Broadcaster and journalist

Born: 1941;

Died 21 July 21, 2016

DICK Donnelly, who has died at the age of 74, was one of the most respected broadcasters and journalists in Scotland for many years and a respected figure in Scottish football.

Born in Lochee in Dundee during the darkest days of the Second World War, Charles Richard Donnelly was educated at the city’s Harris Academy before serving his time as an apprentice hot metal worker in the case room at the DC Thomson offices in Bank Street, Dundee.

He played in goal for Junior football club Carnoustie Panmure before attracting the attention of the seniors, signing for East Fife. He made 107 appearances for the Methil club between 1960 and 1964 before moving on to Brechin City and Arbroath – and in later years would fondly recall the occasion when, in a game for the Glebe Park outfit, he suffered a broken collar bone that, in the days before substitutes meant a switch from tending goal to taking up position on the wing where, remarkably, he managed to score a goal.

A keen sportsman – he also played golf, table tennis and cricket as a fast bowler. Indeed, had it not been for the call of journalism he may well have excelled on the cricket pitch after hanging up his goalkeeping gloves.

It was the legendary sportswriter Tommy Gallacher who introduced Dick Donnelly to the world of journalism when he offered him the opportunity to do Saturday match reports for The Couriet in the late 1960s.

He was soon full-time as a football writer on The People’s Journal before joining the staff of the Scottish Sunday Express, covering the east coast all the way from Edinburgh to Aberdeen.

He turned to the sometimes precarious world of freelancing in the early-1970s. Based in his native Dundee he was soon in demand, covering press conferences, interviews and match reports for a wide variety of national newspapers.

He also turned to radio – and quickly established himself as one of the most recognisable voices on the airwaves whilst principally covering football on Tayside for both Radio Tay and Radio Clyde, his strong, authoritative voice instantly securing the attention of the listener.

Dick Donnelly was the voice of football on Radio Tay (where he graduated to sports editor) with his sports desk bulletins as well as commentaries on matches throughout the length of Tayside and Fife. He even dabbled as a racing tipster.

He covered football on Tayside and on the east coast for decades whilst also travelling to cover international youth tournaments in which Scotland were involved.

Whilst his radio work made him a name and a voice familiar to millions he was at heart first and foremost a newspaper man – an old-fashioned journalist, his love of the written word never leaving him.

The 1980s was a golden decade for football on Tayside and Dundee United in particular – the Tannadice club enjoying the most successful period in their history. He covered every major success - the League Championship triumph of Season 1982-83, the European Cup Semi-Final of the following year, the 1987 UEFA Cup Final and the Scottish League Cup victories in the early-80s.

A popular and generous man amongst his colleagues, he was forever ready with advice and the benefit of his experience to others. There were few who enjoyed the range and extent of contacts through the game that Dick Donnelly could call upon.

In a statement, Dundee United FC described Mr Donnelly as a hugely important figure in covering football in Dundee over many decades.

In a statement on the club website, Dundee United said: "Everyone at Tannadice is very saddened to hear of the passing of broadcaster and reporter Dick Donnelly.

"Dick was a hugely important figure in covering football in Dundee over many decades who attended all the major games involving United, both at home and in Europe, and was always entertaining and fair in his reporting.

"His voice was instantly recognisable on radio broadcasts. Scottish football journalism is a poorer place for his passing.”

Ron Scott, past president of the Scottish Football Writers Association, added: "I never heard anyone say a bad word about Dick and I knew him for over 50 years.

"It’s a very sad day for us all. Personally I will miss playing golf with him. He didn’t play often but always managed to beat me.”

BBC pundit Allan Preston, who first got to know Mr Donnelly as a young player at Tannadice, also paid tribute.

He said: "When I was at Dundee United as a kid I got to know him well and classed him as friend. It’s sad news for Dundee as a town."

Dick Donnelly died on July 21 following a courageous battle with cancer. Scottish Football broadcasting and journalism is the poorer for his passing.

He is survived by his wife Margaret, son Alan, daughter Gillian and three grandchildren.