Editorial

Ray Robertson RIP

FWA North East stalwart Ray Robertson has passed away

Former Northern Echo football writer, Ray Robertson, has died at the age of 92.

For almost five decades, Ray was one of the most popular and respected journalists on the North-East football scene, covering World Cup and European finals, interviewing George Best and covering hundreds of matches at Middlesbrough FC.

Born in Bishop Auckland, Ray began his journalism career in the early 1960s and continued working until he finally retired in 2009.

He spent the vast majority of his journalistic career with The Northern Echo, working for a time under legendary former editor Harold Evans, and also wrote for the Press Association and a number of Sunday newspapers.

He was selected by The Northern Echo to be their representative at the 1966 World Cup, and was on the press benches at Wembley as England beat West Germany in the final to lift the Jules Rimet Trophy.

He was The Northern Echo’s designated Middlesbrough reporter for more than three decades, forming close relationships with the likes of Brian Clough, Jack Charlton and Graeme Souness, and chronicled the ups and downs of the Boro as they won promotions, reached cup finals and also suffered the pain of liquidation.

His son, Paul, said: “My dad’s happiest time of the week was filing a Boro match report for the Echo on a Sunday morning, closely followed by a hike on the North Yorkshire moors.

“He cherished his role at the heart of the Teesside sports community and one of his proudest moments was becoming life member of the Football Writers’ Association in 2017.

“He had an honorary seat in the Riverside Stadium press box well into his 80s. He was a proud North-Easterner, who loved country walks, fish and chips at Saltburn and Whitby and a cheeky strawberry frappe in Stokesley.

“He died under palliative care at James Cook Hospital in our hometown of Middlesbrough, after contracting aspiration pneumonia following an emergency hip operation after a fall three weeks ago. My sister, Simone, and I will be forever grateful for the tender, compassionate professionalism of the nurses and staff on Ward 25 at James Cook: the NHS at its absolute finest.”

Scott Wilson, the current Chief Sports Writer of The Northern Echo, added: “Ray was a true legend of the North-East sports writing scene.

“He came from a generation when journalists were at the very heart of the club they covered, and he was there for all the key moments in Middlesbrough’s recent history.

“He would be a regular at the Riverside long after leaving the Echo, and it was always a pleasure to sit with him before a game and listen to his memories, especially when it came to covering England in 1966. All of us at the Echo send our best wishes to Ray’s family and friends.”

Ray Roberston receives his FWA life membership – the Ivan Sharpe award – from Paddy Barclay in 2017

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