"Where were the Germans? And quite frankly, who cares!"

Barry Davies
It was the phrase that captured the public’s imagination, summing up the event that had captured the public’s hearts. When Barry Davies uttered the line: “Where were the Germans… and frankly, who cares”, little did the respected broadcaster know it would go down in sporting commentary history alongside that other immortal line, “they think it’s all over.”

“It wasn’t a great game, finals often aren’t, but it was a game in which the utter determination of the British team was clear from the outset,” recalls Davies. 

“They weren’t going to let the Germans get away with anything. From an attacking point of view they had too much pace for the Germans. Imran Sherwin came in from the left to finish the move off, scoring twice, but the weakness was down the German left and Batchelor exploited that perfectly.”

Over the course of the Seoul fortnight, Barry Davies got to know the team well. He says, looking back at the squad fondly, “They were different to many of the professional sports players I worked with. They were very open and they trusted me. They were also a highly professional unit, in every way, except financially.”

One or two players from the squad come in for extra praise. Davies highlights the consistent excellence of  goal keeper Ian Taylor throughout the tournament, while in the veteran commentator’s opinion, Sean Kerly was the player who led the team to a toughly-fought semi-final win over Australia. 

Paul Barber in defence was “a leader on the pitch” and a “thoroughly decent, straight-talking guy, and Richard Dodd in midfield was a great captain.

So that phrase. Was it planned? Was it there on a notebook waiting to be uttered?

“Not at all,” says Davies. “I never wrote things down, I just opened my mouth and hoped my foot was a long way away. It wasn’t until I got back to England and was asked if that line could be used in a song on a DVD that I realised its resonance.”

“When I said it, I was just thinking about what the Germans hadn’t done over the course of the game. We were 3-0 up and you have to have a bit of a disaster to lose a match from there. Of course, with the German team you know they always have the potential to come back, but on this occasion, there was only one team in it.

“I have to admit it has rebounded on me a couple of times when I have commentated on England in football matches. For example, in the European Championships in 1996, one newspaper ironically commentated that Germany didn’t have a chance because Barry Davies was commentating.” Footballing history will tell us that the Davies magic touch was limited to hockey finals.

In fact, the final was Davies’s only hockey match of the Seoul Olympics. Until that match, Nigel Starmer-Smith had commentated on all Great Britain’s matches, including the semi-final, but he was due to present Rugby Special so returned to England before the final. 

For Davies, this was the luckiest of breaks and gave him “a day I have enjoyed more than any other”. 

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