Sat, 18 September, 2021


Adrian Brown

Posted: January 7th, 2021

ADRIAN BROWN, who ran the night sports desk on the Daily Mirror in the 1970s, died on Boxing Day [2020] at the age of 83. Here is an extract from a personal tribute by his son OLIVER, chief sports writer on The Daily Telegraph.

“It is difficult to overstate the degree to which my father loved newspapers. Whenever I would seek gently to persuade him that readers’ tastes were evolving, that the same articles could be consumed on an iPad or a mobile phone, his resistance became more entrenched. Print journalism, in his eyes, deserved to be appreciated at leisure and on the page. The eclectic spread of material at the breakfast table – The Guardian, Daily Mail and The Daily Telegraph – reflected how his choices were seldom guided by the editorial line. He simply adored the trade and all that it had given him.

“ ‘AB’, as so many of his colleagues knew him, devoted himself to the newspaper business for 56 years. From his young days as sports editor of the Lynn News, his hometown publication in west Norfolk, to night-editing the Daily Mirror’s back pages in the period when it was selling five million copies, he pursued his craft with a passion that never wavered. It is no exaggeration to say he was as dedicated at 72 as he had been at 16.

“Even when, long past conventional retirement age, his working week had dwindled to a mammoth Saturday shift at The Mail on Sunday, he would embark on the 130-mile trek from our house in Thornham at 4.45am to call via the butcher’s in King’s Lynn, making sure he had pork pies for everybody in the Mail’s office at High Street Kensington.

“He would often describe the process of producing a newspaper from scratch as a miracle, and it was one in which he relished being centrally involved.

“Dad was not a man of faith by any stretch, and yet he felt an almost spiritual kinship with the Fleet Street haunts he left behind. Often we would meet for lunch at Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese on Wine Office Court. For his 80th birthday, we bought Dad tickets to the West End production, Ink, a play that thrilled him not just with its accurate evocation of the toil of late Sixties newsrooms, where the physical prefigured the digital, but because its central dramas, in particular the Mirror’s circulation wars with The Sun, were ones he had witnessed first-hand.

“His path through a halcyon era of British journalism involved some novel detours. In 1957, aged 19 and restless to explore the world beyond, he set sail on the Queen Mary from Southampton to New York, ultimately finding work at a newspaper in Port Colborne, Ontario, on the shores of Lake Erie. From 1973 to 1976, he spent summers at the Los Angeles Times.”

Ray Weaver: “I knew Adrian Brown in the 1970s when I was night picture editor and he ran the night sports desk on the Daily Mirror. He was a kind, friendly and patient colleague. He worked well under extreme pressure, directing multiple edition changes in the hot metal era. A true professional, he will be greatly missed.”

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