Telegraph colleagues pay tribute to Steve Thomson

Steve Thomson, a sports journalist for more than 35 years, has died, aged 61.

Thomson, most recently a production journalist at the Daily Telegraph, shared an interest in all sports, with a love for the natural world in his spare time.

Telegraph logo - shortBorn in Manchester, the son of a clergyman who came to this country from the West Indies, he gained a BA in English with American literature at the University of East Anglia in Norwich.

Though a dedicated Manchester United fan who grew up watching George Best and Denis Law, he was regular at Carrow Road in the early 1970s.

An accomplished guitarist, Thomson worked for a local paper in Eccles and covered Swinton rugby league club, before joining the sports desk at the Oxford Mail in the early 1980s before leaving for the Reading Evening Post, where he covered Reading FC.

Later, he joined PA before returning to Reading, then embarking on a career which included a long spell with the Daily and Sunday Telegraph, for whom he covered games all over the country.

Tommo enjoyed all the main sports and played soccer for Chazey Heath in the Reading Sunday League for many years. He also made a number of “guest” appearances at Maidenhead and Bray Cricket Club.

He was particularly fond of charismatic sports stars: Best, Alex Higgins, Ian Botham, Viv Richards and Seve Ballesteros were among his favourites.

He worked on several other titles and became a valued colleague with all who worked with him.

His love for sport was matched by his love for the animal world and Steve also wrote features on the birdlife of the Scottish Highlands, Andalucia, Trinidad and Tobago and Israel.

He was also a member of Wokingham RSPB Group, helping to edit their newsletter and organise all their indoor speakers, as well as editing the newsletter of Reading Ramblers’ Club.

Jon Ryan, who was his sports editor at the Sunday Telegraph, said: “I remember how Paddy Barclay, when he was chief football writer, would react if Tommo dared to take a week off: ‘Oh,God, who will be dealing with my copy? He’s the only man who understands me.’

“The phone calls from Tommo to Paddy were a masterclass of tact and sensitivity. I also remember talking with Tommo about his football prowess. He saw himself as a flying winger and I said, ‘A sort of George Best?’ but Tommo looked affronted and, proud of his roots (his father came to Britain from the West Indies and was a vicar in a tough area of Manchester), replied: ‘No, a sort of Ryan Giggs…’.”

Telegraph colleague Huw Turbervill said: “Tommo was a very careful, meticulous sub-editor. He also wrote very good football reports and was the Sunday Telegraph pools tipster. He could play; a fine winger, who played his last game with us at Telegraph five-a-side as recently as three years ago. Although he was a passionate Manchester United fan, he liked his sport in general – he was a nuggety batsman – and was a fine, fun colleague.”

Steve Latter, head of Telegraph production (sport), said: “Steve was a highly valued member of the team at Telegraph Sport, where he worked for more than 20 years. He was a hard-working, talented and meticulous journalist with an encyclopedic knowledge of football in particular. He was very much a team player, particularly when it came to turning out for the Telegraph football side in various ‘friendlies’.

“He was a humble person, somewhat shy, but with strong opinions and passions. And he was always great company when we could find our way to the pub for a break. He was always a pleasure to work with and will be sorely missed by all the team.”

Adam Sills, the acting head of sport at the Telegraph, added: “Steve was a respected and valued member of our team for many years and will be missed by everybody who worked with him. His dedication to his job could not be faulted while he was a popular character with all his colleagues.”