Belfast Telegraph

Sports stars pay last respects as 'giant of airwaves' Adam Coates is laid to rest

Ex-football manager Roy Coyle and his wife Abby were among mourners at a memorial service for the late sports journalist Adam Coates
Ex-football manager Roy Coyle and his wife Abby were among mourners at a memorial service for the late sports journalist Adam Coates
Adam Coates
Beeb presenter Michael McNamee
Former BBC colleague Joel Taggart
Bobby Carlisle
Ex-referee Alan Snoddy

By Stewart Robson

Stars from the worlds of sport and journalism turned out to pay tribute to the 'unflappable' Adam Coates at the radio presenter's funeral yesterday.

Described as a 'giant of the airwaves', Coates voiced BBC Radio Ulster's Sportsound programme for two decades until 2007. He died last Thursday aged 76.

The thanksgiving service at Roselawn Crematorium in Belfast was attended by high-profile BBC broadcasters including Jackie Fullerton and Joel Taggart, who both made touching speeches reminiscing on the impact Mr Coates had on their lives and careers, as well his faithful listeners.

Former Glentoran manager and Northern Ireland international Roy Coyle was among the guests as was ex-Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt and referee Alan Snoddy, who officiated at two World Cup finals.

Dame Mary Peters' ex-trainer, Donald McBride, conducted the service, which was opened by a traditional Scottish piper.

Mourners were guided through Mr Coates' life, from the beginning of his career as a newspaper reporter in Scotland to his esteemed and 'revered' position as 'the soundtrack of Irish League football' in Northern Ireland.

People connected with 'Coatesy', as he was affectionately known, had travelled from as far away as Boston in the United States to attend the service. Mr Coates and his wife recently celebrated their golden wedding anniversary.

Mr Fullerton spoke of Mr Coates' conversational approach in his broadcasts.

"He made the guests the stars," Mr Fullerton said.

"He was merely a conduit. They talked, he prompted. He had a style so, so relaxed you'd have thought he was sitting at home with his slippers on. Not many broadcasters could achieve that.

"Words like fear and panic weren't in his dictionary. He omitted warmth and his colleagues couldn't help but love him. They admired him for his professionalism. He was a natural."

Mr Coates joined the BBC in his 40s where he described his appointment to the broadcaster as 'lucky'.

After being asked to send a complaint to the corporation regarding their football coverage, Mr Coates - who was secretary of Northern Ireland Football Writers' Association at the time - was offered an interview which he said he felt obliged to attend. His career took off from there.

Joel Taggart, a commentator on Saturday Sportsound, reflected on Mr Coates' 'velvet voice' that was 'made for broadcasting'.

"He had such a wonderful way of putting you at ease, of striking the right tone," he said.

"You wouldn't have known who Adam was until he spoke. He backed up the voice with an encyclopedic knowledge of all sports. The thing about asking Adam for information was, if he told you, you believed it. It was gospel."

Mr Coates' grandson, Callum Cairns, read 'Farewell', a poem by Anne Bronte, as well as a poem that he had penned himself, shortly after his grandfather's passing.

The long-time broadcaster was buried at a private family service prior to the p ublic tribute.

Belfast Telegraph


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