Mike Neasom: chief sports reporter, The News, Portsmouth

Mike Neasom, who for almost a quarter of a century covered the highs and lows of Portsmouth Football Club for The News, was above all a journalists’ journalist – his own man and fiercely loyal to the principles of his trade.

His death at the age of 69 has saddened former colleagues at the Portsmouth paper and throughout the industry.

Neasom covered Pompey from 1974 until his retirement in 1997, during which time he missed hardly a game. He also reported on Hampshire Cricket Club and did much to boost the profile of local hockey clubs. A generation of Pompey fans grew up hanging on every one of the thousands of words he penned about the club every week.

Tributes poured into The News after his death.

Alan Knight, who played more than 800 games in goal for Pompey, said: “Mike was a great man – a real gentleman. He upset one or two managers and players in his time with his honesty, which probably showed he was doing his job well.”

One of those managers was Alan Ball, who said: “From the day I joined Pompey he wanted to help me. He educated me about the ways of the club and the city and the feeling of the place.”

Neasom was never slow to state his case and even Ball, whose determined temperament is legendary, found himself matched in their occasional differences of opinion.

“But we were always able to put those behind us.

If he was critical he always tried to be constructive.”

The sometimes gruff exterior concealed a genuinely caring man. Chichester Observer editor Keith Newbery said: “Journalism was hugely important to him and so was a good story. But human decencies always came first.”

Mark Storey, who succeeded Mike as chief sports reporter at The News, said: “He invited me to dinner when I joined the paper and showed me the ropes. I remember him giving me stick in his bluff way when I turned up for a match on a freezing day at Fratton Park. ‘Gloves!’ he bellowed. But on my trips to away grounds people always asked me how Mike was getting on. That summed up the regard in which he was held by his journalistic colleagues.”

Neasom did his national service in the RAF before starting with The News in Midhurst and Bognor. He then worked for the Fleet Street News Agency and the Dorset Evening Echo.

He moved to the sports desk of The News in 1965, spending nine years covering the Saints before switching to the Fratton Park beat.

Mike died at Southampton General Hospital, having suffered for some time from emphysema. He leaves two sons, his wife Gill having died last year.

Colin Channon, sports editor, The News, Portsmouth

Colin Channon, sports editor, The News, Portsmouth

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