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He thinks it’s all over . . . ha’way The Lad

A record-breaking regional sports reporter is today walking away from two of his greatest loves – admitting to a 25-year double affair of the heart.

For Graeme Anderson has decided to call “full time” on two Wearside institutions that have dominated his working life.

Now the Sunderland Echo and The Lads – in the shape of Premier League footballing legends Sunderland AFC – will have to manage without their biggest fan.

And the man who can lay claim to having written more words on his beloved Black Cats than any other journalist in the North East club’s history is taking a break before deciding on his next move.

Shining light . . . Graeme Anderson, right, and replacement Chris Young

“I may think it’s all over but it isn’t really,” said the North East daily’s chief football writer who’s leaving both teams at the same time and has been touched by the response to his pending departure.

The 50-year-old added: “All relationships change in time and mine is about to do so fundamentally with two of the most important in my life – the Sunderland Echo and Sunderland Football Club.

“I’m immensely proud to have been so long associated with both.

“I love journalism and journalists and I’ve been privileged to work alongside an amazing array of personalities and talents over the years both at the Echo and the rest of the media in the North East.”

Graeme started in journalism as a trainee on the Lichfield Post free paper.

In 1987 he went as news reporter to the Folkestone Herald and ended up covering two of the biggest stories, not just of the year, but of the 20th century.

Kent was battered in The Great Storm of 1987, “the one which weatherman Michael Fish told the nation not to worry about,” said Graeme.

And he was one of only two reporters on weekend duty when the Herald of Free Enterprise ferry capsized in Zeebrugge harbour with the loss of 193 lives.

“I remember getting the only interview from the ship’s assistant purser Steve Homewood,” he recalls. “It was a defining moment in my career.”

After 12 months at the Kent weekly, he moved to the Echo – starting as a news reporter before “drifting” in football coverage in 1996.

He has the distinction of being one of only four reporters to cover Sunderland since the end of World War One, the others being Captain Jack Anderson, Bill Butterfield and Geoff Storey.

“I have written more words on Sunderland than any other reporter in history,” he added. “Until the 1990s it was a case of writing one story on the back and one inside – not now.”

He misses the old days of working seven days a week in the football season and then getting a long summer break from the middle of May as recompense.

“All that’s changed with the coverage given to the transfer window. Some editors see it as bigger than the football season itself now,” he reflected.

Tributes to his track record include one from Echo sports editor Neil Watson who’s shadowed Graeme’s time at the paper over a quarter of a century.

“He’s always been a great asset – someone who was a fan before he became the paper’s Sunderland reporter,” he said.

Pete Sixsmith, of fan website Salut! Sunderland, added: “Graeme will be, or ought to be, missed by all Sunderland fans.

“He has been the man at Roker and the Stadium of Light for 25 years – a towering figure of Sunderland AFC journalism.”

As for his next move, Graeme added: “I need some breathing space and a chance to have a holiday and look at what I do next.”

With a 2008 book In Keane We Trust already under his belt on Aston Villa’s new assistant manager Roy Keane, the 50-year-old journalist expects to pen more titles in the future.

So it’s not quite all over yet though for Graeme, his brand of sports journalism or his love of Sunderland Football Club.

“I’ve been promised a weekly column in the Echo next season and will provide holiday cover for the paper’s new Sunderland football writer Chris Young,” he said.

And before collecting a ‘red card’ from his wife, he pointed out: “The paper and football club are two of my life’s loves.

“But my greatest will always be my wife Marian and my four-year-old daughter Amy – they are definitely top of the table.”


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  • July 31, 2014 at 8:07 am

    It was only 10 to 15 years ago when football reporters would be expected to clear off for the summer after working hard all winter. Before I left the industry, there had to be a football lead or two every day of the year. Some of the stuff that was filed was pretty desperate, but it satisfied the editor to have some presence.
    Graeme’s had some good years but hopefully he’s young enough to enjoy his working life again, because there’s no way he could have enjoyed the relentless drudge of the modern football reporter.

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  • July 31, 2014 at 9:36 am

    I’m sure i sang karaoke with him while out drinking in Leeds while on a training boot camp held at the Yorkshire Post in 2005. Classic night and a fine chap (although his singing wasn’t that good if i remember correctly!!)

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  • July 31, 2014 at 12:38 pm

    I had the absolute pleasure and privilege of working with Graeme during my six years on the Sunderland Echo and accompanied him on three SAFC pre-season tours. Now, what happens on tour stays on tour but let’s just say that Graeme is a consummate pro who filed stories like I smoke fags: regularly and with absolute dedication, but also knew how to have fun and make the most of any and every situation.

    He’s one of a sadly dying breed of reporters and has been a massive asset to the Echo during his long career there.

    I’m also proud to get a couple of mentions in his book as it covers one of our pre-season jaunts together.

    Good luck Graeme, and here’s to extra time.

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