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Football writer termed as the sport’s ‘perfect scribe’ dies at 75

Karl WoodwardA former chief football writer defined as “the perfect scribe” to cover the sport has died at the age of 75.

Tributes have been paid to Karl Woodward, previously of the Western Mail and South Wales Echo, who has been described as having “the thickest contacts book in Welsh football”.

Karl, himself a good footballer in his youth, joined the Mail as a copy boy in 1956, later being promoted to cover a variety of different sports for the Cardiff-based daily and its sister title the Echo.

He followed the fortunes of Cardiff City, Swansea City and Newport County (the club he supported) during his career, as well as the Welsh national football team.

Karl also had a passion for boxing, and in 1980 was charged with the sad duty of remaining in Los Angeles to file medical bulletins after Welsh fighter Johnny Owens was knocked out during a world title bout in the American city.

The punch would prove fatal, and Owen died a few weeks later.

Former colleague and close friend Phil Blanche, who idolised Karl as an aspiring reporter, penned a tribute for the Mail.

He wrote: “The name Woodward is synonymous with journalism, but for me it will always stand for Karl and not Bob of Washington Post and Watergate fame.”

Phil added: “Welsh football – as I was to discover later – was never dull and Karl was the perfect scribe to chronicle its many twists and turns.

“He wrote with authority, integrity and humour and had the thickest contacts book in Welsh football.

“His match reports and columns were a must-read for any football fan. In short, I wanted to be Karl Woodward.

“There was a warmth to Karl which made you instantly feel at home whether you were a copy-taker on the other end of the phone waiting for pristine copy, young reporter, boxer, trainer, footballer or manager.”

Karl, who retired after 45 years at the Mail, had suffered from a long illness before he passed away.


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  • April 9, 2015 at 8:39 am

    The sad thing is in today’s restless industry we shall never see his like again. RIP.

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  • April 11, 2015 at 6:13 pm

    I knew Karl well when the Western Mail was part of the great Thomson organisation in the 1970s and 1980s.
    I was the group’s London Sports Editor at the time, and Karl and I liaised on many a boxing story, especially during the Johnny Owen era. In those days, South Wales was a boxing hotspot and I seemed to spend half my life in the Usk valley covering fights.
    Karl, along with the splendid Reg Pearson and Ray Parker of the South Wales Echo, was an integral part of the boxing scene at the time.
    He was an excellent sports journalist and great guy and I was sad to read of his passing. Condolences to his family.

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