Update – Jeff Farmer’s funeral details
Here are details for the funeral of our friend and colleague Jeff Farmer, who passed away last week.
Funeral: Monday November 5 at 12.30
Streetly Crematorium, 296 Little Hardwick Road, Straitly WS9 0SG
Reception at Moor Hall Golf Club, Moor Hall Drive, Sutton Coldfield,B75 6LN.
Jeff’s family have requested no flowers please, but welcome donations to Marie Curie.org.uk
Tribute by Paul McCarthy
For those of us who have been amongst the last stragglers to leave an FWA Footballer of the Year dinner, it was almost guaranteed to be in the company of Jeff Farmer.
Jeff loved being amongst his pals and colleagues for as long as possible, chatting about the game, recounting old stories of the legends he was happy to call friends, not wanting the night to end.
And what a story he had to tell. Of Cloughie. Of Big Ron. Of Jimmy Hill. And of countless West Brom heroes who he idolised.
West Bromwich Albion was never far from his thoughts. Jeff cut his teeth in journalism back in the late Fifties and early Sixties when players and managers would very probably have been arm-in-arm with Jeff at the end of those nights safe in the knowledge he would never have betrayed any of their secrets.
Inspired by the film ‘Ace In The Hole’ starring Kirk Douglas as an intrepid reporter uncovering a a huge scoop, Jeff turned down a job in a bank to join the Midland Chronicle in his beloved West Bromwich before moving to the Wolverhampton Express & Star where he became the paper’s first West Brom correspondent.
It was the start of a love affair with the Hawthorns that saw Jeff join the West Brom board, leaving his imprint on the club that lasts to this day.
The nationals beckoned for Jeff and after two years he became the Midlands correspondent for the Daily Sketch before the paper merged with the Daily Mail in 1970. Jeff was part of a formidable Midlands pack covering the area but he was always the leader and his front page exclusive of Brian Clough quitting Derby County was one of the highlights of Jeff’s career.
He crossed from newspapers into television in 1981 when Gary Newbon enticed him to Central TV as sports editor. As befits an outstanding journalist, Jeff’s news sense and insight marked him out as a television powerhouse but it was his people skills which marked him out.
He was a natural leader, somebody who could always inspire his team and made him one of the most respected sports executives of his generation.
Jeff became ITV’s football editor in charge of their coverage including World Cups and Champions League and in 1998 oversaw the production of England v Argentina which pulled in an incredible 27 million viewers.
The natural move was to ITV’s Head of Sport, a position and role Jeff filled with energy, talent and exuberance. But he never lost sight of his roots within newspapers and was always quick to credit his colleagues on both the local and daily papers for a great story or interview.
He fell ill with cancer two years ago but nobody ever heard him complain or bemoan his lot, he faced the fact stoically and continued to live life to the full until the last few months when the horrific disease took its toll.
Jeff’s advice was always well-intentioned, his praise meant everything and for those of us fortunate enough to enjoy his company on those late nights either at home or abroad, his wisdom and humour was unsurpassed.
It’s been a dreadful few weeks at the FWA and the loss of another great Midlands journalist so soon after the passing of Ralph Ellis leaves a huge hole.
But like Ralph, we can be grateful for the time spent with Jeff and the incredible impact he had on so many during a stellar career.
Everybody at the FWA sends their condolences to Jeff’s family and countless friends.