Sports journalism is mourning the loss of one of its great characters with the death, announced on Monday, of Norman de Mesquita at the age of 81.
De Mesquita was a broadcaster and a writer whose career revolved around an unlikely pairing of sports – ice hockey and cricket.
In the 1950s, he helped to champion ice hockey in the UK – as a writer, an announcer, and a referee. It was a golden age in which the sport could boast major London venues in Wembley, Earl’s Court and Harringay, and de Mesquita was at the heart of the scene.
When ice hockey’s fortunes dwindled, de Mesquita established himself as a cricket reporter for whom, specialising in Middlesex, the Lord’s press box was a second home. No visit could fail to be enlivened by de Mesquita’s wit and mimicry – pronouncements pouring forth in the fruity baritone that also served him well as a radio man.
A speech impediment was the cruel consequence of the illness he suffered in the late 1990s, but he remained a regular at Lord’s up to his sudden death last week from a suspected heart attack.