Tribute to journalist Trevor Frecknall
JOURNALIST POPULAR WITH ATHLETICS GREATS LOSES BATTLE WITH CANCER
PAULA RADCLIFFE, Greg Rutherford, Jessica Ennis-Hill and Chris Thompson were among those to praise the career and personality of Trevor Frecknall, who died last week from cancer aged 72.
As AW’s news editor from 1993-2000 he interviewed the majority of leading British athletes during the period and left an indelible impression with many due to his cheery character and natural empathy.
“Trevor’s warmth and genuine enthusiasm and love for the sport endeared him to so many of us,” tweeted Radcliffe, while Rutherford added: “He was a lovely, lovely man who did an awful lot for the sport.”
“So sad to hear that Trevor has passed away,” said EnnisHill. “He was great for our sport and more importantly a really lovely man. He’ll be missed.”
Frecknall was a skilful, old-school journalist but he specialised in two areas – the politics of the sport and crosscountry running. Indeed, he was never more at home than when reporting on winter races over the mud and he was instrumental in the creation of the British Athletics Cross Challenge.
Thompson was one of the top young cross-country runners at the time and said: “Words can’t describe how much of an impact Trevor had in my early career. Infectious personality, lovely guy. He always made me smile.”
Frecknall’s weekly Cross Talk column in AW was a must-read for anyone interested in that section of the sport, while he also packed the news pages with exclusive insights into, most particularly, the internal bickering in the sport which culminated in the British Athletic Federation going bust in 1997.
Frecknall’s popularity was due to his brilliant talent as a journalist and his jovial personality. He was forever smiling, although behind the jokes there was a steely desire to do a professional job, a ferocious work ethic and a healthy disdain of what he called “convenience journalism”, whereby fellow writers took short-cuts when writing stories.
Before joining AW, Frecknall had been sports editor of the Nottingham Evening Post where his stint at the newspaper coincided with Brian Clough’s reign at Nottingham Forest. The maverick football manager was notoriously unpredictable and famously did not suffer fools. But dealing with Clough on a weekly basis meant that nothing fazed Frecknall during the remainder of his journalism career.
Frecknall would often hold court in bars and restaurants at international athletics events with a rapt audience laughing at his tales about his days covering Forest. He would later write a book about Clough in addition to ghosting the autobiography of marathon legend Bill Adcocks and numerous books about the local history of his native Newark.
He left AW at the turn of the millennium to work for one of his best contacts, Dave Moorcroft, at UK Athletics as a media officer but found the modern world of PR wasn’t for him and soon eased into semi-retirement where he spent more time with his wife Gill and children Claire and Ian.
Sadly, his only writing in recent months were fierce letters to politicians about improving NHS cancer care, plus updates on his declining health on Facebook, where he attracted a fresh audience of old friends and new admirers with his witty and insightful comments.
“HE WAS A LOVELY, LOVELY MAN WHO DID AN AWFUL LOT FOR
Trevor Frecknall (right): in his role as UKA media officer