John Bromley OBE dies of cancer at age of 68

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The Independent Online

The former head of Independent Television Sport, John Bromley OBE, has died from cancer, aged 68.

Bromley moved to ITV from the Daily Mirror in 1964 and went on to enjoy a 25-year career. He was credited with modernising football coverage and, as executive producer of ITV's 1970 World Cup output, introduced television's first football experts' panel.

He was also the first editor of the channel's Saturday afternoon World of Sport, which went on the air for the first time in January 1965, an experience he later described as "Blind leading the blind, darling. We had no clue what we were doing." The introduction of wrestling gave the programme an eventual audience of around six million.

In later years, Bromley was chairman of the Lord's Taverners, wrote a sports column for the Daily Telegraph and acted as a consultant for Sky Television. Last May, Bromley was awarded the Gold Medal at the Royal Television Society Sports Awards. In the previous year, he was honoured by Sport England and the Sports Writers' Association when winning the Doug Gardner Award for services to sport. He leaves a wife, Carole Anne, and two sons.

The Independent's Ken Jones, who worked for many years with Bromley, said: "I first got to know John well when he was making his way with the old Daily Herald. Later, he joined me at the Daily Mirror as editor of a sports gossip column with a teenage Michael Grade as his deputy. John had his eyes on the future. The future was television. The power John would go on to wield as Head of ITV sport didn't change him. He was of that rare breed, great at his job and and an uncommonly nice guy."

Starting out as a tea-boy on the Romford Times, Bromley had already overcome a huge hurdle. At 10 years of age, doctors discovered he was suffering a bone marrow disease and only saved his leg with a huge three-month dose of penicillin. He then swapped playing football and rugby for writing about it.

From Romford, he went on to the Dagenham Post and Daily Herald, eventually becoming No 2 to Peter Wilson at the Daily Mirror.

"Fun is the word I associate with John Bromley," Jones said. "He could play hard ball but the sight of him entering a room made the day better. He was more than companionable, more than just friendly. John had a rare zest for life he wanted others to share."

Indeed, of his illness, Bromley said: "I never asked about it. Well, you don't take your car in for a service then ask the mechanic what he's doing, do you?"