John Dawes: an appreciation

John Dawes, a former chief sports photographer with the Daily Express and described by Sir Alex Ferguson as “one of the greatest personalities in world football”, has died. He was 65.

The father-of-three and a SJA member, Dawes, from Southport, enjoyed an award-winning international career in sports photography. Starting at a Liverpool news agency after leaving school, he went on to work on national newspapers, including the Express, before going freelance.

His work spanned several World Cups and Olympic Games, as well as the Open golf, boxing, tennis and the Grand National.

A career highlight was when he was invited to the Los Angeles home of Muhammad Ali to shoot a series of intimate portraits with the world heavyweight champion.

Dawes, who died on Friday, leaves his wife of 45 years Marian and children Brendan, Jack and Amanda.

Born in Warrington, Dawes began his career, aged 15, with Liverpool news agency Mercury and the Weekly News.

His death brought tributes from former colleagues and contacts throughout the sports world. Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson said: “He was a terrific man who will be sorely missed.”

Liverpool Football Club also paid tribute, saying: “John was a larger than life character who was always great company and known throughout the game.”

Former colleague Terry Mealey said: “We started out together. He was very, very good at what he did.

“He was a very good news photographer, a good ideas man, and the quality of his sports photography was quickly noticed.”

John Dawes’s funeral takes place at Holy Trinity Church on Hoghton Street in Southport on Friday June 1.