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Radio journalist’s death prompts regional daily front page tribute

A local radio journalist and football commentator’s death prompted a front page tribute from a regional daily.

The Teesside Gazette gave over its front page yesterday in memory Ali Brownlee, BBC Tees presenter and Middlesbrough FC commentator.

Ali, affectionately known as the ‘Voice of the Boro’ to thousands of football fans, commentated on more than 1,000 games during his career.

He passed away on Sunday night aged 56, just three months after he had made public his fight against bowel cancer.

Ali Brownlee

As well as yesterday’s front page, pictured above, the Gazette ran several pages of tributes in print and online.

Tributes also came from Peter Barron, editor of the Darlington-based Northern Echo.

In recent years, Ali and Peter had become friends while taking part in a daily ‘Headline Challenge’ every morning on BBC Tees.

On his blog on Monday, Peter wrote: “Like everyone else who knew him, I came to appreciate Ali’s great gift as a broadcaster: the way he made people feel comfortable, his warmth and sincerity, and his ability to talk about any subject and make it look easy.”

He added: ” It is a testament to his popularity that fans of his beloved Middlesbrough Football Club remembered him at matches following the announcement of his illness, singing ‘Ali Brownlee – he’s one of our own’ and lighting up their phones in tribute.

“He’d been covering Middlesbrough on the radio since 1982, after a career in banking, and built up a rapport with the club and the fans that no one else could come close to matching.”

Ali also presented BBC Tees’ breakfast show for a number of years. He previously covered Middlesbrough FC for stations including BBC Radio Cleveland and Century FM.

Peter concluded: “I knew that his treatment hadn’t been going well and that he’d been very ill with an infection over Christmas but we all hoped that his natural positivity and love of life would help him pull through.

“Sadly, it wasn’t to be and – like many, many others – I’ll miss him greatly. My thoughts are with his wife Wendy and the rest of his family.”