‘He charmed everyone’ – Tributes to famous Bristol cricket writer David Foot, who died aged 92
David Foot, one of the country’s greatest sports writers, whose name was particularly synonymous with cricket, has died at the age of 92 at his home in Westbury-on-Trym.
“Footie,” as his friends and co-workers affectionately called him, was a West Country man at heart. He grew up in the Yeovil area, spent his entire working life in the West, turned down offers from Fleet Street newspapers to be a staff reporter for them, and has never been more at home than in Somerset and Gloucestershire County Press Boxes. clubs.
He was born in 1929 in the Somerset village of East Coker where his father was a sacristan. He has spent his entire professional life in journalism, starting with the Western Gazette in Yeovil where, in 1945, the 16-year-old got a job as a trainee copyist.
In time, he moved a little north, to the Bristol Evening World. There he talked about cricket, of course, but he wasn’t a one-ride pony. When cricket was out of season he wrote about Bristol City and Bristol Rovers. He was also a renowned theater critic and on occasion he willingly and skillfully turned to writing general feature films when needed.
The Bristol Evening World closed in 1961 and “Footie” was, given its reputation as one of the best, courted by Fleet Street.
In this case, however, he chose to stay in the West and became independent, a status he maintained for the rest of his working life.
He was particularly well known to readers of the Western Daily Press. He wrote a weekly column for the newspaper for the best part of 20 years and, for a while, wrote a popular “Where are they now?” column on former western sports stars.
His cricket watching was mostly local, mainly following Somerset and Gloucestershire. Depending on the source you’re reading, it never reported a test match, or only once. Either way, it’s easy to see why London didn’t appeal.
From his local workplaces, he would say; “The written press is kinship; I love the happy and friendly aura. The repartee is sharp, incestuous jokes are exchanged, the legs drawn. Whatever the public’s perceptions, we all have a great affection for the game. We drink, eat and talk about cricket.
Besides being a seasoned journalist and feature film writer, “Footie” was a prolific novelist, with around 25 books published. Two were autobiographical – West Country Reporter and Footsteps From East Coker – while nearly all of the others were cricket-themed.
These included much admired work on Somerset drummer Harold Gimblett (Harold Gimblett: Tortured Genius of Cricket) and the great Gloucestershire and England Wally Hammond (Wally Hammond: The Reasons Why), two publications that the late Frank Keating, the former goalkeeper well-known sports writer, described as “imperishable classics in the canon of cricket”.
Mark Easterbrook, sports production editor for the Bristol Post, said: “I have known David for 30 years and have been fortunate enough to share a press platform with him at cricket matches on countless occasions. .
“Besides being a very good writer, what is lovely about ‘Footie’ was his warm and generous personality. Everyone enjoyed his company in the press box and members of the public often poked their heads around the press door asking “Is David here today?” Such was his popularity.
“He had a great sense of humor, and you must have marveled at how often he delivered such a great copy from minimal grades. Maybe it was because, as he would say, he wasn’t particularly interested in statistics. He preferred to focus on the personalities involved in the match.
Richard Latham, friend and fellow cricket writer, said: “David charmed everyone he met, with his calm demeanor, infectious laugh, warm personality and delicious eccentricity.
“He was a dean of cricket writers, whose books on the sport he loved so much have captivated countless readers over the years. The depth of his research, combined with his humor and his turn of phrase, made each of them a gem.
“I was lost in admiration for his talents as a journalist, covering Bristol football as well as cricket, and as a prolific author. But above all, I rejoice in his company, whether in press cases or around a pint of beer, which he has always insisted on being served in a glass with a handle. David was just unique and a lot of fun to be with.
Former HTV presenter Roger Malone said: “If ever a sports writer deserved the ‘gentleman of the press’ label, it had to be David Foot.
“Polite, persevering, insightful, and with a knack for turning a beautiful sentence, David’s article in the journal he wrote for was always a pleasure to read and I tried not to miss one.”
Bristol City President Marina Dolman said: “David was a really lovely man, with a warmth you don’t usually associate with journalists!
“He was always very impartial in his reporting and wrote with emotion, which meant that his love of cricket, in particular, shone through.
Bristol sports journalist Graham Russell, himself 92, said: “I was already independent when David came from Yeovil to join the old Evening World in the 1960s.
“There is no more cordial way to spend time in a press gallery than with my dear friend. He’s always been the best writer, but I never hinted at it!
Several former Bristol Rovers players joined in the tributes. Ian Holloway said: “I am so sorry to hear the news. What a great man, “while Tom Stanton added,” David was a true gentleman and will be sorely missed. “
Phil Bater said, “You can always trust David,” and Geoff Twentyman observed, “What a gentleman. Incredibly sad news.
Former Gloucestershire cricketer Andy Brassington said: “What a lovely man David was. TO TEAR APART”
He is survived by his wife Anne, his son Mark and his journalist daughter Julia.