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Fans pay tribute to legendary regional daily sportswriter

Thousands of football fans stood in tribute to a much loved regional daily sports writer yesterday after his death at the age of 77.

Gerald Mortimer first watched Derby County at the age of nine and went on to cover the club for the Derby Telegraph for more than three decades, including its glory days under Brian Clough in the 1970s.

He was so close to Clough that he was actually asked to type out the manager’s resignation letter to the Rams board when he quit the club in 1973.

Derby fans stood applauded Gerald’s memory at yesterday’s home match against Wigan Athletic as his image was flashed on the big screen.

Gerald, who lived in Ilkeston, died on Monday.   He had retired as the Telegraph’s chief sports correspondent in 2002 but continued to write for the paper until last year.

As well as football, he also covered Derbyshire county cricket club for the paper and is one of only four non-cricketers to have received honorary life membership of the club.

Steve Nicholson, who succeeded Gerald as chief football writer said:  “I met Gerald when I arrived at the Derby Telegraph in 1985. He was a colleague who became a friend and, over the years, we spent hours and hours discussing football.

“Gerald was a fount of Derby County knowledge. What he did not know about the club, its history and its fortunes was not worth knowing.”

Telegraph editor Neil White added:  “I would like to pay tribute to his huge contribution to sport in Derby and to the Telegraph over many decades.

“His knowledge and love of sport was without equal.”

The Telegraph also paid tribute to Gerald in an editorial published yesterday written by former colleague Gordon Wilson.

“The death of Gerald Mortimer sees the passing of one of the great names of Derbyshire journalism,” wrote Gordon.

“Yet his name and reputation will live on, thanks to his magnificent legacy, the vast acres of his written word covering the fortunes of Derby County and Derbyshire County Cricket Club.

“He did not suffer fools gladly – but if he detected a genuine interest in sport he would happily chat and reminisce for hours.

“His retirement from this newspaper back in 2002 did not to dilute his determination to follow his lifelong interests and he assiduously added to his “collection” of well over 100 grounds on which he watched League football.”

Educated at Repton School and Oxford University, he did his national service in the Sherwood Foresters and was a teacher before being joining the sports desk at the Telegraph in July 1970.

A full tribute, written by the current sports editor Peter Green, can be viewed here.


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  • January 3, 2014 at 12:04 am

    Let no-one run away with the idea that all the top sports writers reside within the national press. Gerald Mortimer offered irrefutable evidence to the contrary with a turn of phrase that was to die for.
    It was an honour and privilege to share a press box with a giant of regional sports writing. To pick his brains and chuckle at his many anecdotes.
    At a time when so many football clubs treat journalists with distain, Derby County should be congratulated in giving Gerald the send-off he so richly deserved.
    My commiserations to the Derby Telegraph who have lost an irreplaceable member of staff.

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  • January 3, 2014 at 2:43 pm

    Gerald’s stature in the game can be gauged by the reaction at Derby County. I cannot think of many clubs who would have done this but it was fully deserved. My first reaction to encountering him at Derbyshire CCC 20 years ago was one of naked fear. He did not, as the article says, suffer fools and he was an intimidating presence in any press box. However, once you gained his confidence, his personality was a delight. Gerald was a very fine writer and a very good journalist and a wonderful conversationalist but, more importantly than this, he was a very good human being.

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