Monsieur Salut writes: Norman Giller, at Facebook, kindly gave permission for Salut! Sunderland to reproduce these words, from the Football Writers’ Association (FWA) website, marking the sad passing of a man whose name was and is synonimous with the reporting of football in the North East. I met Bob Cass only once, on the pitch at Roker Park when SAFC held an open day for the media after reaching the 1992 FA Cup Final (I had spomehow persuaded someone at the Telegraph to let me cover it). But until other forms of media began to replace print, it was impossible to have grown up the NE and like football without being aware of Bob and his work …
THE FWA is sad to report that one of our most revered members Bob Cass has passed away.
Bob finally succumbed after a long fight against cancer on Thursday November 24th, surrounded by his family.
Bob was a former chairman of the FWA, a life-member and one of the finest journalists in its history, primarily with the Sun and the Mail on Sunday.
Funeral details will be posted later.
Here is a tribute from his good friend and fellow FWA stalwart Jim Mossop:
To know Robert Stanley Cass was one of life’s privileges.
He was a champion; a true friend of the human race. As a gatherer of football news stories he was unsurpassed. His contacts were from every corner of the football world. He was a journalist you could trust with your life and people knew that as soon as they met him. The trust was unspoken.
If you saw the words “Exclusive…by Bob Cass” you knew instantly there was true substance in what you were reading. Football folk loved him. He had humour, compassion and knowledge.
You could be playing golf with him in La Manga, Spain, where we had many a happy trip and his mobile would ring. When we told him to switch it off he would tell you that it was Fergie, Harry Redknapp, Sam Allardyce or any one of the old game’s luminaries.
They loved him because they trusted him implicitly and such relationships were forged long before Google and protective Press Officers got their grip on the game. Bob was ‘old school’ and it worked.
Great sportso journo Bob – able to pull a story out of the hat when he needed it. Brilliant and funny storyteller, in or out of the papers https://t.co/HNqPOuJf20
— graeme anderson (@sunechograeme) November 24, 2016
High among his many memories was the 1973 FA Cup Final when Sunderland defeated the then-mighty Leeds United. Bob loved those players. He had even played snooker with them at their Selsdon Park hotel the night before the match. Imagine that happening today. The bond that still exists was evident with emotional embraces at the North-east Football Writers’ Dinner this time last year. We all knew then that he was ill.
@salutsunderland Richie Pitt told me the Sunderland players chucked Bob into communal dressing room bath after final as well. Fully-clothed.
— Rob Stewart (@RobStewart_) November 25, 2016
Times spent in his company were magical. He had an amazing memory for jokes and songs. After one convivial night at the Carton House Golf Resort where everyone had a song and a young Scottish journalist played the spoons, Bob was still full of the fun of it on the first tee the following morning and gave us a full solo renditions of Billy Joel’s “Piano Man” at 8am.
Bob was a product of Darlington Grammar School. He joined the local paper, The Northern Echo, which was owned by Westminster Press in London. That’s where I first met him at one of Westminster Press’s twice yearly weekend schools. He was riotous fun then but he was sharpening the skills that made him such an outstanding contributor to the Sun and then Mail on Sunday.
He also an immensely proud family man and loved to have his lovely wife, Janet, and their three children Alison, Jennifer and Simon, around him at Christmas and holiday times. He was proud of their achievements.They were with him when he died at his home in Durham, ravaged by the cancer that he had fought so hard to try to defeat.
There was no edge to Bob. I recall inviting him to my house when he was in the Altrincham area and we were having barbecued salmon with a mango salsa. The salsa intrigued him at first and then he said, as only Bob could: “Do you know, my grandad wouldn’t go to work without his mango salsa.”
From Norman Giller at Facebook: Rest easy, old friend. Will never forget hugging you as you celebrated Sunderland’s 1973 FA Cup win, with tears streaming down your face. A brilliant old-school journalist, and a lovely, lovely bloke.
When he wasn’t working, which was rare, he loved to play golf at Durham City Golf Club where he was captain a few years ago. He was a determined golfer with intense levels of concentration. Then, at the 19th hole, he was the embodiment of relaxation.
All the time, his mind would be ticking over with thoughts of future stories, He had a couple of spats with Sir Alex Ferguson but they were soon resolved. They had a mutual respect for each other.
We will miss him, hacks and football people alike. It may sound trite to say there will ever be another Bob Cass. It’s not. Bob’s name will always stand revered inside and outside of the beautiful game.”