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Malcolm Brodie, legend among sports writers, lives on in tribute at Northern Ireland's Windsor Park home

By Ivan Little

The widow of Northern Ireland's most famous sports journalist Malcolm Brodie surveyed an expansive new tribute to him in his second home of Windsor Park yesterday - and declared it a winner.

"It's wonderful. It's just him. He would have loved it," said Margaret Brodie as the wraps came off the impressive interpretative display, which captures her late husband's 50-year career in words and pictures.

The tribute hangs in a new hi-tech media centre named after him in what the Irish Football Association calls the National Stadium at Windsor Park.

The globetrotting reporter covered a record-breaking 14 World Cups, but yesterday the boot was on the other foot for Malcolm as he became the story at the ground he affectionately called "The Shrine".

Mrs Brodie, who was Malcolm's wife for 63 years, and her family were guests of honour at an unveiling ceremony yesterday almost four years after the Belfast Telegraph and Ireland's Saturday Night sports editor died at the age of 86.

Steven Brodie said his father, who came to live in Belfast from Scotland during the war, for years had a vision of a refurbished Windsor Park to replace the crumbling old ground.

He added: "He would have had immense pride in the transformation and in the decision to have the media centre named after him to keep his legacy alive for many years to come."

The tribute was funded by the main contractor for the £35 million stadium, Newry-based construction firm O'Hare and McGovern.

Its boss, Martin Lennon, described Malcolm as the elder statesman of sports journalism here.

He said: "He was without question a legend of his trade, known and respected throughout the world.

"Accuracy and integrity meant everything as he went about his business. He was a class act."

In a message, the BBC's Jackie Fullerton, a lifelong friend, said of his predecessor as president of the local Football Writers' Association: "He was a colossus in the world of journalism, respected and cherished in equal measure - a beacon of wisdom and professionalism."

IFA president David Martin said Malcolm was a great champion of Irish football at international and local level.

And Billy Kennedy, vice-chairman of Linfield, said: "We revered Malcolm's memory. As a club, Linfield are delighted to be associated with this magnificent tribute."

Dame Mary Peters described him as a "dear friend" who had headed up the fundraising campaign to develop the athletics track in her name after she won a gold medal in the pentathlon at the 1972 Munich Olympics.

Sammy Hamill, who worked with his "mentor" Malcolm for nearly 40 years, was his successor as sports editor of the Belfast Telegraph.

He recalled how people used to ask him how he felt about stepping into the Scot's shoes at the newspaper. "But I told them nobody could emulate what Malcolm did. Nobody," Mr Hamill said.

The seat that Malcolm used to occupy in the old Press box at Windsor Park is expected to have pride of place in a new museum at the stadium after it was retrieved from the demolished South Stand.

Friends said Malcolm was just as happy in the less than commodious surroundings of Irish League grounds as he was amid the luxury of the world's finest stadia in Europe or South America.

One former colleague said: "The undisputable fact is that Malkie lived and breathed for the beautiful game - and wrote beautifully about it - and he was equally in his element covering matches in Barcelona or Ballyclare, Mourneview Park or Madrid."

Malcolm Brodie began his career at the Portadown News, before moving to the Belfast Telegraph in 1943.

He was awarded an MBE for services to journalism.

Known as the doyen of Northern Ireland football writers, Dr Brodie was respected by many of the game's legendary figures including Matt Busby, Jock Stein and George Best.

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