SCOTTISH football journalism lost one of its most authoritative voices yesterday with the death of Glenn Gibbons.
The former chief football writer of The Scotsman, who had borne a serious illness with fortitude for several months, was 69.
In a career which began with DC Thomson in Glasgow during a glorious era for Scottish football in the 1960s, Gibbons went on to become one of the most recognisable and formidable figures in his profession in the pages of the Scottish Daily Mail, the Guardian and The Scotsman.
Among the many high-profile names in his contacts book was Sir Alex Ferguson, who became his close friend as well as dealing with him in a professional capacity. The former Aberdeen and Manchester United manager led the tributes to Gibbons last night.
“Glenn was a journalist of substance,” said Ferguson. “He had a wonderful, lucid writing style but everything he wrote was underpinned by an unwavering accuracy.
“His great knowledge of football was complemented by a fearlessness. He always expressed what he believed with courage and style. He was a marvellous chronicler of Scottish football and beyond. He had a passion for the game and his knowledge was unsurpassed.
“He was a tremendous source of information and I referred to him regularly, particularly before the publication of my autobiography when he checked out many of the facts. He was simply a great journalist.”
As well as being a colourful observer of the action on the pitch, Gibbons was also a pugnacious commentator on football’s off-the-field issues. Peter Donald, the former secretary of the Scottish Football League, was among the administrators of the game who admired his work.
“I always found Glenn to be extremely knowledgeable about the game,” said Donald last night.
“He understood the political machinations of football and could see inside the story.
“He was very well connected within football. You could always speak to him openly and feel comfortable that he would develop and write his pieces without necessarily putting you in the centre of the story.
“Glenn was hugely respected within football and I know that I always felt good after speaking to him. I’m deeply saddened to hear of his death.”
Gibbons joined The Scotsman in 1999 and made an immediate impact on these pages, being named Scottish Sports Journalist of the Year in 2000. He retired in 2009 but maintained a weekly presence in the paper with his Saturday column.
Donald Walker, assistant editor and former sports editor of The Scotsman, said: “Few could match Glenn’s eloquence and authority in the sports pages of the Scottish press, and his passing marks the loss of one of football’s best-read commentators. His experience, judgment and professionalism shone through during his ten years as chief football writer with The Scotsman, and his weekly column was required reading. We will miss him enormously, and our thoughts are with his family.”
Gibbons is survived by his wife Mary, son Michael and daughter Samantha.