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Weekly’s former sports editor who moved to China dies aged 64

roger-ryanA former weekly sports journalist who went on to become a senior editor at one of the Far East’s biggest news websites has died aged 64.

Tributes have been paid to Roger Ryan, left, who in 1977 became the youngest sports editor in the Gravesend and Dartford Reporter’s history before going on to a career in national and international media.

Roger spent time on the sports desk at the Daily Mail before moving abroad in 1994, working for the South China Morning Post, the Hong Kong Standard, and finally the China Daily website.

Roger died on 10 November after a battle with cancer.

Mike Gunnill, who worked alongside Roger during his time in Gravesend, told Kent Online he was “a gentle giant who had time for everyone”.

He said: “I was the young lad from Yorkshire who joined the photography department of the Gravesend and Dartford Reporter. Roger was a sports reporter and one of the first to say hello and welcome.

“Of course he took me for a drink, that’s the way Roger used to do business. He told me about the building in Harmer Street and the people who worked there.

“He worked his way up at the Reporter and became sports editor, but he never lost that love of sport and especially football at Gravesend and Northfleet FC.

Added Mike: “He liked nothing better that to sit in the open stand press box and report on the game he loved. I have seen him soaked to the skin but he still had a smile on his face.

“Long hair always, but a gentle giant who had time for everyone. He was never happier than sitting at Stonebridge Road doing the work he loved. A true professional, who lived the job.”

Roger was a member of the Football Writers’ Association and Sports Journalists’ Association and also played rugby for Old Gravesendians Rugby Club.

Most recently, he lived in Melbourne, Australia, with his wife Helen.


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  • November 21, 2016 at 1:41 pm

    Farewell Roger my old friend – my first mentor in journalism, and truly the gentle giant who took me under his wing as I took my first baby steps in newspapers at the Gravesend Reporter way back in 1985. Almost a decade later I was delighted to follow him to Hong Kong (‘Go east, young man!), and even more delighted when he was the Best Man at my wedding in 1994. I have so many happy memories: of fatherly pep talks in the Coke Oven in Gravesend and latterly the Duke of York pub in Hong Kong; of his wise counsel; of his immense sporting knowledge; and of his lifelong friendship. One of the old school, Roger was an absolute legend. You’ll be sorely missed mate.

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  • November 25, 2016 at 5:14 pm

    I started as a junior at the Gravesend Reporter in 1979 and was taken that evening by Roger to a wrestling match at the Woodville Halls. I was young and nervous about attending an event with such a senior member of staff as the Sports Editor on my first day. Roger was long haired, leather coated and a mine of information about the area, the people, the paper and the business. He knew everyone, drank too much and cadged a lift home in my Ford Escort which never quite lost the smell of his cigarettes ever after. I was one in a long line of juniors who benefitted through the years from his knowledge of the patch and his kindness to lesser mortals.
    Rest in Peace Rog – I hope wherever you are there is a large pint and a decent team to watch.

    Jaci Barton (then Elliott)
    former Editor
    Gravesend Reporter
    Dartford and Swanley Times

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