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Bob Crampsey

Teacher, broadcaster, journalist and historian; Born July 8, 1930; Died July 27, 2008. Bob Crampsey, who has died aged 78 after a lengthy battle against Parkinson's Disease, was a legend in Scottish sports journalism. A familiar and instantly recognisable voice on the airwaves, he was for many years a voice of authority in the often feverish world of Scottish football coverage.

Teacher, broadcaster, journalist and historian; Born July 8, 1930; Died July 27, 2008. Bob Crampsey, who has died aged 78 after a lengthy battle against Parkinson's Disease, was a legend in Scottish sports journalism.

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A familiar and instantly recognisable voice on the airwaves, he was for many years a voice of authority in the often feverish world of Scottish football coverage.

Crampsey was born, raised and lived most of his life in Mount Florida, within a hefty free kick, almost, of Hampden Park in Glasgow. His family were very much Queen's Park-oriented; indeed, his brother Frank kept goal for the club during its so-far last flowering as a top-flight Scottish club in the late 1950s, while Crampsey himself featured a few times for Queen's Park Strollers, the club's second team.

It might be said, in his writing and broadcasting career, that Crampsey, who was a teacher during the week, was indeed the amateur taking on and beating the professionals at their own game. But there was nothing amateur about Crampsey the journalist and commentator.

Right from joining the fledgling Scotsport team in 1955, he prepared meticulously for his match reporting and commentating stints, which were more than a bit of paid weekend relaxation from the rigours of the chalk face.

From his schooling at Holyrood Secondary Crampsey went on to Glasgow University to study history. He took up teaching while in the RAF between 1952 and 1955, and in a lengthy career in education he rose to become head of St Ambrose High School, Coatbridge, before taking early retirement to concentrate on his media and after-dinner-speaking work in 1987.

Had he been working rather than middle class, Crampsey would have been "a lad o' pairts"; English rather than Scottish, he would have been a "Renaissance Man". He did not belong to the Bill Shankly "football is more important than life or death" school. Certainly he loved the game with a passion, but such was his breadth of knowledge, so wide-ranging his interests, the game was just one passion among many.

He was an accomplished pianist and a member of the Royal College of Music. He wrote biographies of prominent men as diverse as Jock Stein and Sir Thomas Lipton, and wrote works on the 1938 Empire Exhibition and his experiences as a schoolboy in wartime Glasgow.

In truth, however, his premier passion was probably cricket and in particular the fortunes of Somerset - he loved those golden summer holidays watching Ian Botham and Viv Richards at Taunton.

Crampsey's sponge-like brain helped him win the Brain of Britain title in 1965. His knowledge of the American Civil War took him to the later stages of Mastermind in 1973 and, while the resources of The Herald group's library were at his disposal, quite a few of the answers he produced during his long-running stewardship of the Evening Times's "Now You Know" feature came straight out of his head - before being checked for accuracy by leafing through the actual cuttings.

He loved his weekly visit to The Herald library as he put together the weekly feature, but he admitted he was easily side tracked as his alert gaze chanced upon old match reports he had perhaps forgotten about.

Crampsey's first Scottish Cup Final was the memorable 1938 encounter, when East Fife became the first and thus-far only Second Division side to lift the trophy. He persuaded his mother to allow him to go on his own, then had the good fortune to be taken under the wing of some miners who followed the Fifers - the story lost nothing in the retelling many years later.

He was among the 128,000 who marvelled at the Real Madrid of Puskas and Di Stefano at Hampden in 1960 and 40 years later he could entrance football fans, then unborn, with his description of that seminal 7-3 Real Madrid v Eintracht Frankfurt match.

He was one of the first recipients of a Churchill Scholarship, in 1970. This enabled him to visit the US, where he increased his knowledge of the American Civil War. He also looked into the relationship between the media and America's professional team sports, and how this differed from the often awkward relationship between the two in Scotland.

Above all, he was truly a Queen's Park man, who wrote, spoke about and loved the game, for the game's sake.

Away from football he was married, for 50 years, to his devoted Ronnie. They had four daughters and four grandchildren, on whom Papa doted.

Matt Vallance

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