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Well-known sports journalist loses cancer fight at 63

A well-known national press sports journalist who started his career at regional newspapers has lost his battle with cancer at the age of 63.

Brian Woolnough was the chief sports writer at the Daily Star, which he joined from The Sun in 2001, and also hosted Sky Sports’ Sunday Supplement programme.

He started out as a journalist at the Esher News in Surrey after his mother saw an advert in the paper for a cub reporter.

While working at the News, he met his wife Linda, who was also a trainee reporter there, before moving on to the now-defunct Evening Post in Hemel Hempstead.

Brian also worked for United Newspapers before being headhunted by The Sun, where he worked his way up to become chief football writer, remaining there for 27 years before joining the Daily Star.

A tribute piece has been written about him in the Star by David Woods, following his death from bowel cancer.

It said: “Brian Woolnough was the leading sports writer of his generation.

“But more than that Wooly – as he was known to millions – was an absolute gentleman and a true lover of sport.

“He treated everyone he met, from rookie reporter to football superstar, the same. You knew exactly what you would get from Brian: Never moody, always bright, cheerful and ready to tackle his workload – no matter how heavy.

“He may have had strong views, as a top columnist it would have been unthinkable not to, but he was happy to listen and respect those of others.”

The piece added: “Wooly adored his job and never lost his passion for sport, particularly football and cricket.

“He did not go to college or university, having left school at 16. But Brian had raw talent and knew throughout his glittering career what made a story.”

TV presenter and former footballer Gary Lineker was among those paying tribute to Brian on Twitter, saying: “Very sorry to hear that Brian Woolnough has passed away. One of football’s finest journalists. #RIPWooly”

Brian also contributed to Radio 5 Live and was the author of 14 books.

He leaves his wife Linda, three children and three grandchildren.