John Ley, FWA National Committee member, pays tribute to Albert Sewell, MBE, who passed away this week:
“I can honestly say I owe my career to Albert Sewell, who passed away on June 27 aged 90. When I joined Hayters Sports Reporting Agency, in 1977, I was quickly introduced to this small but dapper gent, whose appearance was always immaculate. And so were his football statistics.
“Albert pioneered the word of soccer stats; long before Opta or any other stats-driven body had been thought of, Albert was BBC Sport’s football stats man from 1968. Des Lynam, the Match of the Day and BBC Grandstand anchor-man for so many years, would often refer to him as ‘Uncle’ Albert.
“He was more than that to me. He showed me how to edit football programmes, compile stats, and use them to embellish stories.
It was because of Albert that I quickly developed a love for stats, and that enabled me to use them to further my career, firstly at the Oxford Mail and, for 27 years, at The Daily Telegraph. My office at home is full of stats books, all carefully put together in the same if not quite as impeccable, as Albert’s.
“Albert was a man of habit; not only were his stats perfect but every Friday lunchtime he would disappear from our office, just off Fleet Street, and reappear with a large bunch of flowers for his wife. Albert, MBE, was a gentleman and a thorough professional, a man who set trends that still exist today.”
Gerry Cox, former FWA Chairman who now runs Hayters with Nick Callow said: “When we we started at Hayters in the 1980s, the four directors were formidable figures, each with their own strengths. Reg Hayter ran the show, Denis Signy dispensed brilliant advice on getting stories and cultivating contacts, Frank Nicklin, who reinvented newspaper football coverage at The Sun, refined our writing and subbing skills. And then there was Albert; quiet, dapper and immaculate in his style and eye for detail. His insistence on absolute accuracy was a lesson learned for life, and his love and use of statistics was way ahead of his time. He set in place a a football statistical archive that was gold-dust for every football writer long before the internet – and infinitely more reliable. He was a lovely man who loved football almost as much as his family, and will be much missed by everyone who knew him.”
Gary Lineker, worked closely with Albert at the BBC, paid tribute on air and tweeted: “Really sad to hear that Albert Sewell has passed away at 91. And to do so during a World Cup makes it all the more poignant. He was the BBC MOTD statistics man for decades. A lovely man who will be much missed. #RipAlby.”
Bob Wilson, the former Arsenal and Scotland goalkeeper who hosted Match of the Day for many years said: “So sad to hear of the death of my great friend Albert Sewell, the unsung hero and stats expert for years at
@BBCSport Grandstand and #MOTD.”
Richard Pigden: I had the pleasure of meeting Albert Sewell during a visit to Grandstand when he was the BBC stats man (known as our Albert). Lovely guy who was a bit embarrassed by my blatant fan worship & slightly scared by my encyclopaedic knowledge of his Chelsea programmes. RIP Albert #
A great read here from Neil from Game of the People:
Dan Levene, who covers Chelsea for Eurosport and others tweeted: “RIP Albert Sewell, first editor of Chelsea’s match programme, and one of the great chroniclers of the English game. If you grew up between about 1945 and 1985, you almost certainly read his stuff.”