Football writer Ian Archer dies aged 59

IAN Archer, the Scottish sports journalist and author, died yesterday after a long illness. He was 59.

Born in Maryhill, and a lifelong supporter of Partick Thistle, Archer was brought up in Warwickshire, acquiring an English accent as a consequence. He played rugby at Rugby School, and also enjoyed cricket and golf, but it was as a football writer that he became best known.

After cutting his teeth on local papers in the Midlands, Archer moved first to the Daily Mail and then to the Glasgow Herald. At that time - the mid-1970s - football writing was slowly being dragged out of the Stone Age into modern times, and Archer was one of those most responsible.

His was a broader vision than most hacks had been capable of up to that point, and his articulacy combined with an evident love of football turned him into one of the most familiar faces in the Scottish media.

First on the BBC radio programme Good Morning, Scotland, and then on STV’s Scotsport, where he would go on to serve for 20 years, Archer provided insights into the game which were at once entertaining and informative.

Scotsport gave him a far higher profile than was usual for a humble scribbler, but he maintained a healthy perspective on his profession.

"Football correspondents," Archer once wrote, "are not born, they are inflicted upon the world at large."

Undeterred by such self-deprecation, others chose to recognise Archer’s talent publicly. Among his many honours was the Scottish Arts Council’s Munro Award for outstanding journalism, received in 1975.

He moved from the Herald to the Daily Express for a time, but soon returned to his previous employers to join the Sunday Standard when it launched in 1981.

After the Standard ceased publication, having proven a critical but not a commercial success, he worked for a number of titles, most notably the Mail on Sunday.

Archer’s publications, at once caustic and affectionate in their attitude to the sporting love of his life, included The Jags: A Centenary History of Partick Thistle, and We’ll Support You Evermore, an assessment of the national team written with Trevor Royle. Affectionately known by colleagues as ‘Dan’ Archer, he was also an accomplished after-dinner speaker.

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