Dickie Davies, whose death at 94 was announced on Sunday night, was not just a giant of British sports broadcasting but, for a lengthy period during the 1970s and 1980s, one of the most recognisable faces in the country.
Most famously the host of ITV’s World of Sport between 1965 and 1985, Davies presented and reported on everything from the 1966 World Cup and multiple Olympic Games to world championship boxing and Wimbledon tennis.
He was featured on This Is Your Life and, as I discovered during what proved to be his last interview almost a year ago to the day, had personal anecdotes on everyone who was anyone in sport, from Muhammad Ali, Brian Clough and Billie Jean King to Sir Alf Ramsey, Sir Bobby Charlton and even Big Daddy.
Yet what most shone through during two wonderful hours in the front-room of his Hampshire home was how much he still loved and cared about sport. That was evident not just from the twinkle in his eye as he recalled interviewing icons like Ali but the deep sadness he still felt – and tears he continued to shed – at the memory of reporting on the horrors of the Munich Massacre at the 1972 Games.
Our meeting coincided with the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing and Davies had watched just about every hour that was broadcast from the comfort of his favourite armchair and with the occasional strictly non-alcoholic lager.
It was fitting, too, that the main host for those Games should be the BBC’s Hazel Irvine, who regards Davies as an inspirational early mentor after they worked together during the 1988 Seoul Olympics.
“Ohhhh,” said Davies, almost purring at all the memories of his own stellar career in sports broadcasting. “I loved it. I really did. I’m a lucky boy.”