Mike Ward, who covered tennis and football for the Birmingham Post and Mail for many years, has died just days before his 66th birthday after developing sepsis from a hand wound.
His former sports editor, Leon Hickman, pays tribute to the Zimbabwe-born journalist.
The son of a doctor who practised in a fraught region of what was then Rhodesia, Mike was an army officer before he emigrated to Britain.
He served alongside former Liverpool goalkeeper Bruce Grobbelaar in the years just before Robert Mugabe came to power in 1980.
After starting his journalistic career at the Rhodesia Herald, his first newspaper in England was the Hereford Times. He joined the Evening Mail in 1977 and retired from the Post in 2002.
A writer of precise English, he covered football when the West Midlands had several top-class sides. He moved from the Mail to the Post, gravitating to tennis, but he continued to bring his much-appreciated style regularly to football as well as to other racquet sports.
He was sometimes puzzled by English habits and was capable of raw fury when, as an example, a Wolves manager ordered the team coach to leave Hartlepool without Mike who had been offered (believe it or not these days) a lift back to Molineux. Later he laughed about it.
He was a gift to work with, helpful, good company and a colonial to his bootstraps. He was also an excellent sportsman.
When he left the Post he settled near Worcester with his GP wife Rachel, and two children Henry and Olivia while working as a freelance for various magazines. His colleagues and many readers will miss him very much.
The funeral date is yet to be confirmed subject to an inquest following his sudden death in hospital.
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