Malcolm Brodie: full of fun and simply the greatest and the most generous of them all
It was a cold wet night and we were driving along an autobahn in Germany back to our base in Frankfurt.
The wind was howling and hailstones, the size of golf balls, were slamming into the front windscreen.
The great Malcolm Brodie was in the back seat putting the world to rights and I was listening intently as I tried to keep the car on the road.
We’d just been to report on a match at the 2006 World Cup finals — Malcolm's 14th time at the tournament.
The hailstones eased and the conversation flowed, as it always did with MB.
Those road trips all over Germany that summer were a joy and an education as we'd chat about the World Cup games we'd just witnessed.
Even better was hearing about the glorious matches he'd watched in the past, his favourite footballing greats like George Best, Pele and Alfredo Di Stefano, cricket, another of his loves, and the masterful West Indies players, many of whom were Malcolm's friends, and of course his extraordinary life in journalism.
On the night of the hailstones I plucked up the courage to ask a question I and many others had always wanted to know the answer to.
“Malcolm, what keeps you going after all these years?” (he was almost 80 then with nothing to prove to anyone, respected and revered by everyone, had been there, done it and written with style about it all).
He paused, took a breath and in his unmistakable voice replied: “Steven, it’s because I still want to be number one!”
And there it was, that competitive edge, burning brighter than ever. The one that took him to the top of his field as a young reporter and helped him stay there for years and years and years.
Malcolm was number one alright. Nobody could ever dispute that.
During that 2006 World Cup, such was the reverence in which he was held amongst his peers, he did more interviews than David Beckham!
The Chinese, Japanese and German press couldn't get enough of this wonderful man who had covered every finals since 1954!
Big name players, managers and other major sports stars were in awe of him too. Malcolm was not the tallest fellow, but he was a giant in so many ways.
Generous to a fault, thoughtful and professional, he was also full of fun with a mischievous side to him that further endeared him to everyone he met.
He loved his time at the Belfast Telegraph, where he shone as the Sports Editor for decades, and be it reporting on Irish League matches or internationals or writing his Down Memory Lane column in the paper in recent years, he always gave his best.
His family, dear wife Margaret, his cherished sons and grand-daughter Claire “the apple of my eye” can feel rightly proud of him.
It was a privilege to know Malcolm and an honour to call him a friend.
I can see him up in heaven now talking to Bestie, Bertie Peacock, Bill Shankly and Matt Busby with his notebook and pen in hand scribbling down perfect shorthand ready to write another exclusive.
Malcolm Brodie — number one — forever and always.