Thursday, 16 September 2021

Tributes to veteran sports broadcaster

TRIBUTES have been paid to veteran sports commentator Tony Gubba, who died on Monday following a short illness. He was

TRIBUTES have been paid to veteran sports commentator Tony Gubba, who died on Monday following a short illness. He was 69.

Mr Gubba, who lived in Sonning, was known to millions from his days as a BBC commentator on Grandstand.

More recently, he worked as the announcer on the ITV series Dancing On Ice.

Host Philip Schofield, who lives in Fawley, said on Twitter: “It’s with the saddest of hearts that I tweet the news that our dear friend Tony Gubba has passed away.

“We were all aware how poorly he was but this is very sudden and is dreadful for everyone who knew and loved him. A genuinely delightful, kind, dedicated and talented man. All of us at Dancing On Ice will miss him terribly.”

BBC commentator John Motson said: “Tony was a great friend and colleague for over 40 years and I shall miss him greatly. He was one of the original probing reporters — never afraid to ask a difficult question.”

Steve Rider, who lives in Hurley, said: “I was lucky enough to work with BBC Sport for 20 years from 1985 and was able to see how Tony Gubba was the heart and soul of the department through some great times.

“Everyone knows how versatile and professional he was, able to make sense of any sport and any sporting situation, but he was also a very generous colleague indeed, never needing any prompting to offer support, advice and the benefit of his experience.”

The BBC released a statement saying: “Tony was an outstanding sports journalist and a formidable broadcaster whose death will sadden everyone at BBC Sport.

“For a generation he was one of the most familiar and respected names in sports broadcasting.” In a career spanning nearly 40 years, Mr Gubba also presented Sportsnight and Match Of The Day and commentated on a wide range of sports for the BBC, including hockey, table- tennis, golf, tennis, bobsleigh, ski-jumping and darts.

In the Eighties he turned to ice-skating and fell out with British stars Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean shortly after they had won a third consecutive world title in Helsinki.

The commentator asked the couple whether they had broken the rules, which led to him being replaced by Barry Davies.

The trio were reunited for the celebrity dancing show and Mr Gubba enjoyed something of a cult following for his descriptions of the routines. When he witnessed the routine of EastEnders actor Matt Lapinskas, he said: “This is the slam dunk cartwheel followed by some back crossovers, then the towering inferno and the bouncing aeroplane.”

David Anthony Gubba was born on September 23, 1943 in south Manchester and educated at Blackpool Grammar School. He began his journalism career on the Sale and Stretford Guardian and after completing his training, landed a reporter’s job on the Daily Mirror in Manchester.

In the late Sixties he moved into television with Southern TV, based in Southampton, but returned to Manchester as a general news reporter with the BBC regional news magazine programme Look North.

Mr Gubba moved to BBC Television in London in 1972, joining the football commentary team. He covered every World Cup from 1974 to 2006.

He was also a member of the BBC’s commentary team at every Olympic Games, both summer and winter, from 1972 to 2012.

In 2006, Mr Gubba fell out with his neighbours in Sonning over his plan to build a five-bedroom house at his riverside property.

He had complained that the objectors were stuck in the past, saying: “There seems to be an attitude in Sonning that everything should stay the same as it was in 1643.”

Mr Gubba himself was an all-round sportsman and particularly enjoyed playing football and golf as well as salmon fishing and skiing.

He is survived by his partner of 15 years, Jenny, his two daughters, Claire, 40, and Libby, 38, and three granddaughters.

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