This morning’s Guardian obit of Ian “Woolers” Wooldridge is a work of art; penned by none other than the other sport writing legend Frank Keating. http://www.guardian.co.uk/obituaries/story/0,,2027343,00.html. His first paragraph is enchanting, “Ian Wooldridge, who has died aged 75, was an undisputed heavyweight champion of British sports writing. For his readers, with his perception, passion and wit, he bridged the chasm between those who are fervently knowledgeable about sports and those who are decidedly not. By his peers over almost four decades, he was considered just about the transcendent British operator. His clubbable urbanity and generosity lent lustre to his peripatetic trade, sometimes considered trivial, if not rather grubby”.
I met Wooldridge on a number of occasions, most notably on Ian Botham’s Hannibal trek across the Alps to raise money for Leukaemia research. My job was to look after the travelling pack of scribblers who dissected each day’s events, as the flamboyant cricketer retraced Hannibal’s steps with a couple of Elephants It wasn’t the easiest job and as a young publicist I moaned about my lot to the doyen. One late night in a sensibly priced hotel bar in the South of France, he reminded me about how fortunate I was to be on the “adventure” and suggested that I should be more respectful of my exotic employment. ‘Woolers’ assured me that as I got older I would understand that every moment of life had to be savoured. Over a nightcap he mused about life’s rich tapestry and recommended that to experience life’s true delights one had to value the passing of time and sense that there are never enough hours in a day.