Former colleagues have paid tribute to football writer Ralph Ellis who died on Saturday after a battle with prostate cancer, saying “journalism has lost a powerhouse”.
Ellis spent more than 40 years in journalism, starting out on the Western Daily Press before moving to the Birmingham Evening Mail and then the Daily Star as chief football writer.
He later had a freelance career with a number of national titles including the Sunday Mirror and the Daily Mail.
He regularly contributed to Talksport and Betfair, and was a member of the Football Writers’ Association’s national committee, running its Midlands branch for many years.
A tribute written by FWA executive secretary Paul McCarthy described Ellis as “modest, self-deprecating, dead straight”, saying he was “one of the very few people I’ve met in journalism for whom nobody had a bad word, just genuine warmth”.
He added: “The FWA has lost one of its driving forces and journalism has lost a powerhouse, even if it was a quietly understated one who was never in the business for glory and fame, but for getting the job done.
“It was his honesty and straightforward approach to landing outstanding stories which singled Ralph out as special.
“You’d never hear him boasting or even humble-bragging when he outstripped his peers to land another exclusive or get the most elusive of England line-ups when he was covering the national team.”
Ellis completed a 145-mile charity cycle from London to Amsterdam to raise money for Prostate Cancer UK in June.
Mirror sports writer Mike Walters said on Twitter yesterday he was “distraught” by the 62-year-old’s death, describing Ellis as “an absolute trouper among Fleet Street sports writers”.
“A good man blessed with self-deprecating humour,” he added. “So glad he made it to Amsterdam on charity bike ride earlier this year, so sad for his family. RIP Ralph.”
Harry Pratt, a sports reporter at the Daily Star, Mirror and Express, tweeted: “What a colleague, what a gent, what a fabulous friend. Love you, Ralph Ellis.”
While BT Sport chief reporter Des Kelly also tweeted, saying Ellis was “one of the good guys” and a “credit to his family and his profession”.
Daily Mirror sports journalist James Nursey told FWA: “Awfully sad news. Ralph’s passion for sport and the profession will be hugely missed in the press box.
“Admired him for numerous attributes – not least his stoic and brave attitude in the face of recent adversity.”
Bristol Rovers, where Ellis briefly worked as commercial and marketing director, said in a statement: “The club wishes to extend sincere condolences to the family and friends of Ralph Ellis following his death.
“Ralph, who was a respected sports writer, worked at Rovers for a two-year spell between 2000-2002 and will be sadly missed by all at the club and the football community.”
Ellis leaves behind his wife, two sons, a daughter-in-law and two grandsons.
Picture: Prostate Cancer UK