This wasn’t the post I had in mind for today but yesterday something happened that affected me much more than I would have expected it to – a local radio commentator died after a short battle with cancer. His name was Ali Brownlee although it’s highly unlikely that you’ll have heard of him unless you live in the North East but he was a legend.
He was one half of a team who commentated on the Boro matches on the local radio and despite never meeting him, his voice is just as familiar to me as any other voice I know. Commentators are supposed to be unbiased and neutral but he was far from that and never managed to hide his love of his beloved Boro and his love of the game, enthusiasm and passion are all well known around here.
Just watch this if you have a couple of minutes to spare….
We loved listening to him that much that when the Boro were on TV, we’d always watch the TV but have the sound off with the radio switched on so we could listen to that instead.
When I heard the news that he’d passed away, I was stunned because even though, we all knew he was ill as he’d stopped commentating at the end of last year, I thought he would win his battle. He’s always seemed larger than life and I genuinely didn’t think I’d be hearing this dreadful news – I thought he’d be back on the radio in time to tell us all about Boro being promoted.
We felt a bit odd yesterday when we heard because we had no idea what to do – we didn’t know him so we don’t have the right to grieve for him but at the same time we’ve grown up listening to him and we feel as if we did know him. It’s a strange one but it didn’t feel right to do nothing, so we joined hundreds of other people at the Riverside Stadium to pay our respects and leave a treasured Boro scarf from Wembley last year as a tribute to him.
I felt close to tears for most of yesterday afternoon and it didn’t help that I kept seeing tributes in my Facebook and Twitter feeds as well as hearing snippets of his commentary on the radio station that Mr Frugal insisted on listening to for most of the day.
But it wasn’t until last night that I realised why I was so upset.
I realised that growing up, it had been my brother who had the radio on listening to Ali’s commentary and it was my brother who dragged me all over to go to football matches where we would always tune in to the radio station on the drive home.
It hit me that most of the little snippets of the commentary that’s being shared all over are the internet are from matches that I watched or listened to with my brother so in a way, I feel a bit like I’ve lost another piece of him.
I’m so sad even though I have no right to be.
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