Colin Slater: Tributes to colossus of local sports broadcasting
Tributes have been paid to former BBC sports broadcaster Colin Slater, who has died at the age of 87.
Mr Slater's heartfelt commentaries for BBC Radio Nottingham, for whom he delivered almost half a century of coverage of Notts County's matches, saw him firmly identified in the minds of fans and players with the club itself.
However, Mr Slater - who was appointed MBE in 2001 - was also closely involved in numerous areas of community work.
Friends described him as a "great man".
Born in Shipley, West Yorkshire, Mr Slater began his career on local newspapers, becoming Notts County reporter on the Nottingham Evening News, before its merger with what is now the Nottingham Post.
He became Notts County correspondent for BBC Radio Nottingham in 1968, his first match being a 5-0 defeat to Lincoln City.
Colin Fray, sports editor for BBC Radio Nottingham, said: "Colin was a colossus of local broadcasting, and his influence spread far and wide, from local listeners and supporters to international footballers and managers.
"His cheery, instantly recognisable voice brightened not only radio programmes, but any room he was in.
"He was a wonderful broadcaster and a perfect gentleman. It was a privilege to know him and to work with him."
Charlie Slater, who succeeded Colin in his role at the BBC, said: "Colin will always be 'Mr Notts County', the voice of Notts County and one of the finest broadcasters and footballing people our game and our community has seen.
"Professionally, no matter what I do in my career, one of the great honours was to share several match commentaries with him during Nottinghamshire derbies.
"The great honour of my professional life was to be chosen to succeed Colin as the BBC's Notts County commentator - a role that only he had previously occupied.
"His giant shoes will never be filled as his inimitable style was surely a one-off. It has been a pleasure to call Colin a colleague, mentor and friend."
Notts County's chief executive Jason Turner said: "Everyone at Meadow Lane is heartbroken to have lost not only an iconic figure in the club's history, but also a great friend.
"I have been incredibly privileged to have got to know Colin well since my arrival at the club six years ago, working closely with him on many projects, travelling with him to away matches and enjoying his company at social events.
"As everyone knows, Colin was staunchly passionate about many things, not least Notts County, and he was an inspirational figure to be around.
"Naturally he will be best remembered for his commentary work, to which he dedicated such a huge part of his amazing life, but he did so many other amazing things for the club which must never be forgotten."
He said these included playing a pivotal role in securing investment for the club when it was on the verge of extinction in 1965, and chairing the Former Players' Association.
"Despite his deteriorating health which led to him sadly being unable to attend recent matches, Colin remained committed to his various roles and always took great interest in the team's results and general affairs at the club," he said.
"We will be remembering him and his incredible dedication with a minute's silence at our next home match."
The club's all-time leading goalscorer Les Bradd, who knew and worked with Colin over several decades, said: "I first got to know Colin in my early days as a player, when he was working for the Nottingham Post. I found him to be an honest, trustworthy person - someone I could consult with in good faith.
"There are many names you could consider for the title of 'Mr Notts County' but his has to be high on the list for all he has done for the club and the way he always championed our rich heritage.
"He was a great man and will be sadly missed."
Mr Slater's commentaries won him many famous fans, including John Motson, who has previously described him as "one of the doyens of the broadcasting industry" and "a member of the commentators' cabinet".
While he was best known for his coverage of Notts County, Mr Slater also followed Nottingham Forest's famous assays on Europe.
In 2009 he received a lifetime achievement award from the Sony Radio Academy.
International football manager and former European Cup winner with Nottingham Forest, Martin O'Neill - who presented him with the award - recalled: "He once presented a football game when I was playing at the time.
"He knew about my interest in criminology but he did say it didn't matter about my criminology, this was a criminal performance by O'Neill."
Mr Slater himself said: "It's all been a great pleasure to be associated with an institution that has changed the face of local media which is Radio Nottingham in the city of Nottingham."
In the city, he was honoured by having a tram named after him, and even had a beer brewed in his name.
His career also led him down varied opportunities away from the microphone, with time spent as Nottinghamshire County Council's first public relations officer, marketing manager for Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club as well as chair of Nottingham magistrates.
He was also a committed member of Christ Church, Chilwell, and was elected to the General Synod in 1990 as a lay representative of the diocese of Southwell and Nottingham.
BBC Radio Nottingham commentator Colin Slater announces his retirement after 49 years of covering Notts County matches for the station.
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