Derby Telegraph’s Gerald Mortimer has died

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: covered football and cricket in Derby for 40 years
Gerald Mortimer: covered football and cricket in Derby for 40 years

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.”

David Walker, the chairman of the SJA, said that he was deeply saddened to hear of Gerald’s passing: “As a young sports reporter in the 1970s a wise man of our trade explained how there were three football clubs where stories always seemed to erupt, rather than happen. The three were Manchester United, Leeds and Derby County.
“Many years later Gerald and I were reflecting on his life and times as the man covering Derby. Surely no club endured the civil wars that engulfed Derby. In fact, Gerald revealed the story of how one fine day he actually believed the years of internal strife, player power and hirings and firings were finally over. Peace had broken out at Derby.
“To Gerald’s great amusement, within 24 hours of him being overwhelmed with the unique sense of peace in our time, yet another bloody boardroom coup erupted. As Gerald put it: ‘Crash hat back on with the warring factions calling me at all hours to find out whose side I was on’.
“Few local reporters can have match the highs and lows that Gerald enjoyed and endured covering Derby County. Our thoughts are with his family at this time.”