ANTON RIPPON pays tribute to a stalwart of the Derbyshire sporting scene
The sportswriter who typed out Brian Clough’s resignation letter to Derby County has died at the age of 77.
Gerald Mortimer obliged Clough and his assistant, Peter Taylor, in October 1973 when they did not want to embarrass their secretary in the wake of their sensational departure from the Rams.
A Yorkshireman by birth, Mortimer grew up in Derby and saw his first match at the Baseball Ground in January 1946. “Only one cast was needed to hook this fish,” he recalled later.
After Repton School and Oxford University, Mortimer did his National Service in the Sherwood Foresters, after which he became a schoolteacher, and worked holiday shifts in the Derby Evening Telegraph’s sports department.
In July 1970 he was appointed to the sports desk full-time and went on to become sports editor and then chief sports correspondent, a position from which he retired in 2002. He continued to write a weekly column until recently when he was in failing health.
For more than 30 years he covered both Derby County and Derbyshire cricket for the paper. In his second season as a full-time journalist, Derby won the League Championship for the first time in their history and Mortimer found himself reporting on European Cup matches.
He was an avid collector of statistics and wrote several books on the Rams.
Steve Nicholson, the Derby Telegraph’s chief football writer, said: “Gerald was a font of Derby County knowledge. What he did not know about the club, its history and its fortunes was not worth knowing.”
Derby Telegraph editor, Neil White, said: I would like to pay tribute to his huge contribution to sport in Derby and to the Telegraph over many decades. His knowledge and love of sport was without equal.”