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Bjørge Lillelien (29 March 1927 – 26 October 1987) was a Norwegianmarker sports journalist and commentator.

A commentator for the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporationmarker from 1957 until just before his death from cancer in 1987, he commentated on many sports, but concentrated on winter sports and football.

Lillelien was a popular and engaged commentator. It was not unusual for people to turn off the sound on the TV and listen to him on the radio instead. Lillelien quoted by a colleague: "We shouldn't necessarily make a boring radio program even if it is a boring football match. We should make a sports show that excites people". As a person he was often introvert and quiet, the opposite of his on air persona.

“Your boys took a hell of a beating”

Most famously, he commentated on Norway's 2-1 victory against England in a World Cup qualifier in Oslomarker on 9 September 1981. At the end of the match, alternating between English and Norwegian, he proclaimed (in Norwegian) "We are best in the world! We have beaten England! England, birthplace of giants", before taunting a roll call of famous English people, usually quoted in an edited, English-only form as follows:

"Lord Nelson, Lord Beaverbrook, Sir Winston Churchill, Sir Anthony Eden, Clement Attlee, Henry Cooper, Lady Diana, vi har slått dem alle sammen, vi har slått dem alle sammen [we have beaten them all, we have beaten them all]. Maggie Thatcher, can you hear me? Maggie Thatcher [...] your boys took a hell of a beating! Your boys took a hell of a beating!"


Full Norwegian/English version

The full Norwegian/English version reads as follows:

"Vi er best i verden! Vi er best i verden! Vi har slått England 2-1 i fotball!! Det er aldeles utrolig! Vi har slått England! England, kjempers fødeland. Lord Nelson, Lord Beaverbrook, Sir Winston Churchill, Sir Anthony Eden, Clement Attlee, Henry Cooper, Lady Diana--vi har slått dem alle sammen. Vi har slått dem alle sammen. Maggie Thatcher can you hear me?


"Maggie Thatcher, jeg har et budskap til deg midt under valgkampen. Jeg har et budskap til deg: Vi har slått England ut av Verdensmesterskapet i fotball. Maggie Thatcher, som de sier på ditt språk i boksebarene rundt Madison Square Garden i New York: Your boys took a hell of a beating! Your boys took a hell of a beating!"


Translated version

The full version, completely translated to English:

"We are the best in the world! We are the best in the world! We have beaten England 2-1 in football!! It is completely unbelievable! We have beaten England! England, birthplace of giants. Lord Nelson, Lord Beaverbrook, Sir Winston Churchill, Sir Anthony Eden, Clement Attlee, Henry Cooper, Lady Diana--we have beaten them all. We have beaten them all. Maggie Thatcher can you hear me?"


"Maggie Thatcher, I have a message for you in the middle of the election campaign. I have a message for you: We have knocked England out of the football World Cup. Maggie Thatcher, as they say in your language in the boxing bars around Madison Square Garden in New York: Your boys took a hell of a beating! Your boys took a hell of a beating!"


Although the commentary was for Norwegian radio, it soon made its way to an English audience, and became quite famous in England, where it is generally regarded with good humour and even affection.

Parodies and homages

In 2002 Lillelien's words were designated the greatest piece of sports commentary ever by The Observer's Sport Monthly magazine. Such is its place in British sporting culture that parodies of the commentary have been written to celebrate domestic sporting victories, such as the following when the England cricket team beat Australia to regain the Ashes in September 2005:

"Kylie Minogue! Steve Irwin! Holly Valance! Crocodile Dundee! Natalie Imbruglia! Ian Thorpe! Mrs. Mangel! Can you hear me? Your boys took one hell of a beating!"


And again, when England's cricket team finally won a game against New Zealand on the 2006/7 one-day series, the BBC's web coverage came up with:

"Dame Kiri te Kanawa, Peter Jackson, Neil Finn, Sir Edmund Hillary, Jonah Lomu - we have beaten them all! Helen Clark, can you hear me? Your boys took one hell of a beating!"


Following Scotland's 2-1 victory against Norway in Oslomarker in September 2005, the Daily Record parodied the quote, using known Norwegians:

"King Olaf, Roald Amundsen, Liv Ullmann, Edvard Munch, Vidkun Quisling, Thor Heyerdahl, Henrik Ibsen, Edvard Grieg, Monty Python's Norwegian Blue, Morten Harket, and Anni-Frid from ABBA. You boys took a helluva beating!"


The Deputy Editor of the Daily Record at the time, Murray Foote, since issued an apology for the inclusion of Vidkun Quisling in the quotation:

"While I naturally assumed Quisling was not one of Norway's favourite sons, I was truly unaware of the deep loathing his name engenders amongst your countrymen.


Had I been aware of this, I would not have used his name and I apologise unreservedly for the offence it caused."


Following England's 14-9 defeat of France in the 2007 Rugby World Cup, a naturally excited Will Greenwood exclaimed "François Mitterrand! Michel Platini! Your boys took one hell of a beating!"

In advance of the Scotland v Norway game at Hampden on 10 October 2008, a parody was created by Tennent Caledonian Breweries (sponsor of the Scottish National Team) for radio and subsequently animated and posted on YouTube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SKQc_Kx9Ln0

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