By CHRISTOPHER DAVIES
Sir Alex Ferguson was one of many who paid tribute to Malcolm Brodie MBE, a life member of the Football Writers’ Association, whose funeral was held at Cregagh Presbyterian Church in Belfast yesterday.
The former sports editor of the Belfast Telegraph covered a record 14 World Cup finals and did not miss a Northern Ireland match – home or away – from 1946 to 2009.
Originally from Scotland, Brodie was evacuated during the Second World War from Glasgow to Portadown, Co Armagh, where he began his career in journalism.
Sir Alex said: “Malcolm was a great friend and always good value in terms of his opinion. He was straight talking and one thing I always admired about him, he never changed his accent, which is very difficult living in a place like Belfast.”
Former Northern Ireland internationals Harry Gregg and Pat Jennings were among the mourners.
Gregg, who called Brodie “The Godfather,” said: “Without being disrespectful to the modern sports journalist, Malcolm was the last one of those great trusted reporters. A true professional with a real passion for his craft. I’ll always be grateful for knowing Malcolm the human being.
“He was six years older than me and would have taken a close interest in my career since I was a Coleraine lad breaking through into the Northern Ireland schoolboy side around 1947/48. He had an unbelievable memory and friends right across the world. There was no subject Malcolm could not talk about. I was really glad I got to know Malcolm and spend time with him because he was simply a great human being.”
Jennings won 119 caps for Northern Ireland and Brodie covered every one. He said: “There was nobody who could touch him for what he did in soccer in Northern Ireland. When I was a kid I used to read what Malcolm was writing about in the Belfast Telegraph. As players we always wanted to read what he was writing because we all respected him so much.”
Billy Bingham, a player at the 1958 World Cup finals and the manager in the Eighties, claimed Brodie was like one of the team. He said: “Malcolm was always very supportive to me when I was a player and when I was a manager. When you are a manager you always need all the support you can get from good people and thankfully Malcolm provided it. We went through some rocky times before the good times came with the World Cups in 1982 and 1986 and I’ll always be grateful for the support myself and the team received from Malcolm.
“He was a man that the Northern Ireland public listened to. The 1982 and 1986 World Cups were fantastic experiences and it was great to have Malcolm there with us. He was just like one of the team. He really was. That’s how I saw it and the players would say the same. I remember him being so happy that the Northern Ireland team had qualified for the 1982 finals because it was the first time we did it since 1958 and of course he had covered that.”
Jim Gracey, the Belfast Telegraph sports editor said: “He was sharp, incisive, fiercely competitive, unerringly accurate and his credibility was beyond question.”
Brodie is survived by his widow Margaret and three sons Ian, Stephen and Kenneth.