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True master of his trade; OBITUARY: Former Telegraph sports editor Roger Draper.

Byline: By Andy Turner

LEADING sporting figures have paid tribute to former Coventry Telegraph sports editor Roger Draper, who died on Thursday following a short illness.

John Sillett, who guided Coventry City to FA Cup glory at Wembley in 1987, said: "It is not often a manager wants to see a reporter sitting outside his office at the start of the day, but Roger was a pleasure to work with.

"He always had a smile on his face and liked to crack a joke, and within two minutes you were totally relaxed in his company. He was a thoroughly likeable chap and such a good reporter, always fair and a credit to his trade.

"He played a big part in me getting the job at Coventry because we were having a drink one night and he said 'Snoz, why don't you go for the position?' I said that there is only one thing certain in football management and that is you will get the sack.

"So he suggested that I apply to be coach instead and I took his advice and said that I would take the job on condition that I was responsible for tactics and picking the team. When we got to the Cup final he said it was his dream come true because he never thought he would see Coventry City walk out at Wembley.

"He said it would be a wonderful moment for us both and he was so thrilled with the way the team played and how they were such a credit to the football club. He was a lovely man and will be sadly missed."

Dave Moorcroft, Coventry's former Olympian and Commonwealth Games gold medallist, said: "I go back many years with Roger who was working as the athletics correspondent and sports editor during my best years in competitive athletics.

"We shared the ups and downs together and he was at Crystal Palace for some of my best performances. One of his biggest regrets was that he wasn't in Oslo when I broke the world record for 5,000 metres. He was actually with my dad at the Butts at an apprentice sport event where dad was a time keeper.

News filtered through and they announced over the loudspeaker that I had broken the record, and my dad nearly collapsed.

"Roger was unique to local journalism.

He was very honest but very sympathetic to where you were coming from as a sports person. He was a journalist through and through, and a great lover of sport who had a very personable style of writing. He had real time for people in sport, whether it was a local bowls player or an Olympic athlete - everyone mattered."

Roger, who was 68, worked for Heart Of England Newspapers in Leamington Spa from 1958 until 1974 when he moved to the Coventry Telegraph. He became sports editor in 1988 and held that position until he retired in 2002.

Geoff Payne, Warwickshire's representative on the RFU Council and a close personal friend, said: "As a journalist you always knew where you stood with Roger. He was straight down the middle - he would praise when he thought it was deserved and criticise when he thought it was warranted.

"He didn't suffer fools gladly because he was a very principled man, sometimes to his own detriment, but he was one of those lucky people whose job was also his hobby. When he retired we used to go out virtually every Saturday during the rugby season to watch amateur matches, level five and below, and he loved that.

"He was a walking reference library on sport; rugby, football, speedway, cricket, athletics - he could trot off all the details you'd want to know. And he didn't just know the names, he knew the people, whether it was an international star like Dave Moorcroft or a player in Old Leamingtonians 3rds. If you could sum up Roger in one phrase, he was a people person."

Roger leaves his wife Pam, daughters Tina and Kerry, and grandson Archie.
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Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Article Type:Obituary
Date:Dec 6, 2008
Words:673
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