ULSTER football journalist Dr Malcolm Brodie MBE, who died on Tuesday night after a short illness aged 86, began his journalistic career in Portadown in the mid-1940s.
Malcolm was a trainee reporter with the Portadown News, then owned by the Warnock family at Thomas Street in the town, and he often looked back affectionately on the three years spent in what was then known as the ‘Hub of the North’.
He would often recount, when down at Shamrock Park covering Portadown games, being sent on routine newspaper assignments to Laurelvale, the Birches, Drumcree and the Dobbin by the then editor the late William D Morrow.
He moved up to Belfast to become the distinguished sports editor of the Belfast Telegraph and Ireland’s Saturday night, where he directed affairs for 40 years.
Malcolm, who is survived by his wife Margaret and three sons, was a proud Scot, brought up in the hungry thirties on Clydeside, but, moving to Northern Ireland as a teenager, he also became a proud Ulsterman, imbued with a deep sense of loyalty, belonging and interest in all that was best in our unique culture..
Long-serving News Letter journalist Billy Kennedy, from Tandragee, a close friend, said Malcolm Brodie was an iconic Ulster institution in both journalism and sport - a man with a very special talent and insatiable around-the-clock zest for the newspaper and media work that was his life for 70 years.
“Malkie, as we all knew him, was for me a personal mentor, colleague and friend over a period of more than 50 years and his passing has grieved me terribly,” he said.
“I got to know Malcolm closely as a man of great humility, integrity and generosity. He was a friend and wise adviser to every young journalist who crossed his path and he was always on level terms with the ordinary football supporter (the punters as he called them), of whatever club allegiance.”
He was indeed a man of the people, who called as it is; there were no back doors in Malcolm; his frank assessment of a situation, whether in sport or in other aspects of life, was incisive and to the point,” said Billy.
Malcolm covered 14 World Cup finals; every Northern Ireland international since the war, and he was recognised by FIFA for his outstanding input to the game that he loved. And he numbered among his friends people like Sir Alex Ferguson, Sir Matt Busby, Bill Shankly, Jock Stein, George Best, Pele, Bobby Moore and Booby Charlton. He was also recognised by the Queen with an MBE.
He was a journalist where the press box was his natural home, filing accurate, well-documented copy to the Belfast Telegraph, the Daily Telegraph (using the pseudonym of Ian Stevenson), the News of the World, Press Association and The Sun. He was also a journalist who could walk into any club boardroom unannounced, unfettered or intimidated by the company there, such was the respect that he held.
Growing up in Glasgow, he was weaned on the ‘Old Firm’ rivalry of Rangers and Celtic and, while a self-confessed ‘Blue Nose’, this did not prevent him having a tremendous respect for the green and white football traditions in the east end of the city.
He wrote the histories of the Irish FA, the Irish League and of Linfield, Glentoran and Derry City and his annual yearbook on the local game was always a sell-out.
A week ago, the day he went into hospital, he was faithfully making arrangements with trusted colleagues to have football copy filed to The Sun.
Indeed, he was a journalist to the very end.