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Reporter who joined board of football club he covered dies aged 79

Brian RoachA sports journalist who became a director of the football club he had previously covered has died aged 79.

Tributes have been paid to Brian Roach, who began his career on the Reading Chronicle and later went on to work for two press agencies in the Berkshire town.

Brian, pictured, covered Reading FC and went on to serve the club as a director in the late 1980s after helping to scupper Robert Maxwell’s bid to merge the club with Oxford United under the name ‘Thames Valley Royals.’

He also worked as an agent for footballers including Reading defender Steve Wood.

Former Chronicle sports editor and close friend Roger Ware told the newspaper: “I knew Brian for more than 60 years since we were juniors in the Chronicle newsroom in the early 1960s – and our careers often ran in parallel from then on.

“Together we later formed the Reading Sports Agency, covering the area as freelances for national newspapers and radio stations, and subsequently we both worked in the international sports sponsorship department of Rothmans. Brian also became a partner in the Reading News Agency.

“In football terms, our most satisfying time was being part of Roger Smee’s ‘war cabinet’, successfully fighting off Robert Maxwell and Frank Waller’s ill-judged merger.

“Six of us met at Smee’s house the night the merger proposal was first revealed, and continued meeting frequently over several weeks until the battle was won.”

Brian was also a keen sportsman and played football for Henley Town in the Hellenic League.

He was described as a “powerful right-back” in the Berkshire Press team which won the Southern Counties Press Cup in 1963.

Brian had lived with Alzheimer’s in recent years but continued to be a presence in the press box at Reading’s Madejski Stadium.

He is survived by his second wife June, sons Mark and Stuart, and grandchildren Sam, Jessica, Ebba and Greta. Brian also remained close friends with Mark and Stuart’s mother, Pat.