AddThis SmartLayers

Football reporter who served daily for four decades dies aged 83

Geoff StoreyA journalist who went from the accounts department to chief sports writer at the regional daily he served for four decades has died aged 83 after a short illness.

Tributes have been paid to Geoff Storey, who worked for the Sunderland Echo for 40 years, holding the top football writing job for 19 of them.

During his time in the role, he covered Sunderland AFC’s appearances in the Milk Cup final against Norwich City in 1985 and the FA Cup final against Liverpool in 1992.

He was the third full-time football writer in the Echo’s history but the first to write under his own name, rather than the previously preferred pseudonym ‘Argus’, due to the growing trend for photo-bylined sports journalists.

Graeme Anderson, who succeeded Geoff as the Echo’s chief sports writer, said: “In a world before the internet and social media gave everyone a voice, the local paper held great sway with football clubs and football fans.

“The papers were where fans got their information and news and the local writer’s opinions were influential in the town’s paper of record.

“When I first joined the sports desk, Geoff explained the responsibility to me by saying: ‘If I get something wrong, it becomes a fact’. Geoff always took that responsibility seriously.

“He was diligent and professional and even though his job meant that often when he expressed a view, one group of fans would agree with him and another group disagree with him, he always tried to tell it as he saw it.”

Geoff joined the Echo from school in the mid-1950s, initially working in the accounts department.

He volunteered to cover sports events and gradually became more and more involved in the sports department, later moving full-time into that field and serving as the Sunderland AFC reserve team reporter before being promoted to chief sports writer when Billy Butterfield retired in 1979.

In his tribute, Graeme added: “Even those within the club who might have disagreed with him over the years would have acknowledged that he acted with what he saw as the best interests of Sunderland AFC at heart.

“Throughout his time covering the club, he always tried to give supporters the news and the expert reporting he thought they deserved and because of that, he was a credit to the Sunderland Echo and the Football Echo’s tradition of providing unrivalled coverage.”

Geoff took early retirement from the Echo in 1997 but continued covering Sunderland matches for national newspapers in a freelance capacity in 2002. He was married for 54 years to Teresa, who died in 2019.

Geoff, whose funeral was held on Tuesday, is survived by children Peter, Moya and Kieron, as well as six grandchildren.