By Paul McCarthy

It’s taken Buckingham Palace a while to catch up. Those of us fortunate enough to spend time in his company and learn from his wisdom and experience have always referred to him as ‘Sir’ Jeff Powell. An MBE in the New Year’s Honours list simply underlines the esteem in which Jeff is held.

He is the last of his generation of great chief sports writers still travelling the world, still loving being pitchside or ringside at the biggest events, still holding court over a very decent bottle in the evening.

Jeff’s 57 years at the Daily Mail as both a superlative chief football writer and then a step up to rub shoulders with the greats at Olympic Games, Grand Prix, Ashes Tests or the biggest world title fights cement his reputation as a true newspaper man but one who has also embraced the demands of new media.

To break into a circle which, alongside Jeff, included the likes of Hugh McIlvanney and Jim Lawton was tough. But once accepted, it was a place filled with wondrous stories, tales told deep into the night and a passion for sport that Jeff still embodies.

As a twice chairman of the FWA and a Life Member, Jeff has always been hugely supportive of the Association and the National Committee, always a reliable sounding board for ideas and innovation.

To list his achievements and world exclusives would take far too long. Suffice it to say that he was – and continues to be – trusted by those at the very pinnacle of sport. He has rightly called so many of them friends and confidantes over almost six decades and maintains a respect from the industry befitting his status.

That status is now gilded with an honour bestowed by the Palace. Frankly, what took them so long?

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