of those around him. Proud of his grammar school background, he was not happy with the dominant public school ethos of the programme, but he was professional in giving of his best alongside his fellows, and his TMS nickname, "The Alderman", underlined their respect for his solid worth.
Donald Mosey was one of three brothers born at Bracken Bank just outside Keighley. He grew up with no radio until he was nine, and later said that he heard enough of the BBC in more affluent homes to decide it was about "talking posh. It was simply not part of my world. No one I ever knew, or ever expected to meet, spoke in that way." But he grew up an enthusiastic reader with a feeling for language that included fluency in German and reasonable French. Acquisition of a radio in the mid-Thirties introduced young Mosey to the music which was to become a passion - a Yorkshire echo of the Lancastrian Neville Cardus.
A scholarship to Keighley Boys' Grammar School in 1936 incidentally encouraged an interest in cricket and rugby, and the 13- year-old was taken in 1938 to see Len Hutton score his record 364 against Australia at the Oval. At 16 Mosey began work as a trainee journalist on the Craven Herald and Pioneer, initially without pay. In 1942 he volunteered for the RAF, serving in the Middle East and France before being demobbed in June 1947 and returning to the Herald. An offer from the Yorkshire Evening Press, based in York, at an attractive £8 a week, began his steady progress in journalism, which took him to the Evening Telegraph at Derby and then to Nottingham on the Journal and Evening News. Here he developed his cricket-writing, delivering a page-one sketch on each day's play in Trent Bridge Tests, even though he saw himself as a hard-news man, particularly a court and crime reporter, with sports-writing little more than an entertaining diversion.
In 1952 the BBC opened a Nottingham studio, and Mosey, who reported the occasion, was asked to supply items for the Midland News. In 1957 he was invited to join the Daily Express at Manchester, then a bustling centre of Fleet Street regional editions, before being engaged by the Daily Mail two years later. His sports-writing career took off when he covered the 1960 Scottish rugby tour of South Africa, which led to appointment as a full-time sports-writer for the Mail at 35.
Mosey spent five years immersed in the county cricket circuit, following Yorkshire, as well as doing some football reporting, although he confessed that he had little feeling for the game. Broadcasting engagements followed, and in 1964 he was appointed a general programme producer for BBC outside broadcasts in Manchester. He became involved in Test cricket broadcasts at Old Trafford and Headingley, but the word filtered through that his strong regional accent would not be acceptable for commentary outside his native Northern fastnesses.
But in 1973, BBC outside broadcasts and sport were merged under a new executive, the former rugby star Cliff Morgan, an experienced broadcaster who, with a strong Welsh accent, was receptive to the idea of regional voices on national radio. At the same time it was indicated that the post of BBC cricket correspondent, vacant since Brian Johnston's retirement a year earlier, was likely to be filled by a comparative newcomer, Christopher Martin-Jenkins.
Mosey was unhappy to be told by executives that he presumably was not interested in the post, but a few months later he was invited by Morgan to suggest ideas for reshaping Test Match Special, which was attracting some criticism for being predictable. Mosey suggested that Fred Trueman become a summariser alongside Trevor Bailey, and that the pattern of returning to the studio for music during rain breaks be replaced by cricket debate. Morgan not only approved both changes, but invited the startled Mosey to join the team. "Tones of ripest West Riding accentation now joined the smoother and more polished public school mellifluence of Brian (Johnston), Chris (Martin-Jenkins), Henry (Blofeld) and Trevor (Bailey), together with the most easily recognised voice of the cricketing world, that of John Arlott," wrote Mosey.
He continued as a producer and commentator on a range of broadcasts, beginning Test match commentary in 1974 at Headingley, when Pakistan were the visitors; his first stint at the microphone coincided with a bomb scare which brought a halt to play. Mosey felt this daunting start was prophetic: "Over the next ten years, my arrival at the microphone was to coincide with drinks' intervals, injury stoppages, riots, ball changes - anything but cricket." It was at such times that his training as a reporter came to his aid, as he simply and directly told the story of what was happening - or was not.
Intriguingly, the hardheaded Yorkshireman was a warm supporter of Brian Johnston, seeing that in his case the lighthearted approach stemmed from the nature of the man and demonstrated an ability to relate to people and listeners of all kinds, perhaps to a greater degree than some other colleagues.
Mosey became part of the BBC commentary team on tour in New Zealand, India, Pakistan and the West Indies, also covering the first Test played in Colombo. Frequently frustrated by BBC bureaucracy, he still felt justified in 1985 in writing an account of Test Match Special under the title, The Best Job in the World. Six years later an autobiography, The Alderman's Tale, was more outspoken about his experiences.
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