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Football manager’s tribute to long-standing sports reporter

Tributes have been paid to a sports journalist who spent 25 years reporting on a city football club for a regional daily, after he lost his battle with cancer.

Robin Perry, who has died aged 75, started out in journalism as a junior reporter with the Western Daily Press before joining the Bristol Post, where he spent the rest of his career.

He became the Post’s Bristol Rovers correspondent in the 1960s and spent 25 years in the role then remained on the paper’s sports desk as sub-editor until his retirement.

Robin also covered the 1966 World Cup and described watching England beat Germany at Wembley as the greatest moment of his career.

Among those paying tribute to Robin was former Bristol Rovers manager Bobby Gould who said: “On going into management for the first time at Bristol Rovers in October 1981 I tried a bit of my own media tutoring.

“There were two football reporters in Bristol – Ralph Ellis who wrote for The Western Daily Press and Robin Perry at the Bristol Evening Post.

“So to keep them happy on my first day I had them both in my office together. I gave them each a sealed envelope with a scoop story they could use in their own papers.

“The only thing either was interested in was whether the scoop I gave the other one was better than the one they had. That taught me that you were never going to keep the media happy unless they got the best story.”

Peter Godsiff, one of four Post sports editors who Robin worked under, said: “We worked in the days when genuine stories made back page leads, unlike the soft will-he-won’t he recover from a toothache to play on Saturday stories we sometimes now have to endure because of the demands for football news at all costs.

“We operated in a golden era for sports journalism. We dug for news and there was no internet to rely on to make our lives easier. We spoke to players, officials, directors, managers, players and supporters. We made firm friends and some of those friendships still endure today.

“Those were the golden days when many clubs fielded players primarily locally-born or produced. Local for Rovers included South Wales and Robin was enthusiastic in reporting the link between Stan Montgomery, who ran the club’s Welsh nursery, and Gordon Bennett, the youth development officer who later became the club secretary.

“We were far closer to the hub of clubs than reporters today who are often kept at arm’s length by press officers and officialdom that often attempts to dictate what is reported and written. We also occasionally travelled with the team, something, I suspect, would be unthinkable today.”

At the Post, Robin also initially specialised in golf and was a tennis enthusiast, enjoying reporting on Wimbledon for two weeks each June.

He also took pride in producing the Post’s now-defunct Saturday evening sports paper Green ‘Un and was able to read his reports within minutes of leaving the press box.

Robin remained president of the Bristol Sunday Football League long after his retirement, which included making annual presentations.

He leaves a wife Maria and teenage daughter Emily. His funeral will take place at Canford Cemetary and Crematorium on 17 September at 1pm.

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  • September 11, 2013 at 12:07 pm
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    Just to echo the words of Peter Godsiff and the others who paid such warm tributes to Robin… it’s often easy to say, but he really was “one of the good guys” – as indeed were all of the Bristol E Post sports team of that time, including Peter.
    I was Sports Editor of the Reading Chronicle then, and wrote extensively about the town football team, the Royals – or Biscuitmen as they were. They were usually in the same division as Bristol Rovers, and sometimes Bristol City, and part of the enjoyment of the job was meeting up a couple of times a season with the journalists covering the opposition. We’d keep in touch as well about possible transfers or other football topics affecting all our clubs, and there were good friendships formed.
    Robin used to travel with Rovers, and, I believe, went on to join the eltite list of journalists to have visited all of the “original” 92 league club grounds. I got into the 80s, but never made the 92. Peter at that time was covering Bristol City, and the sports editor – coincidentally a Reading man – was Herbie Gilham.
    Before games between our clubs, we would write freebie previews for each other’s papers, and on match days make sure we swapped info about the team selections, and interesting snippits about individual players. The cameraderie, particularly between scribes following the lower division clubs, was immense. Graham Taylor’s Dad Tom at Scunthorpe, Les Payne at Rotherham, John O’Callaghan and a young Jim Rosenthal at Oxford, Graham Hambly and Harley Lawer at Plymouth, Dave Thomas at Torquay, John Vinicombe at Brighton, and so many more – all of us following clubs who set out every season hoping for promotion, but ending most seasons just where we were.
    Promotion or not, they were great times, and, again as Peter suggests, very far removed from the present day when most information coming out of clubs is “sanitised” by a PR team, and a request to travel on the team bus would be laughed into oblivion. Not then. You could retain a sufficient degree of impartiality, but still join the trip-home banter with the players if they’d won, or share their misery in defeat.
    I’m not sure if Robin or Peter ever did so, but I even played in training matches on road trips in the days before substitutes, when just the selected eleven would travel. I was the “spare” goalkeeper in six-a-sides, and took a battering or two from players I may have written about unkindly the previous week! Anyone recall Pat Terry?
    I’m sure there will be many sports journalists of our generation up and down the country who will remember Robin as fondly as I do, and share similar memories of him. There’s not much doubt, now that he’s at the 93rd ground, that he will still be watching Rovers, and maybe writing about them for God’s Green ‘Un!

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