Obituary: Don Mosey

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The Independent Culture
IN THE field of radio broadcasting Don Mosey, a presenter of the BBC Radio programme Test Match Special from 1974, was undoubtedly a candidate for that old Readers' Digest qualification "The Most Unforgettable Character I've Ever Met".

He had a voice that commanded attention, just enough of an accent to remind listeners that he was very much from the North, was a natural raconteur and had the experience, the memory and the knowledge to inform and entertain and then to rout most challengers of his tales, whether on fact, fiction or English grammar.

His telephonic confrontations with his superiors, whether at the Daily Express, Daily Mail or the BBC, were legendary. He had running battles with telephone operators around the world and was probably at his best in India where the telephonists at small hotels were most reluctant to institute transfer calls to London, suspecting, as Mosey put it that "the wily English would somehow ensure that the the cost would end up with themselves".

Young ladies in production at Broadcasting House, arriving early and dying for a coffee, would be shattered by an early blast from Mosey, angry at delays imposed by the time zone and by what he perceived as further monstrous incompetence by the Corporation. To we humble hacks of the written word, shuffling off to the telex office with our typescripts, all this was a regular source of prime entertainment.

Mosey was regarded was one of the Daily Express's elite news reporters when I joined the staff in Manchester and to be invited to join his circle at the bar was an accolade. He had arrived there in 1957 after rigorous training in West Yorkshire local newspapers, a hard-nosed school, and continued playing cricket in the leagues until he became Northern Cricket Correspondent of the Daily Mail in 1959; together with his colleague Alex Bannister, and the cricket correspondent and columnist Ian Wooldridge, he gave the Mail an edge to their cricket comment, reporting and news that has never been surpassed.

Mosey became very close to Yorkshire's championship winning team of the 1960s and his friendship with Fred Trueman, Brian Close and Ray Illingworth lasted his lifetime and was the source of several books. One, Boycott (1985) was such a polemic that at least half of the original manuscript, he assured me, had been removed by the lawyers.

He loved cricket, rugby and golf, possibly in that order and could be derisive about football (his scorns were a wonder to hear and behold). He had already done some work for the BBC when he resigned from the Mail in 1964, on a point of principle after the accountants had over-ruled the editorial, and became a BBC sports producer in Manchester, where he proved to be not only an outstanding technician but also a kind and helpful boss to beginners.

Mosey joined the Test Match Special team 10 years later where he made his name alongside Brian Johnston and Henry Blofeld, providing a rich contrast in style and delivery with the two Etonians. It was Johnston who named Mosey "The Alderman". He was a superb companion on several cricket tours around 1980, a considerate and humorous colleague, and those days were celebrated on his two biographical excursions The Best Job in the World (1985) and The Alderman's Tale (1991).

He was very upset when he was not appointed BBC Cricket Correspondent in succession to Johnston in 1972, an omission he ascribed to "ex-public schoolboys", but from 1974 his disappointment was assuaged by a number of overseas assigments during which he struck up some lasting friendships. He became especially fond of New Zealand.

In his latter years he retired to Morecambe, advertised gently by Alan Bennett as Bradford-on-Sea, a fitting haven for a doughty Yorkshireman, from where he followed the professional golf career of his son Ian and where he became, among other offices held, president of Vale of Lune Rugby Club. Cliff Morgan, who had spotted Mosey's radio talents and signed him up for Test Match Special, described him as "a Victorian" and, strange as it may seem to younger readers, Don Mosey would have appreciated that as a compliment. He firmly believed in duty, application and loyalty, and loud as was his bark, it was much more fearsome than his bite.

Derek Hodgson

Donald Mosey, writer and broadcaster: born Keighley, Yorkshire 4 October 1924; married (two sons); died Morecambe, Lancashire 11 August 1999.