Another giant of sports writing in this country, and of this Association since the days when it was still the SWA, has died: Malcolm Brodie, a leading figure in Northern Ireland journalism for more than half a century and someone who worked at every football World Cup since 1954, passed on Tuesday. He was 86.
Brodie was born in Scotland but evacuated from Glasgow to Co Armagh during the Second World War, and he made his home in Northern Ireland for the rest of his life. Starting his career in journalism, he set up the Belfast Telegraph‘s first sports desk and spent many years as the paper’s sports editor.
Brodie was awarded an MBE and an honorary doctorate by the University of Ulster. FIFA also recognised his contribution to journalism.
Jim Gracey, the Belfast Telegraph group’s sports editor, said yesterday, “The man was beyond a legend.”
Brodie was the author of an acclaimed book on the now defunct Belfast Celtic and was a respected football commentator on the international scene. Brodie was also a regular sports broadcaster and became a household name during Northern Ireland’s travels to the World Cup, first in 1958 and later in Spain in 1982 and Mexico four years later.
One former colleague, Norman Giller, wrote to sportsjournalists.co.uk on hearing of the news:
“I know Malcolm will not mind me sharing this email that he sent me this time a year ago, when I was recovering from a heart attack. It captures his astonishing energy and also how he cared for others:
‘Norman, Just a private note. You are unique. I chuckled but was not surprised when you managed to file your copy from the iPod in hospital. I’m delighted that you are recovering and under top-class supervision. Five years ago I had two stents inserted following spells of angina. The treatment has worked wonders, not interfered with the normal writing routine but wear and tear in my right knee restricts long-distance travelling. In other words you just pull back realising you have entered another phase, one uncommon to people like ourselves so used to constant activity. There is a need to apply the brakes.
‘I attend a Spa three times a week , keep to the diet and my Johnnie Walker Black. I retired as the Belfast Telegraph sports editor after 50 years with the company, still write a column for them and am responsible for the Northern Ireland coverage of The Sun and until last year the News Of The World. Each week my team filled four feature pages in the NOW and covered main matches. Out of the blue came the axe last July but,in fairness, we had no complaints about their treatment of us.
‘Best wishes for a continued good recovery and hit that target of 100 books. Don’t keep us waiting as Tendulkar has for that century of centuries. I wish we could both turn back the clock to those days of yesteryear. What memories and camaraderie Hope these few words of my cardiac experience will provide you with a little encouragement. Regards- Malcolm Brodie‘.”
Giller adds: “Our band of sportswriting brothers is shrinking by the minute. Malcolm was one of the very best of men and journalists.”
The officers and committee of the SJA offers our sincere condolences to Malcolm’s family, colleagues and friends.